Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Out With The Old...How to Save $200

Another unknown in our industry is the disparity in costs of removing an old appliance. The costs can be significant at $30 per piece, add that to a delivery charge of $40-$50 along with a cord charge of $25....The bill could be $200 for a kithen of appliances just for extras..

A word to the wise: Negotiate up front and never leave it to drivers in your home. Often times, they are outside contractors with no direct affiliation to the store.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Yale Burners Vs The Charleston Chiefs

Two Posts Today

Every year our company team plays a charity hockey game against the Bruins Black and Gold Legends. It is really amazing to see guys in their 70s zip the puck around. Playing goalie, I have a terrific vantage point. Then again, I am an awful goalie.

This year, we have laid down the gauntlet to The Charleston Chiefs from the movie Slapshot on the 30th anniversary of the movie. So this year we will be skating against Tim "Dr Hook" Mccracken, The Hanson Brothers and 7 other members from the original cast.

Hanson Brothers

The best part as always is the proceeds are donated to charity. This year, we have picked another great cause, The Arc of Boston. The Arc serves children and adults with learning disabilities and special needs. They have been doing so since 1945.

If you want to have a good time and help a great cause, the game is April 6 and tickets are only $15. We also have a dinner the Friday before at The Hotel Marlowe. Tickets are $100....If you would like to buy tickets, send me an email or call Dave Chaunt at 617-822-6156.

You truly will have a good time.

Flushmount Lighting

Flushmounts are lights mounted close to the ceiling. They are extremely popular, because of their versatility. A flushmount can be used in any room of the house; kitchens, bath, basement, hallways, etc...

Lighting in general has become interesting again. For better or worse, probably 90% of residential lighting is manufactured in China. In the early 90s, most of the light fixtures looked the same even from different manufacturers. Although the quality is vastly different, the same design seemed to be recycled.

Almost 20 years later, we are starting to once again see differentiation of products. We finally see some lights for the kids as well as some better contemporary pieces...

Have a look:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Good, The Bad And The New

Love that old Clint movie and could not resist the reference. To be honest, I feel a bit bad about the brevity of Mondays' post....So I will review two new products in two different categories. Thats right!! Two posts for the same low price as one

Now for the interesting:

Electrolux has a brand new free standing range. It has the best "wave touch" controls with stainless appointments. For the epicureans, the Electrolux has every type of convection control available including dehydrate. At $1899, it should. The comparable piece in Frigidaire(Electrolux owns Frigidaire) is about $600 less.

Electrolux and Frigidaire side by side


Lets look at the new Asko washer and dryer. For those who know not of Asko, the company is owned by Merloni out of Europe. This was the premium dishwasher company until Bosch and Miele imported into the US. The pair is actually pretty good with a 3.8 cubic foot interior, reversible door and a whole bunch of cycles. Asko has manufactured the most efficient products worldwide, and the laundry is not an exception. At roughly $2500, however, this is a good product in a sea of good products that start at $1500

Asko Pair

How did we do?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Softer Side of Service

I have waited 3 months to blog about the local furor surrounding the service at Sears. I wanted to wait until after the buzz was long dead. My post will surprise you. First there is no excuse for bad service, customer abuse, etc.

However, with Sears, at least they try. Think about this for a second. You have purchased a brand new car, for example. The expectation is the dealership has a repair department. In the appliance industry, the number 2,3, 4 and 5 largest appliance dealers do not provide any type of service. In fact less than 20% of all the stores offer any type of repair. Unfortunely, there is also no independent servicer left to repair products. It is like driving your car around 50 or so miles for an oil change or worse.

Back to Sears, the current management has no experience in service or retail(not a bad thing). They are probably thinking service is a profit center like any business. Service exists for marketing reasons only. Being able to help customers with issues is the only reason to invest in a service department. This mindset is the root of Sears' problems. In order to cut costs, they have commoditized it instead of marketing it against their competitors. End result: inconsistent service

As products become more varied and sophisticated, the lack of service will become an issue for consumers. Before buying apppliances, like buying cars, check and at least ask about what happens when a product breaks

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bosch Cooktop

If I was to review this Bosch cooktop, I would say the burners are too close together. I would also say the maximum BTU output is only 12,000 BTU.

However, it is still pretty nice looking and is only $399..

Bosch cooktop

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ventilation Part 2...For Regular (Non-Professional) Ranges

20 years ago, the average BTU(British Thermal Unit, a measure of heat output) of a typical gas stove was about 28,000 BTU. Today the average stove is between 32 to 40,000 BTU. Most of these units have at least 1 or 2 power burners of 15-17,000 BTU.

As the burners have become more powerful, so has the need for the proper ventilation of smoke and heat.

My favorite 30 inch hood Best K210...Good capture area and blower speeds up to 800 CFM

Best K210

Yale Ranges and Hoods

Three pointers to size the vent properly:

1. CFM or cubic feet per minute. This refers to the speed of the blower or more literally how many cubes of air are expelled per minute. An over the range microwave, for example, is the minimum at 310 CFM, but if you like to wok or fry, you may want a vent with a blower of up to 600 CFM

2. Ducting or the size of the pipe carrying the exhaust to the outside. Ducting should be no less than 6 inches and up to 10 inches in diameter

3. Capture area...Quite literally the depth of the hood. Smoke is not immediately sucked out of the hood. It is rather captured and then extracted. Look for a vent with a capture area of 19 inches or deeper

There are now plenty of options as more companies seem to be manufacturing vents

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Electrolux Wine Coolers

This is an interesting unit. First of all, it is aesthetically pleasing with digital controls and perhaps the best feature for any wine cooler, LED lighting. As you know from our lighting posts, LED emits zero heat and at 3 watts produces the same output as a 50 or 60 watt incandescent bulb. This is highly significant for wine as the tannins in wine are highly reactive to light and heat.

At $1299, this is a great unit.

There is one small problem, however. The temperature gauge has one setting. Typically red and white wines require different settings with red being warmer than white. Now this is personal preference, and the only wine system with 2 true zones for wine is SubZero...The SubZero costs more than double...

Have a look:

Electrolux Wine Cooler

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Appliance Blogs

Appliance blogging is a lonely pursuit. There are not too many of us in cyberspace. There is a repairmen who posts regularly in Oregon. There is Erika from Urban Design as well. We traded blog appearances last month.

For the newest, latest and greatest try this blog

Appliance Notes

Peggy Deras CKD(certified kitchen designer) writes a very interesting column. It is certainly worth checking out

The Kids Are All Right

I am a 43 year old man. In my day, I was pretty good at Ms. PacMan and Missile Command, but computers in general were not a huge part of my existence. Today's kids are very different. The computer has connected them socially, and has affected our shopping habits

They rate everything. They are absolutely intolerant about bad service, bad policies or anything else that can be considered customer unfriendly. If a store wantonly upsets more than a couple, it will lose everyone in that social network.

In short, this group is the average stores worst nightmare. Personally, I think they are a good challenge, and have helped us improve as a company

The 21-34 crowd is the best barometer as to what is good or bad in any category.

Here is where they post...Check your stores against these sites

1. Yelp

2. CitySearch

3. Angie's List

So if you want to know where to have the best Martini or find the best appliance store...Have a look. I say this with some trepidation, because as they say on Angie's List 'Not all ratings are good'

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Best Tool When Shopping

So you have read the reports and consulted the social marketing networks. You are satisfied with the price, delivery policies and service statements....There is one other semi proven method to help with the decision...

Want to know?

The telephone...

If you are placing an order for kitchen appliances, consider this:

You will call between 3-5 times for payments, arranging delivery and for specifications

Your contractor will call between 1-2 times for detailed delivery information, electrical and other technical information

Your granite person will need cutouts

Then there is added changes, etc.

You should perhaps call your store of choice and see how fast they reply before you purchase....

The Beast

Here it is...The SubZero Pro 48. For someone looking for a Professional looking refrigerator, this is it.....But is it? After all, you can buy commercial restaurant refrigerators from True and Truelson among others. However, you would need a variance, because these products are way above normal for residential energy consumption...

Have a Look:

SubZero Pro 48

Monday, March 17, 2008

French Doors Again

The French door is the most popular refrigerator in the luxury market...Buy why?

Three reasons:

1. It allows full lateral storage in both compartments (side by sides are divided in the middle)

2. French doors are new and therefore are considered trendy

3. With islands, French doors allow for easier access...Have a look:

French Door

French Door

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Clearance is Over

Thank you to everyone who attended( a small shot of the 200 people who waited Saturday morning)....If anyone has comments on the event good or bad, please feel free to post


Now its back to (regular) work...My next post will be French door refrigeration. After that, you can pick the topic....Anything in appliances, lighting and kitchen plumbing...Want to learn how to light a particular space? How about SubZero versus the new integrated refrigerators? Just post a comment, and I will cover the topic.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Surviving The Warehouse Clearance March 15 and 16

(For regular readers of the Yale Blog, I reposted this due to demand. There is a new post underneath)

Every year we have a Spring Clearance in our warehouse in Mansfield with anywhere between 500,000 to 750,000 worth of different appliances. If the number seems high, consider this, we do not charge customers for sizing errors with restocking fees, which is the practice in our industry.

Returns are still only 1-2%. Shipments, however, are about 200-250 pieces a day so it really adds up. Then add in floor displays, customer cancellations and any discontinued styles and the sale becomes almost mandatory.

The key to finding the right appliance at 25-75% is simple. Arrive Early. We start at 10, but there is usually a line by 9:30. Find what you need quickly and have a salesperson mark it sold, so you can find the next piece. Prioritize based on your need, because other people are thinking the same.

The sale is certainly worth your time.


Lets look at three separate pictures: What do they have in common, except of course, they are all appliances






Laundry Room

Every product we display is now EnergyStar rated. For refrigerators, the units now use as much energy as a light bulb...In laundry, the difference can be as much as 62% greater capacity with 62% greater efficiency.

As these units become more commoditized and less expensive, a consumer may pay $100 initially for a yearly savings of twice that. When you are considering an appliance purchase, ask if it is EnergyStar rated. The savings in operating costs will be substantial

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The $1379 Induction Cooktop

When we started selling induction the price was$3500, but now Electrolux has introduced their induction 30 inch piece for $1379. Only 2 of the burners are actually induction, but at least this cooktop will feature induction at a reasonable price.

Electrolux Induction

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Illumination of Cape Cod Lumber

About 7 months ago, I ventured into Cape Cod Lumber. When I think of lumberyards, my thoughts revert to Somerville Lumber, Grossmans' and Builder Square. These companies could not adapt to the changing times and went bankrupt.

Cape Cod is different. Their kitchen department is probably about 5,000 square feet, which is huge by industry standards. They have very solid people and decent price points. I like the company.

Their lighting was a problem. As I have described in previous posts, lighting should accentuate the space. Somehow their warehouse high pressure sodium lights detracted from their display.....So we sent our modern lighting specialist Nick to change the paradigm. For displays, good lighting should be clean and unobtrusive, whereas decorative lighting can be more pronounced.

Lets see how he did:

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Evolution of The Bosch Dishwasher

Kind of a meandering post today.....If you were in the market for a dishwasher before 1994, your choices were GE, Maytag and KitchenAid. You purchased the unit based on how you perceived the product actually cleaned.

Bosch changed all that by being noiseless. As I have written in previous posts, the combination of the living room and dining room into one "great" room has had a profound effect on lighting and appliances. Luckily for Bosch quietness has become a major reason to buy a dishwasher for this reason. People want to watch tv without listening to the dishwasher

So lets flash forward to now. Quiet dishwashers abound and now we have a recession(I now can officially say that). Bosch has been on the sideline for consumer rebates

Until now:

Because KitchenAid has been packaging their dishwashers at ridiculous prices. Bosch has responded with $100 rebates(nationwide) plus package incentives on their 2 best selling dishwashers....

Bosch Dishwasher

Bosch Dishwasher

Its all about market share.....

For more information about dishwashers, please take a look at our Dishwasher Buyers Guide, packed with information about brands, features, cycles and more...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

LED Applications

Perhaps, I may be blogging about LED too much. For newcomers, LED(light emitting diodes) are 80-90% more efficient than incandescent, emit zero heat and can last up to 20 years. Quite simply LED is the best bulb ever manufactured.

We blogged about this new product called LED tape, which is tiny bulbs literally on a plastic strip. Here it is installed

Light quality(Kelvin) is good.

LED Tape

LED Tape

When compared against halogen light fixtures, the LED is much more compact and unobtrusive especially with frameless cabinets

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Electrolux.....Not Just Vacuums

Quick question: Who is the biggest appliance company worldwide? The answer is Electrolux. Electrolux is a Swedish company and the owner of Frigidaire. I like this company. When Electrolux first purchased Frigidaire, they retooled their factories and concentrated their efforts on front load laundry and stainless steel appliances...Smart move.

For their name brand, the concentration is cooking: affordable halogen cooktops and slide-in ovens, which is another prudent move.

Their gas cooktops are on the market now. Stylistically, they are average compared to the other cooking products, especially their ranges. The gas cooktops have decent features including an 18,000 BTU burner with a starting price point of $759

Have a peek...

Electrolux Cooktop

Electrolux Cooktop

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The $1499 Epic

I am not picking on Whirlpool ...There are three motivations in writing this column as well as yesterdays $119 KitchenAid dishwasher:

A. The meltdown in the mortgage industry has affected seemingly every industry to a huge extent

B. Companies have taken radical steps to write to keep the factories working

C. This is a great environment to be a consumer

So we are back to being the Whirlpool CEO....We have a huge share of the laundry business...Almost 60%. We did not predict the economic downturn, which is somewhat understandable. We also did not predict Frigidaire manufacturing great products on the lower end and Bosch and Miele on the higher end.

So we again funnel rebates to turn this $1799 pair to $1499

Maytag Epic

I often wonder what this stuff costs to actually manufacture

Monday, March 03, 2008

The $119 KitchenAid Dishwasher

You are the CEO of Whirlpool in 2003, and you just bought your biggest rival, Maytag. By all appearances, this is a great deal. You have acquired great names in Maytag, JennAir and Amana, and it finally affords a relationship with Home Depot as well as more in roads with Lowes and Sears....

Unfortunately, a good deal is also contingent on timing. Acquisition in the middle of an economic downturn is a recipe for financial ruin....So what do you do?

You panic. Then fund your distribution channel directly and indirectly, so we have manufacturers, national buying groups and regional chapters all funding the same products....Which is great for the consumer

After 4(so far) rebates, you can buy this KitchenAid dishwasher for $119 in black or white as long as you buy 2 other pieces for $399 or greater (or $219 with just 1 other piece through March.)

Have a look:


Now the math:

Cost of the unit $569

Local Warehouse 50
MVP National Buying Group 100
Northeast Office 300

Rebate Total 450

After Rebate $119

This is a $600 dishwasher