What You Need to Know Before You Buy Kitchen Appliances
Tips to help you choose the right kitchen appliances for your needs and budget
These days, savvy is the new sexy. Just as you should never go to the grocery store hungry, so too should you never go to an appliance showroom without being fully versed in the details of your intended purchase—it's too easy to be seduced by all the shiny, high-tech gadgetry. A bit of research before entering the showroom will ensure you don't overspend for features you don't really need.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
The old adage, "measure twice, cut once," applies just as much to purchasing appliances as it does to cutting fabric. If you're doing a complete kitchen overhaul, chances are you are working with skilled architects and/or NKBA-certified kitchen designers. It is their job to ensure the appliances you purchase are appropriate for any given space. But, if you're flying solo and simply need to replace a single appliance, then it's up to you to be precise about the measurements.
TIP: Take multiple measurements for both height and width. This will alert you to any walls or cabinets that are not square. Make a note if the measurements differ by more than 1/8 inch.
Compare Product Features
It is easier than ever to compare the features of any given appliance. There are plenty of online resources to help you out—HomePortfolio among them. Setting aside, for the moment, any consideration of price, create a list of the available features. You can figure out later whether these features offer good value or if you even want them.
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Consider Installation Issues
All appliances come with their own installation requirements. A pro-cook range, for example, calls for heavy-duty venting far beyond the capacity of standard hood vents. A built-in coffee station looks great in a kitchen but requires that you plumb in an extra water line.
Do Some Soul Searching
With your list of product features in hand, decide what you need, what you want, and what you can live without. This may require some soul searching. You may love the look of a six-burner, professional grade range, but if your family isn't big on cooking, you will likely be just as happy with a range that is smaller but maintains the rugged good looks of the larger models.
TIP: Avoid paying for features that are not relevant to your lifestyle.
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Research Price and Reliability
By all means, shop around for the best price, keeping in mind that the lowest price does not always represent the best value. Buying from a reputable, established company may justify a slightly higher pricetag. There is comfort, after all, knowing the store will stand behind any product it sells. The same goes for reliability. You may love the look of a particular product, but the love affair will quickly fizzle if the appliance isn't durable. Check Consumer Reports and other ratings agencies to ensure that the product you want to buy is both attractive and reliable.
Be sure to factor rebates into the pricing. Most states have rebate programs for energy efficient appliances. Check out http://www.energysavers.gov for the rebates offered in your state.