Appliances add up to about nine percent of your kitchen budget. While features and performance are obviously the most important considerations in choosing appliances, how they\’ll look in your kitchen probably matters to you, too. Choosing the right appliances can augment the look and utility of your kitchen.
White appliances are still the classic favorite, followed by black. Stainless steel, with its professional look, continues to grow in popularity. If you’ve chosen a simple Shaker-style space or a luxurious Italian villa setting, however, you may want to hide the fridge and dishwasher out of sight. Cabinet manufacturers offer coordinated cabinet fronts that adhere easily and provide a custom-designed look. To further the traditional, low-tech look, you can opt for small-appliance depots in countertop-height cabinets. You can even choose a specially designed under-counter oven.
- Always have the dimensions of your kitchen and cabinets with you. You want to buy appliances that will fit into your kitchen. Take into account opening doors and work space when choosing them
- Make sure you know what the price includes when looking for the lowest price, e.g. will the oven be delivered and installed in your kitchen with no extra cost? If there is a cost, wouldn’t it make some other shop where it is included a better price? Be sure to know all these details before you make a final decision.
- Know how long the warranty given to you last for, who will be giving you the service, how much will it cost you to extend this warranty, does the warranty include labour, and try to get a general idea of service costs to make the right choice.
- BUDGET! Eliminate any appliances that are far off that budget, and decide how important the certain appliance is to you. You might want to put some more dollars into a better oven, and save some on the microwave.
- Check the installation requirements of the product you buy. For instance, an ice maker on the refrigerator requires a water line. You need to make preparations for that before the refrigerator is installed in your kitchen.
How to Choose an Oven
The traditional range or stove, a single unit with cooktop above and oven below, is an affordable, space-conserving solution still chosen by most homeowners. But it\’s just one of the cooking options offered today. Serious home cooks tend to choose commercial-style stoves with six or eight burners instead of four, basting and grilling functions, and built-in warming ovens. Other people love the new modular cooktops that let you add burners, downdrafts, griddles, deep-fry and steamer units, woks, rotisseries, and grills.
A modular approach to overall kitchen design is a pronounced trend. Wall ovens separate from cooktops let you create several cooking work stations instead of just one. A double wall oven stacks two ovens to save space and deliver twice the baking/roasting capacity, which many people find useful for special occasions. And you can still get two-oven stoves, with one oven below the cooking surface and the other well above, at cabinet height.
Gas or Electricity?
The first decision in range shopping has always been gas versus electric. Many serious cooks prefer gas for its instant response, precise controllability, and lower operating cost over time. Others praise the evenness of electric heat and the lower initial cost of the appliance.
These day “dual fuel” ranges are available to let you mix gas and electric heat sources; for example, gas cooktop burners and an electric convection oven/broiler. Most often convection ovens are electric, using heated air to cook up to twice as fast as conventional ovens that rely on radiant heating action.
Electric coils are the most popular kind of electric burners, and the least costly. Smooth-top surfaces are offered with one of three heat source types: radiating electric coils beneath the glass surface, halogen burners, or magnetic-induction elements. All require thick, flat-bottom cookware. If gas is your choice, sealed burners are easiest to clean, and a automatic ignition system means no hot spot when burners are off. Commercial-style glass stoves offer high BTUs (British thermal units, the measure of cooking heat) and high style. They require heavy-duty ventilation systems.
What about controls? Controls that are located on the front or on the side of the appliance are most common and convenient. There are pros and cons to these positions: while a front-situated controls is accessible to someone in a wheelchair, it is also accessible to a curious toddler, which calls for controls located on the backsplash. Controls should be easy to understand and operate, be it electronic temperature readouts and touch-pad, or knob or dial controls.
Under-counter model de-emphasize your appliances. This is ideal for certain styles (which you would have made up your mind on – like Shaker-style space or a luxurious Italian villa setting). A cooktope can be installed directly above the oven or located elsewhere in the kitchen.
If you don\’t have a ventilation fan above your cooktop that vents to the attic or outside, you\’ll want a range hood with ventilation fan built in. This is because vaporized grease can dull beautiful new kitchen surfaces, and moisture can compromise the efficiency of home insulation. The solution is an updraft range hood that funnels cooking grease and smoke into one area so that the fan can draw it through a duct to the outside.
Filters capture additional grease and odors. Look for range hoods that come in copper, stainless steel, and other good-looking, easy-care materials, or customize a standard hood with ceramic tile to create a major focal point, furthering your decorating scheme. As an alternative, down-draft ventilation, usually part of a cooktop or grill, also employs a fan and duct arrangement. Units that rise above cooktop level provide the most effective venting.
How to Choose a Refrigerator
Refrigerators\’ energy conservation has improved a lot since mandated standards were set in 1993 and 1998. Today\’s refrigerator-freezer models also offer a lot more convenience. You can still get the basic 18-cubic-foot, freezer-on-top model with wire shelves, but the most popular style offers 20 cubic feet of storage; adjustable glass shelves; meat keeper with temperature control; vegetable crisper with humidity control; ice-maker; and door bins.
Next in cost and convenience are models with the freezer located below the refrigerator (a very good option for people with bad backs) and 22-cubic-foot capacity. Side-by-side designs and water- and ice-dispensing “convenience centers” built right into the door add further appeal. Built-in refrigerator-freezers and commercial, stainless-steel models are top-of-the-line choices for luxurious looks or serious, high-volume storage.
How much refrigerator do you need? Plan on 12 cubic feet for two people and 2 more cubic feet for each additional household member. However, there are other considerations. If you like to stock up during sales, or cook often for crowds, the more room the better. Side-by-side models are easiest to organize, but the smaller models have relatively narrow freezers. Look for pull-out, roll-out bins and baskets that make it easy to see everything without having to dig around. Beyond the main fridge, if you\’re a serious entertainer, look into ice makers that fit into the space of a trash compactor and produce large quantities of ice daily. A separate, under-counter refrigerator for soft drinks and a wine cooling compartment are entertaining options.
How to Choose a Dishwasher
Today’s dishwashers are quiet thanks to extra insulation, and are more energy efficient than they were in the past, using fewer kilowatt-hours per wash cycle, less water, and an air-dry option that doesn\’t require heat. Choose a dishwasher with internal water heating; as it increases temperatures to grease-dissolving levels so the machine doesn\’t place extra demands on the home hot water heater. There are portable dishwashers, although most models are built-ins and can be concealed behind panels that match your cabinetry. They feature electronic touch-pad controls, stainless-steel interiors, and special wash cycles such as crystal, china, and pots/pans. Less-costly models employ push buttons or combine buttons with a dial. These models usually offer three cycles: light, normal, and heavy.