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A panel ready dishwasher is the icing on the cake for a beautifully designed kitchen. Designers and homeowners alike love how these models allow your dishwasher to blend into your other cabinetry. If you want to minimize the amount of stainless steel or plastic and the number of screens visible in your kitchen, you'll want to take a closer look at panel ready dishwashers.

What is a panel ready dishwasher?

Panel ready dishwashers have a front you can attach a cabinet panel to, so that the front of your dishwasher looks like any other kitchen cabinets door or drawer. You'd never know there's an appliance there unless you opened it up.

A panel ready dishwasher enables you to get a truly seamlessly finishwithout that obvious stainless steel look and a device protruding out from your cabinetry.

These dishwashers come ready for you to apply your own front 3/4-inch or 1/2-inch panel in the same material and design as the rest of your cabinets. You can also customize the type of handle to match your cabinets.

Our best dishwasher rankings for 2022 include several panel ready models.

How to avoid problems when selecting a panel ready dishwasher

If you're already familiar with panel ready dishwashers, you've probably seen some that stick out beyond the countertop. If the whole idea is to get a smooth, streamlined finish, why do people make this mistake?

Double Check the Depth

The depth of the dishwasher you're buying and the available space in your cabinetry, that is.

In the U.S., the standard counter depth is 24 inches. Considering that a standard cabinetry panel is 3/4 inch thick, that means your dishwasher needs to be shallower than 23 1/4 inches. But that's not all. You also have to account for imperfect drywall and leave room for connecting hoses and wires.

To ensure a smooth installation, we recommend choosing a panel ready dishwasher with a depth between 21 5/8 inches and 23 1/6 inches, at the very maximum.

Almost all European-made dishwashers, be they Bosch, Miele, or Asko dishwashers, have these dimensions.

We can't say the same for U.S.-made dishwashers, since they're generally deeper than their European counterparts.

So, if your heart is set on a GE or Whirlpool dishwasher, double check the product specs for depth.

Design Styles for Panel Ready Dishwashers

Avoid These 3 Common Installation Mistakes

In our experience, we've seen the following panel ready dishwasher installation mistakes that lead to a protruding appliance instead of one that sits flush with the cabinets the way it's supposed to.

  • Installing an electric outlet directly behind the dishwasher. This is generally a bad idea as it prevents access to your power source, plus the space for an outlet and cord will make your dishwasher stick out many inches from the wall.
  • Plumbing fixtures in the back of the dishwasher. Intake and drain hoses need to be leading to the adjacent cabinets, rather than accumulating at the back of the dishwasher.
  • Leaving the coiled hoses hanging behind the dishwasher. Manufacturers generally don't want to have dangling parts and hoses when shipping their products so they tie them to the back of the dishwasher. During installation, these parts need to be untied.

Which features should I have in a new dishwasher?

If you're going through the trouble of installing a panel ready dishwasher to match your cabinetry, then you might as well make sure to pick one with all the features and functions you need. After all, what's going on inside matters just as much as how it looks on the outside.

Panel ready dishwashers are slightly more expensive than budget dishwashers, but they aren't all created equal. Here are some shopping guidelines to keep in mind:

Quietness

The good news is that most respectable brands make only quiet dishwashers. Gone are the days of having to put the cycle on just before you leave the house because you can't put up with the sound level. Again, we have to thank Bosch dishwashers for leading the way here, since it was the first brand to introduce affordable and ultra-quiet models.

But how do you actually know if a dishwasher is quiet? Watch real-life examples of dishwasher sound tests in our video below:

Quietest dishwashers with live audible sound test

All dishwashers give their noise level rating in decibels (dB); the lower the number of dBs, the quieter the machine'll run. Most modern dishwashers fall somewhere between 38 and 51 dB. We recommend choosing a dishwasher that's 45 dB and under if you can.

Why? Let's put these numbers in context. The sound of a quiet library is around 40 dB, a regular conversation is about 50 dB, and restaurant chatter is a humming 60 dB. You want a dishwasher that won't disturb you while you hang out with family or watch a movie.

Cleaning and Drying Performance

A dishwasher without good cleaning performance is essentially self defeating. We're happy to see manufacturers introducing different wash cycles for different degrees of dirty dishes. Many brands have introduced things like extra pressure jets and specially designed spray arms—we consider these indicators that a company is actually invested in getting your dishes clean every cycle.

When it comes to drying, you'll see differences depending on whether the brand is European or American. While U.S. manufacturers continue to prefer the old style bottom heating element for drying, European brands use the energy-saving condensation drying method combined with a stainless-steel tub.

Since the heating element method can cause plastics to melt, we recommend choosing a dishwasher with the condensation drying method for gentle and energy efficient drying.

Most models released in recent years do feature condensation drying.

Notable Technological Features

Manufacturers are constantly touting new technologies that improve the performance and usability of their dishwashers. We think these actually have an impact on performance. Keep an eye out for them when investing in a new panel ready dishwasher:

Water softener: If you live in an area with hard water, it may be common for you to see watermarks on your glassware after a cycle. To combat this, some dishwashers have a water softener. It releases salt to break down the calcium deposits in the water supply. It's a superb feature that guarantees you streak-free glassware and helps extend the lifespan of your machine. All the deposits it's breaking down would otherwise build up in its inner workings, too.

Auto Open Door for better drying: Almost all Miele dishwashers and some high-end Samsung models feature an auto-open door, and it will be interesting to see what other brands follow suit. This feature means that the door automatically opens a tiny bit at the end of a cycle to release any excess humidity. Not only does that help the drying process, but it cools down your dishes and prevents musty smells.

3rd Rack for silverware: Many modern models have a third rack at the top of the dishwasher that's ideal for cutlery and small items like espresso cups. This extra rack frees up space in the lower rack for pots and pans and is often height adjustable so you can still fit tall glasses in the upper rack. You can also find V-shaped third racks that give you additional space in the middle area.

Dishwasher 3rd Rack for Silverware
Dishwasher 3rd Rack for Silverware

3 Best Panel Ready Dishwashers

1. Best Overall: Bosch 800 Series SHVM78Z53N

Bosch dishwasher SHVM78Z53N

The best panel dishwasher in terms of price, functionality, features, and quietness is the Bosch 800 Series SHVM78Z53N. For $1,299, you can install this machine flush with your cabinets and really appreciate the quiet sound level rating. We'll wager most guests in your kitchen will never know it's there.

In terms of other features worth noting, you get a flexible third rack that adds 30 percent more loading capacity, an Extra Scrub cycle, and a special Sanitize cycle for eliminating bacteria.

One excellent feature that you'll find extremely beneficial is the InfoLight Beam, which shines a light on to the floor while the dishwasher is in use so that you know it hasn't finished the cycle yet.

Bosch incorporated its latest drying technology, CrystalDry, in this dishwasher, so it really does deliver the best all-around performance.

SHV878WD3N-Panel-Ready-Dishwasher
Bosch Panel Ready Dishwasher Features

2. Most Reliable: Miele G7156SCVi

Miele Dishwasher G7156SCVi

For a $1,599 during peak seasonal promotions, you can get your hands on this delightful machine from Miele. Miele excels when it comes to dishwasher innovation, and you'll certainly enjoy its high end, exemplary features like SensorDry, Perfect GlassCare, and Intense Quick Wash.

While it's not the quietest model that Miele makes, it's still ultra-quiet at 43 dB. This new Miele dishwasher offers a lot of flexibility in terms of washing and drying cycles.

Miele panel ready dishwasher
Miele Panel Ready Dishwasher

3. Quietest: Bosch SHV89PW73N

Bosch SHV89PW73N Dishwasher

It's hard to believe you can find a dishwasher this quiet, but this one truly is a ninja. With a noise level of 38 dB, it boasts super silent operation.

You also get a spacious upper rack that can fit larger and deeper items, like small bowls and cups, in addition to silverware.

Below that, the Bosch SHV89PW73N gives you great flexibility when it comes to loading your dishwasher thanks to the RackMatic system that offers nine different rack positions. It's handy when you need to negotiate odd size or large items while still making room for your regular dishes.

The amazing CrystalDry feature turns out bone-dry dishes without adding to your energy bill or melting your plastics.

Watch our exclusive video review of the best dishwashers in 2022.

Other Models Worth Mentioning

Bosch 300 Series SHV863WD3N
For just a little over $800, this budget-friendly Bosch offers RackMatic and Flex Space for ultimate loading flexibility. It has a reasonable noise rating of 44 dB and includes a Speed60 wash cycle for clean and dry dishes in under an hour.

Miele Classic Series G4998SCVI
This Energy Star rated dishwasher has a flexible interior, a wide 3D cutlery tray, and a convenient Express Cycle.

Fisher Paykel Double Drawer Dishwasher DD24DHTI9N
Hate unloading dishes? Consider two dishwasher drawers instead. Fisher & Paykel has a panel ready, Energy Star certified modle you'll love. It includes a water softener, 15 wash options, and an innovative knock-to-pause feature in case you want to add more dishes after a cycle has started.

Miele G7966SCVi
This Knock-to-Open model from Miele is available from $3,099 at most retailers. It has the auto-open door feature plus some very aesthetically pleasing LED interior lights. The key feature here, though, is the AutoDos automatic detergent dispenser, which allows you to run the dishwasher for a month without adding a tablet or pouring in your favorite dishwasher detergent.

Miele G7916SCi Diamond
This 38 dB super-silent dishwasher gives you perfect cleaning results in less than an hour—and it can safely scrub even the most delicate dishes and wine glasses.

panel ready dishwasher options

Special application dishwashers

Single Drawer Dishwasher
If all you need is a single dish drawer, then you'll be pleased to know that the Fisher Paykel single drawer dishwasher DD24SI9N comes panel ready for seamless installation. With plenty of capacity for seven place settings, this 44 dB model certainly is spacious for its size—and you get the fantastic Knock-to-Pause feature.

Narrow models
Not everyone has a 24-inch space for a standard dishwasher. That's why some brands make 18-inch dishwashers for smaller kitchens. While they're often noisier than standard-size dishwashers and have less capacity, they still come with enough wash cycles and options to satisfy most households. One model to note is the Bosch SPV68B53UC, which features RackMatic, leak protection, and an InfoLight for just $1,299.

ADA Compliant Dishwashers
The Bosch SGV68U53UC is rated as the top quality panel ready ADA compliant dishwasher on the market. ADA refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act, designating that a dishwasher is designed with a lower height to be more accessible for all people to use. However, in the appliance world, this term has more to do with the height of the dishwasher.

If your kitchen has new floors and the contractor did not take the time to remove the dishwasher to make everything level, chances are you are going to need a shorter height one (hence the ADA) to replace the old clunker.

Want to learn more about ADA compliant dishwashers? We covered all the ins and outs in our earlier blog post.


FAQs

Can I buy a stainless dishwasher now and change it later to panel ready? I am not ready to renovate my kitchen just yet.
The quick answer is no. Purchasing a stainless steel dishwasher doesn't mean you'll be able to remove the panel in the future.

Fortunately, there's a solution.

You can buy a panel ready dishwasher with a matching stainless steel panel from the same manufacturer. When the time comes to renovate your kitchen, you can ditch the stainless steel panel and replace it with your panel of choice.

Will my dishwasher stick out of cabinets?
No, not if you measure carefully and buy a dishwasher with the correct depth for your space. Make sure the depth of the panel ready dishwasher you buy is the appropriate depth and that nothing is obstructing the space behind the dishwasher during installation.

Will there be a gap on the sides of my dishwasher?
Some 2017 and 2018 Blomberg dishwashers as well as some Chinese-made models have noticeable gaps at the sides that are visible when the door's open. We consider this to be a design flaw and suggest you stick with European dishwasher leaders such as Bosch and Miele for panel ready installations.

How do I maintain my dishwasher?
Your dishwasher will alert you when it's time for regular maintenance issues like cleaning the filter under running water and other basics. It's also a good practice to use a vinegar/baking soda solution or a supermarket variety cleaner, such as Glisten inside your dishwasher every four weeks or so, depending on how often you run it.

Pro Tip: Most Miele dishwashers come with a deep clean cycle. Miele also sells its own dishwasher conditioner for deep cleaning.

Why are dishwasher cycles so long these days? Are there express cycles?
Modern dishwashers have longer cycles because the Energy Star program requires them to use less energy and water. In addition, the U.S. government has followed in Europe's footsteps and recently banned the use of phosphates in soap. This has unfortunately added time to longer clean cycles, much to your utensils and bowls' chagrin. The good news is if you're in a rush and want to override the dishwasher defaults, you can always use the express cycle to speed up the cleaning process.

Do Bosch panel ready dishwashers have different depths? Each brand has its own offerings when it comes to depth. Bosch panel ready dishwashers are generally 23 1/16 inches deep. However, a deeper dive into the Bosch Benchmark series reveals differences such as SHV89PW53N, which has a 23¾ inch depth; the SHV88PZ63N, at 21 5/8 inches; and the SHV88PZ53N, at 23 1/16 inches. This quick analysis further reinforces our recommendation that you really should check out the specifications of your new dishwasher in detail to guide your contractors and cabinet makers downstream—and avoid winding up with an ugly protruding dishwasher.

What is a panel ready appliance?
Panel ready means that an appliance, such as a dishwasher or refrigerator, comes with an unfinished front of your appliance such as a refrigerator. Obviously, your fridge will arrive with a door, but it'll be unfinished. You get to attach any panel you choose, be it wood to match your cabinets or stainless steel, in case you're biding your time to do a full remodel.

You can also choose a handle that matches rest of your kitchen's hardware in the kitchen. Panel ready appliances are a popular popular choice among designers and remodelers since they allow for a uniform, integrated look.

Have a question?

At Designer Appliances, we understand that you might need some help finding design inspiration and choosing a new panel ready dishwasher with robust wash options. You'll want to make sure you have exactly the right size, that installation is a breeze, and that your dish- and utensil-washing experience is a reliable.

Our team of appliance experts is ready to help you in our New Jersey showrooms. Reach out and we'll happily answer any questions you may have about particular models.

For more online guidance on selecting a new dishwasher, check out our comprehensive buying guide for dishwashers which we keep updated with latest models and features.