February 10, 2022

Growing up in a family of four children, three of them being girls, washing dishes was just one of the rotating chores.  An electric dishwasher … What was that?  Why would our parents spend money and purchase one when they already had free labor?

Having a dishwasher was a luxury and once kids got a chance to experience it, dishes were no longer done by hand unless we went camping.  Nowadays, almost every home, condo, duplex and/or apartment has a dishwasher.  It has become a kitchen essential just like the other major appliances, your refrigerator, stove and microwave.

Luxury, Essential Or  …

This may not be so true for those who are seeking to lessen their carbon footprint.  For those who have decided to simplify their lives and live off grid.  

Times are changing, but believe it or not, you can still experience a little luxury every now and then. Living off grid doesn’t mean that you have to give up your creature comforts.  

A good supply of water, whether you are harvesting it or you are fortunate to have a property well, solar panels or wind turbines, as well as gas or propane can keep you living in a comfortable style.

Hand Washing vs a Dishwasher …

There have been several debates on what uses the most water – washing dishes by hand or using a dishwasher.  

I always thought that using the dishwasher used more water, but now with most of them becoming eco or energy-efficient, I have to wonder.  


I know that people tend to let the water run while they are soaking, washing and rinsing their dishes, but I did not know that the average amount of water dispensed during one minute is equal to two gallons.  

That means that people who are hand washing can use up to 20 to 25 gallons of water within 10 to 12 minutes with the water constantly running.

Dishwasher models made before 2000, would use about 6.6 gallons of water per load.  Now, the newer energy efficient dishwashers can use up to three gallons of water for one wash cycle.  

The numbers do show that using a dishwasher will help conserve water, but that doesn’t mean having a dishwasher while living off grid is practical or necessary.  

If it is just you and your partner, then having a dishwasher doesn’t seem practical.  It would be quicker and easier to wash your dishes by hand. 

You can also limit the amount of water used. However, if you and your family are living off grid, a dishwasher may be a smart decision.

What To Consider When Deciding On a Dishwasher …

There are always things to consider when moving off grid and that is especially true when deciding on using any type of appliance.  You are not looking for the normal, standard appliances but ones that will meet the requirements for off grid living. 

There are three main things to consider when purchasing an off-grid dishwasher:

  • Low energy consumption

  • Low water usage

  • Small in size

If your off grid living situation is comfortable with an ample water supply, solar panels, propane (for heating), etc., then it should be an easy transition.

However, if it is not, then these three things need to be taken into account and dealt with before proceeding.  

You may also want to make sure that you have the space available, more than likely, counter space since the dishwasher will need to be hooked up to the faucet for water.

Brands Of Off Grid Dishwashers …

If you decide that you do want a dishwasher while living off grid, a traditional one will not be a practical choice. 

Try to avoid high tech dishwashers, ones that have a lot of sensors, onboard computers, etc., because repairs could be costly. 

There are a number of off grid dishwashers that will use less water and energy to power them. Let’s look at the features of some of the different models and see whether they can meet your needs.

Danby DDW621WDB - This is a countertop dishwasher known as one of the quietest, that can be hooked up to the faucet and the sink.  It has a 6-place setting capacity, 6 different wash cycles, including the eco cycle and uses around 3.1 gallons of water.

EdgeStar DWP62BL – This is a portable, Energy Star rated, dishwasher with an inbuilt heater that can be hooked up to your faucet.  It comes with a 5-foot hose, has 7 washing programs, 6 place setting capacity and is one of the quietest dishwashers using an amperage of around 5.7A.

Farberware FDW05ASBWHA – This is a compact, portable dishwasher with an inbuilt water tank and can be hooked up to your faucet.  It has 5 washing programs, as well as a Baby care cycle that uses steam to clean.


FreshCup Counter Dishwasher – As the name suggests, this dishwasher is for cups not for dishes.  It is very small with 3 extremely short washing programs, including one that generates steam.

hOmeLabs Compact Countertop Dishwasher – This model is known for using less energy, water and space; it is Energy Star certified.  You can place it on your counter, it is easy to install, can be hooked up to the faucet and comes with all the tools needed. It needs around 2.7 amp which could be from a 120V/60Hz AC power supply.  Its cleaning capacity fits 6 place settings.

Ivation Countertop Dishwasher – This compact dishwasher can be tucked under upper cabinets, comes with a stainless-steel interior with rinse and detergent dispensers, 6 wash cycles, cup shelf and silverware basket.  Is easy to install and comes with a sink faucet adapter.


Koldfront 6 Place Setting Portable Countertop Dishwasher – This is an Energy Star certified dishwasher that is larger than most countertops.  It is a quiet unit that comes with a durable stainless-steel interior and has a 1-year warranty on all parts (90-day labor).

SD-9263W: 18” Energy Star Portable Dishwasher – This is a portable dishwasher on wheels that can be moved around to attach to your faucet and then moved out of the way when not in use.  It is perfect for a family with 3 to 5 people and its cleaning capacity fits 8 place settings.

SoloRock 6 Settings Counter Dishwasher – This is the cheapest countertop dishwasher; it can be hooked up to the faucet and has the capacity to clean 6 place settings.


SPT Countertop Dishwasher – This dishwasher comes in a white exterior with stainless-steel interior and spray arm.  It has 6 wash cycles, sliding rack for cup and silverware, is easy to connect and doesn’t require any tools.

Sunpentown SD-2213W – This dishwasher is one of the smallest, can be hooked up to the faucet, has 6 washing cycles, fine for normal dishes.  If you have larger-sized plates this is not the dishwasher for you.  It also comes with 3 different filters (the main, coarse, and fine) which need to be cleaned every now and then as described in the user manual.

Remember, the models listed above all use some sort of power, whether from a generator, solar, or even some sort of electrical unit.  Another thing to consider is that these models are compact and although they can clean place settings, larger containers and/or pots may still have to be hand washed and rinsed so water availability is very important.

The Bottom Line

Living off grid and deciding on whether to hand wash or purchase a dishwasher is a personal preference.  Other factors may also influence your decision like family size, water availability, and how much power is generated. 

The models listed above are not only portable but energy and water efficient.  Do your research, talk with your family and others who live off grid, then weigh the options.  The choice is yours! 

About the Author Gail K.

Gail is an avid outdoor enthusiast who currently lives in her own Tiny Home travelling across the U.S. She stays month to month in random states, parking her Tiny Home on campground friendly locations and picks up Wi-Fi to contribute to our blog weekly!

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