A company called Heatworks has opened preorders for its new countertop dishwasher. Called the Tetra, the dishwasher eliminates any need for plumbing connections and instead relies on a 3-liter water reservoir you fill and empty every time you do a load of dishes.
Eco-conscious — The Tetra is only able to wash roughly three sets of plates, cups, and some cutlery. You might be wondering, what’s the point? There are a couple potential benefits. For one, Heatworks claims the Tetra uses less water and power than a full-size dishwasher or even washing dishes by hand in the sink. If you live in a drought-prone area like California, cutting back your water usage is recommended.
You could also be someone who doesn’t already have a dishwasher but wants one. Half of people across the United States live in rentals that may be small units with no dishwasher. Residents might not think twice about buying a relatively expensive appliance that frees them from washing dishes by hand.
Proprietary detergent — But then you consider the Tetra’s drawbacks. The dishwasher is, again, quite small. And Heatworks says it takes about an hour for the shortest wash cycle. That could be fine for a single person, but not for a family.
Then there’s the detergent: it’s proprietary. Instead of creating a reservoir for any standard, liquid detergent, the Tetra uses Heatworks’ own detergent cartridges that you have to order at a price of about $6 per cartridge. Each cartridge is good for about 20 loads, meaning each wash will cost you 30 cents.
That’s really the business model Heatworks is operating under here. Printer manufacturers don’t make money off the printer itself, after all, they make money continuously selling you ink afterwards. But that means you’ll have to remember to order cartridges from Heatworks for the life of the dishwasher — and hope you don’t ever forget, lest you have to go back to hand washing like a pleb. Heatworks at least made an app — because of course — that will remind you when you need to order more pods.
Tough sell — Maybe that’s all fine with you. If you don’t already have dishwasher in your home or have a small kitchen and can’t install one, or you just care about the environment, the Tetra is an interesting idea. But considering its retail price of $500, this dishwasher feels a bit niche. You have to clean out disgusting water at the end of each cycle, and it holds so few dishes that anyone who isn’t living alone would need to run it at least once daily. But it’s the business model that really kills it. What if Heatworks goes out of business and stops selling cartridges, are you just screwed? We’ll pass on this one.