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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday: GE Numbering Systems

GE is an unusual company-but not in a bad way. Founded by Thomas Edison, GE has a long tradition of doing things their own way. I remember once being told by an old-timer in the industry: "There is the right way, the wrong way, and the GE way." The system they use for numbering parts is unique to them as well, but it is quite rational. That would be another part of the Edison legacy.

GE is consistent with the style of part number they use. Their numbers use a combination of letters and numbers with the letters being more prevalent than most other brands. For example, all GE appliance parts will start with the letter "W", unless those parts are packaged for display as a retail item. Those retail items start with the letters "PM" for Parts Master, their retail product program. The second letter used indicates the type of appliance the part is used on. So, on a GE model:

  • WB is used for cooking equipment such as ranges, microwaves and range hoods. B for baking.
  • WR is used for refrigerators and freezers. R for refrigeration.
  • WD is used for dishwashers. D for dishwashers.
  • WC is used for Trash Compacters. C for compacter.
  • WH is used for washers. H is for home laundry.
  • WE is used for dryers. E for electric dryer. This prefix is used on gas dryers as well.
As you can see, it is pretty easy to determine what type of machine a part is for just by seeing the first few letters in the part number. But GE didn't stop there. The numbers that come after the letters often hold meanings as well, although there are some exceptions found as you get past the letters.

Here are some common numbering standards:
For ranges:

  • WB21 is used for switches.
  • WB27 is used for controls
  • WB30 is used for surface elements.
  • WB31 Is used for drip pans and rings and burner grates.
  • WB44 is used for bake and broil elements
For refrigerators:
  • WR9 is used for controls, both temperature and defrost 
  • WR30 is used for ice makers and related pieces (such as the ice bin).
  • WR50 and WR51 are used for defrost heaters and thermostats. 
  • WR55 is used for electronics such as boards, touchpads and sensors. 
  • WR60 is used for motors.
  • WR87 is used for compressors.
For dishwashers:

  • WD26 is used for motors and pumps.
For washing machines:

  • WH1 is used for belts.
  • WH13 is used for valves.
  • WH23 is used for pumps.
  • WH38 is used for transmissions.
For dryers:

  • WE11 is used for elements.
  • WE18 is used for lint screens.

As you can see there is a certain elegance to their numbering system. I am probably overlooking a few of their common prefixes, so please let me know in the comments what I missed.

There are also a few tricks that seem to come up regularly to people who are researching GE parts.

  1. The first has to do with the model number. There are a fair number of GE models that end with the sequence letter-zero (or sometimes astersisk)-letter-number-letter-letter. These can be particularly tricky as GE has an unwritten rule that the zero or asterisk is dropped in this type of model number, To complicate matter further, they will sometimes drop the last 2 letters off as well. A good way to deal with this, if you are using the Illustrated Parts Lookup is to key in the 1st half of the number. You will get a list of all models that start with what you typed. Knowing what I just told you about GE model numbers, it should at that point be fairly easy to pick your model off of the list.
  2. The second has to do with part numbers and another unwritten GE rule. Older models of GE used a strict format of 2 letters-2 numbers-the letter x-4 numbers, When the the number was shorter they would insert zeroes to stick to their format. For example, WR9x489 would likely be listed as WR09x0489. The researcher is just expected to "know" to drop those zeroes out of the number. That was confusing but consistent until a few years ago, when GE decided to NOT have the zeros drop out of the part number. How can you tell? The rule of thumb to use is if there are 5 numbers after the connecting letter (Ususally "X" but sometimes "T","M"or another letter) then you leave all zeroes intact. If there are not 5 numbers after the connecting letter, then it is an older number and the zeroes drop as mentioned about.
That's all there is to it! Clear as mud, I know. The great thing is that if you need a hand, we've got you covered. There is a lot of experience working with GE's among our staff, so do not hesitate to give us a call if you have difficulties.

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