Direct Drive vs Belt Drive Washing Machine – Which is better?

If you were shopping around for a washing machine, you might have heard about the term named Direct Drive technology. Why there are so many hypes about this technology. Is that worth the hype? Let’s figure out more about Direct Drive Technology and the Difference Between Direct Drive Vs Belt Drive Washing Machines in this article.

Every washing machine needs a drive system to rotate the drum. The heart of a drive system is the motor. To transfer the rotational power from the motor to the drum shaft can be done either through a belt or you can directly connect the motor shaft to the drum shaft. So basically there are two types of drive systems available washing machines.

  • Belt drive system
  • Direct drive system

Let’s learn about the basics of both drive systems so that we can differentiate them in a better way.

Direct Drive vs Belt Drive Washing Machine

What is Belt Drive System?

All traditional washing machines use this type of drive system. The motor is located away from the drum axis. The power is transmitted using a belt. Since the power has to travel a distance, there is always a power loss. That is one of the main reasons why traditional washing machines consume more power.

Belt drive systems used more mechanical parts. Those parts are responsible for rotating the washing machine drum in the clockwise and anti-clockwise direction. More mechanical parts mean more chances of failure. In fact, you need to change the belt after a couple of years of use as this can easily get damaged.

The belt drive system also produces more sound as there are more moving parts. More moving parts lead to more friction and more friction means more noise. Since the motor is located away from the drum axis, the balancing of the washing machine is a big pain due to the shift in the center of gravity. Manufacturers have to use a weight balancing mechanism to solve the weight distribution problem.

Advantage of belt Drive System

  • Repair and maintenance of the belt is very easy as you don’t need to open the motor
  • The drive system design is not complex
  • The unit cost is way less than direct drive based washing machines

Disadvantages of belt drive system

  • Produces a lot of noise
  • Power loss due to transfer of power through belt
  • Need to replace the belt after every 2-3 years
  • Weight balancing problem due to the motor mount location
  • Consume more power

What Is Direct Drive System?

The direct drive system eliminates the belt from the drive system. The motor is directly mounted underneath the washing machine drum. No more power loss as the motor shaft is directly connected to the drum shaft.

Direct drive system usually uses brushless motors that do not make more noise. And since there are fewer mechanical parts in the direct drive system, the chances of mechanical failures are less. Fewer mechanical parts mean low noise too.

The drive motor is located at the center of the washing machine. So the weight distribution is good. Machines won’t slide automatically during the operation as in the case of belt drive-based washing machines.

One problem with a direct drive system is the cost of repair if something goes bad. Since it’s a complex system with a lot of sensors, you need to pay a hefty bill if you ask a technician to repair your washing machine.

The cost of a direct drive-based washing machine is way higher than belt drive-based washing machines. But since a direct drive-based machine consumes less power and water, so if you keep the machine for a couple of years, the running cost will be low.

Direct drive-based washing machines often come with many other advanced technologies like inverter motors that can save your electricity bill by up to 40 %

Advantages of direct drive system

  • Produces very little noise
  • Few moving mechanical parts. So fewer chances of failure
  • Better weight balancing due to the motor mounted at the center
  • Consume less electricity as there is hardly any power loss
  • No need for frequent maintenance
  • Direct drive motors can handle higher spindle speed
  • Large size drum can be connected to the direct drum motor
  • Often comes with inverter motor for saving more power
  • Consumes less amount of water
  • Faster wash cycle due to high spindle speed
  • Use brushless motor for reduced noise

Disadvantages of direct drive system

  • Initial investment will be more
  • Repair cost is more
  • Chances of motor damage if there is water leakage in the drum

Conclusion: Which one is better between Direct Drive Vs Belt Drive washing machines?

Direct drive is definitely better in terms of noise, wash performance, and power consumption. Although the initial cost is high but if you keep the washing machine for a couple of years then the extra cost can be recovered easily.

But if you are tight on budget then a belt drive-based washing machine is the only option. But the pricing gap between belt drive and direct drive washing machine is getting narrow.

Do you still have any questions on belt drive vs direct drive washing machines? If yes, please write in the comment section and I will be happy to answer.

You may also like to read: Washing Machine Buying Guide

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ)

The direct drive system is only available in Front Load washing machines?

Well, almost all front load washing machines indeed use a direct drive motor but it does not mean that top load washing machines can not use a direct drive system. Many top load washing machines in India come with a direct drive system.

Do all Inverter washing machines use a direct drive system?

Necessarily not. See direct drive or belt drive system is for transferring the power. It has nothing to do with how the rotation power is generated.

Inverter mechanism is a feature of the motor that controls the speed of the motor based on the wash load. That is why inverter-based washing machines consume less amount of power. But the inverter mechanism is nothing to do with the best drive or direct drive.

But the fact is most of the direct drive washing machines come with an inverter motor. When you buy a washing machine with a direct drive system and inviter motor, the cost will be too high.


Rajib is the Co-Founder and the Lead Product Analyst of RiansTech. A BTech in Mechanical Engineering and a veteran in the Home Appliance industry with over 17 years of experience in designing appliances for industry leaders like GE and Whirlpool. He also runs a successful niche blog (RiansClub) on Mechanical Engineering

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