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May 18, 2015

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I wouldn't feel compelled to buy a set.

I don't know much about which appliances are best, but I doubt that one manufacturer wins across the board. Of course it also depends, as you will have been told, on your plans, needs, etc.

For example, my dishwasher does a good job, but has a very long cycle. OK for me, but not if I had a lot of people eating a lot of meals here. It would make me crazy.

While CR is certainly a valuable resource, it's important to remember they are highlyy utilitarian and given, I think, to evaluating products for the average consumer. At least that's what I find when I read about products where I am not an average consumer.

We went with the do-it-yourself solution. Our remodeling guy said, "Buy them yourself." We went with the top-of-the-line items listed in Consumer reports: A Samsung three-door 'fridge, and LG electric range, a Kenmore dishwasher, a Moen sink faucet. Basically, if Consumer Reports said "This is the best one," that's what we took unless the price was totally out of line with the second-best.

Roll your own!
I would not buy all the same brand. Not at all. We just replaced our 20 year old KitchenAid Superba dishwasher with a Bosch. I love it! I also have a 20 year old KitchenAid fridge (coincidence) and plan to replace that with a Samsung, and I've decided to go with a "counter depth" model, because even though they have fewer cubic feet of storage space, I figure that anything that gets deeper than about 10 inches into a shelf is never going to come out again until after it gets furry. At my house, anyway.
For a range, I think the GE and KitchenAid offerings are pretty good, but keep in mind that one of my particular hot buttons is the power of the strongest burner. I am SO FLIPPIN TIRED of trying to do stir fry and having the pan go cold on me as soon as I add my food. UGH. If I can justify the expense, I would get Wolf appliances for cooking. That said, I did have to replace my wall oven a couple of years back and am very happy with my GE Profile. I was replacing Dacor brand, and I like the GE better (and it was less expensive). I will soon be replacing my Dacor cooktop and may just close my eyes and order a Wolf. We'll see if I can screw up the courage. Whee!

I think you're probably better off buying your appliances individually rather than going with a package set. As I see it, those matched sets are for people who care more about style and price than function, like flippers. Since you're getting your kitchen redone to use it, you should focus on getting the exact appliances you want, even if that means buying across brands and styles.

I haven't bought too many appliances myself, but I'm very attached to my GE induction range. I can't say enough good things about induction; it really is a huge step forward in cooking technology. Unless you're really wedded to your current cookware that isn't induction compatible, it's really worth considering.

Agreed, no reason to buy a set.

For a dishwasher I'd recommend https://www.fisherpaykel.com/us/kitchen/dishwashing/dishdrawer/

They are pricey but amazing. Ultra quiet and incredibly effective.

The only reason to buy a "set" is if you absolutely MUST have all the knobs match. Probably the sales dude gets more commission, too.

First, find the stuff you want, model #, etc. Second: google. Consumer reports, Fine Homebuilding, etc.

Since you say "dual fuel" range, I guess that means you have gas. I think I mentioned this in a prior post: but if you get a standard 30" range,
get a 36" exhaust hood; it keeps the heat away from
cabinets, and you don't need to have it as close
to the cooktop. Broan is good for this; look
for filter/motor setups that can be easily cleaned.
There's at least one high-end hood mfr, makes
the cleaning/greasetrap a big point, but noisy as
hell. No thanks.

If you don't have gas, I'd go for induction. Now, you need special pans, but what better time to clear out the old crap? If you can still use the
old stuff, it's hard to part with, but "nope,
can't use it" helps to make the decision easier.
Then buy Scanpan; they have induction-ready nonstick
that is tough enough to use metal utensils on. Good and solid.

Samsung fridges are (IMO) too expensive compared to LG, and their smaller market share may be a
problem for repair. Bottom freezer is great, it
puts the fridge at a good height, and that's what
you need 95% of the time.

But probably the best advice I can give is: think
first about what features are important for you:
big fridge? high power cooktop? appliance noise
level? and work from there.

Agree with not going with a package from the same mfr. Your choices widen immeasurably.

And it is difficult to get an avocado green colored stove these days, but Viking has a line.

Faucets? Check out Groen.

Our GE gas stove has one power boil burner which does well for stir fries or hamburgers/steaks. It also has a simmer burner.
On the other hand, CU recommended a Kenmore fridge which just lost the top shelf in the door after seven years.
Asking everyone you know (including google) for suggestions and complaints is probably the best approach.

No reason to buy a set. As long as the finishes are the same, that's what matters (I like white because I can put magnets on it, but some folks like stainless). I paid a few extra (hundred) dollars for a quiet dishwasher, and I love that!
For my fridge, I wanted adjustable shelves and separate temperature controls for the fridge and freezer, and no icemaker. We have so much calcium in our water it would just clog the pipes anyway. My stove is halogen with an easy to clean top, but the magnetic induction looks interesting too.
So, you want to decide what's most important for you, and go with that.

I bought an induction-friendly Scanpan, and had to return it because it's too heavy for my carpal tunnels, and because it has too high a thermal inertia -- it keeps cooking for a good while after you take it off the heat.

Anne:
I like white because I can put magnets on it, but some folks like stainless

Why anyone would like stainless enough to give up having a place to put magnets is incomprehensible to me. Without the things stuck to the fridge our household would fall apart.

Why wouldn't you be able to put magnets on a stainless steel appliance?

It's news to me that people use agents to choose appliances for them. We picked our own, including a Liebherr stainless steel fridge-freezer to put magnets on. (It's very good except for some underspecified plastic parts in the door handle which they rip you off for when you have to replace them.)

My wife insisted on a Quooker boiling-water tap which I couldn't see the point of, and it turns out she was completely right, as usual.

At least in the UK you get the best prices by searching the internet for them.

Some stainless is magnetic, some is non-magnetic, it depends on the alloy.

Why wouldn't you be able to put magnets on a stainless steel appliance?

some stainless alloys are not magnetic. and some 'stainless' appliances are actually aluminum. our KitchenAid fridge is all stainless, but magnets only stick to the sides. the front is apparently a different alloy.

i think you get better prices as a set. that's what the salesperson told us when we picked out appliances for our current house anyway.

A power burner is great. Aside from the items Peggy mentions, it saves time boiling water for pasta.

If you intend to use it for steaks and the like - I do and it's great - get a powerful hood.

I don't know if the pricing business is true or not. But if you buy all the appliances at the same place - set or not - you might be able to negotiate the price down somewhat or get some other goodies. It's a big ticket and they have some room. You should certainly try - hard.

If you were going to buy a matching set of fridge+dishwasher+range, which brand would you buy?

i'm struggling with this question right now, too. Consumer Reports just depresses me because i can't seem to find a line that gets good grades all around. and, for aesthetics, Mrs would prefer a matched set.

right now we have KitchenAid, and haven't had any serious problems. well, there was a problem with the defrost drain line in the freezer - it clogged up (because we have unfiltered well water) and flooded the freezer. service guy fixed that by cutting the end off the drain tube.

and the oven is very slow to pre-heat, and sometimes just stops pre-heating (so you have to stop it and then re-start).

the cook-top is decent, but i wish there was a stop between 'simmer' and the next higher stop because simmer is too low, and the next one is too hot.

dishwasher gets the job done, except that our water is too hard and nothing gets really spotless.

so... i guess i'm saying we do have issues with KitchenAid... :)

also... we have a downdraft vent on our cooktop. it's sexy and cool looking - no hood and the cook-top is in the island in the middle of the kitchen. but it doesn't have great suction, and it's very loud. we have an electric stove so there's no problem with the vent blowing out the flame, but that's something i've heard happens with some of the stronger downdraft vents.

All my kitchen appliances are black and of different brands. I don't see any aesthetic problems from the lack of brand consistency.

Is there really much of a bargaining advantage when buying matched appliances as opposed to simply buying everything from the same vendor? On one hand, I could see where they would prefer not to break things up, since a sufficient number of people prefer brand consistency, making one-offs harder to move.

On the other hand, if you're buying a number of one-offs, you're doing them a favor by getting them out the door.

Now that I've talked to myself long enough, I think I've arrived at an answer: It depends. Does the vendor have a bunch of one-offs hanging around at a given point in time or not?

I have a Bosch dishwasher and it's far and away the best dishwashing machine I have ever owned. Do not buy a GE "reasonably priced" dishwasher; you'll wind up hand-washing everything. And then it'll break.

I have gone through a few GE microwaves until I got my Kitchen-Aid, which has lasted a few years to date. There are other sucky brands of microwaves; you can usually tell by googling them or looking at their ratings on Amazon. But therein lies the danger of being sucked into the humorous ratings.

Samsung also makes some fine appliances; we have both a refrigerator and range made by them.

Finally: there is plenty of great stainless that works just fine on inductive cooktops. If you don't like gas, or even if you do, inductive cooktops are the best thing for cooking. A cast-iron skillet will work well on them (although has the aforementioned thermal inertia, aka "thermal mass" that makes it respond slowly to applications and removals of heating signal), but stainless is best. We have a set of Cuisinart stainless that we bought on special on Amazon that just beat the hell out of everything else we've had. Just make sure to stock up on Barkeeper's Friend for cleanup. When shopping for cookware, make sure you check to make sure they work for induction cooktops. Most brands will tell you. Otherwise you just have to apply the magnet test.

That's all I have. Matching appliances is not a thing I value so much as having a functional and reliable collection of appliances.

BTW, at least some dishwashers (Bosch has some, perhaps others) have a built-in water softener to deal with hard water.

For those who hate HATE *HATE*! the feel of soft water, but don't like spots much either.

A somewhat-related problem is acidic well water (acidic + hardness...messes up your plumbing, but tastes great!) Most
faucets will list "stainless steel", but that's only the
finish, not the material. ... for those who consider having matching decor more important than whether your faucet disintegrates in a few years.

For the major brands, 95%+ of what they list as "stainless" just refers to the finish; inside is brass, but good luck getting them to tell you that. Krauss is the only one I know that sells actual solid stainless faucets.

And to close the circle of what's-good, I have a Krauss apron sink in (of course; it's Krauss) heavy-gauge stainless. With, yes, the damned rectangular-prism-shaped sink depressions. Which is nice. So I've got that going for me.

I am beginning to suspect that I'm gravitating toward the high-dollar items to forestall any future remodelings, at least until the items in question are completely broken.

When's the last time anyone broke a stainless steel sink?

Roger and slarti,

What is it you both like so much about induction cooktops?

Induction is everything you'd want a gas range to be, only better. It heats faster, it shuts off faster, and it's far easier to clean. And since it heats more evenly, it even simmers better.

Plus, if you or your spouse are a little nervous about having gas-fueled appliances in the house, it's a good (better) alternative.

Cf., induction.

For what other type of cooktop could you (safely)
put a paper towel between the pot and the cooktop?

Yes, it violates EVERYTHING you learned about cooking.
But you can do it.

"I guess you get better prices when you buy them as a set?"

Maybe, but the salesperson certainly gets a better commission.

@byomtov:
Induction has a lot of advantages. Basically, you're heating the pot directly rather than through an intermediate medium. That means you get:

Control. Like a gas stove, there's no heating element that takes time to warm up and cool down. When you change the power, it changes immediately. But it's a digital control rather than a knob, so you can set the same power setting very reproducibly. Once you know the correct setting for a given kind of cooking, you can always get it exactly right. Another advantage is that the lowest settings are amazingly low. I can melt chocolate or butter in a stainless steel mixing bowl without needing a double boiler and without worrying about it burning or damaging the bowl.

Efficiency. About 80% of the applied power is going into your pot vs. about 70% for conventional electric and less than 40% for gas. That obviously means that stuff heats up fast when you set it on high. Less obviously, it means there's much less waste heat turning your kitchen into an oven on hot days, which is a big deal here in Southern California.

Safety. The only thing that heats up the cooking surface is the pots sitting on it. That means the surface never gets very hot, reducing the risk of burns. It also means that if you move a pot off the burner, the system will detect it and (after about 30 seconds) turn the burner off. It also has an overheat sensor that will turn off burners if, for example, a pot boils dry.

Cleaning. This is another benefit of the cooking surface never getting that hot: food splatters dry out but don't burn on. That makes it a breeze to clean up.

slarti and Roger,

Thanks for the information.

Another item on my list.

We have a set of Cuisinart stainless that we bought on special on Amazon that just beat the hell out of everything else we've had.

i really like our Cuisinart stainless stuff. really inexpensive (compared to AllClad, for example), but highly functional. it ignores magnets, though, so i guess it's no good for induction.

I think I mentioned that our Cuisinart stuff worked on induction tops.

Apparently they are using more than one stainless alloy/formulation.

As someone who is an avid cook but who has no prospect of building their own kitchen any time foreseeable, I've looked long and hard at induction "fifth burners", and will probably crack on one eventually.

Well, you've persuaded me to make an appointment to see an induction stove in action. Consumer Reports is *crazy* about them, because they combine safety and energy-efficiency. It's more money upfront, but may well be worth it. Most of my best pots/pans pass the magnet test already.

Roger (or anyone else who uses induction): have you ever used it for canning? My canning pot is *enormous*, much larger than any burner -- and probably doesn't pass the magnet test, anyway. Flat-top stoves have problems for canning, and I don't know if that would also apply to induction.

I moved and bought all new appliances 6 months ago, though I can't say my process was all that scientific. For a dishwasher I went with this bad boy: http://www.lowes.com/pd_625592-46-WDF320PADW_1z0ufmb__?productId=50258923&pl=1 , mainly because a friend had one in his house and it was reasonably priced and effective. Also, I live in Louisville and so Whirlpool is the home team. The fridge was this one: http://www.lowes.com/pd_567345-46-WRF560SMYW_1z0ufmc__?productId=50100186&pl=1 , it's a slightly smaller version of the fridge that was in my last apartment and I thought it was pretty good, not to mention Lowes had a great deal on it at the time. And for a range I got this guy: http://www.ajmadison.com/cgi-bin/ajmadison/FFGF3011LW.html?mv_pc=gg_pla&st-t=googlepla&utm_source=google&utm_medium=adwords&utm_campaign=pla&utm_term=&gclid=Cj0KEQjwhPaqBRDG2uiHzpKLi6ABEiQAk_XXieikNBnAM5ixngFt8xQ2KcyUnCOwORaSlpjIgk-6zOQaAowv8P8HAQ , again mainly because I got a good deal on it, but also because it has a slightly old-fashioned look to it that seemed to fit with my house, which was built in 1904.

I dunno if it's still the case, but if you like stainless steel, there were amazing deals on stainless steel appliances a few months ago. I actually paid slightly more to get that dishwasher in white - because if you've lived with stainless steel appliances, you know they only really look good in catalogs, or if you clean them literally every other day. I imagine that's why they were so cheap, since everyone seems to be figuring that out.

@Doctor Science,

Most of the concerns they're mentioning for glass-top stoves would be less of a big deal for an induction range. Induction ranges don't have the same kind of problem with the stove top overheating, because it's really only the pot that's causing the stove to heat up in the first place. Power shouldn't be a big problem, either; the most powerful burner on my range is 3700 W, which is extremely powerful. You would probably need to find a flat bottomed model, and it would have to be magnetic. That shouldn't be too hard if you're just using boiling water, but for pressure canning it might be a challenge.

If you buy based on a dealer's choice you are likely to get the things that make them the most money, not the best. Kenmore is not really a brand - it is things that Sears buys from various manufacturers, but they usually do a good job of selecting models. Most of Consumer Reports' lists have a Kenmore model near the top. Maybe they would enforce some uniformity in color anyway.

I presume that the "canning pot" is the one used for sterilizing glass jars, rather than some sort of pressure cooker?

Please correct if wrong, but my memory is that having a pot that is larger than an induction "burner" is no problem, but a pot that is smaller may not work. So having your large canning pot on a "high power but not huge" burner may be okay.

I also recall looking, and there are some pro suppliers that will sell you induction-ready pots in insane volumes (40+ qt?) If you're going to go with that, I suggest installing an overhead crane, or at least a hoist running on metal tracks,

The latter, of course would be totally awesome. Just make sure that the track runs down to the garage/loading dock for bringing in groceries.

We built a house in 1991-1994, and moved in in spring of 1994. Mrs. J insisted that I install a stove I would like cooking on, and we went with the Viking, for about $4,800, which was a potful of money in 1994.

It doesn't simmer, not even with the low BTU burners. Sauces will burn in a heartbeat if you stop stirring for even a few seconds.

You can't get replacement parts no matter what. Two front burners have holes in the bottom where gas comes out, catches fire, and throws hear out of round.

I think it is dangerous too, as sometimes that leaking gas doesn't catch fire and you can smell it. The electrical igniter didn't last very long, but at least they can replace it, it uses a Maytag part, as does the oven igniter.

We got a Kenmore Fridge, Consumers Report liked them, but Sears is slowly going out of business. I was there the other day looking for a laundry basket, and they didn't have them.

Then I noticed on the floor of the store where the women's wear was, it was nearly empty. No clothes on display, maybe 25% of the floor space used for clothes. Not like stores where you can hardly get around for the racks and racks of clothes.

So I don't recommend Sears appliances, although they seem well made at first, the fridge door doesn't close properly, you have to push it hard to get it past something that stops it. Forget just giving it a good push as you leave for the stove.

Grouchy today, must be the Republican politics I hear too much of.... happy Memorial Day, all.

I have a really hard time seeing what is worth almost $5K in a Viking range.

It's a metal box, with gas tubing and some simple valves. The ignitors? Well, but you can find stuff like that on $1 butane candle-lighters. Big whoop.

As opposed to a dishwasher, which has even more plumbing, plus pumps solenoids electric valves and sequencers. THAT should be an expensive device.

Snarki's comment reminds me of this Atlantic piece about insourcing, with the main exhibit, GE's GeoSpring

The GeoSpring suffered from an advanced-technology version of “IKEA Syndrome.” It was so hard to assemble that no one in the big room wanted to make it. Instead they redesigned it. The team eliminated 1 out of every 5 parts. It cut the cost of the materials by 25 percent. It eliminated the tangle of tubing that couldn’t be easily welded. By considering the workers who would have to put the water heater together—in fact, by having those workers right at the table, looking at the design as it was drawn—the team cut the work hours necessary to assemble the water heater from 10 hours in China to two hours in Louisville.

In the end, says Nolan, not one part was the same.

So a funny thing happened to the GeoSpring on the way from the cheap Chinese factory to the expensive Kentucky factory: The material cost went down. The labor required to make it went down. The quality went up. Even the energy efficiency went up.

GE wasn’t just able to hold the retail sticker to the “China price.” It beat that price by nearly 20 percent. The China-made GeoSpring retailed for $1,599. The Louisville-made GeoSpring retails for $1,299.

Time-to-market has also improved, greatly. It used to take five weeks to get the GeoSpring water heaters from the factory to U.S. retailers—four weeks on the boat from China and one week dockside to clear customs. Today, the water heaters—and the dishwashers and refrigerators—move straight from the manufacturing buildings to Appliance Park’s warehouse out back, from which they can be delivered to Lowe’s and Home Depot. Total time from factory to warehouse: 30 minutes.

speaking of induction...

anyone know if tungsten or titanium rings are affected by induction cooktops? i assume some stainless rings would be.

Taking the thread in the direction of a different kind of appliance, anybody got a suggestion for a computer router which will last? Ours appears to be on its last legs -- going down occasionally for no perceptable reason, etc.

Once upon a time, routers would last forever. But my impression is that today most of them are as given to "planned obsolescence" as anything.

never had a router go bad.

i've had the same cisco thing for many years. it just keeps chugging along.

Sometimes, it pays to be an early adopter so you can get the iron-clad version! Alas, we were not so fore-sighted.

cleek: by "ring", do you mean personal jewelry; or as a generic description?

Induction cooktops use ferromagnetic hysteresis to transfer energy; tungsten and titanium aren't ferromagnetic; some stainless is, some isn't. Perhaps
that's enough to answer the question. Ferromagnetic materials are iron, cobalt, nickel and one or two rare earths like dysprosium (IIRC), and they have to be in the correct chemical and crystalline structure. (Okay, okay, probably solid metallic hydrogen at the core of Jupiter, but you shouldn't be operating ANY cooktop in a hydrogen atmosphere anyway, okay?)

Now, a ring of conductor can get some induced current, but the fields are going to be set up so that "rings" are going to see fields that mostly cancel out. Which is really too bad, because it would be good to combine an induction cooktop with a magnetic stirrer.

BTW, lj, thanks for posting that story. It takes more effort for the "upper levels" of design and engineering to talk to the people who actually do the work, but there are certainly benefits to be gained.

cleek: by "ring", do you mean personal jewelry;

yeah.

lost my wedding ring last weekend. so i'm shopping for kitchen appliances and a new wedding band.

It takes more effort for the "upper levels" of design and engineering to talk to the people who actually do the work, but there are certainly benefits to be gained.

I'd guess there are cases where it would actually reduce their work by narrowing down the possibilities to be considered to the most realistic ones a lot faster.

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