Tetra, the small countertop dishwasher that made a big splash when it debuted almost four years ago at CES 2018, is finally ready
to ship take preorders.
Heatworks, the maker of Tetra, said that dishwasher will be available for a pre-order price of $399 ($499 MSRP) and will ship the product on May 18th, 2022, which apparently is No Dirty Dishes Day.
So what took a dishwasher originally expected to ship in mid-2019 an extra three years to get to market?
According to CEO Jerry Callahan, it had to do with a couple things, both related to getting the detergent just right for the small dishwasher.
The first was dosing.
“What we find out early on was that the dosing of its detergent was really critical,” Callahan told me in a phone interview this week. “We use a little bit of water, so if you overdosed it, the cleaning process wasn’t as good. If you underdosed the cleaning process wasn’t as good.”
Add in that each type of detergent brand has its own potency and efficacy, Callahan soon realized things would get out of hand if they tried to tell the consumer how much of each soap to use when running a load.
“I woke up in the middle night thinking about this matrix that we’d have to give everybody so that they put the right amount of detergent in. I said ‘guys that we can’t do that to people.'”
Another reason the Tetra took a while was the company wanted to make sure the cleaning detergent chemistry was just right. Typical dishwashing detergents have a mix of building agents, enzymes and surfactants, and while the varying composition and age of these different components may be fine in traditional dishwashing detergent, the cleaning cocktail needed to be pretty precise for a small machine that makes economic use of water like the Tetra.
This effort to get the dosing and chemistry right led them to a partnership with BASF. In a partnership announcement made last year, the two companies announced they would work on developing a detergent cartridge system for the Tetra. According to the announcement, each cartridge will be good for about 20 washes. Callahan told me that each wash would be an equivalent cost to a good detergent at a grocery store, or “about 35 cents a wash.” That puts cartridge pricing at around $7 per unit (pricing for cartridges were not announced in the release), but Callahan said each Tetra comes with a cartridge and preorders get an extra one thrown in.
Looking at the Tetra, I couldn’t help but notice that while the close-to-final product looks pretty close to the original design, there were a few differences.
One is the Tetra just looks like it has a bigger footprint. This is not surprising since the while original’s tiny design looked cool, the super small prototype didn’t seem all that practical with room for only two place settings (that’s if you didn’t have a silverware basket). The bigger Tetra of 2021 changes that with room for up to three place settings.
The current Tetra also is taller, which makes sense since, at some point, the self-contained washing system needed to make room for the dishwashing machinery as well as have a clear water chamber, a grey water tank and the cartridge system.
While big brands like Midea have been building countertop dishwashers for years, the Tetra – and those that followed like the Bob and the Capsule – are more self-contained and put a greater emphasis on sexy design. The Tetra still stands out compared to both the Bob (which is currently shipping) and the Capsule (expected to ship next year), in large part due to the all-glass top.
And it’s because of this unique design I think there will be some pent up demand for the Tetra, even three years after its debut. Callahan thinks so too, in part because of the 25 thousand or so who have signed up to be notified when the product is ready to ship.
Hopefully we should know by next year. In the meantime, you can check out what the Tetra 2021 looks like in action below.