Selecting Quality Kitchen Appliances

From on February 01, 2007 in Kitchen Remodel

The Scoop on Kitchen Appliances

Appliances should blend in with other design elements in your kitchen. You can achieve this by having them built into the cabinets or paneled to look like them. Or if you prefer, you can make a statement with a stand-alone, like those made with a decorative vent hood and carved wood ornamentation or a stainless steel refrigerator. Keep in mind where you place your appliances will affect the other design elements in your kitchen. For example, a range or a separate cooktop and oven could change your countertop and cabinet space plans.

Your options for appliance designs include:

  • Built-in
  • Paneled
  • Freestanding professional-style
  • Freestanding restored
  • Reproduction antiques
  • Standard freestanding

A new neutral is stainless steel appliances which work well in all styles of kitchens, from Old World to contemporary to Mediterranean to traditional.

Keep in mind that in order to get the commercial feel of a professional-style appliance you?ll need to splurge. Increased cooking and storage capacity and an oversized look come at a price that almost doubles standard appliances. True commercial units aren?t rated for residential use because of their special ventilation needs, massive size and safety issues, but most pro-style appliances come close to giving the advantages of a restaurant-grade appliance, including greater durability, more precise temperature control and a stainless steel finish. If you love to cook or have a big family pro-style is worth a look.

Know your cooking needs

When it comes to deciding on your cooking gear, you should look for features that will improve your cooking speed and precision. Things you should consider are whether you need pro-style or standard, gas or electric and how you want to place them (built-in or freestanding).

Pro-style vs. Standard Appliances

One of your first decisions should be whether you need the increased cooking capacity of a professional-style range or cooktop or if you?d be happier with a less expensive model that has more standard features.

Here?s how the pro-style features measure up against a more standard model:

A pro-style has four or more burners at 15,000 BTU while a standard model offers an assortment of burners ranging from 5,000 to 14,000 BTU. Pro-style has large control knobs, while standard has small knobs or a digital control panel. Pro-style has continuous cast-iron grates while standard have separate steel burners. Pro-style also has more oven racks and is 36 to 60 inches wide as opposed to the standard 30 inches.

Gas vs. Electric

For the most precise temperature control you?ll want to go with gas. The biggest advantage to going electric is that it?s cheaper and gives you the option of having a sleek glass ceramic surface, which is far easier to clean than a burner.

Cooktop Placement
You?ve got some flexibility when it comes to the placement of your oven. You can pair together a separate oven and cooktop; or you can make it part of a range; or mount it on the wall.

A popular and space saving option is stacking two wall ovens either on top of each other or side by side with countertop space in between them so you can have more cooks in the kitchen.

If you don?t plan on using both ovens regularly you may want to consider a combination oven which allows you to use it as a microwave and convection oven when you need it.

Warranties

Warranties vary by manufacturer and appliance model, but most appliances come with a one to five year warranty.

Energy Efficiency

Thanks to the Federal Trade Commission all new major household appliances are required to have a bright yellow-and-black Energy Guide label placed on them so that you will know the annual energy consumption and operating cost for each appliance.

Return to Top

Products To Consider

There are so many product considerations for your kitchen. We’ve listed a few not so common products you may want to look at before your builder begins to frame. When it comes to choosing what kind of oven you want, your options include conventional, convection, microwave and combination.

Conventional Ovens

Heat from a conventional oven relies mainly on electromagnetic waves that radiate from the oven?s sides. The air moves throughout the oven by natural convection?the warmed air rises and is replaced by cooler air, which then rises and is replaced, and so on. This is the least expensive oven, which runs around $850. The downside to a conventional oven is that when you have food on the top and bottom shelves the heat isn?t evenly distributed because it rises, which means the food on the bottom will cook quicker than the food on top.

Return to Top

Convection Ovens

Convection works faster than conventional ovens because it uses a fan that keeps the air circulating to ensure an even distribution of heat and faster cooking. All convection ovens are electric. The benefits to using convection are you can cook different dishes like fish and cookies at the same time without worrying about odors and tastes mixing and you don?t have to move food around because the circulating air reaches everything. The downside to convection ovens are they cook faster than conventional ovens so you?ll have to adapt your recipe’s cooking time. The average cost for convection is about $1300.

Microwave Ovens

Microwaves cook by getting water molecules in the food moving in a rapidly alternating electrical field. In order to cook effectively it is recommended that your microwave operate on 750 to 1,000 watts. Most microwaves come with programmed buttons for specific foods, which is helpful since microwaves cook food much faster than ovens. Microwaves are usually used as a cooking accessory to heat side dishes and warm-up leftovers, because they don?t afford the same taste and browning that an oven does. Depending on the size and brand, a microwave can cost between $100 to $500.

Combination, Convection and Conventional Aplliances

Some ovens combine the advantages of several types. You can purchase a conventional oven with a convection option, for example. Or you can buy a microwave/halogen light oven that can be used as a regular microwave or as a halogen light cooker?which can quicken your cooking time. You can also get a combination convection/microwave that allows you to brown food so it looks as if it has been cooked in a conventional oven. The benefits to using a combination is that you can prepare your dinners faster because you have more options, but they tend to be pricey - starting at around $1500.

When it comes to your cooktop you can choose from gas burners, electric coils, glass ceramic surfaces and modular burners.

Gas burners

The heating power of gas cooktops and ovens are measured in Btu (British thermal units) and will greatly affect how quickly your water boils and your sauce simmers.

For everyday cooking, 9,000 Btu should suffice. But if you plan to do a lot of saut?ing, stir-frying, or other high-heat cooking, you?ll want to reach a Btu of 12,000 or more. You?ll need to buy a pro-style cooktop to get that kind of heat. You may want

The benefits of gas burners are you get instant heat and control. Newer models use a pilot-less ignition instead of a continuous burning pilot which uses less gas. A word of caution: gas fumes can be very dangerous, so be sure your ventilation and gas-hookup is properly installed and maintained. Cost for a basic gas cooktop ranges from $300 to $1000.

Electric Coil Stoves

Electric black coils are metallic tubes covered with insulation that create heat through electrical resistance. The heat moves from the coils to the pot or pan through conduction and radiation. The benefits to coils are they generally cook faster than gas cooktops and they?re easy to clean and repair. The cons to coils are they can cost more over time than gas, they?re limited in their design appeal and temperatures fluctuate. Most coil cooktops start around $200.some of your burners to cool down to 5,000 Btu so you can simmer without scorching.

Return to Top

Ranges

A range combines an oven and a cooktop and they generally use the same heat source - gas or electric. A professional-style range affords you the luxury of having a gas burner and electric convection oven. The same pros and cons of oven and cooktop features apply to ranges as well. When it comes to installation, you can choose from freestanding, slide-in or drop-in. The price varies depending on the style - electric coil ranges will cost between $425-$650; electric smooth top ranges between $650 -$1400; gas burners between $550-$2000 and $4000 and up for a pro-style model.

Refrigerators

Don?t get sidetracked by all the gadgetry available for refrigerators, because the purpose of this storage appliance is to keep your food fresh, beverages cold and ice box chilled. When you look at each model, check out the amount of free space, accessibility and special (practical) features. The biggest difference between most models is the amount of cubic footage. The rule of thumb is that a family of two needs 8 to 10 cubic feet of storage space and that you should add 1 cubic foot for each additional family member - however, if you?re the type that likes to always have a stocked refrigerator you may want to increase the cubic feet right off the bat.

Check out features that will keep your food the freshest, like having separate temperature and humidity controls for different compartments and separate refrigerator and freezer compressors. If you want an ice and water dispenser, keep in mind that you?ll be losing valuable storage space. There are three basic models: a top freezer with bottom refrigerator, bottom freezer with top refrigerator and side-by-side freezer and refrigerator. The top-freezer model is the least expensive and tends to be the roomiest, while a bottom-freezer allows easier access to the refrigerator but it?s not available with a built-in ice-and-water dispenser. The side-by-side offers easier (but narrower) access to both compartments and isn?t as energy efficient. Special features are plentiful when it comes to refrigerators. You can get shelves that adjust, slide, crank and are spill-proof; interior wine racks, ice and water dispensers, refreshment centers (you can access drinks and goodies without opening the main door), beepers to alert you when the door is open, humidity-controlled crispers, night lights, deodorizers and much, much more. Top-freezer models cost about $600-$900; $900-$1500 for a bottom-freezer; $1000-$2000 for a freestanding side-by-side; and $3,500 to $5,000 for a built-in.

Dishwashers

A good dishwasher, like a good ventilation system, should clean well and do it quietly. When checking out a dishwasher look for features like wash cycle options, interior accessories and accessibility. Most dishwashers you?ll see load by placing the plates on the bottom and the glassware on the top, but there are models that do just the opposite. The controls for your dishwasher are either on the outside of the door or the door?s interior lip - and operate electronically or with manual controls.

Dishwashers have come a long way when it comes to efficiently and safely cleaning your dishes, glasses, pots and pans. If you like to use your china then you might want to pick out a model that has a separate setting for china. Some models even come with drawers so you can clean china and pots and pans at the same time. When it comes to the tub it?s worth spending a few extra dollars to get a stainless steel or porcelain tub rather than a standard plastic tub which over time will start to crack. Depending on the features you choose, a dishwasher will run between $300 to $1500.

Return to Top