What is a semi-integrated dishwasher? (with photo)

A semi-integrated dishwasher is not fully incorporated into the design of the kitchen.

A semi-integrated dishwasher is a class of electric dishwasher that occupies a niche between standalone and fully integrated dishwasher types. When kitchen space is at a premium, the semi-integrated dishwasher offers the convenience of being built under countertops. Unlike fully integrated appliances, however, the operating controls and access panels on the semi-integrated dishwasher are always exposed to view.

For decades, semi-integrated or built-in appliances have been part of modern interior design. Whether in urbanized America, the eurozone, bustling Asia, and any developing country, families have embraced the convenience of every labor-saving appliance as it becomes affordable. Kitchens are traditionally busy places, especially at mealtimes, and most appliances were leaning against the walls to make room for cooking and family meals. Soon, residential architects created cubicles to keep bulky refrigerators, freezers, and ovens out of the way. Home appliance manufacturers themselves won an award for bodywork finish that matched or matched well with stained wood walls or laminate countertops.

Beginning in the second half of the 20th century and continuing into the first decade of this century, urban homeowners enjoyed a bonanza of integrated or semi-integrated appliances. Cramped condominium units, vacation homes and mansions in gated subdivisions all boasted a full set of “necessities” for the modern lifestyle. Semi-integrated dishwashers have taken their place alongside built-in compactors and bins, ice machines, microwaves, fridge/freezers, gas ranges, dual ovens and oven warmer drawers.

The feature of the semi-integrated dishwasher is that the control panel is at the top and normally close to the front. This allows the user to hide everything except the controls behind the corresponding kitchen cabinets. The front-loading design of most dishwasher models allows certain brands to fit the touch-sensitive controls inside the revolving door panel so nothing shows through.

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Front access means the homeowner has the option of installing the semi-integrated dishwasher in an “under the counter” style. That is, leave the metal-finished front panel exposed and install the integrated dishwasher under the kitchen countertop. Aesthetics and good taste continue to be served with an uninterrupted finish for the kitchen countertop.

Using a semi-integrated dishwasher, however, has some disadvantages. First, there is the cost of purchasing semi-integrated dishwashers; the more established, higher-capacity brands are generally much more expensive. Installation and maintenance increase the cost of owning and operating semi-integrated dishwashers. Placing one requires skillful concealment of power lines, fresh water supplies, and drainage pipes. If the dishwasher breaks down, calling a technician or authorized plumber is probably preferable to playing handyman yourself.

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