Portable vs. Built-in Dishwasher: The Ultimate Guide

A dishwasher may be a must-have appliance in every household, but it is up to you to decide which type will work best for you. The two types of dishwashers used in homes are built-in and portable dishwashers.

Each type has some advantages and disadvantages over the other. Hence, it is very important to know about all these factors before you decide.

We have developed a guide to facilitate our readers in buying a suitable dishwasher for their homes. We will discuss the major factors that can influence your purchase decision. After going through this guide, you will be better positioned to decide which dishwasher is best for you: portable or built-in.

Portable vs. Built-in Dishwasher: The Ultimate Guide

Washing Capacity

Portable Dishwashers:

Washing Capaicty Portable Dishwasher

They come in two types: countertop (with a tank or without tank) and on-wheels models. Countertop models have less washing capacity and are best for families with a maximum of three people. A countertop portable model will be ideal for two parents and one kid. Countertop models have a maximum capacity of 6-place setting.

One place setting consists of a large dinner plate, a small snack plate, a saucer, a bowl, a coffee cup, a drinking glass, a knife, two teaspoons, a dinner fork, and a small salad fork.

On-wheel portable dishwashers usually come in 18-inch sizes and are best for 4-5 people. You may find a 24-inch on-wheel model as well. 18-inch models have 10-12 place settings. On-wheel portable models allow users to wash pots and pans without any inconvenience.

Built-in Dishwashers:

Washing Capaicty Built-in Dishwasher

Built-in dishwashers come in 18-inch and 24-inch sizes. They are best for big families and offer up to 14-16 place settings. Moreover, they offer ample room for washing big pots and pans that cannot be washed in countertop models.

Installation Space

Portable Dishwashers: Portable dishwashers don’t require a permanent installation space. Countertop models are lightweight, while on-wheel models have wheels that allow you to drag the machine near the sink at the time of need and then move it back to its place. Portable dishwashers are best for people who don’t have a dedicated installation space for a dishwasher.

Portable dishwashers are also best for people that like to rearrange their kitchen space frequently. Since portable dishwashers, especially countertop models, are lightweight, you can also use them on the go and in your RV.

Built-in Dishwashers: Built-in dishwashers hold a fixed place in your kitchen that is adjacent to your kitchen sink. You will need to measure the available space before deciding on buying an 18-inch or 24-inch dishwasher.


Portable Dishwashers: They don’t need any sort of plumbing connections. A lot of countertop models come with a built-in water tank. You can pour water in it, arrange a bucket or draining system for drain water, load your dishes, plug it in, and you are good to go.

On-wheel portable models and countertop models without a tank need a water inlet. You can place these models near your sink and connect the inlet to the kitchen faucet, throw the drain pipe in the sink and it will be up and running in no time.

Built-in Dishwashers: Built-in dishwashers need plumbing connections. You will need to give a water inlet and outlet to your dishwasher and an AC outlet for your dishwasher.


Portable Dishwashers:

Features Portable Dishwasher

Portable dishwashers have limited features and options. Countertop models come with a few options and wash cycles compared to on-wheel dishwashers.

Built-in Dishwashers:

Features Built-in Dishwasher

They offer extensive options and wash cycles to choose from. Built-in dishwashers have an internal eater heater as well.


Portable Dishwashers: Portable dishwashers, especially countertop models, are cheap compared to built-in dishwashers. On-wheel models are more costly than countertop models, and some even have a built-in dishwasher price tag.

Countertop models with a tank are costly than countertop models without a tank.

Built-in Dishwashers: They are more expensive than countertop models. The high price is due to the large washing capacity, multi-functionality, water, and energy saving. Built-in dishwashers don’t occupy the faucet in your sink, giving you the freedom to use your sink faucet and dishwasher simultaneously.


Portable Dishwashers: When it comes to portability and the freedom to take your machine with you, a portable dishwasher surpasses the built-in dishwasher in flying colors. You can just pack your dishwasher and leave.

Portable dishwashers (countertop and on-wheel) models are best for renters, frequent movers, RVs, and off-the-grid living.

Built-in Dishwasher: You cannot move a built-in dishwasher once it is installed. However, you can still move or relocate it, but it will be a big hassle.

If you are moving to a new property, taking out your dishwasher will be easier than moving it inside your kitchen as you will have to rearrange plumbing, move your sink, and make space for your dishwasher.

Noise Rating

Portable Dishwashers: They are noisy. You cannot deny it. You will hear your dishwasher while washing dishes, discharging water, and even while taking water from the sink. On-wheel models shale a lot when they are put to work.

Built-in Dishwashers: Built-in dishwashers are less noisy compared to portable dishwashers. They are covered by cabinets that absorb sound. Moreover, built-in dishwashers use advanced technology to cut noise. Bosch dishwashers are known to be the quietest of all.

A guide to hooking up a portable dishwasher to a pull-out faucet is also available. Click to read.

Final Words

We have listed all the comparable features of a portable and built-in dishwasher. A dishwasher will go a long way with you and impact your quality of life and standard of living. Therefore, you must spend some time over it, evaluate the pros and cons, and then decide wisely.


  • Stephen Powers

    Appliance repair guy from Washington. I am majorly experienced in dishwashers, water filters and refrigerators, AMA on my twitter account.

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