Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Banning Inefficient Lighting

Bill 1547 has been introduced to ban the sale of any light bulb that fails to meet the standards of current fluorescent lighting and sets higher lumens per watt over the next 13 years. Higher lumens per watt is a pretty easy standard, because only 10% of an incandescent is manifested as light and the rest is heat.

The ALA, American Lighting Association, supports "gaining a lumens/watt solution versus banning incandescent bulbs" and that they will carefully monitor the Federal bulb.

I do not wish to be political, but incandescent lighting has not changed much since Thomas Edison invented it a long time ago. It is inefficient at best. Ban it and GE, Sylvania and Phillips will actually manufacture a better fluorescent. Since Walmart has started selling compact fluorescents, prices are lower and quality is much improved.

Take a look at the rationale below:

Lightbulb Chart

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

How to...Buy a Double Wall Oven

A wall oven purchase seems to confound consumers. Its actually not that difficult. Most of the post will be for new construction, but a few words about replacement. Wall ovens fit cabinets. 95% of the new ovens purchased are 30" but cabinets are also available in 24, and 27 inch sizes. The wall oven will always fit within that size. Most wall ovens are electric. The predominant gas oven, however, was 38" high and 22" wide and was manufactured between 1960 and 1984.

Now to buy a new wall oven: The appliance business almost mirrors the car business. When a decent feature is developed, it is immediately copied. This is incredibly true for wall ovens. Every double wall oven will have atleast one convection and a decent control package. Jenn-Air, Thermador, DCS and Electrolux fit this description. A good strategy when buying a kitchen suite is to buy a package , because of the consumer rebates. Call me cheap, but manufacturers can rebate up to $1000, and that is enough to sway me in an arena of decent, but similar products.

If you are buying just one, here are a few suggestions:

Frigidaire: Great features and a very decent price:

Frigidaire Wall Oven

Bosch: Trendy, European looking and not expensive. The wall oven is slightly smaller, but yes it will fit a turkey"

Bosch Wall Oven

Wolf: Double convection fans instead of one, retractable control panel and a surprisingly good pizza stone distinguishes this product:

Wolf Wall Oven

Miele: The MasterChef control is absolutely the easiest panel to utilize convection properly. This company actually manufacturers their own in Germany, employing over 200 people. Miele also boasts a rotisserie, meat probe and an unbelievable track record of quality:

Miele Wall Oven

Looking for more information? Take a look at our Electric Cooking Buyers Guide.

How to....... Buy a Light

In the appliance posts, we talk about Viking, Wolf, DCS and Thermador in the ranges as well as Jenn-Air, KitchenAid and Miele. Appliances have similar specifications to a certain degree, and the performance is likewise.

It is exactly the opposite in lighting as there does not seem to be any uniformity in specification or design. Thus, there is a real disparity in quality. Most consumers know generally about appliances. In lighting, however, most people do not know about different companies as well as what to buy and the pitfalls of avoiding bad products. Until now:

Lets take the pendant:

Spot Lights

We warranty fixtures for as long as you own your home, because a good fixture should last. It is not that difficult as long as the product has integrity. I am in no way advocating that you need to spend a fortune for decent product, but you just do not need to pay an electrician twice to remove a bad one.

How to...Light Your Kitchen

I saw a woman in the store yesterday, so clearly frustrated with the prospect of lighting her kitchen. Renovation should be fun, but you need to know what you are doing. Lighting a kitchen is much more difficult now. Our parents and grandparents segmented the house to formal living room, kitchen and den. The trend now is to combine two or three of these elements into one great room. This impacts appliance specifications certainly, but more so in lighting design.

To review previous posts, proper lighting encompasses, task, ambient, accent and decorative elements. So lets talk our aforementioned friend off the ledge. Following are basic ideas.

First, for our task element, lets use some recessed lights. We could have used track as well, but recessed seems to be preferred in new construction. We will space them 12-24 inches from the cabinets and 4 to 5 feet apart.

Next lets buy some under counter lighting, which will light the counters(that came off wrong).

Her task light is now complete....


Now I have no idea what the specifications actually are....So lets assume an island in the middle in a larger footprint.

Lets place a semi flush fixture in the middle for ambient (up lighting) that will also serve a decorative function


Then for accent lighting, lets monopoint some 12v track heads at her art....

Spot Lights

The decorative/accent pieces are all assumptions, but when starting a lighting plan, specify task first then add the other elements.

Full Kitchen

If you have a lighting issue, then send me an mailto:steve.sheinkopf@yaleappliance.com

Friday, March 23, 2007

Buying Appliances on the Internet

There are tons of choices when buying products on the internet. I think that it is good for the consumer and the marketplace in general. It adds a level of price transparency...Sort of. You have to consider the ancillary charges when buying on the internet especially delivery and removal.

There is another element to purchasing from out of your immediate area. The value of your time will be compromised somewhat in dealing with common carrier freight as well as returns and damages as well.

Lastly, you really should research who the merchant on the other side of the transaction really is. Epinions is a good source of information. Better Business Bureau is a better source. The leading appliance online retailers have 176, 124 and 42 complaints lodged against them. To be more accurate the one with the 42 complaints uses a warranty company with over 200 complainte. For perspective, we have a higher appliance volume with 2 complaints filed over 12 months(both handled) on over 30,000 sales, delivery and service transactions.

This is not an anti internet rant, because we have a big site and are actively building a bigger one. But to the 40 hard core readers and the occasional visitors of this blog, please educate yourself before buying on line.

Have a nice weekend

How to...Light a Bar/Restaurant Part 1

My friend Tony called me on Monday. He owns a bar in the middle of Boston. Its actually pretty well known, and they are opening a top floor as well as lighting an outside space. I have not been in his bar in years(because I am a little too old), but I was impressed with his recent remodel. Its a nice place. Have to admit, I was surprised.

So I met with the architect and another partner. The outside patio/bar has to be completed by Marathon Day, which is April 17. The bar is at the end of the route. Having run Boston 5 times, it is the most appealing site of the day.

So the first problem is the job must be specified, approved, shipped and installed in roughly 3 weeks. The second problem is that lights cannot be hung from the sidewall. The third problem is the main light is a metal hallide fixture. Customers are complaining about this light. If we look at the Kelvin Graph in the previous post, Metal hallide has the same color temperature as sunlight at 5500 degrees Kelvin. His customers are looking at a miniature sun. Also, it is impossible to effectively light an area with one light.

The last hurdle is the budget as I have been reminded repeatedly(but in a nice way and the guy did offer me free beer). My proposed solution is to install post lanterns and wash the wall with landscape lighting

I will post pictures on Monday and show the finished product on a future post.

Bar 1-1

Bar 1-2

Bar 1-3

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

How to buy....A front load washer

As I have mentioned in previous posts, front load washers will pay for itself versus a top loading machine in a very short period of time.

Laundry Chart

But which is the best? That really depends.

Perhaps the best overall machine for fine washables is the Miele. This machine has a honeycomb drum so the clothes "glide" on the drum with minimal contact. It also has an incredibly intuitive control panel, so you can customize wash, rinse and spin cycles. Because Miele manufactures almost every part down to the component level, typically there are less service issues with this brand in general. Out of 15,000 total warranty service calls performed by us last year, less than two dozen were Miele.

Miele Laundry

If you are placing machine on a second and third floor, then you should consider the Duet Sport by Whirlpool. The Duet Sport has a six point suspension system that keeps the machine balanced during a spin cycle. Front loaders spin at 2-3 times of a top loader, so floors will vibrate. (For people building homes, consider this and move the studs closer, so it will not be a problem). Whirlpool has always manufactured great laundry, and The Duet is no exception.

Duet Laundry

For energy efficiency and capacity, look at the Bosch. Bosch is huge and incredibly water efficient(10% less than comparable pieces). It has the number 1 rating in Consumer Reports, which is good for any brand(but should not be taken as gospel).

Bosch Laundry

I like Frigidaire. Their products are always well priced and designed. The machines are a tad smaller in internal capacity and the water usage is 17 gallons, which is still good. The price for a washer and dryer at $1099 is outstanding. Look at the ATF6000 and ATF7000 models....Excellent values.

Frigidaire Laundry

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Kelvin Graph as Promised (finally)

Following is the follow up as promised to my Kelvin post of last week. Its interesting to note that sunlight is actually bad mood lighting. We have a tendency to think differently, but sunlight washes out the lighter colors and is roughly 5,000 degrees Kelvin. When we hired our showroom designer, Daren, he actually put shades on our windows. He essentially blocked the sun. The store actually has a much better "feel" to it. We are manipulated by light to some degree, but thats a subject for another post.

Color Temperature Chart

For energy efficiency, you should take advantage of natural sunlight, but for accent and/or mood lighting try to use a bulb with a lower Kelvin.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Planning Your New Kitchen...First Steps

So you have decided to plan a new kitchen. Kitchen remodelling is the best investment for your home by far, and it does not have to be that hard. You have to find the right contractor(the wrong one will create tons of problems), and then the right cabinet and/or counter top store. They will all have the same question. What are you buying for appliances? The choices are maddening, but lets break it down so it is easier.

Appliances are manufactured to fit cabinets. Seems like an obvious statement, but think about it. Dishwashers, sinks and refrigerators(three basic sizes) fit standard cabinet specs. Specify them last as they will have little bearing on the overall design of the kitchen.

Cooking, on the other hand, will affect the design of your kitchen tremendously. Lets briefly look at the biggest decision in your kitchen: Cooktop and wall oven versus stove.

Here is the skinny:

Cooktop and wall oven works in larger kitchens and is great for ergo metrics (meaning you do not have to bend). The choices are better as well. In cooktops, you can choose induction, which is not available on a stove. In wall ovens, Miele, Wolf and Turbochef are products unavailable in regular ranges. There are also more venting possibilities as well:

Jenn-Air Cooking

Ranges certainly work better in small to mid-sized kitchens. Since the cooking is not being broken into wall oven and cooktop, there is 30 inches saved at the very least. The range does centralize cooking, but the biggest positive is the cost savings, which can be substantial:

Bosch Range

This is the toughest decision in kitchen renovation. After this, appliance buying is simple. For readers of Reddit and Digg, welcome to our blog, we focus on objectively critiqueing appliances and lighting, showing you the latest and greatest(and not sometimes) as well as Green energy saving tips. Feel free to leave a comment and we will respond.

Fluorescent Versus Incandescent (again)

Below is yet another graph of the lumen differences between incandescent and its fluorescent equivalent. When we talk about Green and its advantages, there are associated savings that should be mentioned.

The heat emitted off an incandescent is three times that of fluorescent. In the summer, air conditioners will obviously work harder, because you are effectively adding another heat source in your room.

Also, this does not reflect replacement costs as a Fluorescent will last over 7 years and incandescent about 8 months with the same usage.

Bulb Conversion Chart

Lighting My Place

The Boston Globe wanted some tips on lighting, so I answered them to best of my meager abilities. For those wondering about fluorescents(half my posts are on energy efficiency and Green), they are in the halls and the common area. Every light is on a dimmer. When LED is perfected, I will change the remaining decorative pieces.

Click the image below for the article. BTW, you are looking at pendants and a chandelier by Tech Lighting. Man, do I look bad in this picture. They probably airbrushed me too...yikes

Friday, March 16, 2007

Kelvin temperature of Lighting

I am feeling a tad guilty about my posts lately, so I will try to redeem myself. Its also snowing like crazy here, and there is nothing else to do.

In my previous posts, there is mention of fluorescent lighting. Indeed, it seems to be a hot topic and a cornerstone of the movement to Green products. There is one more detail worth understanding: the Kelvin temperature

To truly understand the Kelvin, consider sunlight is 5000 degrees Kelvin. Now the sun may look yellow, but it casts a white light. Sunlight tends to wash out color, but it accentuates blues and blacks.

On the other end of the spectrum is incandescent light, which is 2000-2500 degrees Kelvin. This is a very yellow light, and is great with lighter colors. Think of it as candlelight. Almost everyone looks good in candlelight.

The relevance to a consumer is to use a fluorescent in closets and the better color rendering,2800 degree, bulbs elsewhere. The 2800 degree bulb will almost have similar color rendering as an incandescent with much better efficiency. The whiter bulb will help delineate clothes in your closet.

Kind of hard to digest, I know. I will post a graph that will help on Monday

Have a nice weekend

Buying Appliances at The Best Price

So you want the best price?

The unit cost should be easy enough to calculate. It is the other services that are next to impossible to figure. A few companies are smart enough to list a low price and then inflate the necessary services...But here is the skinny:

Delivery costs...Anywhere from 0 to $300 on the same item

Removal Cost: $0 to you have to negotiate with the driver....You should be very wary of removal fees

Electric cords(dryer and range):$0 to $25 dollars...for a $5 dollar item?

Service Warranties: $99-350 for a 5 year warranty...You should only buy one of these from a dealer who actually performs service....

I hate to admit it, but not a good week for the blog. My picture guy was on vacation, but we have some very interesting posts for next week, so give us another look

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

New Posts

For the week of 3-10 to 3-17, new posts will be under the bath fan commentary. Sorry for the inconvenience

New Posts:

How to....Save 603 watts
How to....Save 277 watts

BTW, viewers average about 2 pages of content. I am not tracking you, but some of the best stuff is in the beginning especially with the energy efficiency posts. So read them, share them and save a few dollars just by a few simple changes. I will also be added to some of the older posts with more pictures of the notable products. So you can pretty much buy them anywhere even Beijing. To our Chinese friends, (Google lists geography)...Thank you for reading. Hopefully, you find value in our blog.

Parting shot: If you have a cell phone and you left the charger in the socket, you are wasting $10-25 bucks a year. Not much I agree, but its a start

Friday, March 09, 2007

Bath Fans

I will include a small section on bath fans. Bath fans are purchased on CFM or cubic feet per minute. A CFM is a cube of air sent through the fan per minute, hence the abbreviation. The other factor to consider is sonne level or noise. Quietness is measured by a low number of sonnes. Anything under 2.5 is good.

Bath Fans: The old electrical standard to calculate CFM was square footage times 1.08 or roughly 1 CFM per square foot. I find this measurement really outdated, because bathrooms are much larger with more elements to create heat and steam(among other things. I usually recommend increasing capacity by 50%. Sounds ambitious, but the difference between an 80 CFM and 120 CFM fan is usually $20 or $30. The difference in performance is substantial.
Bath Fan w/LightBath Fan

The Kitchen Sink

The kitchen sink should not be such a difficult purchase. A good sink is consider such by the gauge or the amount of nickel in the stainless. A lower number is a better sink. 18 is considered good with 16 gauge being commercial grade. The second feature is finish and undercoating. The finish determines luster and undercoating sound insulation. Franke, Blanco and Elkay are considered the best in this realm.

Now which sink? First, sink sizes are based on cabinet sizes. The most popular sink is a single sink that measures 25 wide by 22 deep as a 25 inch cabinet is the most specified with 24 inches deep as the standard.
<span class=PRX 610" src="http://yaleappliance.com/blog_pics/prx610.jpg">

Most sinks sold at Yale are undermount. This type of sink disappears in the counter and is easier to clean without any seams.
<span class=ORX 110" src="http://yaleappliance.com/blog_pics/orx110.jpg">

With the basics covered, we can buy them extra deep up to 12 inches, in a double with the food disposer on one side. There seem to be endless combinations as long as it fits into the cabinet
<span class=PRX 120" src="http://yaleappliance.com/blog_pics/prx120.jpg">

Thursday, March 08, 2007

5,000 Gift Card

I promised that I would not plug Yale. However, you can go to Yaleappliance.com and fill out an entry to win a $5,000 gift card with no purchase required.

How to...Eliminate 603 Watts of Electricity

Now its my turn. I really do not use much electricity anyway, because I am not home much. My most utilized lights are my reading and hallways, and most of the others are on dimmers.

Lets first focus on what fluorescent is not. It is not a good accent or decorative light, even the newer ones with better color rendering(2800 degrees Kelvin if you are purchasing) tend to wash out color. Fluorescent is good general task type lighting, and is great in closets, hallways and garages. It even is decent in shaded, decorative lights (especially white shades)

Floss reading lights once 300 watts(100 times 3) now 39 watts. The 13 watt fluorescent is really equivalent to a 65 watt incandescent, but I will live:
Reading Light

Hallway lights once 450 watts are now 108 watts. Total savings is 603 watts.

More importantly, the decorative accents remain appealing. Other than a little wash out on a rug, there is noticeable difference. There will be considerable difference in the electric bill and astronomical savings if everyone changed to fluorescent.

How to....Eliminate 277 watts of Electricity

My downstairs neighbor Owen is a great guy. Best of all, he is never around and is quiet when home. Owen loves to keep the light on in our common area. I always shut it off, but I cannot always maintain round the clock vigilance. Until I started reading about Green, energy efficiency, etc, it seemed mundane. Now it seems hypocritical, so today I did a little maintenance

The light had 3 60 watt lights. Now it has 3, 5 watt fluorescents:
Common Area #1

This horrible common area light had a 60 w incandescent now it has a 5 watt fluorescent
Common Area #2

The light by my door had a 75 watt flood bulb replaced by an equivalent 18 watt fluorescent
Common Area #3

To be fair a 5 watt fluorescent is equivalent is equal to a 25 watt incandescent, but we are not reading books in the hall, so it still will be plenty of light.

Hallway before 315 watts......Hallway now 38 watts

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

More Energy Saving Ideas

There is a bill in Massachusetts calling for the elimination of incandescent bulbs. Someone should tell them that we are the worst at actually buying them now. OK, The District of Columbia is actually a bit worse. Its a good first step even for an apolitical person for me. Below is a graphic if everyone in New England bought just 7 compact fluorescents. Pretty unbelievable, I think.
Lightbulb Savings

We will stop selling incandescent candelabra bulbs in 2008 and r and par bulbs when I find a replacement

The following tips are from Whirlpool Australia. They seem to have an issue with energy and water in particular. They are also banning incandescents in 2010

Keep cold drinking water in the fridge or use your fridge’s ice and/water dispenser. That way, you don't leave the tap running until the water gets cool.

Don't use running water to thaw frozen food. Leaving it in the fridge overnight is a healthier option or use the microwave instead.

When cooking, use methods requiring little water, like stir-frying or steaming and do not overfill pots and pans with water. Cooking time will be quicker and nutrition content higher.

How to Buy..... Track Lighting

Track lighting is the most functional lighting on the market. You can run it almost anywhere, and it can support all four basic lighting functions: Accent, Ambient, task and decorative. Track can be run from one power source, which is highly significant. Instead of calling an electrician to poke holes in the ceiling and run wires(and replaster and paint, etc), spotlights and decorative pieces can be placed anywhere on the track.

Track is purchased in lengths of 2 feet up to 12 feet in length. A power feed which either fits at the end of the track for new construction or in the middle also needs to be purchased. There are many types of track available and a seemingly infinte amount of decorative options. Look at some practical applications and certainly consider track for your lighting application

You can buy track inexpensively with regular type heads or you can buy low voltage track for a design statement: Below is our totally glass kitchen on suspended rail with glass heads

Glass Kitchen

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Pendant Lighting

There was a time when we did not sell pendants. However, as people have knocked down the barrier between kitchen and living area, pendants have effectively replaced the chandelier for lighting.

The "great room" has lend itself to bigger spaces usually with islands in the middle. Pendants, which are basically smaller lights, spread the light more evenly and are more visually appealing than chandeliers.

Take a look at some applications:

Kitchen #1
Fisher & Paykel
Red Kitchen

Here are some different options:

Pendant 1 Pendant 2 Pendant 3
Pendant 4 Pendant 5 Pendant 6

Chuck Liddell...Our Company Spokesman

A brief respite from how tos, Green, etc. Why Chuck Liddell as company spokesman is probably the single most asked question from just about everyone. Well, advertising is about being unique, and an extreme fighter with a mohawk may be pushing the unique envelope to say the least.

Chuck is actually a pretty nice guy. He is a college graduate in....accounting, unbelievable, but true. I imagine compliance and tax problems would decrease with this guy in charge.

This was our first foray into television advertising. Enjoy

Monday, March 05, 2007

Green is Good....Try it

I set my Google Alerts to energy efficiency and Energy efficient tips. It is amazing how virulent some of the attacks on Green and conservation can be. So lets say that there is no global warming, and we are simply not the causation of anything bad.

How about saving money. Forget about the positive ramifications of actually saving money. Consider the following equations:

You can light your room with a 13 watt fluorescent or a 60 watt incandescent.

You can wash your laundry in a 2.5 cubic foot that uses 42 gallons of water or a washer that uses 10-12 gallons of water and is 40% larger and uses 50% less energy.

Take your pick. The answer will save you easily $600-1200 per year easily in water, sewer, air conditioning and energy costs.

BTW, Massachusetts is 48th out of 48 in fluorescent bulb usage. We are better than the District of Columbia

Ventless Drying

This will be a great post for a very few people. Have to be honest. Increasingly developers are limited the use of venting for cost savings. For range hoods, its simple, just redirect the exhaust through the front of the hood and add a filter.

The issue with the dryer becomes more complicated, because it emits heat and moisture. Moisture will peel wallpaper and serve as a healthy environment for otherwise unhealthy stuff. In other words, you want heat and moisture out of your condo or apartment. Fortunately, this problem seems to have been rectified in Europe. Miele, Bosch and Asko all manufacture a condenser dryer, which transforms the moisture into water. The water is then eliminated through a connection with the washer and then sent out with the waste water from the washer.

Unfortunately the problem has not been rectified cheaply Per Se. A very good washer and dryer will cost $1200 to 2000. A washer and ventless dryer runs $1700 to $3500, but it is certainly less frustrating than the laundrymat.
Bosch Laundry Miele Laundry

How to Buy....A Paddle Fan

Google really has fantastic analytics. I have graphs of how many people viewed our blog and how many pages were read. Although Boston is disproportionately represented as you may suspect, it only accounts for 40% of the views. We have somehow been read in Oslo, Scotland and Buttsberg, (Germany). Whatever country, province or area, I would be happy to address any outstanding issues or problems in the home building process as it relates to appliances, lighting and kitchen plumbing.

Our goal is to be an impartial resource to the renovator/remodeller/homeowner not a shill for a particular product or company, even our own.

That being said, lets talk fans. Simple question: Are paddle fans energy efficient or not?


The correct answer is Maybe. There is no question that on a certain level fans are more energy efficient. In the summer, they circulate the air, and when reversed, a paddle fan will distribute the heat from the ceiling. However, fans do not lower temperature. They create a "wind chill" effect, but only if you are in the room. Think of a fan as a light bulb(equivalent to a 40 watt), so turn it off when leaving a room.

So how do you buy a fan. Most of the better fans will have a Emerson motor that allows the fan to operate more efficiently, quietly and wobble less. Although fans are available in sizes up to 80 inches, the most common size is 50-52 inch diameter for average to larger size rooms and 42 for smaller rooms. Again, this is Boston, not Baton Rouge. In warmer climates, there is a propensity to have porch fans(make sure they are weather resistant) and fans in bathrooms, which can be as small as 29 inch.

A couple other important factor when buying paddle fans are controls. Fan controls are available in increasing permutations: remotes, intelli-switches as well as the pull chains. A switch should be able to reverse a fan period. Extra functions are great, but you do not want to climb a ladder to reverse a fan.

A couple other suggestions: The optimum height for a fan is 8-9 feet off the floor with a minimum of 7 feet. In taller ceilings, hang the fan at about 25% of the height of the room. Lastly, have some fun with this and try to buy something other than white. There are some very interesting fans from Minka, Fanimation, Casablanca and Emerson. I will post a few for your inspection.