Major Appliances

ddrueding

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We'll be moving in about a month, and will need a full suite of appliances when we do. Fridge, stove/oven, dishwasher, clothes washer and clothes dryer. Right now I'm flicking through all the manufacturers websites keying comparative data into a spreadsheet.

Where should I be looking? What is good? What isn't? I'm trying to work with a $10k budget and get higher-end stuff, is this realistic? Is there bargaining for this kind of stuff? Deals to be had somewhere special?

Thanks in advance.
 

jtr1962

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If you're going for higher end then you probably already know that stainless steel looks nice, is durable, etc. This is especially true for the tubs of washers/dryers. I've seen refrigerators with LED lights and all the digital goodies. Anyway, if possible try to buy everything as a group. It'll all match and you'll likely get a better price. And you might want to at least look at floor samples. Some only have minor cosmetic issues but a nice markdown.

Yes, $10K is quite realistic for all that. A high-end fridge will probably run you 2K and change. The washer and dryer might be another 2K. That still leaves you over $5K for the dishwasher and stove, and you can find great stuff for well under that. Are you looking for a gas or electric dryer? Same question on the stove.

BTW, maybe it's some kind of record but here's what we have:

1978 stove/refrigerator
1973 washing machine
mid 1990s dryer (forgot the exact date)
1939 or 1962 dishwasher (i.e. either me or my mom)
 

Chewy509

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While I don't know about the major retailers in the US, however I know for the best deals, always offer cash... forget using in-store credit services for payment of white goods.

On the clothes washing machine, dryer front. Stay away from the all-digital units and stick with the slightly older mechanical designs. They'll last longer, and you won't need a service call to replace a fried I/O controller because it got wet 3yrs down the track due to a leaking seal...

On the fridge department, read review on the various models. Here in Oz, we have www.choice.com.au which is a consumer choice publication that does LOTS of reviews on products, and should give you a good indication on what to look out for. (I'm sure you guys in the US have a similar service).

The size and style of the fridge is very dependent on your cooking habits. If you eat out more often that not, a smaller unit will suffice, but in Elin and my circumstance, we eat at home every night, so having a bigger fridge is important, (and don't skimp on freezer space if you are looking at a family shortly).

Also with the fridge, pay the little extra for the 5-10yr warranty. In most cases it's around $100 to get the warranty extended from 5yr to 10yr. It can be worth it, if the compressor goes.

Stove/Oven, it all depends on what your cooking habits are. I'm personally not a fan of the ceramic top stoves, since they are a PITA to clean and keep clean, and any scratches to the cook-top are very noticeable. I prefer gas, but as I said that's entirely up to your cooking habits.

As for a dishwasher, we don't have one. The last place I rented had one, but I never really used it due to the low amount of dishes I had to do each night.

As for where to buy, each capital city here in Oz has a factory seconds outlet for just about every major brand, which lets you save a few $$$ buying either slightly damaged (eg chipped/scratched paint work, but generally nothing worse than that), or last-year models that have been replaced by newer models. Your phone-book should have a few listings for these types of places. And like I said, always deal in cash, you'll get the biggest and quickest discounts, and don't be afraid to negotiate price or walk away from a sales-person if you are not getting the price you think is reasonable. Also don't forget delivery/installation costs as well when talking about price...

Sorry I can't offer particular models, etc, but the above may be of some help...
 

Mercutio

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My folks have had a serious run of bad luck with fairly high end laundry equipment. They lost three ~$2000 washing machines in three years (all of them in the "it's cheaper to get a new one than get the old one fixed" category), and they also had a gargantuan $3500 25 cubic foot fridge that crapped out about three months outside its two year warranty (ditto, though IIRC GE *did* replace it anyway).

I'm not sure price is indicative of quality when it comes to appliances.
 

ddrueding

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Thanks for the advice, all. It really is helpful.

I'm not sure price is indicative of quality when it comes to appliances.
That is what I'm noticing. Washing machine example:

Bosch 500 Plus WFMC530CUC - $999
Kenmore Elite HE5t Steam - $1699

Same features, but the Kenmore is 10% larger.

Fridges with the same feature sets are anywhere from $73-$350 / cu.ft.

I haven't even started to look at the rest, but I'm well into "buyer beware" mode already...
 

ddrueding

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Are you looking for a gas or electric dryer? Same question on the stove.
I'm thinking electric everything. The temporary house that we are moving into has an electric, and my long-term plan is to go off-grid in the house I will build. Generating electricity is easier then generating gas*.

*Of acceptable quality and quantity...I can smell the jokes coming already...
 

Stereodude

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You can't really go off-grid with normal appliances. Propane is your friend if you're trying to be off-grid.
 

ddrueding

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You can't really go off-grid with normal appliances. Propane is your friend if you're trying to be off-grid.
Too much draw? Not enough batteries in the world? IMHO, propane isn't really off grid, it just means the grid comes to you monthly. When I think off grid, I think actually producing enough energy to handle consumption.
 

jtr1962

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The major stumbling block to living off-grid right now is that the typical means used for generating power (solar and wind) do so intermittantly whereas most people need power continuously. What's needed is some sort of relatively cheap system to store perhaps two or three days worth of power.

A gas stove or clothes dryer will use about 3 to 5 kW. It's certainly feasible to generate that amount of power and more from a roof full of solar panels. The problem is that the power may not be generated when you plan to use it. That's where an energy storage system comes in. One idea floating around is vehicle-to-grid where the charged battery of an EV sitting in a garage is used for home power, or to even out the load on a solar system.

I share your desire to go off-grid eventually myself. Right now the enemies of that are the need for cheaper, more reliable batteries, and also cheaper, more efficient solar cells. Batteries especially are problematic. Lead-acid doesn't seem to last long. The thought of replacing a $5,000 lead-acid battery rack every 5 to 7 years makes the prices we're paying now for power seem cheap. Perhaps an ultracap system which will last as long as the house, coupled with solar panels not much more expensive than shingles, will make off-grid practical for private homes. And I'd say we'll mostly be there before you're my age, perhaps sooner.
 

time

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Ddrueding, my first question is, how come you need a stove? A stove is a fixture - it's part of the building, like the kitchen sink.

Stereodude is 100% correct. You need gas cooking to get off the electricity grid. The good news is that a cooktop can be supplied from a pair of 9kg (20lb) propane bottles for months at a time, so you can throw them in your car and take them to a refilling station.

On the other hand, there's no point in a gas oven - they're expensive and a PITA to use.

Electric cooktops are a problem for "off-grid" because of the huge current they can pull down, albeit for short periods of time. To my surprise, they're actually more efficient than gas at transferring energy into the cookware (and therefore the food) - provided the cookware base is flat. So if you have cheap, bent cookware, go for gas. :roll:

Over the years, we've had to contend with many different cooktops (and ovens), about half of which were gas ('natural' and propane). Gas was so obviously better, we made sure that's what went into the house we built. The worst of the electrics were those damn cast iron hobs - the least efficient and by far the slowest to heat up and cool down, an absolute abomination.

Our current place has a gas line in the street; however, it would cost a small fortune to run the pipes and install a gas cooktop, so we looked at alternatives. We found ... induction.

Precise control over power (11 digital power levels - some have 21), zero lag (even marginally less than gas) and incredibly fast. You can boil a couple of cups in water in less than 30 seconds, yet melt chocolate slowly, and you can do it every time without fail.

Unlike conventional glass-ceramic cooktops with radiant elements, the surface doesn't get hot all over. My party trick is to boil water for a minute, remove the pan and place my hand on the cooktop where the pan was standing. It works because the only heat in the surface is what it has absorbed from the pan, not the other way around. Similarly, the surface cools down in at most a few minutes, compared to 45 minutes for a radiant element unit.

All this means that food spills just don't stick. Also, you can't get near conventional glass-ceramic cooktops for *at least* half an hour after you've finished cooking. With induction, you can lift the pan and wipe it up with a paper towel, then replace the pan and continue cooking!

Energy transfer efficiency is up to 90%. I'll vouch for it, you can hardly feel any heat at all when working near the stove, which is weird but literally cool.

To sum up, induction cooking is completely awesome - we'd never go back to gas, and I'd give it the highest recommendation of anything I've ever owned. But it's still capable of drawing 30A @ 240V, so current models are just not suitable for battery/solar cell operation. :(
 

Bozo

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A couple of notes:
Refrigerators with side by side doors are a pain to get things in and out of. Very narrow shelves. They are also have the worst energy ratings. Freezer sections with through the door ice and water take up a lot of space inside the freezer. And they are prone to failing. Internal ice makers are great.
Cook with gas. If the electric goes out, you can still cook. Almost every resterant in world cooks with gas. The cooking temperature is much easier to control. And, there are fewer parts to break in the long run. Propane is a lot less expensive that electric. We have gas hot water, gas stove and a gas dryer and we use ~50 gallons of propane every 90 days. Cost ~$150.00. And, we have automatic delivery.
Stay away from the hi-end appliance with all the bells and whistles. After about a year you will find you don't use or need most of them. They are just one more thing to break. And, they are expensive to repair when the warrenty is done. Most manufactures have the same size and style appliance without all the extra junk. It is the internals that count.
Big box stores (Lowes, Home Depot) might have the lower prices, but getting service from them (even under warrenty) sucks donkey balls. They contract out to third party outfits that could care less.
A regular appliance store with their own service department will pay for itself in the long run.

Bozo :joker:
 

ddrueding

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JTR,

Living off-grid is a long-term goal, if it is less than 10 years out I would be surprised. We won't be in a position to buy for another year or so, and then the dream house is next in line. By then I may be using hydrogen storage instead of batteries; that way I can power the car, too.

Time,

We need a range (cooktop and oven combo) because the place we will be living in has one from ~1948, and I'm afraid to use it. This place was my new employers' original house, and was stripped and used as office space for about 15 years, then used for storage about 2 years ago. The rooms are still there, and the power and telecom wiring are top-notch, but no appliances at all. Rather than have him go out and get some cheap ones, we've decided to get some good stuff that we can take with us when we move on. In our current place we've been dealing with crappy appliances for years. A dishwasher so loud we have to leave the house, a fridge with compressor whine, an oven that preheats for 40 minutes, etc. I'm ready for some good stuff.

I agree 100% about induction cooktops; I got to play with one in Moscow and it was very neat.

Stereodude,

Off-grid is still out there a ways, but I'm certainly starting my research already. Thanks for the link, that is great.
 

timwhit

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I'll second that fridges with side-by-side doors sucks. It seems much smaller. My new place came with a GE Profile side by side and I don't like it very much. It also has ice access through the door and it leaks and jams open sometimes, which can't be good for the compressor or my electric bill. I would avoid this feature if you can.

I've used fridges where the freezer is below the fridge and those seem nice, since you will probably use the fridge a lot more than the freezer.
 

timwhit

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My last place had a ceramic cooktop stove. It looked really nice when it was clean. However, it was almost never clean. It took a serious amount of time to get it clean and I had to use a specialty cooktop cleaner to get it to look clean. I would stay away from these, they are a pain in the ass.
 

Stereodude

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The Fridge we are looking at is this one.
My wife and I bought this one last year. The automatic ice maker is nice, but I'm not a big fan of the freezer. Basically, you can't put tall items in the freezer due to the doors and trays which can be annoying. I do like the in door water dispenser. It beats having to open the fridge to get to a water dispenser. If you go bottom freezer skip the in door ice dispenser. It just wastes space in the fridge.
 

Bozo

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Thanks Bozo, with all you guys talking gas, I'll have to take another look.

The Fridge we are looking at is this one.
Looks great. A relative bought one like that only it had a wall between the fridge halves inside. You could not get to anything on the rear of the shelves without taking everything out in front first.
That one looks ideal.

Bozo :joker:
 

jtr1962

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Thanks Bozo, with all you guys talking gas, I'll have to take another look.

The Fridge we are looking at is this one.
Bottom freezer models make a lot of sense. If/when our 1978 vintage fridge goes, we'll be seriously taking a lot at something like that.

The only main disavdvantage of gas stoves is the need to run a gas line wherever the stove will be. This generally isn't something a DIYer should attempt. I'm comfortable doing electricity, plumbing, ceramic tile, concrete, etc. but I won't touch gas lines with a ten foot pole. Putting that aside, if you already have a gas line in the kitchen then seriously consider a gas stove. If you still want to go electric, then I'd definitely recommend an induction cooktop.

Regarding induction cooktops, does anyone know if you need special cookware, or can you use whatever you already own?
 

Bozo

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Bottom freezer models make a lot of sense. If/when our 1978 vintage fridge goes, we'll be seriously taking a lot at something like that.

The only main disavdvantage of gas stoves is the need to run a gas line wherever the stove will be. This generally isn't something a DIYer should attempt. I'm comfortable doing electricity, plumbing, ceramic tile, concrete, etc. but I won't touch gas lines with a ten foot pole. Putting that aside, if you already have a gas line in the kitchen then seriously consider a gas stove. If you still want to go electric, then I'd definitely recommend an induction cooktop.

Regarding induction cooktops, does anyone know if you need special cookware, or can you use whatever you already own?
In my experiance, the gas/propane company will install the gas lines. Then they are responsible for all maintenance and leaks. This makes them liable for damages if there is a fire caused by a leak.
I beleive induction ranges must have metal cookware, no glass, ceramic, or other non-conduction material. You might want to check if they are safe for someone with a pace-maker too.

Bozo :joker:
 

Handruin

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When I had my house, I loved my Amana fridge which was a bottom freezer single door and 36" wide. I chose not to get stainless steal because they can be more work to keep them looking cleaner outside (plus it didn't match anything in the kitchen). I had talked to several people who also had Amana products and loved theirs.

I felt like we got by with some really nice appliances for less than $6K (with $5K as part of allowance with the new house). I went with an electric flat-top stove because gas wasn't available in my neighborhood.
 

sechs

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If you're going for higher end then you probably already know that stainless steel looks nice, is durable, etc.
And, they look dirty all of the time. I had a stainless fridge in my last place, and hated it. Do yourself a favour and go with enamel. These days, you have to be really abusive to damage the surface. It'll probably be cheaper, too.
 

sechs

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Rather than have him go out and get some cheap ones, we've decided to get some good stuff that we can take with us when we move on.
Chances are, you're not going to want to take most of the appliances that you buy now to your new place. Beyond the fact that there's always something better and cheaper on the horizon, the probability of matching the appropriate decor is about nil.

This is not to say, that you shouldn't get nice stuff... just don't be buying for a future that isn't anywhere near here.

PS: I recently bought a washer and dryer from Sears (am I showing my plebian tastes?). Picked-up a nice floor model dryer for half-off. When did they start putting "off" button on dryers?
 

ddrueding

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Finally got a house, the remodeling we are doing now puts a kitchen remodel a year+ out, but we will need a fridge when we move in (hoping by this December).

Currently looking at this one. We have decided on black for the appliances, and my wife likes the french door style. I think an external dispenser will save countless prolonged openings, but that is open to debate.

Amana's (rough) equivalent doesn't have an external dispenser, but is nearly $1k less, and that has my attention.

Longer term, I'm looking at this induction cooktop with this cookware. But that $2500 will have to wait for the new kitchen, and the $10k+ of cabinetry and counter top that I don't have.
 

Stereodude

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I'll tell you something. French Door refrigerators suck! My wife and I both bought into the hype and bought a GE Profile one for our house ~ 3 years ago. We'd both swap the thing for a side by side in a heartbeat. The ergonomic of the freezer is a pile of crap. Between the main pull out drawer and the several slide out trays in there you can't put anything in the freezer that's got any height to it. You can't even put a 1L Nalgene bottle of water (or similar) in there upright to freeze it. Basically if it's over ~7" tall, it's not going in the freezer unless it's on the side.

On the cooktop I'd go with gas, but that's a personal preference.
 

Bozo

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Black and stainless finishes show finger prints and dirt like crazy. Like a black car. :cry:
 

time

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We have decided on black for the appliances, and my wife likes the french door style.
We used to have black years ago, but it went out of fashion. Nowadays, everyone seems to think stainless steel is cool, and I think that's fair enough for cooking appliances and sinks, but I draw the line at extending the theme to huge fridge doors or even dishwashers. Hard experience has taught me that white enamel is a virtually maintenance-free finish that always looks clean, as opposed to the dark, dreary and dirty look that you get with expanses of SS.

If you're going to have black, make sure there's plenty of lighter colors to alleviate the gloom somewhat. Note that you can't illuminate black, it doesn't reflect much light.

French doors seem impractical to me, both in ease of access and also in the durability of the seals. However, your wife likes it and there's no denying it gives the fridge a sense of balance.

Amana's (rough) equivalent doesn't have an external dispenser, but is nearly $1k less, and that has my attention.
You can easily buy a dedicated water cooler for a fraction of the difference, or just buy a separate drinks fridge.

Longer term, I'm looking at this induction cooktop with this cookware.
Cooktop looks fine, supports small pans despite the whopper element and has lots of different heat levels.

I'm bemused that the AllClad cookware set counts the lids to turn a 5-piece set into a 9-piece set ... This is what I would change, these sets are useless, you don't need two casserole dishes but you do need more saucepans. And at least one non-stick pan for eggs etc. My advice is to buy them individually and probably not all at once, you work out what's actually useful over time.

You do realize you don't need to stick to pure iron or steel for induction, don't you? We have some cheap aluminium pans with just a thin sheet of perforated steel stuck to the base, and they work fine.
 

ddrueding

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I've had stainless before, and it was a complete joke. Even the maid refused to put in all the time to keep it clean. I know that white is bulletproof, but I think it looks cheap. The countertops will be black(ish) and the cabinets will be similar to a medium cherry.

Excellent point about the water dispenser, it just confuses guests to not have it where it normally is.

I didn't realize that you didn't need significantly magnetic cookware for induction; I was under the impression (from my reading) that you did, and had discounted all my current gear. Thanks for the tip.
 

ddrueding

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One of the reasons for the french doors is the proximity to the island, and not wanting a long door filling the entire gap. A side-by-side would also meet this criteria, and is worth a look.
 

time

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Here's a really, really useful tip for anyone reading.

If you're stuck with a crappy stove or just want to try induction out, buy yourself a cheap, single burner, portable hotplate/cooktop. The sort designed to run off a standard power point that you'd use in a caravan etc, only induction-based. There are literally millions of them in use in Asia.

I was in a hurry and paid US$115, but you should be able to get one for less than US$100. With up to 1800-2100W in 10 steps, they have more than enough power for most applications. They're light, easy to clean, and cool down reasonably quickly after use. You can use them anywhere and move them immediately afterwards.
 

time

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The countertops will be black(ish) ...
Ummm, I strongly suggest you reconsider this bit; dark benchtops really bring a kitchen down, and black might show every tiny scratch - of which there are plenty on a benchtop.

Just to reiterate, black is a problematic color for large surfaces, it seriously impedes your ability to evenly light a room. As an extreme, ever seen a black ceiling?
 

Bozo

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There are other colours available other than black or white.

Freinds bought a new frige/stove/dishwasher in white. They took them to a body shop and had them custom painted to match the colours in the kitchen. I don't remember it being expensive.
 

Mercutio

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Every kitchen I've ever had, except the one in my former house, has had light wood-tone and/or pale yellow surfaces.

I don't have anything else to contribute, it's just something I realized from reading all this.
 

Stereodude

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Bring your tape measure with you when you go shopping and be sure to measure up the french door bottom freezer. I'm telling you they're awful! :arge:
 

ddrueding

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Bring your tape measure with you when you go shopping and be sure to measure up the french door bottom freezer. I'm telling you they're awful! :arge:
I'm hearing you. I grew up with a side-by-side, and all I can remember is that the frozen pizzas would warp because they had to be stored on their side.
 
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