Yeah but that TrueCoat...
August 22, 2014 12:03 PM   Subscribe

We're going to be buying a refrigerator, a gas stove, an above-range microwave and a dishwasher shortly. All mid-range. What are some good, not-obviously things to note?

Throughout my life, there has been no significant difference in the appliances I used between 1990 and 2014. Now we have an opportunity to get nice, new appliances, so I want to know which features are worth getting and/or spending extra for, and which are not.

I have a Consumer Reports account and I've been researching but nothing there will tell me what's the time-saving feature of the new millenium, and what's a pointless waste of money.

Also, the kitchen has a dedicated fridge-hole, but we're considering putting the fridge somewhere else in the kitchen because the fridge-hole is in a really awkward spot and seriously limits the sorts of refrigerators we should get. Anything we should make sure before trying that?
posted by griphus to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you get a refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom, you will end up with a lot more crumbs and detritus in the sealing strip than with the freezer on top. Minor thing, but it irks me.

The Frigidaire stove & microwave we bought in 2003 is fine, but the Frigidaire dishwasher we bought is 2005 is crap. It is, however, a piece of crap with a timer, so I can set the dishwasher to run after I take a shower (husband works from home, no appliances flood or burn down the house worries). Get a timer for the dishwasher.

The microwave also has a timer, but I have not needed to microwave a burrito at 2:37pm on a Tuesday. But, if I wanted to get that specific, I can. The oven has a self cleaning feature that I have used twice in the past 11 years. I am not a very messy cook, I guess. Stove has a high BTU burner. I wish it also had the lower BTU (simmer) burner).

My appliances are all white enamel, which can be cleaned with most detergents easily, as well as my steam cleaner. No fingerprint issues, as with stainless steel.
posted by kellyblah at 12:13 PM on August 22, 2014

Don't get a gas stove with enamel-plated grates. Or whatever those thing that keep the pots of the burners are called. Enamel will stain, crack and chip. Get a cast iron grate.
posted by GuyZero at 12:20 PM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: No fingerprint issues, as with stainless steel.
Enamel will stain, crack and chip. Get a cast iron grate.

These are the exact sort of things I'm looking for! Thank you and keep 'em coming!
posted by griphus at 12:22 PM on August 22, 2014

Also, the kitchen has a dedicated fridge-hole, but we're considering putting the fridge somewhere else in the kitchen because the fridge-hole is in a really awkward spot and seriously limits the sorts of refrigerators we should get. Anything we should make sure before trying that?

If you have an ice-maker in the new unit, do you have a water line running where you will put it? If you have an operational ice-maker in the old unit, do you have a plan to deal with the water line running where it is now located?
posted by Mr. Six at 12:25 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

My parents upgraded all their appliances within the last 5 years. I'm 90% sure they got GE everything. Here are the joys/complaints that I've heard secondhand:

-They like that the dishwasher has high heat and steam but feel that every other special aspect of their dishwasher is superfluous.

-They got one of those stoves with the electric cooktop; my dad (the one who does the cleaning) loves it for its easy to clean-ness. The oven has a ton of special features but the only one that ever gets used is the dehydrator--my mom LOVES the dehydrator, though.

-Their fridge is a very standard fridge, just nicer looking. It differs from the old fridge in that it has an electric ice maker thing with the water buttons on the front. The ice maker breaks all the time. I know they intentionally limited their fridge choices in order to fit the fridge into the fridge hole.

-I think the only appliances they truly think were worth the upgrade (instead of just getting a new (working) version of what they had before) are the washer/dryer, which you are not asking about.

I saw somewhere on the internet, maybe ikea hackers or something, where someone took their fridge hole and turned it into a bunch of roll-out skinny vertical shelving. It was really, really neat. I tried to look for it just now but can't find it, unfortunately.
posted by phunniemee at 12:26 PM on August 22, 2014

Range: consider how you'd clean the stove top. Some have weird panel seam placements around the edges that make it almost impossible to clean the surface without crumbs and guck getting stuck (e.g. this would be a lot easier to clean than this).

Fridge: research the estimated yearly energy usage. One fridge may be more expensive than another but cheaper after paying for, say, five years of electricity.
posted by JackBurden at 12:26 PM on August 22, 2014

Dishwasher - we just bought a new one last fall and we spent a lot of money on it, but we had to. All of the dishwashers cheaper than it had the top rack secured by two wheels on each side. Super cheap with just plastic and a screw on each wheel holding the top rack up. I don't know about you, but we put our (heavy) glassware up on the top rack, so the plastic and screw on our previous dishwasher rack broke and were general pains in the ass for many years although the dishwasher itself still worked. So this time around we opened every single dishwasher at the store and picked the cheapest that had a heavier-duty top rack wheel mechanism. It wasn't cheap, but it is sturdy. And the added benefit of so quiet we forget it is running. It is a Kenmore Elite that was Consumer Reports rated really high.
posted by jillithd at 12:26 PM on August 22, 2014

For refrigerator, we chose one with a bottom freezer because I tend to be lazy when stuffing frozen things in there. With a top freezer, that means hard, frozen things often falling out onto my bare feet as soon as I opened the freezer door. With a bottom freezer, this never happens. But you may not be a "shove it in there!" kind of person, so ...
posted by jillithd at 12:28 PM on August 22, 2014

Above-range microwave: make sure you have enough clearance. A family member upgraded her range and microwave and the new stove melted and fried the microwave because they were to close.
posted by JackBurden at 12:34 PM on August 22, 2014

Range top: how many Thanksgiving Dinner sized pots and pans can it comfortably hold?

When we went range shopping, we brought along our biggest pot and our biggest fry pan and tried 'em on for size.
posted by notyou at 12:37 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty sure my fridge is on a dedicated circuit so if you move it consider that you might have to do some rewiring. In my place the wires run through the attic and I had space on the breaker box for more circuits so it was no big deal but ymmv
posted by fshgrl at 12:43 PM on August 22, 2014

You might buy one of those computerized oven things with all the options. And when it breaks in five-to-ten years, they'll charge you $50 less than the price a brand new unit to replace the controller board. Super sucks if you get a built-in model where nothing else quite fits...

If you get a microwave above your stove, the steam from cooking damages the controls faster too. And they always cost more to replace, especially, again, if it's a built-in...
posted by flimflam at 12:53 PM on August 22, 2014

We just bought new appliances in April when we moved. Here's my take - appliances are much more shoddily made than they were just 10/15 years ago. If you go into the shopping assuming there's a high likelihood you are going to need repairs, you'll be less aggravated reading reviews, trying to figure out which ones are the best, etc. Also buy from a small store instead of a bigbox if you can. We've had to have a couple things looked at, adjusted, etc. and I'm so glad I have a service department I can call. And buying from 1 brand usually gives you the best price break. We went kitchenaid, except for our fridge. It's too early to say I love it or not, they are fine.

I really liked theYale Appliance & Lighting blog, they have a lot of information about how to go about shopping, getting the best deal, figuring out what you need, summaries of which brands/appliances are the most/least reliable according to their service data, etc. You can give them your email addr and get free 'buying guides' which I found useful, they don't really spam. Also liked the appliantology blog for understanding a bit about the state of appliances in this day and age, how/why things break, etc.

Fridge - we got a counterdepth french door fridge for our fridge space that was very close to the island. Yes, you pay more for less of a fridge, but it keeps the lines of the kitchen straight, looks way better than this giant fridge sticking out and makes our space much more usable. Sometimes I get a little annoyed by the lack of space, but it's not that big a deal and keeps me from losing things in the fridge, and conducting food longevity experiments.

Range - it seemed to me that rubber meets the road in the simmer capability, lots of cooktops have these crazy high BTU's but may not be able to simmer all that well, which is so frustrating. For my oven I did convection and I honestly can't tell that it makes much of a difference in cooking time.

Microwave - We went with an OTR microwave b/c that's what we were replacing and I will never do that again. It's hard for me to believe the micro isn't getting fried, even with the fan on high, and I'm skeptical that it's doing it's job as a hood. And we are not serious cooks - a soup here or there, sauteing etc. The contractor that put it in for us said our experience was super common, he is constantly getting calls from people who want more clearance between their cooktop and microwave, even though they are w/in spec. We don't want to pay to have the upper cabinet renovated so we are in the process of looking for a hood and when we do we will move the microwave to the counter.

Dishwasher - I really like the 3rd rack on our dishwasher for holding knives, little things, etc.
posted by snowymorninblues at 12:53 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Delay start on the dishwasher is great. I wish our washing machine had this.
posted by jmsta at 1:04 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love my dual-fuel double-oven stove, except for one thing....The bottom oven has a double-walled window and the venting at the top between the two pieces of glass makes it too easy for drips from the top oven to get between the two pieces of glass of the bottom oven. And is impossible to get clean.

I bought a counter-depth refrigerator and I love the way it looks but hate the way it works. Just two of us in the house, but it still does not have nearly enough room inside. Also, it's a KitchenAid, and the icemaker makes just enough ice for about four glasses. So check the size of the icemaker before you buy. It also has a cheaper stainless steel that scratches too easily.

I do like my above-range microwave, also a KitchenAid. It's a microwave/convection combo, so for big parties and holidays I have three ovens when combined with my double-oven range. Also, I like that the bottom of it angles upward over the stove, so clearance isn't an issue. The back, against the wall, is about four inches lower that the front edge.
posted by raisingsand at 1:09 PM on August 22, 2014

We just got a new dishwasher and fridge this Christmas. I love the freezer on the bottom mainly because I no longer have to root around at the bottom of the fridge for things. My very tall husband loves it because he's actually able to see most of the fridge area without getting on his knees. Drawback, the water comes out of the door dispenser very very slow. We read the reviews and this was noted, but because there aren't very many fridges with in-door water that are under 36" wide, we went with what fit.

The new dishwasher has the delay, and is quiet as all get out. Sadly the silverware basket hangs on some delicate little pegs at the front of the bottom rack. Almost every single time I grab the handle to pull out the rack I end up pulling the basket off the rack instead. Much profanity has occurred.

We're still using our 1953 GE Hotpoint stove with two ovens because it still works despite the hideous yellow color. I'll go to a ceramic top when we fully redo the kitchen just because I love how easy they are to keep clean. But I'll miss the two ovens so very much.
posted by teleri025 at 1:15 PM on August 22, 2014

double-oven is great if it's in your price range and you like to bake things

(giggled at your thread title)
posted by skewed at 1:18 PM on August 22, 2014

Love my Samsung side by side fridge/freezer. I like that there is a light in the freezer a well as the fridge side (which is conveniently just wide enough for a pizza box) - and it has this nice little feature where the lights come on slowly when you open the door so they don't feel like you are being interrogated in the middle of the night when you just wanted a spoonful of chocolate ice cream. Getting an automatic ice maker & water dispenser is a must. I drink a lot more water now because ice (and cold water) are at my fingertips and I spend a lot less on bottled water.

The home I bought came with a ceramic cook top, I'd only ever known electric, but I'm really liking how fast it heats up as well as the ease of cleanup.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:27 PM on August 22, 2014

For the fridge and dishwasher, energy efficiency is a big factor. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars more on energy over the years by buying less efficient appliances. Check Energystar before you start shopping. Also bear in mind that the major energy use for the dishwasher is hot water, not electricity.
posted by ssg at 3:00 PM on August 22, 2014

We love, love, love our 3-door fridge with bottom freezer. It's a Kenmore, though there are other brands (can't speak to their performance) and has an inside filtered water dispenser, which is much more aesthetically beautiful than the door-dispensers. It has performed without issue since we bought it 11 years ago, and is easier to access with it's side-hinged top doors. If something is in the right door shelf - milk or juice -we open only the right door, which is more energy-efficient.

We also have an enamel-top stove. It's black, and we have not had staining problems.
posted by citygirl at 5:12 PM on August 22, 2014

Do you already have a gas stove that you are replacing? Or are you having gas brought in? We had electric and got propane installed (natural gas doesn't come to our neck of the woods). When the permit person came out to approve the installation, he said our cabinets over and around the stove were too low. I believe the manual said 18 inches clearance. My husband and brother-in-law spent the better part of a weekend moving the goddamned cabinets four freaking inches. And the vent. And I had just painted the walls. So maybe check your local code beforehand.

(Even if you already have gas, it might not hurt to double check the code to make sure nothing has changed.)
posted by Beti at 9:50 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

When dishwasher shopping, if you have an object you use a lot but that doesn't fit in your current dishwasher (in my case it was a half-sheet baking pan), bring it with you to the store and make sure it will fit and that the spinners will spin with it in there.
posted by bink at 9:51 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

As others have said: Through-the-door icemakers in fridges break. All of them. Ditto expensive widgets in your stove. They just break.

We have a power burner that is too wide for most of our pans, and it is kind of annoying. Good for boiling water and stir frying though.

I rarely use our simmer burner, but I'm glad to have it nonetheless.

Having an oven that beeps when it gets to temperature is pretty great. I miss the feature of our old oven that showed what it thought the current temperature was as it heated up. At the time, I wished it would keep showing what it thought the current temp was as it cycled and as I opened the oven door.

Our stove has a light built into the rear console. It is 100% useless. Our over-the-range microwave also has a light. It is only 75% useless (they're not bright enough).

We recently upgraded dishwashers (came with the new house). Turns out the only feature I care about is the quiet. It's nice that it's not deafening. The feature that irritates me about it is that the top sprayer is just *slightly* too low for most of our plates, and so it smacks into them over and over if the plates are on the wrong side of the dishwasher.

Icemakers that just sit in the freezer making ice go forever, and are the actual best.
posted by contrarian at 7:41 PM on August 24, 2014

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