Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

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.