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Appliances: How To Decide

Appliances: How To Decide Don't be unprepared when you start looking for your new kitchen appliances. There are tons to choose from and it can be overwhelming if you don't already know what you want. Before you shop, know your needs, style preferences, and budget. Here are some helpful tips to get you off to a good start in choosing ovens, cooktops, ranges, refrigerators, ventilation systems, and dishwashers for your kitchen.

The Look

Your appliances should blend with the design of your kitchen. You can order appliances that are specifically designed to be built into your cabinetry and paneled to match your kitchen décor. Stand-alone appliances can also make a decorative statement. A fancy decorative vent hood is not only useful, but can create quite a classy look in your kitchen. Appliances in stainless steel or brushed chrome make a big restaurant quality impression and keep the kitchen bright and open feeling. Placement of the appliances will need consideration in your kitchen design plans. Where they are will affect the cabinetry, counters, and any utility requirements the appliances need, such as electric, gas, or water.

There are several styles available for your appliances. You can get built-in, paneled, freestanding professional-style, freestanding restored or reproduction antiques or standard freestanding models. Stainless steel appliances are neutral and do tend to keep that new look much longer with care and it works very well in all styles of kitchens, from Old World to contemporary to Mediterranean to traditional. Brushed chrome is the latest new trend and is considered equal to stainless steel, but is a little easier to keep clean. A quick helpful tip for those of you who do choose the stainless steel: many people fear stainless steel because it is very difficult to keep clear of fingerprints, but with a very light coating of lemon pledge every once in a while, it will resist prints for up to a week without wiping.

To get that professional or restaurant feel to your kitchen, know ahead of time that it will be costly. Increasing the normal cooking and storage capacity of your kitchen, as well as adding fancy exteriors, can almost double the average cost. Commercial units that you find in restaurants are not rated for use in a residential kitchen because they have special venting requirements for safety. Pro-style appliances are available to give residential kitchens the next best thing. You can get that restaurant quality of greater durability, more precise cooking, and spiffy exteriors and still have a safe kitchen. Some people are avid chefs and spend a lot of time in their kitchens for the love of cooking and food, so some extra cost now may save a lot of frustration in the kitchen later.

When it comes to your stove, you can make a big statement by buying one that has bright colored knobs or a 1930s-style range complete with porcelain enamel surfaces accented with nickel-plated trim. Knowing the look you want will narrow your search rather quickly and set you on course for the more important task of determining what you need from your appliances to effectively and efficiently run your kitchen.

The Scoop on Appliances

Know your cooking needs
You should be able to increase your cooking speed and precision with the appliances you choose. Consider whether you need a pro-style or standard kitchen and if you will need gas or electric. Also consider where will they be located in your kitchen?

Pro-style vs. standard
Know in advance if you need more cooking capacity and capabilities or if you spend less time in the kitchen and can be happier with the standard features of a less costly model.

What are the differences between pro-style and standard?
With a pro-style range, you will get four or more burners with at least 15,000 BTU. A standard range has burners that range from 5,000 to 14,000 BTU. In many standard models, you will get a boost burner most commonly found in the front right hand that will get hotter than the others, for instance it will boil water much quicker than the other burners and a simmer burner that will go down to a lower BTU than the others to keep sauces warm without burning. Pro-style often has cast-iron continuous grates where standard has individual steel grates over each burner. Pro-style usually has large control knobs, but standard will have smaller knobs or a digital control panel. Pro-style ovens will have more oven racks and space, measuring 36 to 60 inches.While standard is a 30 inches.

Gas vs. Electric
Gas allows for more precise temperature control than electric. Electric tends to be lower cost and offers the sleek glass ceramic surface. The ceramic surface is much easier to clean and keep clean than gas burners or electric coils.

Cooktop Placement
You have some options available on the placement of your oven. You can go with a cooktop that can be placed separately from the oven, you can choose a range that has both the oven and cooktop together, or you can have a wall-mounted oven.

To save space and allow more cooking at one time, you can opt for two wall ovens. They can be placed one on top of the other, side-by-side or in two completely different areas in the kitchen.

If you do not use both of the ovens on a regular basis, consider purchasing one of them to use as a combination oven. A combination oven is both a microwave and convection oven.

Typically, appliances have a one to five year warranty, but will vary by manufacturer and model.

Energy Efficiency
You can now read the energy efficiency rating of all new major household appliances when you are looking at them on the sales floor. The Federal Trade Commission requires the bright yellow and black Energy Guide labels to be displayed with the annual energy consumption and operating cost information of each appliance.

Trendy Tips
It can't hurt to take time to find ways to make your appliances more accessible, like raising your dishwasher so you don't have to bend down to load and unload it. Check out all the wonderful options available like warming ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers. If you're a pizza lover you might enjoy creating a crusty pizza pie in a pro-type brick oven or if wine is your passion you might want a beverage chiller or storage unit - some even come with a cigar holder. If you're considering a trash compactor, consider moving it to the garage to free up space in the kitchen.