G-Force and Your Commercial Washer
Most (but not all) manufacturers of commercial washers publish the G-Force of their washer-extractors. Have you ever wondered about the significance of this number and where it comes from?
What is a G Anyway?
Most know that when in space, astronauts are in a zero G environment, sometimes called microgravity or more popularly, weightless. This means that the astronauts are essentially floating (along with anything else that isn’t tied down). Similarly, as the G-force increases, you aren’t weightless anymore, but instead would feel even heavier, or at least a stronger pull towards the ground. The same is true in a washing machine cylinder. The goods inside “feel” a certain G-force, depending on the place in the wash program. During the wash or rinse steps, the goods are tumbled at a G-Force of just less than 1G, which allows them to fall inside the wash cylinder for good mechanical action. This results in the water and laundry chemicals being forced through the fibers of the goods, carrying away soils, dirt, and stains. This is similar to pounding the laundry against a rock by the river, just a bit more automated and refined.
During the balance or distribution step, the cylinder speed increases so that the laundry “feels” a G-Force of just over 1G, effectively pinning the goods against the cylinder. At this stage, there isn’t any more tumbling. In a modern commercial washer, this is where a balance test is performed. Typically, if the load is less than 20% out of balance or so, the machine will proceed to the spin step. On certain machines, a calculation is performed and the maximum safe speed is calculated, leading to a varying extract, which can be either OK or terrible, depending on whether the laundry has an ironer or humidity sensing dryers.
What Does It All Mean?
G-Force is a relative measurement generally used to compare commercial washer extraction capabilities (spin speeds). Higher G-Forces lead to less water being left in the goods after the wash program is complete, meaning shorter drying times or faster ironing, and reduced energy consumption to dry or finish the goods. Comparatively, higher RPM’s relate to higher G-Forces when the cylinder diameter is similar. However, larger cylinder diameters can spin more slowly yet attain a higher G-Force than smaller diameter cylinders. As usual, there is a math formula to calculate G-Force:
RPM² x cylinder diameter (inches) / 70,500 = G-Force
Luckily, most manufacturers publish this information right on the brochure, so a calculation isn’t usually required.
Here are some past blog posts regarding G-Forces: