Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I am You

A FAQ in renovation is where do you start? Take it easy and heed these words.

1. Get yourself a good contractor...Reread this line. Then check out Angies List, Yelp, your friends and his/her references. Be absolutely sure of the company controlling your short term life and wallet.

2. Ditto with cabinet, tile, appliances and lighting vendors.

3. Have a budget and a plan. Spend time in renovation magazines and other do it yourself publications.

3a. Add 10% to your budget.

4. Prioritize..what is important to you and then work from there.

5. Don't overbuy. You should have a reason to want that luxury item.

The key to any project or even running a business is people, plans and a systematic approach to finishing the job.

Handle This

Two different refrigerators from GE...One is GE Cafe and the other is GE Profile.

So what is the difference?


If you said handle, you would be correct. You have to love marketing. Change a handle add a series. They both do have huge rebates($200-300) this month...

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Independence Day EnergyStar Rebates

The appliance industry seems to target June 27 to July 7 as prime selling season. This seems odd, because most consumers seem to be on vacation at this time.

However, Whirlpool, Maytag, Frigidaire, GE and Bosch have added another $75 of rebates for this time period.

Lets look at the Frigidaire side by side as an example:


Refrigerator sells for $1209 but costs only $934 after 3 rebates.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Be (Environmentally) Friendly

Ah Friendly's...I remember sneaking out of camp when I was a kid for a Friendlys' Fribble. Friendly's is a Massachusetts based chain of family casual restaurants. They were started by 2 brothers and then sold to an investor group.

They just shifted from incandescent to LED for their new stores. The pictures are bad, but the 11 watt LED is brighter than the 75 watt incandescent and has 20 year life span.

This technology is starting to be financially viable in addition to environmentally friendly.

Have a look...

Incandescent 65W BR30 - Total Power 5135W

LR6 - Total Power 948W

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Good Bye SubZero

You are looking at the SubZero 650 bottom mount refrigerator.

This is the dominant built in refrigerator. In fact in 2003, this was the number 7 sold refrigerator in the country. At over $6000 a product, that is eye opening. Magnetized crispers, vacuum seal, 2 compressors and the industries best warranty are the functional reasons to buy a SubZero. The name also has cache, which is a plus in an unstable real estate market.

However, SubZero is discontinuing its best product. The new line will be integrated or totally flush to the cabinets and will feature an air freshener to keep food fresher for a longer period of time and a water purifier. New products will be shipped August or September.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quiet Dishwashers

Lets face it. Features are fine, but you want it quiet. With rooms now encompassing the living and dining room, quiet dishwashers have almost a standard. People assume cleanability and ask for quietness.

But which one is the most quiet? We have on display working: Miele, Bosch, Asko, JennAir, Viking and Electrolux.

The answer is none of the above, because the difference in noise is not detectable by the human ear. My sleeper pick is Electrolux (believe it or not) which is absolutely noiseless.

Monday, June 23, 2008


OEM is a term for a product manufactured by another company and relabeled by another. The practice is prevalent in clothing where every brand is manufactured by a central manufacturer. Cars are another OEM industry. Pontiac, the late Oldsmobile and Chevrolet are/were built on the same platform.

The idea is sending the same product through multiple distribution channels to maximize sales and minimize costs. Over time, it does erode brands. After all, there is very little difference.

In the appliance industry, OEMs are becoming almost the standard. Even super premium brands are starting to source their manufacturing....Lets look at this Viking refrigerator.


Same as this JennAir.


My feelings are mixed. On one hand, people can buy an all Viking kitchen for under $10,000, and the Viking logo is still very recognizable. At the same time, it is $600 more than the identical Jenn-Air.

So do you buy the label or the price?

We Win (Finally)

A couple of old college roommates and I about 11 years ago decided to split Celtics season tickets. We figured Rick Pitino and Tim Duncan would turn it around. Only it did not work out that way.

So we waited and upgraded...and waited and waited.

I was at the opening game last year, and the pain was almost palpable. When we lost the lottery agin, we almost turned in our seats after 11 brutal seasons. Then came Ray Allen and then Kevin Garnett, and it all changed.

Following are pictures from last Tuesdays game. BTW, the huge guy in front of me is Ron Artest from the Sacramento Kings. I mention this only, because he seems like a really decent guy. He was great with the fans, especially with the kids. Guess you can not believe everything you read.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mercury and You

I had to leave town unexpectedly, but will be back on Monday with new stuff...Here is an earlier post.

In an earlier post, I described how to handle a broken fluorescent bulb. My response was based on that story in Maine where a bulb broke, and they called a Hazmat squad. I honestly believe fluorescent bulbs and LEDs will save the individual consumer considerable amounts of money.

Mercury, however, is a poison and fluorescent bulbs do contain trace levels of Mercury. Of course, as you are reading this, you probably have trace levels of mercury in your body....They are called fillings. (I just went to the dentist this morning.)

Seriously, read this post and buy the bulbs for general task lighting to save money, energy and the environment.


Couldn't resist

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Science of Steam?

Over the last few months, we have blogged about steam being a possible feature in ovens. Steam actually is the best way of cooking, because it does not bake out the nutrients.

It seems steam is being utilized for other appliances. First, there was laundry, where steam can (supposedly) power out stains and refresh clothes.

Now it is dishwashers. Maytag and LG have started manufacturing products with steam as a feature. Of course, they were not the first manufacturer to do so. Thermador featured steam 20 years ago. The theory is steam will loosen the baked on stains, which will be washed clean.


However, the by product of hot water is steam....Dishwashers already use it for washing and drying. Your money may be better spent elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nothing in particular

I am having bloggers cramp....There does not seem like any substantive ideas are rolling around in my depleted brain, so how about a few smaller ones:

Use Miele rinse aid or Jetdry on metal tank dishwashers instead of turning on the heating element to save some money. It aids with the condensation process. For all the Bosch owners, this is a necessity, because Bosch does not have a heated dry cycle.


I am not dumb enough to place my hand over a candle flame, but most candles in restaurants are actually battery operated 1 watt LED bulbs..pretty inexpensive to buy and operate.



Monday, June 16, 2008

The Kitchen Sink

Haven't blogged about sinks in a bit. About 15 years ago, the major trend in sinks was under mounting or placing the sink under the counter without a seam. Although sinks still follow cabinet sizes(25,33,38), the new trend is larger single bowls to accommodate the large dishes.

When buying a sink, check the gauge or amount of nickel in the product. This is usually demarcated by a number, 18 is decent and 16 is the best. Finish and undercoating are also important as well as the depth. Franke, Perrin & Rowe, Shaw and KWC are decent brands available at Yale, but so is Blanco and Elkay, which are not.

Have a look at a few:

Friday, June 13, 2008

More New Lighting

There is an absolute ton of new lighting styles available. As I have said in previous posts, new products are designed probably 3-4 years ago. The plant and tooling needs to be acquired, and then the product is shipped. The cycle seems easy, but it is actually time consuming at 3-4 years.

So lighting manufacturers 3 years ago were thinking the housing market would stay beneficial. Now 3 years later, they are faced with a new reality and a whole lot of new product.

Of course, 3 years from now, we will probably have a stable housing market and a dearth of new products...But for now at the very least, there is a glut of very interesting products.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wrinkles and You

So you have purchased a front load Energystar washer. This is a great purchase as you will save money on water, electricity and detergent.

But what about the wrinkles?

Wrinkles are caused by the RPM of the final spin. The final spin of your old washer was about 400 RPM. The average spin of a front load is 1000-1200 RPM. A fast spin is actually a good feature, because the clothes will be dryer. Therefore, there will be less time in the dryer, which means less electricity and less chance for shrinkage.

Fabric softener is the solution...plain old fabric softener.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

LED Vs Low Voltage Recessed Lighting

Low voltage recessed is the standard for mid to upscale residential task lighting. Low voltage is aptly named, because there is a transformer in the fixture. This transformer converts the 120 volt household current to 12 volt. The 12 volt 50 watt bulb casts a whiter light than a regular incandescent light, and thus illuminates the counters, tile and cabinets in a better shade of light.

Low Voltage

Led Recessed

How does a new LED compare? This is a direct comparason between a LED can and a low voltage(not as LED with a Low voltage can)

Energy Efficiency: No-brainer here...After all, low voltage is still incandescent. At 11 watts, the LED will emit more light than a 50 watt low voltage bulb. Also, LED is a cool bulb and the low voltage bulb will heat to 300 degrees.

Color: Interestingly enough, LED is better color at 2700 degrees versus 3500 for low voltage.

Style: LED is new and limited whereas low voltage has every design option imaginable. Of course most people still prefer white, which is featured for both.

Lamp Life: 20 years for LED, 7 months for low voltage.

Price: The reason for this post...LED is actually cheaper by about $30 per fixture

Welcome to Boston

You are actually looking from the views of Boston's newest buildings at 45 Province St.

Out of the 25,000 visitors to the Yale website and blog per month, only 3,000 visitors are actually Bostonians. Perhaps you want to see our town.

I love this building. You can see the Harbor (properly pronounced Hahbah) and Boston Common. We are selling appliances in this building. Project business is simple. Deliver on specification. Then send the service people before the units are closed. No punch lists, no problems (at least on our stuff.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Rest Room

Lets look at the bathroom at Yale.


Its a little over the top with granite and marble. Consumers at least subconsciously associate clean bathrooms with competence and dirty bathrooms as a sign of an impending issue. Our bathroom features some really interesting Green products...Look again.

The wall sconce employs 3 13 watt compact fluorescent bulbs. Fluorescent is great with white shades especially with a color rendering bulb. The lumen difference is 39 fluorescent watts versus 180 incandescent


The recessed use a 6 watt LED 12 volt bulb. Great color and 6 watts are very similar to a 35-40 watt low voltage bulb. Thus, the lumen difference is 160 low voltage to 24 watt LED. At $50 a piece, they are a tad expensive. With a 20 year lamp life, I will not be changing them anytime soon.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Another Great Deal?

I have started watching this website called GardenWeb. Yes, it is about gardening, but they also have a significant home improvement section with peer to peer reviews including a significant feature on appliances and lighting.

One of the posts was dedicated to the best appliance values. The person posting was talking about her parents refrigerator and how it lasted for 58 years. My feelings about this are mixed. First, I hate to throw anything of value away.

However, a refrigerator purchased today uses 50% less electricity than similar products from less than 15 years ago. A 58 year old refrigerator probably costs about $400-500 a year to operate versus $50-60 for a similar unit purchased today. Antiquated technologies in general like incandescent bulbs and top load laundry are probably costing the individual consumer hundreds of dollars a year every year.

But lets look at something new....What do these refrigerators have in common?

Yes they are Energystar, but there are instant rebates of $75 to 100 on all GE, Maytag, JennAir, Whirlpool and KitchenAid french door and side by side refrigeration.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Increasing Prices...Increasing Rebates?

Almost quarterly there will be a memo across my desk about a price increase from a vendor partner. It is to be somewhat expected. Stainless steel is increasing at 1% per month and gas is well, you know....

So why are certain commonly purchased items actually cheaper? Have a look at this slide show and guess how much this kitchen of Frigidaire appliances actually costs when purchased together.

The price is $1799 after a host of rebates. The greatest cost to any company is the loss of market share and the idling of factories...or so it would seem.

The companies offering significant rebates in July are: Frigidaire, JennAir, KitchenAid, Thermador and Bosch

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Paddle Fans

Paddle fans used to be a Southern thing (I lived in New Orleans I can say that). In the old days, people would buy a white fan and call it a day. Now paddle fans are part light fixture, part design statement and part mover of air.

Paddle fans do not actually lower temperature. They, however, produce a wind chill effect or perceived temperature on the skin. Think of wind chill in the winter. It feels much colder outside with the wind blowing. Reverse the blades in the winter and the heat is disbursed from the ceiling.

There seems to be a changing of the guard in the industry. Casablanca once dominated, but now MinkaAire, Fanimation and Hudson Valley manufacture great fans.

Have a Look...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I used to love the AC business. There were great brands like Sharp, Panasonic, Emerson(way back), Amana and Friedrich. They were all good and now they are all gone. The whole industry packed up and moved to China. Friedrich bought the Panasonic tooling, which was and probably is the best air conditioner.

So now you have very little real choice amongst Energystar units.

You can, however, still size it wrong. Oversizing an AC will actually freeze the unit and cause it to malfunction. That is the biggest problem in ACs.

I once designed a chart to assist people in choosing the optimum unit for their room. Remember each room is different: Exposure to sun, windows, shade and size are all important. In other words a third floor apartment is different from a garden or basement level.

AC Sizing

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

How to Buy....A Weber Grill

I see alot of people looking at this post from last year...so with updates:
Weber has three popular series of grills:

The Spirit is their basic series. There are two in this series. They both have 611 sq inches of cooking space. One has 26,000 BTUs and the EP-310 has 36,000 BTU for more heat and faster cooking:

Weber Spirit

The Genesis is our most popular and has 2 models and a choice of colors. The Genesis is more powerful at 42,000 BTU with a larger cooking area at 637 square inches than The Spirit. The difference in the two models is a 12,000 BTU side burner:

Genesis Spirit

The Summit is the best Weber grill. It is the most powerful grill at 60,000 BTU with 693 to 838 square inches of cooking area. The S-650 is the best seller in this series with a 12,000 BTU side burner. a 8,000 BTU smoker and a 10,000 infrared back burner for the rotisserie. The S-620 is larger at 838 square inches has the side burners but no rotisserie or smoker.

Weber Summit

Hope this helps. Have a nice weekend.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Inexpensive Bosch

Bosch first arrived in the US in the middle 90s, and became one of the most popular dishwashers. Simple formula to their success was a stainless tank, a heat boost to 161 degrees for better cleaning, and the one feature paramount to the American consumer....Quietness. Bosch became the most popular of the noiseless dishwashers.

Building the largest dishwasher manufacturing facility in North America became a really intelligent strategy as they have become less dependent on the Euro and very expensive European manufacturing..

In fact, Bosch recently introduced a lesser expensive dishwasher...it looks similar except for a small detail.

Looks the same on the outside...


The bottom of the tank is plastic...interesting