Posts Tagged ‘Appliances’

Win tickets for this weekend’s Homes By Architects Tour

September 13, 2010

Note: Tell me why you’d like to go to AIA-MN’s Homes By Architects Tour in the comments by 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14 for a chance to score a pair of tickets. I’ll probably choose at random, unless someone writes a super good comment.

Photo courtesy AIA-MN

I’m in love with the kitchen from the Star Tribune’s September Home of the Month (see the photo gallery).

The article talks about how the homeowners worked with Nguyen Architects to open up their fixer-upper Lake Minnetonka home, including adding priceless views to their “cave-like kitchen”:

The most dramatic improvement is that Jen can look at the lake through massive picture windows while she chops veggies.

I guess that’s the benefit of working with an architect (and living on Lake Minnetonka) — changing a sore spot into a functional, thoughtful and of course, beautiful, space.

The Orono home is No. 3 on the American Institute of Architects-Minnesota’s Hom

Home No. 9

es By Architects Tour, happening Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 18-19 from 10-5.

We supplied the appliances for this gorgeous project, as well as those in the kitchen of the No. 9 home.

Get a video sneak peak of this European-inspired kitchen from Carla Warner and architect Rosemary McMonigal, AIA, of McMonigal Architects LLC:

Tickets are $15 online, $20 at the door. Plus, we’re giving you several chances to win a pair of tickets (see note above and our Twitter and Facebook) prior to this weekend.

Loud refrigerator? We hear ya

July 7, 2010

Image: maxabout.com

If you’ve replaced your refrigerator within the last several years, your shiny new model might be making its presence known in noisier way.

Why?

For one, foam insulation — often used to make these appliances more energy-efficient — lacks the sound-baffling capabilities of fiberglass insulation incorporated into previous energy hogs.

Here’s some other “normal” sounds to expect, along with their abnormal counterparts:

Evaporator coil

A boiling, surging or gurgling sound as the compressor starts and stops. Also, a pop as the evaporator expands and contracts after defrosting.

Evaporator fan

The sound of air being forced through the unit is normal, but a continuous ticking or even intermittent squealing is abnormal.

Defrost heater

Sizzling or hissing sound from water dropping onto the heater during defrost cycle

Compressor

Newer fridges’ compressors are much more efficient and run much faster, giving off a high-pitched hum, whine or pulse. But watch out for clicking during start up (especially if the lights dim), banging or knocking during start or stop, a ping or snap followed by the compressor stopping.

Cold control and defrost timer

A snapping or ticking sound as the refrigerator turns on and off

Plastic liner

Cracking or popping as the temperatures change

Drain pan

Running water during or after the defrost cycle

Water valve

Buzzing, clicking or running water as the icemaker fills or water is dispensed

Icemaker

Cracking of ice and cubes dropping into the bin

Condenser fan

Air being forced over the condenser is normal, but squealing from the motor is abnormal.

Condenser

You should hear a surging or gurgling sound from the flow of refrigerant when the compressor runs, but an improperly placed drain pan could cause rattling.

If the normal sounds bother you, consider a piece of rubber-backed carpet for underneath the fridge. You could even put sound absorbing materials inside the cabinet if the refrigerator sits in an enclosure.

New blog series: Things I Want

June 4, 2010

I’ll be moving into my new house this week and — more importantly — I’ll be inheriting another’s appliance choices.

The kitchen, as pictured in the listing.

Right now, that consists of:

One by one (or two), I’ll replace each of the appliance, either to improve efficiency and performance or because one simply konks out. And in the case of the fridge, that could be sooner rather than later…

Appliances don’t come cheap, and though I get a discount on them, they’re still an investment. So I’ll have to decide where to spend my money and where to save.

Because it’s dominating my thoughts the last few days, I’m going to channel my forthcoming appliance purchases into a series of blog posts called “Things I Want.” I’ll write them based on what I’d pick if I were going shopping today.

My criteria considers performance, features, aesthetics, durability, efficiency, price and warranty — not equally, however. And they all must be sold at Warners’ Stellian, obviously. But there’s really nothing I’d want that we don’t sell.

I’ll split it into two categories,  one aspirational and the other more achievable. I’m trying to think of what to call each category, and I keep thinking I’m ripping “Desired/Acquired” from something. But until I find out for sure…

Look for the first “Things I Want” post Monday.

Get paid to have your second fridge hauled away

June 2, 2010

How much are you paying for your pop fridge?

When I closed on my house last week, I asked the former homeowners question that wrinkled their noses.

“How old was that fridge in your basement?”

They looked confused but told me, “We probably shouldn’t be using anyway, I guess. It was such a pain to move. I don’t know…1960s, I think.”

My jaw DROPPED.

My energy stat knowledge doesn’t go back farther than ’70s models, which cost about $278 per year to run. So a fridge from the ’60s must cost at least $300 to run. That’s some pretty expensive beer they’re cooling.

I think many people don’t unplug their ancient second fridge because they don’t know how to get rid of it.

And certainly most homeowners don’t know that many utility companies pay them money to come pick it up!

Xcel Energy is among the local utility companies with a refrigerator recycling program that offers $35 to pick up a working second refrigerator. Some also run this program for freezers. Of course, you must be a customer of the utility to participate.

Some utilities, like Minnesota Power, up the ante to $50 to get you to give up that beer fridge. Even if you use the money towards a new refrigerator (if you use Rochester Public Utilities, you can get up to $75 for replacing and recycling a refrigerator), your energy usage on the new unit will likely be significantly reduced.

Here’s a complete list of refrigerator bounty programs from the Office of Energy Security.

Replace your working appliances and deduct it from your taxes!

May 26, 2010

Have you ever had a refrigerator konk out on you in the middle of the summer, leaving you without one for days?

If you have, you know what a pain it is to be without something as essential as a refrigerator. And you know what a relief it is when you have a working refrigerator again.

But can you imagine trying to raise a healthy family without a refrigerator at all? Or without a stove?

Can you imagine barely scraping together the time and money to wash your childrens’ clothes at the laundromat so they don’t have to face the other school children in a soiled shirt?

If you replace your working appliances over the next five days, these are the kinds of people you will help.

Beginning tomorrow, when you buy a new refrigerator, stove, washer or dryer from Warners’ Stellian, we’ll help you donate the clean, working appliances you are replacing to Hope For The City.

If Hope For the City accepts your appliance donation (see criteria below), you’ll receive a tax-deductible donation form for up to $200 (see graphic to the left). If it’s not accepted, Warners’ Stellian will still recycle your appliance free of charge.

Hope For the City is a Minnesota-based nonprofit that collects surplus goods from businesses and distributes them to its partner nonprofits, who in turn give the goods to people in need. (Note: Hope For The City does NOT fulfill requests for individuals, so working through a Hope For The City partner is the best way to get help for someone.)

The 85 partner organizations pretty much touch every type. They serve children and adults in need of food, shelter and medical care. They provide hot meals for hungry children and adults, education for the underprivileged, job skills for the unemployed, support for senior citizens, medical care for the sick, and educational and social programs for youth.

Basically, these people really need your donation. It’s not a matter of replacing for these worthy recipients — It’s a matter of having.

In the past year alone, Warners’ Stellian and its customers have donated over 500 appliances to Hope For The City. Aside from this promotion, we send a set of appliances over to the nonprofit weekly.

>>See complete details

Are stainless steel appliances an environmental no-no?

May 19, 2010

Stainless steel has become the standard finish for many when replacing kitchen appliances.

The growing popularity of commercial ranges like Viking and Wolf ranges introduced stainless steel to the kitchen.

And soon homeowners wanted to coordinate the clean, contemporary look with refrigerators, dishwashers and microwaves.

But environmental concerns wisely also influence purchasing decisions today.

The Star Tribune’s Fixit columnist, Karen Youso, posed the question of whether stainless steel appliances should worry eco-conscious consumers.

Her answer, happily, is no:

Stainless steel can be — and is — recycled. (According to the International Stainless Steel Forum, new stainless-steel products are made from about 60 percent recycled stainless.) Its alternative, enameled steel, also is recyclable, so stainless steel isn’t significantly better or worse for the environment.

But materials aren’t all that important when trying to determine how earth-friendly home appliances are. What matters most is energy efficiency, said Lise Laurin, founder of EarthShift, a Vermont company that works with corporations and institutions on sustainability.

Of course, we recycle replaced appliances for free on most purchases, so you can feel comfortable about upgrading to stainless steel. Just make them Energy Star appliances.

Should you put aluminum foil in the oven?

May 6, 2010

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Don't shoot yourself in the foot trying to keep a clean oven.

Warners’ Stellian‘s expert service guy, Gene, passed on a cautionary tale to me yesterday after he ordered a new, $90 oven floor for a customer.

A well-meaning woman lined the bottom of her oven with aluminum foil, to catch all the food that bakes into the oven.

Instead of having to scrape it all off, she could just pull out the aluminum foil and voila, no more mess.

Except she ended up with a bigger mess when the aluminum foil melted onto the oven.

For years, people had lined their ovens with tin foil to speed clean up. But these days, we don’t use tin foil. We use aluminum foil. And aluminum has a much lower heat tolerance, apparently.

And aluminum foil-maker Reynolds warns against it.

From the Reynolds FAQ webpage:

To avoid possible heat damage to your oven, we do not recommend using aluminum foil to line the bottom of your oven. Rather, we recommend that you place a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil on the oven rack beneath the pie or casserole you are baking. The foil should be only a few inches larger than the baking pan to allow for proper heat circulation. The foil will catch any drips before they reach the oven bottom.

There you go. Smart play on Reynolds part, right? Because you know people will end up getting rid of the sheet of foil and using a new one next time…

Bosch dishwasher is best-selling model

April 30, 2010

I stress to customers the importance of selecting a product based on individual personal needs, rather than simply following Consumer Reports or a friend’s suggestion.

These sources can help validate a decision, but ultimately, your lifestyle is not your friend’s lifestyle — and I’m sure it’s certainly not Consumer Report’s lifestyle.

Saying that, I think it’s interesting to know what we sell the most of in each category. And in dishwashers, it’s the Bosch Evolution 300 series (models SHE43P02UC white or SHE43P05UC stainless steel).

It makes sense for the value. This European dishwasher is packed with features for $600 (stainless costs $100 more):

  • Energy Star qualified
  • Engineered to be super quiet (52 dBa)
  • 14-place setting capacity, with adjustable upper rack for taller pots, etc.
  • 4 wash cycles, including 30-minute Quick Wash
  • OptiDry for spotless drying
  • NSF Certified – Eliminates 99.9% of Bacteria

Of course there are a ton more features, but I’m only highlighting the ones I found most interesting.

And some features require more explanation, mostly because they’re branded (note the ™) with names that don’t really explain what they do, like AquaStop™.

So, for those keeping score at home, AquaStop™ detects leaks in the solid molded base of the dishwasher, shuts down operation and automatically pumps out water before contact with floors. Some won’t understand why this is important. And the rest of you had to replace an entire kitchen’s worth of hardwood floors and cabinetry due to leaking. Trust me: it’s important.

The Flow-Through Heater™ warms water (up to 161 degrees) more efficiently by having it flow through a heating chamber. Other manufacturers use conventional heating elements where water falls randomly onto a coil, warming it inefficiently. This is bad.

And, for the smart feature with the stupid name win: EcoSense™. Standard dishwashers constantly bring fresh water into the dishwasher, which could be completely unnecessary — the water might not be that dirty. So Bosch, being the energy efficient thinker it is, put a sensor in that checks to see how clean or dirty the water is and decides whether a fresh water refill  is necessary and will customize the selected cycle to the individual load of dishes.

Again, this might not be the dishwasher for you, but there are a ton of different Bosch dishwashers so perhaps you might find that works best for you.

Pode olhar I na sua geladeira?

March 31, 2010

OK, so I couldn’t actually say this phrase in Portuguese, but I sure asked to look at plenty of European’s refrigerators — in English.

I spent the last couple weeks in Portugal visiting a friend (we also traveled to France and Italy), and along the way I invaded the privacy of every kitchen appliance I came across; Rita’s friends wondered why I was so interested in their dishwashers. Why wouldn’t I be?

My apologies for the lack of photos, but I don’t own a camera and decided snapping cell phone pictures of near strangers’ kitchens could wear out my welcome.

So here’s what I learned about Europe, through the lens of appliance blogger.

“Dryers are for emergencies”

That’s what my friend Rita said when showing me the Bosch laundry pair installed under the counter in the kitchen of her house, which would be considered a condo in the states. Nearly all the clothes I washed during my trip were hung on the balcony to dry and later ironed — even the towels! All over Lisbon, clothes hung from lines strung out windows and across balconies. It was quite the sight.

A picture from Flickr of the conventional clothes-drying technique in Lisbon.

In my world of Midwest blizzards and crumpled clothing, irons are for emergencies and a steam Electrolux dryer a lifesaver.

Food must be fresh

Rita’s mother went to the market nearly every day for produce, bread, fish and queijo fresco (“fresh cheese”). The 24-inch wide refrigerator gave little space to bottom freezer compartment, which contained frozen vegetables and soups used — again — “only for emergencies.”

Queijo fresco, or fresh cheese, is simply delicious.

At least in the houses I visited, going to the market often was part of the culture. (Then again, so was double parking on busy metropolitan streets.) But without a built-in icemaker (one Siemens brand refrigerator had smart vertical ice cube trays built-in to the front of the freezer drawers) or water dispenser, there’s more room in the refrigerator for eggs. The Portuguese cook with A LOT of eggs, I learned. My favorite use of egg yolks? Pastel de nata.

I often feel like I eat more out of my freezer than my fridge. I love frozen veggies and meats for stir-fry that don’t have to be prepared within days of a grocery shopping trip. Plus, I grew up in a house freezer jams, soups and casseroles. Most of my fruit sits on the counter.

Cooking fits in a small footprint

“Standard” American cooktops and ranges are 30 inches wide. Proud owners of pro-style cooking products, however, enjoy a cooking space up to 60 inches (yes, that’s 5 feet).

Most of the cooktops and ranges I saw were a slim 24 inches, or “apartment-sized” in Warners’ Stellian store speak. Still, I enjoyed multiple-course dinners that — had I not already given the kitchen a good up-and-down — I would’ve never guessed was prepared in such relatively cramped surfaces.

I regret now not asking whether a whole turkey could fit in the oven, easily the benchmark for cooking capacity concerns here in America. Then again, being blond-haired and blue-eyed got me enough strange looks in Portugal.

I do have a devoted love to the kind of appliances I grew up with — the kind my grandpa and dad and aunts and uncles sold. But I can appreciate the way that Europeans do things differently, sometimes even better, maybe.

But I’d rather not give up my dryer.

What’s you’ll see at the Warners Stellian Warehouse Sale

March 12, 2010

So, we have some pretty sweet deals on hand for this weekend’s Extreme Warehouse Sale.

While quantities last, we have three pairs of laundry that have been priced to move:


(gas dryer extra on first and third pictured pair)

And those looking for a new refrigerator have the chance to get a LG French-door refrigerator at rock-bottom prices.

But, quantities are limited, so deals can only last as long as your fellow customers allow them to.

We’re getting A LOT of calls from people with specific model numbers in mind, wanting to know what products would be included in our sale.

He was very understanding when I explained to him that we have more than 2,000 products on display for this sale.

And truly don’t know what’s down there until we see it all Saturday morning!

But with more than 2,000 products, we generally have something for everyone, or at least for the majority of the nearly 2,400 groups of customers that came out for our last warehouse sale.

Other big discounts include an Energy Star Maytag dishwasher in stainless steel for $349 and a stainless steel Fridgidaire self-clean gas range for $499, while quantities last (both pictured below).

A selection of brands that “never go on sale” will be available (again, while quantities last), including Sub-Zero, Wolf, Viking, Liebherr and Electrolux. Customers can save up to 80% on professional-style built-in models. Jenn-Air wall ovens, for example, will start at $599 and you can save $1,000 off Electrolux French-door ice & water refrigerators.

We’ll have some of my personal favorite, steam laundry, at the sale for $1499 for a washer/dryer pair.

Maybe your kitchen and laundry room is all set, but you’ve got your eye on a grill or wine refrigerator. We’ll have those, along with Miele vacuums starting at $329.

Make sure to study my tips on HOW TO: Shop the Warners’ Stellian Warehouse Sale like a pro.


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