When your dishwasher dies, you quickly appreciate this time-saving appliance—especially when hosting holiday gatherings. Most new dishwashers can fit 12 or more place settings, allowing you to clear the counters and get back to spending time with your guests.

Loading a dishwasher and pressing start can save you about 230 hours per year, compared with washing and drying by hand, according to Energy Star. You’ll see good deals on dishwashers in December, and an Energy Star rebate sweetens the deal. We buy every dishwasher we test, and more than 170 models appear in our dishwasher ratings. Here's what to know when replacing a dishwasher:

Height Varies
Conventional dishwashers are designed for a cavity that’s 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep. A dishwasher's height can vary, especially with European models. If your flooring was changed after the cabinets were installed, the cavity height might have changed. New counters can affect the space, too. So measure the space you have to work with, then check online or ask the salesperson to see the manual for the dishwasher's minimum and maximum height, factoring in the adjustable leveling feet.

Wash Times Are Longer
Tougher federal standards have reduced the amount of water and energy dishwashers can use and still earn the government’s Energy Star. Most of our tested models used between 4 and 7 gallons of water to wash our test loads and took 85 to 205 minutes, with the $430 GE GDF510PSJSS taking the longest. You’ll see wash times listed in the dishwasher ratings, and we also tell you how much water each model used on its summary page.

Soil Sensors Save
A soil sensor improves cleaning and efficiency by adjusting the cycle time and water use to the load’s soil level. That's why if you rinse the dishes before you put them into the dishwasher, the sensor determines that the dishes are fairly clean and a light wash follows, sometimes leaving bits of food stuck on the plate. Click the Features & Specs tab in the dishwasher ratings to find out which models have a soil sensor. 

The Filter Is a Factor
It keeps the wash water free of food that could wind up deposited on clean dishes. Self-cleaning filters tend to be noisy. A manual-clean filter must be cleaned every so often to prevent funky odors caused by food that collects in the filter—and it takes only a few minutes. The Features & Specs section of our dishwasher ratings notes which models have self-cleaning filters.

Prices Range Widely
The dishwashers in our tests cost between $250 and $2,200, and some were excellent at cleaning and drying while others disappointed. Price doesn’t necessarily track with overall performance, but dishwashers under $500 are often noisier.

5 Dishwashers to Consider

Our dishwasher buying guide is a good place to start your search, then use the selector in our dishwasher ratings to narrow your choices. Here are five models that did well in our tests: