Archive for the ‘Appliance Design’ Category

Dryers become the next Energy Star

July 15, 2014

energystarsappliancesThe Environmental  Protection Agency announced this spring the first-ever Energy Star dryer label.

I know what you’re thinking:

“Wait, you mean there wasn’t an Energy Star label for dryers before?”

I know, right? However, the popular thinking was that dryers couldn’t vary much among each other in energy use therefore, there was no reason to call them out.

But about three years ago, the EPA began to take steps to expand the program and reported on ways that clothes dryer efficiency could be improved.

The new label will recognize highly efficient gas and electric dryers that use about 20% less energy than required by 2015 federal standards.

Over 80% of U.S. homes have a clothes dryer, and these appliances account for approximately six percent of residential electricity consumption.

So far, one brand has already jumped on the new category. Whirlpool announced an Energy Star rated Duet steam dryer.

Whirlpool brand Duet® model WED87HED steam dryer

Whirlpool brand Duet® model WED87HED steam dryer

Many of today’s dryers already use temperature or moisture sensors to shut off the dryer once clothes are dry and cease using energy past its usefulness. Dryer models that meet the new Energy Star requirements are likely to improve upon these “auto termination cycles.”

From Energy Star:

Among the more efficient gas and electric dryers that will earn the Energy Star, consumers should expect to encounter a promising new technology. Heat pump dryers recapture the hot air used by the dryer and pump it back into the drum to dry more clothes. By re-using most of the heat, it creates a heat pump dryer that is more efficient and avoids the need for ducts leading heat out of the laundry room.

 

 

50 Shades of Gray Laundry Pairs

February 10, 2014

The appliance world has been rocked by gray this year, especially in the laundry room.

But it’s never “gray.”

These washers and dryers — whether front-load or top-load — are called pretty much every other name but looking just as sweet and trendy.

Here are the 12 iterations I could find.

Electrolux-laundry-pair

Sia, eat your heart out. I am (Electrolux) Titanium.

stainless steel asko washer

Asko gray-colored washer, also monikered Titanium.

Maytag changed the name of this finish to Graphite after initial testing showed low response to "Pencil Lead."

Perhaps Maytag changed the name of this finish to Graphite after initial testing showed low response to “Pencil Lead.”

stainless steel washing machine

LG’s lead pencil + metal, aka Graphite Steel.

samsung dark colored washer and dryer

Samsung’s Onyx, which also features WiFi controls through a smartphone app.

maytag maxima colored laundry

Perhaps to match the countertops in your kitchen comes Maytag’s Granite. Nevermind that true Granite comes in a huge variety of colors.

samsung colored laundry pair

Not to be confused with Silver is Samsung’s Stainless Platinum. If I’ve learned anything from being engaged, this shade will be more expensive.

whirlpool-cabrio-chrome

Now this one gets REALLY interesting. It’s the Whirlpool Cabrio Platinum Edition but the color is Chrome, not Platinum.

whirlpool-laundry-pair

Also Whirlpool Chrome, but this version is front loading.

GE-Chrome-laundry

GE’s Metallic Carbon, shown here in the Right Height model, looks oddly reminiscent of GE’s Slate for the kitchen.

electrolux-stainless-steel

Let’s just call a spade a spade with Electrolux Stainless Steel.

Miele stainless steel washing machine

Miele’s Stainless Steel washer

The laundry pair that’s got your back…literally

October 17, 2013

It’s the reason I was set up with my now-fiance: height. He’s tall, I was told. But I digress…

I’m not the only one who thinks height matters. GE just got taller.

GE’s newest laundry innovation acknowledges that only 60% of consumers buy the washer dryer pedestals recommended to front-load laundry owners to prevent uncomfortable bending and hunching when loading and unloading.

white laundry pedestal

The RightHeight washer and dryer’s built-in risers raise the machines 7 inches off the ground, making it just under 4 feet tall. A traditional laundry pedestal will raise the top of the machine to about 4-½ feet tall, which GE argues limits the function of the top of the machine to storage space instead of a folding surface, as illustrated below:

laundry-pedestal

*Disclaimer* Laundry-doing man & well-behaved child sold separately.

There are a lot of other features that are worth considering, but my favorite is single-item wash, promoted like this:

“Ditch the environmental guilt with this uniquely designed cycle that offers great wash performance for single items.”

In my house it’d be more like:

“Stop feeling like a failure for never getting around to the laundry and just wash outfits on demand!”

Perhaps most importantly, the RightHeight washer and dryer come in fun colors that either match a beautiful, trendy laundry room or grant respite from a hideous basement dungeon area like mine. Introduce some tall and handsome to your dark laundry room ;)

Colored appliances that trump stainless steel

August 28, 2013

In recent years, stainless steel appliances gained ubiquity in kitchens throughout Minnesota. Heck, I’ve switched out all of my outdated, white appliances from the last millennium to a stainless steel refrigerator, range and dishwasher.

But despite — or perhaps because of — stainless steel’s popularity, not everyone is looking to replace colored appliances with stainless.

In fact, some publications hint that white is the new stainless, bolstered by manufacturers’ efforts to modernize a color recently associated with outmoded kitchens.

Whichever camp you fall into, here’s a selection of neutrally colored appliances that no one will call mundane.

GE Slate

GE Slate looks similar to stainless steel, but is darker and more matte. Not only is it a visually a departure, but hey, fewer fingerprints to clean off!

geslatekitchenset

GE’s new Slate finish

Because I appreciate using a thesaurus to cure writer’s block as much as GE’s writers apparently do, I’ll re-publish the official copywriting about Slate:

Welcome GE’s new fashion-forward finish, Slate: a color that is just as stylish and sophisticated as stainless steel but with a strong, earthy feel. Sophisticated, modern with a twist of verve, and a dose of stunning. It’s a timeless new finish that beautifully blends in, to help you truly stand out.

I don’t know about you, but that sure inspires some design FOMO in me. My kitchen certainly lacks earthy, twisted verve. To Warner Stellian I go!

Jenn-Air Oiled Bronze

Personally, the first time I saw Oiled Bronze in a showroom, I thought that someone ironically paneled the fridge using plywood found on 1970′s basement walls. But in the right application, as you’ll see below, it’s truly something.

cJennAirOiledBronzeAppliances

Jenn-Air’s Oil Rubbed finish, featured in the hood, ovens and refrigerator.

GE Artistry

GE Artistry Series Black

GE Artistry Series in Black

Though they look like a throwback, GE Artistry appliances were designed for the millennials, specifically first-time home buyers. GE said it felt this modern generation (my generation) would appreciate the reinvented retro look and the “entry-level” price tag of mid $2000s.

geartistrywhitekitchen

GE Artistry also comes in white with stainless steel accents.

Whirlpool Ice Collection

WhirlpoolIceBlackAppliances

Whirlpool Ice Collection in Black

Whirlpool modernized its colors from textured white or textured black that was so bumpy, you could cover imperfections with glorified nail polish known as “touch-up paint.” Whirlpool Ice Collection however, is impeccably sleek.

From Whirlpool: “Our contemporary form flows into modern colors elegantly energized with metallic finishes and subtle textures.” So, supposedly the handles are energized but I think they just mean “shiny.” Oooh pretty! Whirlpool Ice comes in White Ice, Black Ice appliances and yes, Stainless.

whirlpool-ice-white

Whirlpool Ice Collection in White

The #1 rated dishwasher is also the best value

June 21, 2012

According to Google, inquiring minds want to know*: what’s the best dishwasher?

Well, if you read “leading consumer publications,” you already know.

Bosch Ascenta dishwashers were awarded the top rating and also called the best value in 2012 (speaking of value, Bosch dishwashers ARE 10% off in June — all of them).

But the cool thing about Bosch dishwashers is all that performance comes packaged in an award-winning design that also is recognized for its excellence in conserving water and energy (more on that next week).

>> see Bosch’s full trophy case here

Bosch likes to think that all its consumers enjoy these awards, because of the daily rewards they represent in dependability and simplicity and all that good stuff.

But the rewards don’t stop there. Through June, you can enter to win a new iPad from Bosch and Warner Stellian Appliance. What are you going to do with your iPad, you ask? Why, watch Bosch dishwasher tips on YouTube, of course!!!!

Bonus: babies also love Bosch. Don’t believe me?

I just wanted a reason to post this picture I found on Bosch’s website because I think that this babes is the cutest darn thing.

 

*Based on my research of Google searches surrounding dishwashers. Yes, it’s an exciting life I lead.

Front load washer taking longer than it says it will?

January 23, 2012

But the washer said it would be done by meow! What's taking so long...

I love my front load washer. It fits double the load of my old top load washer, cleans better and spins out more water so I don’t have to ruin my my clothes by drying them for an eternity.

It also estimates the amount of time it will take to finish the cycle, which comes in handy when deciding whether I should wait around to throw the clean clothes in the dryer or run an errand.

But what about when the washer shows the wrong time estimate? Maybe sometimes when your washing machine says it will take 40 minutes, it takes 50 minutes instead.

Your clothes washer time to complete a cycle is based on the type of laundry detergent you use, the size and type of your load, which cycle you chose and temperature and pressure of your water.

So, for instance, if you use too much detergent, it will “oversuds” and take longer to rinse out of your clothes. (Some brands will flash “Sd” or “Sud” on the indicator when this happens. To avoid, use the recommended amount of HE detergent).

If the load is unbalanced, say, due to you only washing one item or particularly a bulky item, your washer will keep trying to rebalance itself and that will add minutes to the process.

No brainer: larger loads will take longer to clean, especially on specialty cycles like delicate.

If you choose a sanitatization or white cycle, the water will need to be hot and if the incoming water is cold — well, you get the idea.

Burner-less induction cooktop senses the shape and location of cookware to heat anywhere on surface

January 9, 2012

Induction cooktops, already the hottest way to cook, just got hotter.

The new Thermador Freedom Induction Cooktop heats up your cookware wheverer you place it - no burners.

No more being limited to four or five burners of the same shape.

The new Thermador Freedom cooktop lets cooks place their cookware anywhere on the cooking surface — even oddly shaped items like griddles or roasting pans (think of the gravy making possibilities).

The cooktop will intelligently recognize the cookware size, shape and position to deliver heat without boundaries.

If you’re wondering, ‘What is an induction cooktop?’ Induction cooking rivals gas cooking’s responsive temperature control while being much more efficient, safer (the surface stays cool to the touch) and the smooth surface naturally is easier to clean.

If you’re really into specifics, here’s more info from Thermador:

  • 48 individual 3-inch induction heating elements translates to a 63-percent more effective cooking area on the surface by eliminating the conventional standard of predefined elements.
  • A 6.5-inch, full-color touchscreen display that recognizes pot shape, size, and controls power setting and cooking time
  • Surface area to accommodate a 21-inch x 13-inch pan with the largest cooking surface in the industry
  • A range of 4,600-watt maximum power output with Boost feature and 15-watt minimum power output

But what would a super innovative product be without a color touchscreen these days? The obligatory touchscreen doesn’t just control temperature but shows the position of all cookware.

The Thermador Freedom Induction Cooktop will be available July 2012 with a MSRP of $4,949.

Refrigerator temperature: What temperature should the freezer be set at?

January 2, 2012

Refrigerator temperatures come automatically set to factory recommendations, which are the proper refrigerator temperature of 37 degrees and the ideal freezer temperature of zero degrees.

These are generally the correct temperatures, but according to Whirlpool Corp., your freezer is set at the correct temperature when the ice cream is firm.

If the freezer is too warm or too cold, first check the air vents to make sure that nothing’s blocking circulation. Then adjust the temperature up or down one setting and allow a full 24 hours for the temperature to adjust.

One level is equal to about 1 degree of temperature, so remember: the higher the freezer temperature, the faster your frozen foods lose their quality. However, colder temperatures also could dry foods out, so try to keep the freezer at the recommended zero degrees.

>>Read more tips on proper frozen food storage

DCS 36 gas cooktop

November 3, 2011
DCS gas cooktop

DCS gas cooktop

DCS Appliances is trying hard to be the go-to brand for people who cook. (You might have seen them in action on America’s Test Kitchen.)

DCS was purchased by the (probably better-known) New Zealand brand, Fisher & Paykel but inherited its focus on performance from the commercial DCS products, so “home chefs” are likely to be pleased.

Especially with the DCS gas cooktops.

Of course faster boil times are great, but you don’t want to screw up delicate sauces when you’re trying to simmer. Sealed Dual Flow Burners, unique to DCS appliances, provide the control you need.

DCS 36 gas cooktop

On the 36 inch gas cooktop (CDU-365), the powerful center burner can roar at 17,500 BTUs on the 36 inch gas cooktop.

This 5 burner gas cooktop can hover at a gentle 140 degree simmer on ANY burner — so you won’t scorch your five pots of chocolate. (Hey, you never know, right?)

Sealed burners and a sleek design mean no more hard-to-reach spills. And heavy duty grates cover the entire stainless steel cooking surface to make sliding larger pots and pans easy (hello, canners!).

Big, distinctive knobs are easy to use and offer visible confirmation of cooktop temperatures.

There’s also a 4 burner 30 inch gas cooktop, which like the 36 inch cooktop can drop into any kitchen counter. And a one-touch downdraft vent can be added to both the 30 in and 36 in models.

How to buy a range: choose a style

October 25, 2011

We've come a long way, baby. (Photo courtesy of Time)

Now that you’ve figured out where to buy a stove (as if there were a question), here are some quick tips on how to buy a stove.

The fastest way to narrow your options — beside knowing your existing fuel type, gas or electric — is to identify your style.

 

Freestanding ranges

The freestanding range is the most commonly used range style in homes, probably because it’s the most affordable and easiest to install. Featuring finished sides and a flat back, this range can sit flush against a back wall.

>>Shop freestanding electric ranges

>>Shop freestanding gas ranges

 

Built-in ranges

With the growing trend of kitchen islands and decoratively tiled backsplashes, the slide-in range has become one of the fastest growing segments in the industry. Featuring unfinished sides and back, this style is designed to be built in between two cabinets.

The body of the range is typically 30-inches wide, and the top of the range is slightly wider to prevent crumbs from getting in the crevices between the countertop and range while providing a more built-in appearance. The oven and burner controls are located on the front of the range, just above the oven door.

Though similar to a slide-in range, the drop-in range has waned in popularity in recent years.

The primary difference is that while a slide-in range touches the floor, a drop in range sits on top of a cabinet baseboard. Though a drop-in range looks more built in than a freestanding range or even a slide-in range, it’s also more difficult to replace because of its height and the limited selection of drop-in style ranges.

>>See built-in gas ranges

>>See built-in electric ranges

 

Professional (pro-style) ranges

While it is the most expensive range style available in the industry today, the professional range is becoming more common in high-end and gourmet kitchens. Pro-style ranges take the performance and styling of a true commercial range and make it safe to use for a home cook.

The oven and burner controls are always located on the front, just above the door.  Professional ranges feature burners capable of reaching high temperature for rapid boiling as well as extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering. Larger models (36”, 48” or 60” wide) offer flexibility in the cooking surface, allowing for the addition of built-in griddles, grills and other specialty surfaces. Large oven(s) generally boast convection capabilities and intensely high-temperature broiling.

Professional ranges generally come in a stainless steel finish although some manufacturers such as Viking and Bertazzoni other distinctive colors (i.e. beyond white and black).

 

>> Read more advice on buying a range in our Range Buying Guide.

>>See all our Appliance Buying Guides


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