How To: Choose the right kitchen appliance

November 13, 2009

At some point, most homeowners will have to replace their kitchen appliances, because either the family has grown, or the appliance is no longer energyefficient.

The appliance industry has introduced many products designed to make your time in the kitchen a pleasant experience. Before shopping for that new appliance, keep these simple suggestions in mind.

Dishwashers The best cleaning dishwashers have the hottest water available, and some manufacturers have a device that heats the water up as it comes out of your water line. Other great features include a food disposer that grinds up excess food particles so they do not end up stuck to the dishes. Inspect spray holes on the washer arms. The smaller they are, the more water pressure and scrubbing power they have. Check the wash cycles to make sure they have the types you need. Water-miser cycles use less water, while a rinse-and-hold cycle is good for a household that may only wash dishes once or twice a week. Look closely at how easy it will be to load the dishes, too. Is there plenty of room for big pots? A delay-start timer for dishwashing allows you to use the appliance when energy rates are low. Some dishwashers have sensor technology that will even detect how dirty the dishes are and adjust the cycle appropriately.


Refrigerators Before you even begin to shop for refrigerators, take an inward look at your needs. If your family is large, you will need a lot of capacity for extra groceries and food. If you live by yourself, a small amount of space is sufficient. The size of the refrigerator will also affect the size of your kitchen. Remember that if you have a large refrigerator in a small kitchen, your mobility will be limited. Refrigerators are configured as bottom-mount or top-mount, meaning the freezer is below or above the refrigerator compartment. Sideby- side refrigerators are just that, and compact refrigerators are small in size and ideal for dorm rooms or small apartments and bedrooms. Some great features in today's refrigerators include adjustable shelving. Test some models out and see which one is the easiest to adjust. Spill-proof shelves are helpful for easy cleaning. Others offer cubbies and snack centers that are convenient to quickly access common snack foods and drinks. An important asset of your refrigerator's ice maker should be its compact size. The smaller it is, the more space in your freezer for food. Consumers these days also appreciate in-door ice and water dispensers.

When checking out the refrigerator's interior, make sure storage bins and crispers have adjustable controls for the most efficient refrigeration.

Finally, consider its color and finishing to see if it compliments your kitchen's interior design.

Oven Ranges As with refrigerators, size is the most important factor in choosing a new oven range.

The size of your family and your interest in cooking will determine the size and features of the oven and range you will need. There are three styles of ranges carried by most retailers. Freestanding ranges have finished sides, controls on the backsplash and are designed to be surrounded either by cabinets or left standing on their own. Slide-in ranges have a "builtin" look with your kitchen and have controls on the front of the stove. Drop-in ranges require a cabinet modification if they do not fit exactly since they have unfinished sides.

Oven ranges are available either in electric or gas. Electric ranges offer either coil elements or smoothtops. Coil elements are easily removed for cleaning, while smoothtops are very easy to clean. Gas ranges have cooktops that can be lifted for cleaning. Convection ovens are also available. They circulate hot air with a fan, and are preferred by some because they cook food more evenly and at lower temperatures with faster results. Some offer a switch between conventional baking and convection baking.

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