Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Winners

2008 was a great year for appliances....Not. Although 2008 was a difficult year for every industry, certain segments of the appliance and lighting business saw big increases.

Appliances: Affordable luxury...Bosch, GE Cafe and Frigidaire

Lighting: LED (finally) and color rendering fluorescent.

2008 will be remembered as the year we turned the corner certainly for many of the energy efficient products which will be the standard in the future.

Happy New Year

Monday, December 29, 2008

Features, Gadgets and Gizmos

Have a look at this Bosch integrated dishwasher

The Bosch does not protrude into the room like most of the others, which ironically defeats the purpose. But why the three tags?

Its the same dishwasher with different features. When you typically step up within a brand, additional features not quality of manufacturing is the additional cost.

In this case, a cycle on a dishwasher is control of time and temperature.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Not For Sale...Yet

Perhaps the most successful brand in 2008 is GE. Their products are really well priced with decent features like high output burners on the stove, LED lighting in the refrigerators and Smartdispense on the dishwasher.

Have a look:

Ironically, GE has been trying to sell the appliance division for a long time and intensively ..In a year when they absolutely knocked the cover off the ball and finally gave someone a reason to buy the company, nobody has the funding.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from the Yale Blog team

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

We Win

I did not want to turn this blog into a promo for Yale. It would lose objectivity and credibility. On the other hand, I am fortunate to work with some great people who are truly the heart and soul of this place.

We have won Best of Boston Home for 2009. Yale is the only appliance retailer to ever have won Best of Boston, and we have done so every year since 1999. So pardon the promo...to my colleagues at Yale this one is for you:

What they said:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Better Times Ahead

Let me tell you a story....It is a good story. We need good stories these days, and it is actually appliance related. In the 1980s, California decided(to their credit) that energy standards needed to be stricter, much stricter on refrigerators.

Industries have always been reluctant to change based on regulation. From their perspective, it is a ton of investment for no plausible advantage. In this case, manufacturers had no choice if they wanted to sell refrigerators in California. To their credit, they did not lobby or squawk about the net increase to the consumer.

The net effect of this legislation is you as the consumer pay 10% more for refrigeration. However, you save almost 2/3 in energy consumption over the products manufactured in the 1980s...or about $120-180 per year.

Like I posted one month ago, this product is cheaper than your 10 year old refrigerator to operate...Now for the good news, the man responsible for the legislation, Steven Chu, is your incoming Energy Secretary.

Read about Mr. Chu and his challenges here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Future is Not Now

Buying products like cars, appliances and lighting is tough currently without question. These products need service and/or maintenance in the future. The problem is to ascertain which store will actually be in business in the future. You certainly want that dealer or provider in business 5 years later. Appliances have a rate of repair roughly 18-20% in the first year. You want someone invested in the sale to actually facilitate the repair process.

Some telltale signs of store problems:

1. Bankruptcy: Chapter 11 allows for reorganisation, but what retailer has ever reorganized.
2. Lack of Inventory: Possibly shut off from vendors due to nonpayment.
3. Old displays: Not enough money to reinvest.
4. No sales help or inexperienced help: Paying less for labor is a sign of financial problems (this is not fast food.)
5 Missed deliveries or commitments: Once again, the retailer probably does not have enough credit to pay for the merchandise.

Small tip: Do not buy an extended service agreement from any teetering retailer. Wait a year and contact the manufacturer directly. You will pay more, but at least service problems will be rectified.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Before you buy that stainless kitchen consider integrating or hiding the unit. It is an interesting understated look, and can now be carried through all the products except for cooking.

Have a look:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Inexpensive, Not Cheap

According to most blog experts, I have to connect to readers with short bursts of compelling info. In the last 2 months, I have shorten the narratives to be more hard hitting. The old stuff, in my opinion, is better for people who are looking for the nuts and bolts on renovating, etc, especially the very first blogs up to early 2007.

Shifting gears, there seems to be more housing inventory on the market lately. Unlike years previously, there are, however, tons of ways to distinguish your home inexpensively....

Let's spend less than 2600:

Complete Frigidaire Gallery kitchen with 2 colored Tech Pendants.

GE Profile Range and wine cooler.

For about $2800, how about an induction cooktop, 5 LED replacement trims and 2 low voltage french optic pendants.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Future is Almost Now

Unbelievably, I have been blogging for 2 years. I have watched LED for almost three. We have ventured to lighting shows waiting and eventually leaving disappointed.

LED is truly compelling technology. Light emitting diodes are 7 times more efficient than incandescent, last 20 times longer and do not emit heat into the room (incandescent heats to 300 degrees.)

As I have written previously, there are no standards to the lumen output of LED, so most bulbs render blue. The only white rendering recessed is LRF....

Until now LED has been almost absent in decorative...Until now...Lets look at some new products almost available....

Notice the equivalent to a 50 watt low voltage is now a 5.8 LED

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Light is not Always Right

As we blog away about appliances, there is a fundamental understanding that appliances typically work (with some exceptions). There seems to be a uniformity of manufacturing. Factories churn out washers, dryers, etc in a logical progression.

This is not true in lighting. There seems to be very good and at the same time very bad identical looking products available. Once a light malfunctions, it costs $150 to have an electrician re-install it.

Avoid when shopping for a new light:

1. Lights that blink or flicker....Typically it is a cheap transformer.
2. Lights that do not hang straight or wobble.
3. Cheaper, painted canopies...on low voltage lights, paint will flicker.

Truth is...very good lighting does not cost much more. Have a look at lights that cost less than $150.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Identical Products...Different Prices

Let's save some cash to put us in a good mood this weekend...First some pictures.

Whirlpool Duet vs Maytag Epic

JennAir vs KitchenAid refrigerators (except for the brand new one from last post)

There are many circumstances where products are identical except for minor cosmetics, some features and the label. My advice: When the products are identical, buy the cheapest iteration.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Surprise, Surprise

Just when you thought Whirlpool stopped manufacturing innovative products, they actually impress you...Have a look.

The Worlds first 22 cubic foot shallow depth product is the new KitchenAid...It is taller and 2 cubic foot bigger than anything else.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What Happened To This?

About 10 years ago, JennAir introduced their expressions lineup of downdraft cooktops. After initial success, Expressions has stopped selling. Without question, as a subsidiary of Maytag, JennAir was at a marketing, R&D and manufacturing disadvantage, there were, however, other contributing factors.

Better downdrafts: These units were better at venting with CFM ranges of 50-150% greater. Also, the component downdrafts are compatible with any cooktop.

Better Hoods: The Italian companies actually manufacture beautiful products...that vent.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Meaning of Brands

In my view, there are 2 classifications of appliances...Have a look.

Consider these brands for value and replacement.

1. Frigidaire
2. Bosch
3. Ge Cafe

Consider these brands for name recognition and resale in a competitive market.

1. SubZero/Wolf
2. Viking
3. Miele

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Meet Joe And See a Great House

About 8 years ago, I was referred to a gentlemen through a builder friend of mine. Joe introduced himself as an electrician and I worked with him on a few projects.
It became clear to me he wasn't an just an electrician, but a home builder as well.

Joe is your not so average, hard working, master craftsman and cutting edge builder. Over the years, we developed a rapport, but his last house is incredible and certainly blog worthy.

We supplied all the lighting and appliances. Small plug for my colleagues, Henriette and Bobby. They drew the plans and really chose the pieces (we do actually go to customers homes)...Enjoy, its worth looking.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Save a Buck or Three

One way to save money is to buy closeouts.....Now I am not saying buy crap. Manufacturers discontinue products and cut skus in recessionary times. Usually they will offer dicounts and incentives to move the pieces....That is the time to buy.

Have a look at a couple:

The Bosch range at $799 is $200 less than last year. The washer dryer combo is $225 less than a few months ago....Smart way to save.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dirsruptive Technologies, BU And Consumer Goods

I have to teach a class at BU this evening about disruptive consumer goods, and how we merchandise and market new technologies to the public. I know these kids are watching this blog as part of the assignment, so I will not tip my hand (hopefully I can keep up.)

Disruptive technology is really anything that changes the status quo. It could be partial like Red Bull energy drink or it could become the status quo like an Ipod.

Tonights discussion is a curveball for these MBAs to be. It is about the disruptive product which blew up the once proud Maytag Corp. Anyone have an idea?

We are on the cusp of some very interesting products, which could be the status quo in the future. Here is my view on some potential disruptors in our industry.


Still on expensive side, but LED has massive potential, because it does not generate any heat, has a 20 year lamp life and at present is about 7 times more efficient. One day soon a 1 watt LED will be equivalent to a 100 watt incandescent.


Induction has already claimed nearly all the upscale electric cooktop market. In 5- 10 years, induction should be the cooking standard.

Speed Cooking

TurboChef and Advantium are the only examples in a market ripe for disruption, but presently there are no products with mass appeal and none on the horizon.

BU grad students....See you tonight.

Monday, December 01, 2008

New Induction Range

In about 90 days, this range will change cooking forever.


This is a prototype of the new Viking induction range. For review, induction is 90% efficient versus 60% for gas and 55% for standard electric. Thus, it is faster to boil and simmer. Induction also does not emit heat into the room, so you can also downsize the venting.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lighting Effects......Ginger Part 2

Ah Black Friday....The next 3 plus weeks will determine the fate of half the retailers. Happily, the appliance business is fairly consistent throughout the year. Most manufacturers have some pretty interesting rebates, but I do not see a Black Friday rush to buy appliances and/or lighting. Then again, consumers may show a more practical side

About 2 weeks ago, I had a request for different bulbs and their effects especially in recessed lighting. Lighting effects are determined by the Kelvin scale. The lower number, around 2000 degrees, is decent, warm lighting. The higher end, 5000 degrees, is considered unflattering light. Commercial fluorescents and actually sunlight fit this category.

So lets look.


Although the bulb should be outlawed for its inefficiency, the bulb renders especially well casting a warm, yellow glow.


Great question would be to ask which type. Color rendering fluorescents are actually pretty good at around 2800-3500 degrees Kelvin and are 4 times more efficient than incandescent.


State of the art in all ways. It renders similar to an incandescent or low voltage bulb and is 6 times more efficient with 20 times the lamp life. Of course not all LED renders the same. Read some of our more recent posts about this lighting technology

Low Voltage

Low voltage is currently the standard for upscale homes. It is actually whiter or higher on the Kelvin scale than incandescent, but by only 200 degrees. This whiter temperature actually shows granites and cabinets better than incandescent.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. Every year I serve dinner at the Pine Street Inn for the homeless. PSI is the largest shelter in Massachusetts, and in my opinion, perhaps one of the best run charities in the area.

This holiday for me recalibrates what truly is important. If you are exposed to people who have nothing, you become grateful for what you have. Hate to be preachy. Its not my style, but it is my way of saying....

Happy Thanksgiving...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Products

LED is the way. Hate to be Zen, but its the truth.

To review (again) LED is:

1. 7 plus times per watt brighter than incandescent. Instead of a 75 incandescent or halogen, LED will use only 12 watts.
2. Has a 20 year life.
3. Cool to the touch...Doesn't add heat to the environment or further HVAC costs.

Small Tip:

Only buy LED recessed if it has a Cree chip in it. Thats right, go to the local store and ask that specific question. Cree casts white light, and every other company casts blue and/or yellow.

Lets look at the new 5 inch LED can and trim from Cree under their brand LRF. There is a much greater variety of trims and styles available than their 6 inch piece including: wheat, aluminum, pewter, black, graphite and white

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Demise of Some Interesting Things

I find myself hanging out with Dave Kiley, second generation contractor and aficionado of all things appliances and especially lighting. He was talking about the sudden disappearance of some interesting products. Is it him, he asked?

No, Dave, as the economy constricts, companies discontinue certain parts of their portfolio and keep just A or popular items to cut costs. Unfortunately, in most cases the most interesting items are not their best sellers.

Have a look:


As an example, the Broan 1050 compactor is the most powerful in the industry and is the only 12 inch compactor in the market. (They produce the GE piece). Its less costly than a cabinet at around $400. The Broan will be a memory at the end of the year.

Small tip: For the forseeable future, you may want to recheck your orders, especially on proprietary products with no substitutes. Manufacturers will continue to shed SKUs during recessionary times.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yale PSA..Outlet

About 6 months ago, we turned our first floor into an outlet for all returns, minor scratch and dent, discontinued and obsolete products. With our hassle free return policy, products can start to accumulate. After all, we deliver about 175-200 appliances per day.

Luckily, this part of our business has developed a quite a following with the locals even without any advertising. The logis is simple. I look at this as sunk costs, and 60-80% of something is better than 100% of nothing. Customers seem to like paying 20-40% less, because the unit does not have a box or has a minor scratch...So it seems to work for everyone

Outlet is open Saturdays 9-12. We will be opening it during the week as well.

Here is a small sample of product and pricing:

GE white cooktop $125
Bosch white integrated dishwasher $499
GE black glass 36 inch cooktop $200
FRigidaire Gallery electric convection stainless range $499

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Energy Efficiency Presentation

I was asked to do a presentation on Energy efficiency appliances last night. It never ceases to amaze me how much an appliance from just 10 years ago costs to operate versus today.

Anyway, the following is the powerpoint from last night.

A couple caveats:

First, I realize that noiseless dishwashers and glass top ranges are not new, but they are to people who have not replaced their products in 40 years.

Secondly: The Subzero has a yellow energy tag of 58 dollars to operate. The energy stickers are actually from 2001 on all the products. With 2008 electrical rates, it is about $120 and a 10 year old product would be about $240.

Third: This was a 15 minute presentation without discussing bulbs. I can drone on for hours if asked....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Energy Efficiency...Part 9

Have a gander at this refrigerator...


The SubZero Pro 48 is the most expensive refrigerator to operate. But how expensive?


If you are reading this and have a 10 year old (family size) refrigerator, this beast is $75-100 cheaper to operate.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Please Don't

Quick Question: Can you place a downdraft behind a professional cooktop like this Wolf?

Although some manufacturers approve the application, the combination will not vent properly. The smoke, heat and grease cannot be adequately captured by the downdraft.

In a downvent application like an island, try induction. Induction is faster to boil and simmer. More importantly, it is 90% efficient versus 60% for gas, so there is less heat to vent....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Double Duty

Have a look at this product. Is it a freezer or refrigerator?

Threw you a softball. This product can actually perform either function with a flick of a switch. I really like the versatility...Great for storage, holidays, etc.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Recessed Trims

Ginger...This one is for you.

We have posted information on recessed lighting. As you have read, recessed is comprised of 2 pieces, the "can" or electrical housing and the "trim" or decorative piece.

There are tons of trims available, so we will concentrate on the most popular.

The Baffle (no idea who names this stuff.)

The Baffle is without question the most popular trim sold. Named for its baffle interior, this trim reduces glare and in white blends well with the ceiling.

The Eyeball

The Eyeball is used prinarily for accent and washing of walls. Quick tip: Buy an eyeball that is regressed, which does not protrude outside of the ceiling like in picture 1.

The Multiplier

The Multiplier has a shiny interior usually in chrome or gold. This trim multiplies light and can be a nice accent if you have gold, chrome or bronze accents in the room.

Closed trims

These trims are watertight and used in shower and outdoor applications.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pro Electric?

In 1990, Viking and Dynasty brought the restaurant range to the home. The Professional range has been a mainstay in upscale kitchens ever since. Restaurants almost exclusively cook in gas, because of the high heat (although induction has become more popular commercially.)

But how do you purchase the same commercial style in electric? Assuming of course, you do not want to install propane.

The answer is below. BTW, thank you to the anonymous poster, who asked the question.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pro Vs Regular

Quick Question: What burner has better BTUs?

The GE bridge element or the Thermador Professional Star Burner.

Have a look:

Answer is GE at 18,000 versus 15,000 for the Thermador.

Guess what...regular non professional stoves have at least one high btu burner of 15,000 or greater. These units start typically at about $600-$700 rather than $2900 from a pro.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How To Buy...Recessed Lighting Part Three

I have actually broached the topic in previous posts. The new method is to briefly explain the basics and answer questions on or off line. (I read this in a blog mag)

Recessed lighting is actually 2 parts. The can is the electrical part and fits within a ceiling. The trim is the decorative piece.

To buy recessed, follow this sequence:

1. Is the ceiling insulated or uninsulated..determines the style of the can
2. How tall are the ceilings...determines size of the can...For low to medium heights...choose a 4 or 5 inch can...taller ceilings 6 inch or greater
3. What room are we lighting...Kitchen and baths need more light. Rough measurement for kitchen...12-24 inches off cabinet and 3-4 four feet apart
4. Is this task or accent lighting...Task requires an open or baffle type trim. Accent requires a more specialized trim like an eyeball, pinhole or regressed trim.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Meet Ed

Ed is a customer who finally decided to replace his 50 year old Frigidaire drop in range. A drop in range is a product which is supported (dropped in) on a base cabinet. There are still tons of these stoves around the area especially from the 1950s and 60s.


How do you replace a 50 year old stove without spending a fortune on renovation?

Try this:

Slide in...To switch, the electrical must be converted and the base cabinet eliminated.

Wall oven/cooktop: Decent option, but the countertop needs to be reworked.


GE: GE still manufactures the style. Easier option since the cabinet just needs some modification, but the product is not as compelling as the others.


Friday, November 07, 2008


The new tact in customer acquisition is..."We will beat it by $100 or 15% or its yours for free"

Pan to the clerk..."Sorry Sir, I can't beat this price, so its yours for free"

Can this happen?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

How To Buy...A Dishwasher

The dreaded How To series continues....How do people actually buy a dishwasher?

After all, we display 45 or so models.

Have a look at a few:

European Vs American: Europeans have a filter. Americans have an eviscerater, which shreds the leftover food.

Integrated: Controls on the top. Cooler look, but it will cost you.

Quiet: Strange fact; brands cannot claim the quietest product. The difference between manufacturers is not detectable by the human ear.

Cycles: The amount of wash, rinse and dry time. A pots and pans cycle, for example, is the longest cycle at 99 minutes.

Racks: In some brands, the top rack can adjust 16 positions.

My favs...

Frigidaire: Great low cost supplier.

Bosch: Reasonable, quiet and efficient.

KitchenAid: My Mom had one.

Miele: Great repair record.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


So what are you doing Monday and/or Tuesday...Could be a good day to shop for appliances.

How To buy....A Front Load washer...Part 2

This is a sequal to an earlier post. There have been many changes in this category, so its worth a revisit.

Have a Peek:

Size: The average size is now 4.0 cubic foot with Electrolux being the largest at 4.7, or double a top loading unit. I still think the Frigidair Affinity at 3.5 cubic foot should be large enough.

RPM: The better units have average RPMs or spin speed at 800-1200. This is a decent feature as the clothes will be drier with a greater spin, which saves electricity, money and is better for your clothes.

Heat: Like the spin, the booster option heats the water typically another 20 degrees for whites.

Steam: Steam is employed 2 ways. Clothes can be refreshed without ironing or can be used to blast/pretreat tough stains.

Controls: Wave touch, IQ touch, Master Chef, Novatronic....The better washers allow customization down to the fabric.

My Favs:

Frigidaire Affinity: Inexpensive, fully featured.

Whirlpool/Maytag: Same machine...Good size.

Bosch: The most Eco friendly.

Miele: Best repair record.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ge Monogram....Part 4

I have blogged about the new GE Monogram products over the last 2 weeks. Lets look at the range and hood. We also look at how to buy these products in general:

The Range:


The new Monogram has decent specs, but the desirable specs are:

1. BTU output: The average pro is 15-16,000 BTUs...GE is 18,000.
2. Simmer: A Good simmer is 500 BTU...GE measures by temperature at 140 degrees.
3. Surface has the ability to be purchased as 6 burner, 4 burners grill or griddle.
4. Oven is convection or double convection.




1. CFM...Cubic foot per minute. For a 36 inch stove, the hood should be 600 cfm and 900 if purchased with grill or griddle
2. Capture Area: A Pro hood should be 24 inches deep in order to pool or capture the smoke

A few other tips:

1. Size the duct properly...Use at least 8 inch round for Pro installations.
2. Duct straight: Efficiency is lost with bends.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Desperate Times Call For....Rebates

There seems to be a theme to The Yale Blog. Every month, I seem to be amazed by the sheer magnitude of rebates. Actually, Sears does a pretty good job advertising their 20% off sale.

With the economy in recession, most manufacturers are offering individual and package rebates, which can total 40%. Consider rebates when you researching an appliance purchase. Buying a complete kitchen from one company will maximize the amount of rebate dollars.

Lets look at a few individual pieces by brand...

Frigidaire: Their best selling dishwasher and washer have $150 in rebates

Bosch: $200 on their popular slide in ranges and $150 on their best selling dishwasher.

GE Cafe: $150 on the dishwasher and $100 on the refrigerator.

KitchenAid: $175 on their best selling dishwasher.


Friday, October 31, 2008

A Walk Around a Wood Shop

We are incredibly fortunate to be involved with some of the best General Contractors and custom home builders in New England. I love cutting edge work with demanding clients, because it sharpens your skills(there is a point to this post, read on)

Yesterday, I visited a long time client who I had actually never met in my 20 years at Yale. One of his senior people works with three of our salespeople. I have heard a ton about this company and our mutual clients have had nothing but praise from his company's stellar work.

Our meeting was at 2, so I arrived at 1:30. I did so for a reason. I look for visual clues in everything. It drives my girlfriend nuts. Needless to say, the parking lot was immaculate, and the grounds were spotless.

I spoke to the receptionist for about 15 minutes about business, economy and construction in general. I met the CEO promptly at 2, and we walked around his wood shop, which was again immaculate. He said hello and seemed to know everyone of his 180 plus people. We then toured his sales office, HR, woodworking, lifestyle and construction branches in his office

I was there about 2 hours total, talking to his people and looking around his physical plant. Looking at this place and watching him interact with his own company, it is easy to understand how he succeeds in a brutal market with some incredibly tough competition

Great service companies all share the same characteristics: Attention to detail, execution, customer service and are incredibly loyal to their people and customers. Its really that simple. How you are treated by a receptionist, whether your phone call is answered promptly or even how clean the bathrooms are clues on how you will be treated as a customer.

These attributes should be considered before buying an appliance, a car or any other sophisticated purchase, because we are really buying into the organization as much as the product itself.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Simple Post About Convection

Convection has actually been around since the 70s. Convection, quite simply, is a fan forced air, which spreads heat more evenly than a radiant, non convection oven. This translates into more even cooking

The fan:


As products have become more commoditized, convection has become available at less expensive starting under $600.

Following is a how to video from our chef. (It is only a minute)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Short Cycles

Following is the new Electrolux laundry. It is twice bigger than a top loader at 4.7 cubic feet and uses 1/3 the water. This machine has incredibly intuitive controls as well as LED lighting inside the unit.

But how long is a regular cycle?

18 minutes wash, 18 minutes dry......or about a hour less than a regular machine.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Warm Those Buns

Risque title, but after Atlas Shrugged, I need to jazz it up. Our chef loves warming drawers. The drawer is a great convenience for working families. You can warm foods without overcooking for up to 3 hours and also refresh leftovers. Most brands offer the drawer with $1,000 being the average.

There is a cheaper way....A warmer almost becomes a freebie with a better range. Consider a Frigidaire slide in at $1450, which has the drawer included. Not a bad deal...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Atlas Shrugged

Great book, btw. I am concerned with the economy like everyone but consumers to some degree need appliances. Of course, that does not entail buying poor quality products cheaply.

Here are a few value lines worth considering in todays market:

Frigidaire: Quite simply, the best value in the industry. Their comparable products are 10-20% cheaper than the competition, especially in ranges and laundry.

Bosch: It is amazing how inexpensive Bosch has become. Their dishwashers, integra refrigeration and laundry are their strongest products.

GE Cafe: I never thought GE would be part of my favorites. For consumers looking for upscale products at decent prices, GE is worth consideration.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Harder Side Of Service

Lets perform a little experiment....If you are so inclined, Google LG(or any other manufacturer) service and call the service providers. Ask if they perform service in warranty. The answer should be a resounding no.

The reason: For $80 per completed call, that provider must answer the phone, diagnose the issue, order and pay for any parts and then go to your house. If the original diagnosis is wrong, that provider must pay again for more parts and return to the house. For nothing.

Sounds like a deal....The hardest part of the appliance business is warranty service. The numbers are downright scary. The average technician is now over 60 and retiring, and the amount of stores actually providing service is now under 20%.

The purpose of this post is not to scare you. If you are investing in a new kitchen, ask this question:

Who will be providing warranty service? Then prepared to be shocked

Friday, October 24, 2008


Look at any refrigerator:

At 18 cents per Kilowatt Hour, the average consumer should save around $100 in just energy....But the savings could be much greater....Look again

Depending on when you are reading this, you are probably drinking a bottled water. That bottled water costs about $1.29 on average. Multiply that number by how many you drink per week, month and year.

Guess what, the water filter in the refrigerator will deliver better water for a fraction.

Now what are the true savings

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cool New Products

Lets look at this Monogram Kitchen again...


The undercounter lighting is a new LED product...Simple to install and less expensive to purchase...


The recessed is trimless or seamless to the ceiling.

How do you light the inside of this wine cooler....Press the button.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Yale Ad

50/50 on the last ad according to the various comments....How about this?


Monday, October 20, 2008

Recessed Lighting

It is very hard to describe lighting. In previous posts, I have delved into the color rendition or Kelvin of different bulbs. In other posts, how to buy recessed has been the topic. Somehow, I may have confused as many readers as I have helped.

Everyone, it seems, wants to know the proper way to light a space. Of course, there is no one concrete way to light a room. The best method to properly illuminate any room is a combination of task, ambient, accent and decorative sources.

Recessed is used primarily as the main or task lighting and can also be used for accent applications. Choosing and more importantly understanding the right recessed lighting just became much easier.

This new display shows differences in sizes, apertures as well as light sources like LED and compact fluorescent.

Couple of quick pointers on designing lighting with recessed:

1. More light is needed in Kitchens and baths. Less in all other rooms
2. Ceiling heights are important
3. Use insulated cans on the top floors
4. For normal to short ceilings, use a 5, not a 6, recessed can. It is much neater

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Danger Will Robinson

One not so small piece of advice:

As consumer spending slows, more stores will be fighting for a decreasing amount of revenue. There will be losers. Do not leave a deposit with a store unless you are sure of its viability:

Some Signs of possible financial problems:

1. Crumbling/poor or empty displays.
2. Recent bad reviews on social media
3. Non existant sales help
4. Long lead times on in stock product

This could be tell tale signs of not having available cash to reinvest back into the business. It could also mean credit hold from vendors.

In a Chapter 7/11 scenario, everyone loses including the consumer....so be very careful

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cool New Stuff

The Monogram from last post is certainly new. There are plenty of other new products now available to early adopters of the appliance industry.

Thermador 5 burner 30 inch cooktop....Hey 5 is better than 4.


Remember Thermador has $1000 package rebates.

Electrolux 4.7 cubic foot washer and dryer. Front load is now twice larger than top loader and still uses a fraction of the electricity, water and detergent.

42 inch built ins have been around for 18 years....Electrolux is the least expensive at $4959 with a trailing rebate program.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

GE Monogram

I have always been ambivalent about GE Monogram. In a multi-billion dollar conglomerate, it is tough to focus on producing great appliances. For a company like SubZero, it is their livelihood and their passion.

Of course with multiple billions to spend on R&D, good products can happen on occasion. I actually like the line(right now). Monogram has decent features at a fairly attractive price.

Have a look:

We will look at the merits of the individual pieces in subsequent postings.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Culprits....Number 3.5

Over the last week, the Yale Blog has detailed different products to save electricity and of course money. For new construction and remodelling, induction is the greenest cooking technology and a great way to save both.

Every day, I eat oatmeal and have the choice of boiling water on a Thermador 22,000 BTU wok, a Viking prfessional cooktop or an induction burner. Induction is by far the fastest to a boil...

Other attributes:

1. Simmer: Boil to simmer in seconds
2. Control: Induction is immediate response
3. Child safety: Induction is instant on/off, so there is much less residual heat
4. Efficiency: Induction is 90% efficient, gas 60% and electric 55%.
5. Less Venting: Less heat escaping means less venting as well as less of a drag on HVAC systems, which is a further savings of electricity

Induction cooktops now start at about $1399 versus $2200 for a pro cooktop.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Culprits...Number 3

I once had an interesting cab ride. The cabbie basically told me about how disappointing his old refrigerator was, because it died after 11 years. Meanwhile his cab lasts 4 years and works 10 hours a day. The refrigerator runs 24 hours a day and lasts 3 times longer.

His math still puzzles me...(along with the subject of the conversation)

The simple math behind operating an eleven year old refrigerator is $198/year: 18 cents per hour, the current NSTAR rate, times operating cost or 1100 kilowatt per hours.

The newer units are much more efficient and cost about $81/year: the same 18 cents times only 450 kilowatts per hour.

With price hikes expected in energy, a new refrigerator will save the average consumer between $120 to $150 per year

Monday, October 13, 2008

Culprits...Number 2

As I said on Friday, 17% of our country's energy is spent residentally, which is the same amount as every operating vehicle.


Perhaps the largest contributor is your washing machine. The top load washer has not been improved since 1948. It uses too much water (45 gallons), too much detergent and more than double the energy of a front load washer.

The stats become more interesting as the front loader can be as much as twice larger, and is even gentler on your clothes.

Changing your washing machine is the easiest way to save energy, water and money residentally.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Columbus Day...Yale PSA

For Columbus Day, our outlet will be open extended hours through the weekend....The Yale Outlet is located on the first floor...Its a great place to grab a good deal on closeouts, overstocks, customer returns (most returns are based on sizing issues) and displays...All products fully warrantied.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Culprits...Part 1

17% of all energy is consumed in your home, which ironically is the same energy expended by every motor vehicle in this country. We could save a fortune as consumers by eliminating the 3 main offenders. With electricity increasing, better technologies will save more money in a shorter period.

Culprit Number 1: The Incandescent Bulb

It is amazing to me this product still exists. The technology is from 1803 and was first mass produced in 1876. 90% of its consumed energy is heat, while only 10% is actual light, so you are also paying for additional HVAC in the summer. Also, incandescent lasts only 7 months, so keep the ladder handy. Incandescent in all its forms, which includes low voltage and halogen, is wasting tons of energy and costing you money.

Heck, I would love to say buy the LED. LED emits zero heat, has a 20 year lamp life, and is 7-8 times more powerful than incandescent. Other than some isolated fixtures, LED is still expensive with a long payback on the bulb side.

Color rendering fluorescent is a great replacement. It is much cooler and lasts 10 times longer than an incandescent. It is 70% efficient as opposed to 10%, so its payback is probably less than a year.

We will look at appliances on Monday.

Our Start And Bobs' Birthday

The above is a picture of my Father and his train set. Evidentally, retirement has been good to the person everyone calls Bob. But this is not some arbritrary hobby. Selling Lionel trains was our start for selling appliances.

Yale was started in 1923 as an electrical supply house. My Father and Uncle were interested in trains as children and started selling them on Portland Street 65 years ago. Back then, Lionel was distributed by GE, who also sold appliances.


By the way, Happy Birthday Dad...This is the banner we designed for his retirement with his ubiquituous Bob sweater and the New Balance sneakers he always wore to work. It was hoisted to the roof of the warehouse where it remains to this day.

Always substance over style...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


I actually visited SubZero in Madison, Wisconsin last weekend. I am a big fan of this company. Like us, SubZero is a third generation business. They have dominated the cooking business by buying and reanimating the Wolf brand. Similar forays into wine and integrated refrigeration have been equally successful.

Recently, they have discontinued the most popular built in refrigerator ever manufactured. The 650 was the original bottom mount pull out drawer on the market.
With two compressors and a vacuum seal, the 650 was the best product in its class.

Lets look at its successor, the BI36.

First they re-engineered the hinges for a more flush installation.


Secondly, a water filter was added. This filter can even eliminate viruses from the water.


You are looking at an air scrubber. As food begins to spoil, it emits gasses. The scrubber eliminates these gasses allowing food to stay fresher for a longer period of time.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Basic Math

As I have posted previously, appliance prices, like gas, insurance and food are on the rise. Frigidaire and Whirlpool both announced increases of 6% effective November 1.

They can announce increases. I am not sure their true intentions. Lets look (Scroll to the bottom if you are pressed for time.)

Frigidaire digital stainless dishwasher. The price is $489( before rebate, but we will be there shortly).


Frigidaire stainless over the range microwave vent $409.


Frigidaire 5 burner convection gas range with power burner $899.


Frigidaire 18 cubic foot pro stainless refrigerator with ice maker $749.


The total is $2546. After rebates the total cost becomes $1599, which is the lowest ever. For consumers, the message is clear:

Pick a brand to maximize the rebate
Buy Rebated Models
Save money

Friday, October 03, 2008

Integration And The Bobby Joyce Rule

Have A look at a few integrated refrigerators.

As we have posted before, integrated refrigeration fits inside the cabinet. It is the shallowest of refrigeration, and the best looking.

But how hard is it to install?

For this, I use my infallible Bobby Joyce Rule. Bobby and I have worked together for 22 years. He is the type of guy who owns every tool known to mankind. We once built a deck together. I carried the wood. He pretty much handled the rest.

The Bobby Joyce Rule is this: If Bob cannot install it, then homeowners, contractors and builders cannot or will at least drive themselves mad in the process.

Bob Joyce cannot install the panels on Bosch, Thermador or Gaggenau columns.

In our corner of the universe, we have found and paid a master carpenter to effect installation to our customers(we pay for it out of our marketing funds).

Lesson of a very distracted post: Line up installation before you buy these products.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

How Things Change

Lets look at this Miele Washer and dryer.


I really like this company. Miele still manufactures every component, control and housing in Germany. Because they have such a tight rein on production and do have the best quality control, Miele has developed a cult following amongst its customers.

However, certain problems have developed for this company, which are beyond their control. The Euro has increase versus the dollar. This has inflated their price to the consumer. They have also been adversely affected by the shift away from super premium products in general.

They have also been affected by a factor within their control...Have a look at Whirlpool, LG, GE, Maytag and Frigidaire to understand.

These products are manufactured to be stacked or placed side by side. Miele cannot be stacked in their newer large series, so they have lost the increasingly popular second and third floor installations.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ventilation Part 7

Lets look at two similar ventilation installations. One works, one doesn't.

The Wolf with the Best is the correct answer. The Viking installation does not have enough capture area.

How to vent properly:

1. A hood with capture depth of at least 24 inches.

2. A high CFM blower. I recommend at least 1200 for a 48 inch range or more.

3. Duct of 8-10 inch in diameter.

4. A short duct run....minimize the turns.

Ventilation is not expensive to accomplish properly. Beware, repairing issues after the fact truly becomes a big, expensive nightmare.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Renovate Cheaply

You do not have to spend a fortune to renovate well. Have a look at some decent alternative to spending a ton of dough.

The Bosch 4 series dishwasher: At $534 after rebate, it is a great value.

Fisher Paykel refrigeration: Shallow depth, 33 inchs and $500-1000 less than other shallow depth products.

From the world of Pro:

Bertazoni: Italian design at an affordable number.

NXR: The first Chinese Pro range with 18,000 BTU output.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dishwashers and Blanco Sinks

Congratulations, you bought a quiet dishwasher. So quiet in fact, it is noiseless.

So when does it shut off?

Electrolux and Bosch has solved this eternal riddle with a LED light when the cycle ends.


As of last week, we are selling the Blanco line of sinks. Blancos specialty is larger single sinks, and onsumers seem to be purchasing these sinks instead of doubles. Bigger pots are perhaps the reason, but larger singles seem to be a better utilization of space (in my opinion). Either way, you can now choose Blanco or Franke.



Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wait Until October

Frigidaire is introducing a price increase effective October 15 of about 4-6%. It is totally understandable given the economics. I still think commodity appliances are way undervalued compared to other durables. The $399 washer sold in 1986 is $369 today.

If Frigidaire is announcing an increase, then it is hard to explain the rationale of 15-30% rebates on their best selling ranges, washer and dishwasher in October.

Have a look:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ivory Towers and Remodeling

Its hard to know who actually instigates the sundry remodeling projects, which seem to run simultaneously at any given time.

Store remodeling to me is important, but crucial in our somewhat sluggish economy. Not that the gilded age is temporarily on hold, we have to show people how to affordably improve their homes, and the store display must reflect this.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kurt At Your House


We have launched a new program at the ole Yale. We are now sending our store chef to a clients home on any order $15,000 or more charged with our store card. Kurt will now show you how to cook on your new appliances.

You are probably asking how we can afford to send a chef. Kurt is truly being paid by the cost savings of using the store card versus a credit card. For clients spending less than $15,000, cooking lessons by appointment in the store are free with purchase.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yale 2008 Vs 2006

In many ways, Yale is a microcosm of the broader markets. We are very lucky to have a better year than in 2006 (so far). It is, however, a way different mix of products, which reflects the market uncertainty.

In 2006, we sold SubZero, Wolf and Miele to a much higher degree than today. In a way, their decline in sales is a shame. Both companys enjoy compelling products and are truly unique in many aspects. They are victims of the current economic reality. Without equity and declining home values, people are not spending at the same rate. Like other iconic brands, they will be back and will continue to sell to the super premium segment.

Three brands have benefitted from the market weakness. First, people need appliances and will always remodel even in a down market. Two brands, Bosch and Frigidaire, do not surprise me, but the revamped GE line, especially GE Cafe does. The common thread between all three brands is style at a more affordable price....As they coined in the book, Trading Up, the new phrase is called affordable luxury.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Islands And Other Lighting Myths

A chandelier should be 12 inches in diameter less than the table. It should also be 24 inches off the surface for the right proportion.

Now forget the measurement as it has nothing to do with illumination. Task, accent, ambient as well as decorative lighting must be utilized in order to properly light a room. Decorative lighting is like art, and can really be any proportion.

Same is true for islands...Have a look.

The decorative pendants can be really anything, because the other design elements are actually lighting the spaces.

File this under: Do what you want and have fun with it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Venting Myths

When I was an appliance/lighting trainee, measuring a bath for ventilation was easy. Take the square feet of the bath and multiply it by 1.07 for the corresponding CFM equivalent. Supposedly this was an industry formula.

But, the formula doesn't work. First, bathrooms now have steams, specialty showers and multiple toilets. All of which creates more need for ventilation.

Also, the difference between a high and low CFM fan in price is minimal.

Have a look at a Panasonic bath fan.


There are plenty of decent fans, but Panasonic has the lowest sone or sound rating.

Green Tip: Buy a timer or moisture sensing switch, so the unit shuts off automatically.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Newest, Latest and Greatest

Yesterday was the regional show where the manufacturers showed their latest products.


Electrolux now has a 4.7 cubic foot front load washer(that's over twice bigger than a top load.)

GE Profile single, double oven: Its two ovens within a single oven foot print.

GE Profile computerized french door: This is an unbelievable refrigerator, down to the calorie counts of the food items.

Frigidaire all refrigerator/freezer: Flick a switch for one or the other....Great idea.

Bosch 5 burner 30 inch cooktop: 5 is better than 4.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Blade

We just installed the new Dyson Blade in the ladies room. This device uses hurricane force wind to clean 99.9% of bacteria off our customers hands...Now is bacteria free consumers our goal?


Not really, but it will save us a fortune in paper. We actually sell Dyson vacs and these blades. The air must be a little thin in the ole tower.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dryer Fires

There is an article in the Globe today about a fatality due to a clothes dryer. I have blogged about this unknown problem before, but there have been 60 such fires in Massachusetts alone this year.

Here is how to prevent this problem:

1. Clean the lint from your dryer after every load.

2. Clean the lint out of your vent every month or so

3. Change the duct from plastic to metal if you have the chance(its more important to remove the lint)

Friday, September 12, 2008


Delivery is the second hardest part of this industry, and probably one of the primary causes of consumer angst. Lets say you order a kitchen and schedule a delivery a few weeks later..The process is:

1. Receptionist
2. sales
3. purchasing
4. warehousing
5. trucking

Any errors will cause a breakdown, and problems will occur. Lets say every aspect is running smoothly, now the second phase of fun begins. You paid a delivery charge, but any of the following can/will occur:

1. Removal charge($20-30 per piece)
2. Cord charge(amazingly 30 per appliance)
3. Installation charge

Protect yourself by checking everything at time of order. You want as much transparency as possible with all the terms noted on the sales slip in writing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Saving Green

So we are planning a new store. We have been a 1 store shop since 1923, so thinking about a new one is not part of our DNA. Here is the process:

1. Hire architects
2. Hire retail analysts to understand your brand
3. Go out to different stores to see what is applicable
4. Have 12 meetings(and arguments) to build a prototype
5. Hire builder for preconstruction estimates
6. More meetings regarding costs

You have a higher appreciation of Green when you realize the costs of electricity and HVAC. We are now hiring a Green architect to assess the cost savings of wind and solar, but the biggest savings is a product in stock...Any Guesses?


LED and compact fluorescent can decrease the electrical load by 60-80%. It will also detract from the associated costs to HVAC, as incandescent will heat to 300 degrees and LED does not add heat.

I have written about the advantages to LED (20 year life, good lumen output, 80% cost savings), but the payback in my opinion is only justifiable in the long term. For consumers renovating or building, the payback is much shorter when you factor the associated costs to conventional products.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ads, Opinions, Etc.

When I first started blogging almost 2 years ago, I read about companies who designed their ads based on consumer feedback. Here is your chance(if you are so inclined)


Monday, September 08, 2008

A Few Of My Favorite Things

LED recessed from Cree: First, for a $30-40 more per can, LED uses 1/5 the power, emits zero heat(saving HVAC and electric costs) and has a 20 year lamp life.


Bosch integrated refrigeration: Integrating a refrigerator is a great design idea. Bosch is the most affordable way of achieving the look.


GE Cafe French Door: GE refrigeration has staged a huge comeback in refrigeration. Dumping LG as the source may be a reason. Deciding to build a better product may be another reason. I am just speculating.


Frigidaire slide in: Frigidaire has not been hurt by the recession, because they manufacture nicely styled yet affordable products. This gas range has power and simmer burners as well as convection and warming drawer for about $600-100 less than their competition.


Induction: Any induction, really. Induction is 90% efficient versus 60% for gas and 55% for electric. The technology is vastly superior in heating, simmering, child safety and does not emit heat like the others. A hybrid unit starts at $1500, which is way less expensive than a Pro.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Extended Warranties

Interesting article in The Journal today about extended warranties


GE is selling their extended warranty business to an insurance company Assurant. Although the basic math behind an extended warranty is simple, smaller payment to avoid a theoretical larger payment later. It seems to be a hot button topic with consumers.

MY Take:

A. Never be bullied into buying a service plan. Many companies require their associates to sell a certain percentage of their products with warranties

B. NEVER buy a service plan from a company that does not have an actual service company. How will this product be fixed without actual repair people.

The math works in theory. Just insure the actual service does

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Its Whats on the Inside That Counts

2007 was the year of the integrated refrigerator with Thermador, Bosch and Gaggenau introductions. Miele has entered the fray this year (last month actually).

Integrated refrigeration is actually shallower than even shallow depth refrigerators, so it is the same depth as the cabinet. In this case a picture helps the explanation:

Anyway, we now have 4 new products to choose...which is best?

Well, your decision is easier than expected, because they are essentially the same box...


Bosch: Basic

Thermador: Hydraulic shelves

Gaggenau: Stainless interiors and hydraulic shelves

Miele: Masterchef controls, better lighting and easier installation

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Advertising, Package Rebates and Other Stuff

As you know, I ceded my spot as CMO to a very capable Igor Muravyev. Our styles could not be more different. I was a radio guy. He is a print person. I am about leveraging our competitive difference. He is about shopping experience as a purchasing driver. Store environment is important for me, but in recessionary times price has to be a main driver. I also think you can price and brand in the same ad.

As I have said, he wasn't hired to be me. So he wins...for now.

But he doesn't write the blog (yet).

Seriously, the only silver lining to a recession is the rebating from manufacturers. The sole intent is to maintain the factory output....For people renovating, this becomes a huge purchasing advantage.

For example:

You are looking at the Frigidaire Professional series: 5 burner gas range with convection, integrated dishwasher, over the range microwave and matching top mount refrigerator. After mail in rebates of 25%, the price becomes $1799 for the package.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Undercounter Refrigeration

Perhaps the least understood product sold is the undercounter refrigerator. Smaller refrigerators have become more popular augmenting larger refrigerators in kitchen or as part of bar/entertainment areas.However, there are not any major brands and the starting price is roughly $1000. Many consumers consider throwing in a dorm refrigerator for $200 and be done with it.



Well you can't...True undercounter refrigerators have compressors at the bottom instead of the back, so it will not overheat when placed in a cabinet. So lets make this easier.

First, undercounter refrigerators, like other appliances, are designed to fit cabinets at 15 or 24 inches wide. The dominant brands are Electrolux, GE Monogram, Uline and SubZero. Now all you have to choose is the configuration: refrigerator, wine storage, refrigerator with wine storage, icemaker, refrigerator with icemaker, freezer, refrigerator with freezer, freezer and icemaker.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Labor Day

I am away today, but there is yet a new factory rebate program just published. Labor Day and Memorial seem like big promotional periods these days. This may be true nationally, but in New England, people are never home.

So when I return, we will delve into some decent buys for September.

Can't believe summer is over

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thermador Rebates

Does anyone else not understand this?

Monday, August 25, 2008


Flash back to the 1980s(back when I was cool...sort of)

At that point of time, if you wanted to purchase an overhead hood, Broan and Nutone were the only manufacturers. The Nutone version was called a chuck wagon hood evoking the high styles of the early 50s. Broan wasn't much better.

Then in the 90s the Europeans exported beautiful hoods. They became functional focal points in the kitchen...Have a look(most of these are wall mounted, but there are similar products designed for island)

A couple of pointers:

1. Ventilation is CFM and capture. Size the hood properly for what you are cooking

2. Check ceiling heights...Duct extensions can be super expensive


As we have said in previous posts, islands have become popular with the merging of kitchen and dining area into one room. People not only cook, but also live in the kitchen. This shift in lifestyle has changed ventilation considerably.

Most consumers want their cooking products in the island. They can face their guests while entertaining or keep a more watchful eye on the kids while playing. There are two ways to vent an island properly: downdraft or overhead hood. We will focus on the downdraft for today.

The advantage of a downdraft is simple. It disappears. There are a number of choices with my favorites being Best, Broan and Electrolux. The actual CFM(cubic feet per minute) can range from 500-1000.

Unfortunately, a downdraft can never handle alot of smoke, heat and/or grease. It simply doesn't have the capture area. Ventilation is after all capture and CFM.

A couple of tips:

1. Downdrafts are for basic, not professional cooking only

2. Consider an induction cooktop. It is faster than gas and emits much less heat.

3. For heavier cooking consider an overhead hood