Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ventilation Types

There are a ton of venting options for your kitchens. We will discuss styles and a few issues to assist in your decisions. You can trust us. We are non commissioned.

The first consideration of ventilation is the output and the usage stove or range. As discussed in the previous post, the vent has to be sized properly. Lets pick a vent:

The most common type is the straight vent or power unit. These hoods vary in price from $60 to $700 depending on style and CFM. Broan has some decent units at lower prices,
but Zephyr has units with higher CFM, and really attractive styling.
Another popular consideration is from Best, which has one unit with variety of separate blower options
Best K210

A downdraft is decent option in an island design. This vent is commonly placed behind a cooktop, and can be activated or raised when needed. The motor is either housed in the cabinet or on an outside wall. Think of it as a reverse hood, instead of venting up and through the roof, the venting is placed underneath the floor. Although a downdraft is a stylish option, it does not have capture area for professional style products
Thermador Downdraft

The canopy range hood is the most popular style of hood for professional and higher output burners. The canopy tends to be a slightly bulkier hood and blowers are usually sold separately at all different CFM levels. Although Wolf, Viking, Vent A Hood and Thermador market decent canopy hoods, look at the Best K260. It is beautifully styled and relatively inexpensive.
Best K260

The most interesting hood is the pyramid or trinagular shaped hood. This is the consummate statement piece in a kitchen. They can be purchased in different shapes and styles. Although most of them are available at higher CFMs, only one has enough capture area to handle a pro range, The Best k42
Best K42

The last option is the microwave hood combination. It is likeable, because the cooking products(range and microwave) are in one area, but it has average CFM and capture area, so it should not be placed over a pro range

Monday, January 29, 2007

Basic Lighting Rant

Buying or selling lighting is a difficult proposition. Lighting is like clothes in a way. There are so many styles that you often wonder if you chose the right one, and lighting sets the mood for the whole house, so there is much to consider.

Relax, there are only a few rules about lighting a room properly, and there are only two rooms to really concentrate your efforts, the kitchen and bath. I will cover them in separate posts, but for now, I will dedicate this post on choosing a dining room fixture, an object of much consumer angst.

I was taught that a chandelier needed to be 12 inches less in diameter and roughly 24 inches off the table. As I sit here at home, my fixture is 3 feet off my table and is probably 18 inches less in diameter. Guess what? It looks great.

The other impediment to purchasing a chandelier is this notion that you must stay within a certain style. Although this may have been true when people had more formal living spaces, it is not the case today. Most people have combined living and dining areas to form the "great" room. This room is often an eclectic mix of styles that can acommodate either traditionhal or contemporary pieces. My chendelier? A bendable 7 arm contemporary chandelier from Techlighting over a traditional table with red chairs. It looks pretty cool.

So do not be afraid to try something different and mix a style or three, because that is what you already done.

I promised ventilation, and it will be so next post.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Basic Ventilation

So you have your heart set on the pro range range or you cook a lot. Now you need a vent for one reason. You want the smoke, odor, grease and heat outside your house. Ventilation has become more important in a kitchen plan especially with the advent of high powered ranges.

Buying the proper vent is not hard to do as there are only four characteristics of good ventilation: Capture area, CFM or blower speed, Duct size and Duct run or length of ducting.

Lets look at each.

Capture area is the size of the venting area of the hood. Typically, especially on the more powerful ranges, the hood depth should be at least 24 inches deep. Most renovators will buy a sleek, shallow hood or build out the cabinet as the vent and will beef up the CFM of the hood as a countermeasure. Does not work. Simply, smoke frome the range is captured first by the hood and then blown and filtered out by the motor. The smoke, heat and grease will not be captured by a shallow hood on a Professional range

CFM is short for Cubic Foot per Minute or how many cubes of air are blown out per minute by the motor. Blower speed is a shorter description. Your typical hood and over the range microwave are about 310 CFM. You can buy blowers as high as 1500 CFM residentially. If you cook a lot especially wok cooking or frying, the greater the CFM on the hood should be. On a pro range with a grill or griddle 900 minimum on a 36 inch and 1200 minimum on a 48 inch. There seems to be an on going argument about inside versus outside blower. I prefer the blower inside. It is easier to service, and more aesthetic as you will not have to look at a huge blower outside of your house.

Four inch duct is for dryers. A dryer exhausts at 180 CFM without smoke or grease. Your stove duct should be at least 6 inch and on professional cooking up to 10 inch. If you constrict the duct, then less smoke is exhausted to the outside and more will stay in your house.

I probably could have included duct runs in the previous paragraph. It is, however, the biggest venting mistake. Each time the duct is bended, the efficiency will be curtailed. The best way to vent is straight up, because smoke travels this way naturally or straight back without bends in the ducting. My favorite analogy is drinking a with a straw that is bent two or three ways. Doesn't work too well.

The last word on ventilation is ductless or non-vented installation. If you are unable to duct outside, having a hood with a filter is better than nothing. The smoke and grease will be filtered, but the heat will be recirculated back into the kitchen

Tomorrow, we will blog different styles of vents. There really are some beautiful styles of hoods in the market.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Pro Ranges

The Pro Range. Perhaps one of the many dreams of the remodeler/renovator. Following is a general guide to general features when considering one of these products.

Sizes of a professional range are 24,30,36,48 and 60 inch. The term professional or "pro" range is derived from their commercial style and high output burners that can vary between 15-17,500 BTUs. Interestingly enough, regular gas stoves have one burner that is 15-16,000 BTU
Most pro ranges are available in all gas or dual fuel with an electric convection oven. Electric convection is a little more even on the bake and requires a seperate 220 line.

In a 30 inch product, the range will have 4 burners or 5 in a DCS with gas or electric convection oven
DCS 5-Burner

In a 36 inch oven, The options are 6 burners, 4 burners with a grill in the middle or 4 burners with a griddle. Please note: When a grill or griddle is installed, you must consider proper ventilation(we will blog vents in the next couple of posts)
Thermador w/Grill

From a 36 inch to a 48 inch range, a second oven and another set of burners is added.
Wolf 48

To distinguish between the brands consider the following:

BTU output will vary from 15-17,500 BTU
The simmers will vary from an intermittent 200 to a consistent 500 BTU
Clocks and timers are available on only a few brands
On the larger units, 48 and 60 inch, the secondary oven is self cleaning and convection on only two brands, Wolf and Dacor(48 inch only)

Just some basic information for now, we will delve into this in greater detail in later posts

If you have any questions or would like us to cover specific questions and/or design issues, please email us at steve.sheinkopf@yaleappliance.com

Monday, January 15, 2007

Gas Stoves

Gas comprises about 70% of the Boston market currently. These ranges are available in 20, 24, 30, 36, 40, 48 and 60 inches. Of these sizes 90% are sold in the 30 inch category. For simplicity, we will cover regular 30 inch ranges in this post and professional ranges will be published later

There are two types of gas ranges. Free standing ranges have the controls on the back of the range. A basic gas range has four burners with the same BTU output, self cleaning oven and a storage drawer.

When you step up in a range, a power burner of 16,000 BTUs is added as well as a low simmer burner. Power burners are almost double of a regular burner(9,000 BTU on average), and the simmer or low burner, lets you...simmer or slow cook.
Power Burner

The next upgrade would be convection, which is a fan forced heat, so it keeps a more even heat in the oven. Convection is primarily a baking mode, and you will bake and brown more evenly. Convection is not a time saver per se. On average, bake time is decreased by 10-15% with a temperature adjustment of 25 degrees less. According to the Green Project, the dollar saving is a nickel per hour.

The Last upgrade is a warming drawer or oven instead of storage. The oven is self explanatory, but a warming drawer allows you to maintain warmth without dehydrating the food. Its a very nice option for two working members of a household. You can also refresh leftovers efficiently.
Second Oven

The other type of stove is the slide-in. A slide-in stove has the controls on the face and no backguard. A slide-in will have most of the upscale features, but the main benefit is the aesthetic. Because there is not a backguard, custom tiling, wall paper and other treatments can be placed in the back of the range for a much more linear or polished appearance in the kitchen.

Thus ends my gas stove rant. Please realize that I am starting with the basic and will cover more specific points later(or when I run out of basics)

If you are looking for more information, have a look at our Gas Cooking Buyers Guide. It breaks down the terms and brands and allows for informed decision making.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Five Styles of refrigerators

Buying a new refrigerator for your renovation? Forget the brands for the moment, there are five styles to choose from: Top Freezer, Bottom freezer, Side by side, Shallow Depth and Integrated. We will look at each:

Top Freezer is the least expensive to purchase and can give you the most capacity within a 30 inch cabinet.
Top Mount

Bottom freezers are more expensive than top freezers, but will allow for easier access and less bending into your refrigerator. You will use your refrigerator 81% freezer 19% on average(who makes these deductions). Bottom freezers tend to be larger with availability to 25 cubic feet and have ice options through the door more extensively.
Bottom Mount

French door bottom freezers have 2 doors for the refrigerator door and one door for the freezer. It is an interesting and popular option, and on larger units the refrigeration part does not swing as far for island installations.
French Door

Side By sides will offer more freezer space than either top or bottom freezers. Water and ice through the door tend to be standards, and side by sides are only available in larger sizes 22-27 cubic feet or widths that are 32.5 or 35.75 inches. GE does have one available at 29.75 inches width.
Side x Side

Shallow depth refrigerators are refrigerators that are less deep, so the sides are not visible. The kitchen with a shallow depth refrigerator maintains a much more linear look with this type of refrigerator. Shallow depths are available as bottom freezers and side by sides only. There are two recognized styles:
Professional with the compressor on the top-
or regular with the compressor below like a typical refrigerator.
Counter Depth
Although shallow depth refrigerators have been favorites of the design community for years, they are more expensive and because of the lack of depth are smaller on the inside.

An integrated refrigerator is the newest type of product and fit inside a 24 inch cabinet, so it becomes indistinguishable from a cabinet. The advantage is a very flush and "seamless" kitchen. Unfortunately, integrated is the most expensive refrigerator to purchase, and offers the least cubic footage for the dollar, but it does look cool.

Induction Cooktops

Induction is the newest and best cooking product available on the market. Actually that is not quite accurate, GE manufactured and discontinued induction cooktops about 20 years ago, but they have returned with a vengence(well probably not a vengance).

Induction is a magnetic source that creates heat when in contact with a metal pan. It is faster and easier to control than gas. It is also less heat retentive than electric, because you need a metal in order for the magnet to heat. In fact, you can place a piece of paper under a pan as it is boiling without the paper burning.

There are a variety of companies manufacturing induction. Electrolux, Thermador, Wolf, Diva and Viking. The prices start at $2000, but will probably become cheaper as the bigger companies enter the market.

If you are remodeling ask for a demonstration, you will be surprised.

Fridge Tips Fridge Tips

Friday, January 12, 2007

Energy Efficiency Part 6 Energy Saving Tips

I have decided to impart every worthwhile tip that we have learned in the last 4 months of research. Try them and you will save money without compromising your lifestyle. There is one note, however. A Doctor once wrote to me saying that keeping a water heater at 120 may inhibit Legionnaires Disease. My heater says not to raise it over 125 to prevent scalding, so check the specs before adjustment.

Energy TipsEnergy Tips
Energy TipsEnergy Tips

If you want to share any energy saving tips or ideas then please email me at steve.sheinkopf@yaleappliance.com

The Green Project At Yale..."Saving money and the environment one product at a time"
Green Project

Next week, we will be more product design specific. We will talk about induction, steam ovens and other sundries. If you would like to see a topic covered or ask a question then feel free to send an email

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Energy Efficiency Part 5 Refrigerators

You have to love the refrigerator. You buy it, plug it in and it works every minute of every day for an average of 12 years. I remember talking to a cab driver who was angry that his refrigerator only lasted 10 years. Meanwhile he replaces his cabs every 3 years, because he drives them 7 hours a day. Perhaps, the only reason to replace a refrigerator or(any product that works) is efficiency. Consider the statistics:

Replacing a refrigerator bought in 1990 with an EnergyStar model will save enough money to light the average household for four and a half months

EnergyStar refrigerators require about half as much energy as models manufactured before 1993

EnergyStar refrigerators use at least 15% less energy than required by federal standards and 40% less energy than conventional models sold in 2001

Now, the old refrigerator downstairs, the one holding a couple of 6 packs. Hopefully, its good beer, because the refrigerator is probably costing upwards of $350 to operate per year.

Enclosed are some energy saving tips

Fridge Tips

The Green Project At Yale..."Saving money and the environment one product at a time"
Green Project

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Energy Efficiency Part 4 Lighting

There has been a lot of talk in the lighting industry about LED lighting. LED, or light emitting diodes, is an exciting technology, and the specs are incredible. They last 400,000 hours and a 2-3 watt bulb is roughly equivalent to a 40 watt incandescent. Also, it emits virtually no heat, whereas an incandescent emits 90% heat and 10% light. Also, it is brilliant light used in many commercial applications like stop lights...(When was the last time anyone has seen a bulb being changed on a stop light)

There is one small issue: LED is great for everything, but white light. Even the bulbs with good CRI(color rendering) offer a slightly bluish hue. LED sales will probably accelerate when GE, Phillips or Sylvania invest as they have in fluorescent.

Speaking of fluorescent, look at the environmental impact of changing just 7 bulbs in your home assuming 4 hours use. This is just New England.

Laundry Chart

If you have any energysaving tips or suggestions, please feel free to email me at Steve.sheinkopf@yaleappliance.com

The Green Project At Yale..."Saving money and the environment one product at a time"
Green Project

Monday, January 08, 2007

Energy Efficiency Part 3 Washers

There are some very simple steps to saving money through technology. One of the smartest ideas is to buy an Estar front loading washing machine at any price. Lets look at the facts from the EnergyStar website based on 8 loads per week.

Capacity is 3.5 cubic foot versus 2.5 for the conventional

Water Usage 6,000 gallons per year versus 14,000 for a top load

Electricity Consumption: 210 KWH versus 420

Spin speed: 1,ooo versus 400RPM

These are just the averages, and they are based on 8 loads. The average front loading machine is 40-62% larger, so the amount of loads will be much less. BTW, a higher spin extracts more water out of the clothes, so it saves in drying time.

Changing your wash is one of those rare win wins. You save a ton of money AND wash fewer loads. It is also incredible good for the environment, by using 50% less water and energy

Laundry Chart

The Green Project At Yale..."Saving money and the environment one product at a time"
Green Project

Energy Efficiency Part 2 Lighting

There has been news about light bulbs. WalMart was actually on the cover of Wired magazine pushing energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs, and I must say that Walmart is absolutely on the mark...Mostly. The Energy efficiency numbers are truly staggering.

A fluorescent bulb will last roughly 12 times longer and at 15 cents a month is less than 25% the operating cost of an incandescent. Changing 18 bulbs will save you about $118 per year. Fluorescent emits less than 1/3 the heat of incandescent, so it eliminates the drag on air conditioning in the summer.

Lightbulb Chart

The knock against fluorescent is the quality of light. Most of our favorite instituitions like schools, hospitals and offices have utilized these bulbs for years. If you do not want to emulate these cheerful environments, then buy a fluorescent bulb with a lower CRI (or color rendering index). Traditionally, fluorescent have a high CRI at 5000 degrees, whereas incandescent is 2000-2500 degrees.

You can now buy fluorescent bulbs at 2800 degrees, which will combine the incredible energy savings with much better quality of light.

If you have any energy saving tips or ideas, please email me at Steve.sheinkopf@yaleappliance.com

The Green Project At Yale..."Saving money and the environment one product at a time"
Green Project

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Energy Efficiency Part 1 Dishwashers

It was 68 in Boston yesterday and almost 60 today. Both are highs for this time of year. In my humble opinion, its a rather ominous sign of Global Warming and all the problems associated with nature out of balance. It really does not have to be this bad. At Yale, we have The Green Project, which basically is a buying guide of the most efficient appliances and how to use them. We would save a ton of energy just by operating our appliances differently.

The following few entries will be dedicated to Energy Saving tips. Then we will list the most efficient models.

First blog: Dishwasher Tips

1. Avoid using the Heated Dry option: Use Air dry and Somat or Jet Dry to aid condensation especially on metallic surfaces. Interestingly enough, Bosch and Miele do not offer a heated dry option on most of their dishwashers.

2.Run your Dishwasher with a full load: Most of the energy goes to heat the water. Since you cannot decrease the amount of water per cycle, fill your dishwasher to get the most from the energy used to run it.

3.Don't Pre-Rinse your dishes: Just scrape off the food and let the dishwasher do the rest. If you are a habitual rinser, then use cold water.

4. Do not hand wash: It uses 25 gallons or 2 and one half times a pots and pans cycle when the tap is half open.

5. Look for the Energystar label: Estar qualified dishwashers use 25% less energy than regular dishwashers.

These are easy changes. Try them. If you know of any other energy savings tips or suggestions, then please email me at steve.sheinkopf@yaleappliance.com

The Green Project At Yale..."Saving money and the environment one product at a time"
Green Project