Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tip of the Day

My last post for October....49, I believe. To the casual observer, I am obviously neglecting my job.

Anyway, this is a tip almost everyone can use. Most people who buy front loading washers will notice the clothes can be wrinkled. The spin on the washer can be 2-4 times greater than a front loader, so some wrinkling is normal.

However, More water is thus extracted, which means less drying time, overdrying and shrinkage.

The complicated remedy: Add fabric softener

Recessed Lighting...The Basics

I want to simplify recessed lighting. Its really not that hard. I am thinking 3 posts or less until you have expertise. Recessed comprises of the housing or the electrical part and the trim or the decorative part.

For this post, I will concentrate on the housing. Recessed housings are available residentially in 3, 4 , 5 and 6 inch diameters. Typically, the larger cans support larger bulbs, BUT do not use a 6 inch can for ceilings less than 10 feet...Why? It looks awful, and your contractor is probably buying them now. For standard ceilings use the 5 inch size or low voltage, which is available at 4 inch.

As pictured below, there are 4 different types of housings:

IC New Construction

Insulated New Construction: This is the best type of housing. It is nailed to the studs and you can place insulation over it. Insulated cans save a small fortune per year in energy, because air, heat, and air conditioning does not exfiltrate out of the room(as I said yesterday)

Non-IC New Construction

Non Insulated New Construction: Why? you are saving $5-$10 and spending double that in higher enegy costs yearly

IC Remodel

Insulated Remodel Cans: For existing ceilngs, instead of nailing the unit to studs, the ceiling is cut from below, and the can is pushed through. Insulated remodel cans are not available in all sizes yet.

Non-IC Remodel

Non Insulated Remodel cans: Again, why? Unless, the above is not available

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Energy Tip Of the Day

Most of the energy tips have been simple: A change of a light bulb or an alteration of a habit....

In building, however, you have a wonderful opportunity to start fresh, invest a few dollars more and reap the savings daily

One simple upgrade would be insulated recssed housings. You place insulation over them and air does not pass: All kinds of air as in air conditioning or even heating

We will cover recessed tomorrow.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Change your Environment and spend $110

I am a little worried. if you read the last two posts, you will probably think I am an elitist. This is not true...OK maybe partially true. Seriously, there are tons of ways to save money and buy great looking products.

As you know from reading previous posts, pendants have become increasingly popular. Kitchens now incorporate a dining space or an island or a penisula. Frequently, three smaller fixtures spaced evenly has more appeal than one chandelier.

Unlike my wine post of yesterday, this is a perfect opportunity to spend a little less and still buy an asthetically pleasing product. Hudson Valley manufactures reproductions of 19th century fixtures complete with different glass and finish options. It looks authentic yet it is only about $110.

Have a peek:


Under Counter Refrigeration

Under Counter refrigerators are the toughest products to consider when purchasing appliances. Why would anyone buy an under counter refrigerator for $11O0 or higher from Marvel, Uline, Electrolux or SubZero, when they can buy a dorm refrigerator for $199 anywhere.

The answer is simple. The compressor breathes from the front rather than the back, so it can be built into a cabinet. The dormer has the compressor in the back, so it is only stand alone.

There are other differences: Metal cabinet versus plastic and temperature control...

Undercounter Refrigeration

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Don't Wine

Lets talk about wine for a post. Wine is a living, evolving beverage unlike Coke, Sprite or Gatorade. Being a live grape versus a chemical concoction, it allows for a certain amount of spoilage. I once attended a class at the BCAE in Boston and the instructor said 3% of all wine sold in restaurants is "corked" or in layman's terms, spoiled. Under the best conditions, wine is perishable.

I can only image the perishability in residential applications. Most wine storage systems are basically the same as a refrigerator with wine racks. The wine coolers sold at $299 are a dorm refrigerator with a Plexiglas door and racks.

I have no issue with inexpensive products. However, wine is tough to store. Light, heat, humidity and vibration will damage wine. If you ever visit a winery, wine is usually stored in caves for this reason. Of all the wine products sold in the United States, in my opinion, only one can actually store wine for the long term

That company is SubZero. Lets take a peek:

Light: The door is designed to refract light and ultraviolet light. Interestingly enough, most wine coolers have a 60 watt bulb on the top of their cabinet to showcase the wine(and guarantee spoilage underneath). SubZero has low voltage bulbs in the middle.

Temperature: The SubZero has 2 separate temperature zones, where the temperature is displayed digitally. You can set each zone distinctly. Important as red and white wine are served at different temperatures

Vibration: The compressor is fixed to rubber gromats, so it will not shake the unit, which will in turn damage the wine. Also, each shelf glides out on special racks. Try that in any other unit.

Humidity: Humidity can destroy wine by drying corks or by allowing oxygen in the bottle. By having two evaporators, this unit allows for the optimum humidity levels

There are six different models to choose. The undercabinet is the most popular, and $3,000, it is slightly higher than a high end cabinet. Once again, if you are looking to simply buy wine and drink it quickly, then buy almost any product.

However, if you are storing for the long term, either look for a cave or consider a SubZero.

Sub Zero Wine

Sub Zero Wine

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Energy Tip Of the Day

The following is an practical, sensible yet easy tip. Move chairs away from heat sources. The reason: Foam is a good insulator.

Well we have beaten kitchen lighting down pretty well. In the week ahead, we will talk about wine storage, how to light a bath, recessed cans, some energy tips, a rant or two and that will leave a day or two for any specific questions

Have a nice weekend,


The Lighting Plan

This will probably be my longest post. Lets review the last two weeks:

A Lighting plan in a larger kitchen will encompass the following elements:

A. Task or general lighting such as recessed or track

B. Ambient or environmental lighting such as semi flush fixtures and other uplights

C. Accent Lighting to higlight artworks and other objects of interest..Once again track and recessed are the primary sources

D. Decorative lighting such as pendants and chandeliers to add depth and personalization

So now we have all the elements, A common question is: Can a single fixture combine multiple elements of the plan. The answer is absolutely yes. I will show you in the rest of this post a few multiple applications.

You also do not need to spend a fortune for a well executed plan. Lets look at a few ideas

Forecast Pendant: Decorative and ambient

Nice Lights

Quoizel 3 light chandelier...Decorative and ambient

Nice Lights

Track is traditionally a task application, but can satisfy most every element. You can hang pendants for decorative. Heads can also be focused on different art objects for accent lighting

Nice Lights

Once again a combination of ambient and decorative lighting

Nice Lights

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Angies' List

If you are planning a renovation, I am an advocate of checking references. Angies' List is another independent agency to check before signing the line that is dotted

Check it out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Good Idea..

A break in the lighting for a quick appliance blog: Take a look at these two pictures. See anything different?

Asko Stack

LG stack

Thats right...The LG has the controls in the middle whereas the Asko and all others have the controls on the top. If we were to look at a Whirlpool Duet or similar product, the controls would be at 74 inches...or 6 foot 2 inches in height

Ambient Lighting...Kitchen

I always explain this wrong. Ambient lighting has the distinction of being the least utilized source. Quick simply, it is uplighting. Ambient provides softer, environmental lighting(think ambience).

There are a wide variety of fixtures that provide ambient lighting: Pendants, semi-flush and chandeliers

Lets look:

Ambient Light

Ambient Light

Ambient Light

Monday, October 22, 2007

Accent Lighting...Kitchens

Have you ever been to a really nice hotel, and seen this beautiful buoquet of flowers in the lobby. Looked nice, didn't it? Next time look up, and you will see a low voltage track head or recessed light.

Like museums, hotels and art galleries, accent lighting serves to enhance objects below. Track and recessed are primarily the sources of accent lighting.

But once again, accent lighting cannot light the room on its own. Using just accent lighting can lead to the "museum effect" or a situation when the objects are more important than the people.

Have a peak:

Accent Light

Accent Light

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Energy Tip Of the Day

We throw enough paper each year to build a 12 foot wall from New York to Los Angeles. Amazing.

Energy efficiency, Green and saving resources starts with awareness. We can decrease this number by 60% simply by email, recycling and being mindful that resources are limited

Friday, October 19, 2007

Decorative Lighting....Kitchens

I love decorative lighting. They are the differentiators in a sea of recessed. Decorative lighting could be chandeliers, pendants and wall sconces. As I have described in previous posts, kitchens have become larger and the De facto entertainment room of the house. As a consequence, more pendants seem to be popular. However, style is a matter of opinion.

Also, it should be noted that decorative lighting by itself cannot properly light a room. Sure it seems like a good idea to throw a 6 arm chandelier with 60 watt bulbs in the middle of a room, but the corners and task areas are poorly lit while you blind your seated guests.

Decorative is part of the lighting plan.

Rough measurement of a chandelier...18 inches less than the actual table and hang it 24-30 inches of the table itself. Use this as a general guide.

Some interesting decorative pieces:

Decorative Lights

Decorative Lights

Decorative Lights

Decorative Lights

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Next Week

I will finish lighting as we have not covered accent and ambient lighting. We will circle back to buying on a budget, maybe multiple budgets, so you have a sense of the value of spending more incrementally. We will cover some Green as per usual.

I am filming "The Fearless Chef" Andy Husbands tomorrow, so we will throw a idea on how to cook for the holidays...He is pretty interesting and lets say different in his style

That's about all for this week....Have a nice weekend,


Task Lighting...Kitchens

Task is the backbone of your lighting plan. I want to qualify these posts by saying these posts are primarily for kitchens. Bath will be next week. As I have said living rooms, bedrooms and to some extent foyers do not need as much light
Case in point: You are watching television. You shut off the lights.

The most common task lights are Recessed, track and undercounter lighting.

Although spaces are inherently different, typically recessed should be 12-18 inches from the wall and spaced 3-5 feet apart depending on ceiling height. Next week, I will cover the different cans and trims in depth, if there is a request.


Track is more flexible than Recessed, because lights can be located anywhere on the length of the track. You can also hang a variety of heads and pendants as well.

Some people like the clean application of recessed. Track, on the other hand, has certainly become very interesting and distinct over the last few years....The pictures below are from our showroom

Track #1

Track #2

Lastly, undercounter lighting should be consider as it is the only way to light...counters. Typically, the lengths are 7,16,24,30 and 37 inchs. Electrify them to separate switches, and it is a nice effect when left on alone


Invariably, when I teach this to interior designers, someone will raise their hand and show me a beautiful kitchen in Boston Magazine with just recessed lights. Unfair, I will say. Photographers add their own lights before snapping that perfect shot. This misconception has actually engendered really bad lighting designs.

Utilizing just recessed will create a shadowing effect amongst people in the kitchen, and should never be the single lighting element.

We will discuss decorative AKA the fun stuff tomorrow

Energy Tip Of the Day

I read energy efficiency posts every day. Now we will be heading into winter(72 degrees in Boston tomorrow)...Let me paraphrase winter efficiency EnrgySpeak:

1. Look at the insulation in your home

2. Wrap your heater or buy a new one if it predates 1990

3..Insulate windows or add that plastic sealer.

4. Energy efficient bulbs and appliances(have you heard that one before)

5. Turn down your thermostat

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I like the cold for sleeping. As you know from my summer posts, I turned my thermostat up all season to 76 degrees. For the winter, my target is 63 degrees. It is really not that hard.

My action plan:

1. Plenty of blankets

2. Plenty of sweaters

3. Thermal socks

I will stop short at wearing a hat in my own apartment. Try it and save money to buy more sweaters

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How To...Light a Room

People always tell me: I did not know there was so much to write about for appliances and lighting. My immediate response is: ok, how do you light a room?

The proper response is what kind of room, but typically people are left speechless. After all, we were never taught how to properly light an area. For bedrooms, it is easy. You probably have at this moment a desk light, a swing arm over your bed and a light in the middle of your bedroom

Guess what, it really does not matter. You have light where you need it. In different areas like kitchens and baths. For this, you need a plan(or an interior decorator)

Some of this is review, so please bear with me.

There are four types of Lights:

Task: Recessed, track and undercounter lighting for example. This is the backbone of a good lighting plan

Accent: Monopoints, track and specialized recessed. Accent lighting accentuates(go figure) statues, paintings and art

Decorative: Chandeliers, pendants. Provides depth and sparkle to the room

Ambient: Uplighting: Provides the soft environmental light. Important to the plan and overlooked in most applications

I will detail each element in further posts...

Shutting Down Your Water Heater

Perhaps one of the best tips is to shut the water heater to 120 degrees. Children are not scalded, and you save a small fortune in electricity. Total win, right? I sent all of The Yale Blog Tips to 60,000 people on our mailing list expecting almost universal affirmation.

There seems to be one small risk, according to one of the Doctors on our list. At 120 degrees, there is a very slight chance of Legionnaires disease bacteria developing within older water heaters. To kill Legionaires, it seems, the temperature should be set at 123(please correct me if I am wrong).

Certainly, using less hot water is a key to saving electricity, but be informed of the risks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Boston Globe

Last Monday, we were in The Globe about our social marketing initiatives. The storywriter actually made us look interesting. It also allows us to reset the table insofar as our mission on the Blogosphere.

That is, simply, to be honest about about a purchase decision. Our job is not to sell any products here, and we are not being paid to do so. If you are renovating, building or replacing and read this blog, you will be more informed about your purchase.

You are also very unlikely to spend money unwisely...

Click here for a PDF of the article


Turbochef is back, and ready for sales to an adoring public. Why not? It cooks very fast without sacrificing food quality. Turbochef technology has been around commercially for years.

I actually bought the stock when Maytag announced that they will manufacturing ovens and licensing the technology. The Accellis, as Maytag dubbed it, failed miserably. Then again, so did pretty much everything Maytag built.

Turbochef could launch us into the Age of The Jetsons or Star Trek. Then again, it could keep our service department very busy. After 5 years or so, you would hope for success. We will have Kurt demo Turbochef shortly

Turbo Chef Orange Door

Monday, October 15, 2007

Energy Tip Of the Day

Its Blog Action Day, and nobody told me! I should have been writing about energy efficiency and totally blew it....

Here is a couple:

You like your fireplace, but use it on special ocassions as it is inefficient due to heat loss

Now that it is cold outside:

Set your thermostat at 68 degrees to save energy

Reverse your paddle fans..so the heat will be forced down

I have saved my blog soul

The 100 Mile Rule

How about a fun fact? Over half the paper consumed in this country is used for packaging.

Anyway, I am a vegatarian and organic wannabe. I read their columns, and try to stay true to their ways...There is something about chicken parm, however.

There is a frequently mentioned tenet called the 100 mile rule. Everything you buy should be produced 100 miles from your home or less.

Think about seriously for a moment. If we did this as a rule, the amount of transportation, gas, warehouses, energy, etc that would be saved would be tremendous.

A side benefit would be healthier ingredients and a better lifestyle

Renovating Cheaply

Horrible title to what will be a useful post(hopefully)

Lets set the table:
You have moved into a new home, want to update and do not have a bunch of dough.

Your house is on the market like 1/3 of your neighbors. You need to differentiate. What do you do?

My thoughts on inexpensive renovations: First the average American buys major appliances once every 12 years, yet kitchens and baths sell homes.

Try a Frigidaire package at less than 2000. Add a few hundred for plumbing and your kitchen is once again competitive

Stainless Frigidaire Package

Lighting Cheaply

In 1986 when I started working full time, low voltage track was expensive. The average track head was about $120 per head with the track at $85.

With the miracle of low cost production and Chinese imports, this same configuration is about $280...for 6 heads and the track.


Track is extraordinarily versatile and can be used for many different applications. Low voltage, as we know from other posts, provides a whiter light than incandescent bulbs.

Great alternative to recessed lighting

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New Mexico Versus Michigan

I wrote a post a couple of weeks called The Invasion of Canada. Our Northern neighbor has the most fresh water in the world. At that time, there were reports of our shortage.

This weekend, Bill Richardson the Governor of New Mexico, called for a national policy on water. Evidentally, he sees plenty of fresh water in The Great Lakes. There are, however, two basic problems:

1. Lake Superior is 2 feet below normal levels

2. The people from Michigan don't seem to agree. Maybe there are not team players.

Whether we are running out of water or power, there are simpleways to save it from the obvious to the more interesting

Here is a few:

shower instead of bathing, showering 1 less minute a day will save 2000 gallons of water annually

water saving appliances, low flow toilets, showers and front load washers

Be smart(no other way to say it) dont leave it on while shaving etc

Most other water saving ideas can be read in the post The Garden of Jim Oneil...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fluorescent Lighting

I couldn't quite leave for the weekend, so lets review fluorescent again. First, you need to understand the Kelvin scale. Lets remove the technicality of it:

Candle light, fire is good....We look great under candle light. Candle light is 2000 degrees on the Kelvin scale...So 2000 is good

Sunlight, fluorescent lighting is bad...yes sunlight washes color with a bluish light...sorry, its true...Sunlight is 5000 degrees....So 5000 degrees is bad (*even though fluorescent is 3 to 4 times more efficient)

Most bulbs have different Kelvin properties. When people talk about halogen being a whiter light at 2500 degrees, its a few hundred degrees from incandescent, but still way away from fluorescent.

Thus, the bulb you want to buy is: a 2800 degree Kelvin compact fluorescent, which is a better color of white than regular fluorescent and still provides energy savings

Take a look:

Nice Lights

One of these lights has a fluorescent bulb in it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Next Week

I am thinking about spending time laying out some lights and explaining the how tos. We will also blog about some less expensive appliances and lighting for those of us who are on a budget(who isn't). I have a post showing fluorescent lights. Then, of course, Green, because when the average January becomes 35 degrees CELSIUS, I can always say it wasn't my fault.

Self righteously yours,


PS: This does leave some room for requests...The people looking for info on small appliances seem happy(that I ruined their day)

Have a nice weekend

Facebook, Towels And The Energy Tip of The Day

I truly adore Facebook, and encourage everyone to join up. Sure roll your eyes but its good fun and surprisingly informative. You can review books, music, travel and throw a sheep at your friends. I feel so young yet so hip. Try it. Send me an email if you need help.

So Shawn sent me a Green award, and I threw a potted plant at him in return(virtually of course). Because Facebook allows outside applications, they have cool edits. This one was on Green specifically critiques on your lifestyle and ways to improve your footprint.

They asked about towels...and I started thinking about towels. Paper towels and cotton towels, what if I stopped using paper towels in bathrooms and reused my towels after I showered. Well, I would use less paper, and less drying time which would lessen my footprint.

Some of these posts may sound a little earthy crunchy, but it is not an inconvenience. Most of these tips save money and require no real effort. If the 150 or so people reading this could convince 10 people, it would be a good start

How to...Cook a Turkey

I love watching these guys on videotape. Everyone is such a character until the camera is on. Kurt really does know how to cook a turkey. He swears by the process of brining or washing the bird in salt water.

We will be cooking turkey in the showroom on Saturdays in the showroom if you need a more hands on approach.

Hope you enjoy....

Holiday Cooking

We have a variety of chefs parading through Yale in October and November. As anyone who has eaten at Tremont647 or Bob The Chefs can attest, these people know how to cook. We will be taping a few segments on How to Cook, which will be available on Youtube. You can also watch firsthand.

The chef schedule should be on the front page of the website, WWW. YaleAppliance.com

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Our Next Advertising Campaign

I really don't like traditional advertising. I just can't do it yet it is my job. Personnally, I like blogging better. I like talking to people rather than screaming at them. If I can teach 150 people a day to ask stores difficult questions than perhaps they will shop at Yale. Then again, half of you are from out of our market.

Anyway, I have 2 concepts for our next campaign. Feel free to comment, I will post a survey later.

The first is a more traditional campaign. Its about selection, expertise, warranty(we warranty lighting purchases for as long as you own your home)

The second is more of a direct comparason with a little humor....The possibilities are endless. Service, delivery, price(hey we don't have to pay the CEO 750 million)

Three Lineup

More of A Few of My Favorite Things

Once again in no particular order

Favorite 6

The SubZero 736: It is probably the best selling integrated refrigerator in the industry. They are still a great company after all these years

Favorite 7

Elk Lighting Flushmounts: I like colored and white glass. Its a nice change from opal, frosted white. Somewhat inexpensive starting at $150

Favorite 8

These are the same colored pendants as last time...only you can actually see the colors(I have 3 white ones)

Favorite 9

Frigidaire front Loader ATF7000: Spend $1100 and save $150-200 per year every year over your current top loader.

Favorite 10

JennAir JFC2089: Shallow depth, french door....This unit is the nicest looking and can be packaged with other worthwhile equipment

Favorite 11

Bertazzoni: The Italians do know how to style a product. At $2500(roughly) it is less expensive than a pro range

Energy Tip Of the Day

Energy tip of the day should be called..Energy tip when I think or read something worthwhile

There could be a blog dedicated to shutting products off, and there are so many more devices games than ever. I wonder how much energy is just wasted worldwide.

Enough philosphy: Shut your refrigerator door, in fact do not leave it open for any extended length of time

Reason: 1 minute of an open refrigerator requires 3 minutes of electricity to cool it to original temperature

Small Appliances....Dishwashers

As I have said on occasion, appliances fit cabinets. Dishwashers fit a base 24 inch cabinet, so consequently dishwashers are all 23.75 inches wide. Somebody should tell Dacor as their dishwashers are 24 and 30 inches wide and are for new construction only.

There are three options for 18 cabinets. All of which are surprisingly good.

Frigidaire is a basic dishwasher with decent cycles.

Frigidaire 18

Miele is an exceptionally good dishwasher with a stainless tank, quiet operation and unsurpassed product quality(quality means great repair record). Then again at roughly $1200, it should be

Miele 18

The sleeper pick is GE monogram. Stainless tank and decent features, but is half the price of the Miele

Monogram 18

An interesting alternative is the Danby countertop dishwasher...A product without cabinet requirements

Monday, October 08, 2007

Energy Tip Of the Day

A Yale Blog record has been set today with four new posts. I have to end the day with a Green post.

Appliances are heat retentive. In other words, you can shut them off or even lower them, but every electric appliance will retain heat.

If you want to save electricity, do two loads of wash, because the dryer will already be hot the second time

Reverse that on an electric stove or oven. Because the cooking surface and the oven will remain hot, you can effectively finish cooking the food even after the unit is theoretically off...

Now imagine if everyone tried it

Buying Small Appliances...Refrigerators

Refrigerators fit cabinets. Case in point, the most common cabinet sizes are 30, 33 and 36, refrigerator widths are 28, 29.5, 32.5 and 35.75...But what happens with the odd cabinet at less than 30?

A good alternative is LG, the LRBP1031 is 24 inch and tall at 67 inches. It is available in white and titanium

LG Small Fridge

Another decent product is the GE GTR11AAPRWW. It is 12 cubic foot, 24 inches wide and self defrosting.

GE Small Fridge

I like the reliability of a major brand. There are a few off brands like Avanti, Summit, Sunbeam, Excellence and Welbilt, but I am not crazy about the prospects of longevity

Buying Small Appliances....Ranges

Is this the most underserved category on the planet. The major appliance manufacturers do not even dabble in this segment. Now there are millions of galley kitchens worldwide(especially in Europe) that require a stove in the 20 or 24 inch sizes

In this country, you have 2 choices. A no name brand like Premier on the lower end or Sunbeam, Summit or Avanti for style. We sell Avanti.

Avanti Range

There is unfortunately no middle ground, since GE, Whirlpool, Bosch and Frigidaire do not manufacture in this segment, your next choice is a pro like Viking or 5 Star at over 3,000


A Few of my Favorite Things

I was walking through the store with a camera. One word about Yale: We rotate displays incredibly frequently. As you look at these photos in November, they may be off display by January.

So lets have a look at the first of 2 posts:

Favorite 346

SubZero wine storage: Subzero actually designed this unit wine preservation The unit actually addresses light, humidity, vibration and temperature issues...

Favorite 347

Miele Dishwasher: Fantastic repair record, quiet and water efficient

Favorite 348

With the separate cutlery tray for added space

Favorite 349

Franke KBX series: Ah, the simplest things...How about a different looking sink?

Favorite 351

Tech Mo Pendants: They are $300 a piece. Incredibly colorful, these pendants will change the kitchen completely(for the better)

Favorite 352

Favorite 353

Thermador Freedom: Call me an elitist, but I like integrated products.