Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why I Am So Cold

I like working later...less distractions. Recently, however, I noticed that it was a lot colder in the store. And the reason?

The switch from incandescent bulbs to CFLs and LED bulbs has eliminated residual heat from the store.

In a humorous departure, I am the moderator of a panel of experts at the Residential Design Show in April. My seminar (unbelievably): The Future of Incandescent Lighting.

My talk should last about 30 seconds, and I will create a Powerpoint with one slide, which will say: NONE.

Wonder if the architects and designer who are paying to hear me will appreciate the candor or despise the brevity.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best Of....

I was thinking of doing the Best of The Decade, but what was hot even 3 years ago is not now. Following is the best for now and the near future.

LLF LED Recessed:

The cost savings between LED and incandescent is staggering. Although the payback is about 3 years, this technology is bound to decrease in price. Within the next decade, you will be buying this bulb...

Electrolux Induction:

Induction is the best cooking product...even including pro gas. Every manufacturer dabbles in induction, but Electrolux will be introducing new induction products at lower prices.

French Doors:

Fad, Fashion or a bit of both. French doors combine the lateral functionality of a bottom mount in a chic look.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Stuff

Its amazing the dearth of new stuff. Next year will be different. But here is the best of the new (short post).

Danby DBC2760BLS

2 door refrigerator freezer, which fits in a 24 inch opening.

Frigidaire FGHS2679KE

Nothing fab about a side by side, but I like the finish. Black with stainless accents maybe a nice alternative to stainless with stainless accents

Viking VDSC530T4SS

Viking has a clock...actually a pretty sophisticated clock. Then again it should be at $5899.

Monday, December 28, 2009

How To Choose a Gas Cooktop

Why do built-in appliances cause such much dread amongst consumers. Its been awhile since my selling days, but I am curious. Let me simplify considerably the vexing category of gas cooktops, as there seems to be so many.

You want to look for a high BTU output on one or more burners AND a unit capable of simmering. What else does a cooktop actually do?

A couple of my favs...

Bosch: Reasonably priced with 5 burners in a 30 inch configuration.

Viking: Good commercial style with 6 burners in 36 inch configuration.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How To Buy a Washer (Yes Again)

Ahh so many similar washers...Electrolux, Frigidaire, GE, Whirlpool Duet, Duet Sport, Maytag Epic, Miele, Asko, LG, Bosch...

Now all of them manufacture great front load pieces. Not to sound like a broken record, but you will save $150 a year through greater capacity, less water and electricity usage.

Choose through the above criterion (or is it criteria?, never really know). Because they are all good, price becomes the mitigating factor.

So lets approach it from another direction. You like a brand. It could be any of them. How do you choose a model?


Good: Basic features.
Better: Add a heat boost for whites and an additional spin for less dry time.
Best: Steam feature for blasting out stains.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Electrolux at 10% off

So you like Electrolux..The Worlds Fastest Growing Appliance Manufacturer...Great styling, intuitive controls and almost nothing under $1,000.

Well, you like them better December 24-31...There is a 10% rebate

Friday, December 18, 2009


We have industry terms for cooking like freestanding, slide-in, built-in and drop-in...Let me shed some light on this bizarre terminology so you can choose your new stove.


Defined as a range with a back (this isn't complicated). The freestanding is the most widely sold and is priced the best.

Slide In

Defined as a range without a back. Slide-ins are more expensive but are nicer looking, because you can finish behind the range (without seeing the back).

Built in

Defined as wall oven with a cooktop. Most expensive, yet nicest looking, because it allows for the continuation of grantite and the the toekick.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wind Chill And Paddle Fans

My first ever syndication or rehashing of an earlier post, but this is amusing given how freezing you probably were when you stepped outside this morning.

I live in The South End of Boston. Like most South Enders, my car is parked around the block. Thus, I really understand wind chill and cold weather more than garage folk.

Wind chill is basically wind pounding the warmth out of your body. Although the temperature may be 25 this morning, the effective or realized temperature is much colder.

Paddle fans work on the same principle. The wind created by the blades lowers the perceived temperature(air moving over your skin) without lowering the actual temperature allowing you to turn up the thermostat in the summer for the same net effect.

In the winter, if you reverse the fan, it will draw the warm air off the ceiling. Since warm air rises, the fan will create a more perceived warmth allowing you to turn down your thermostat in the winter for the same net effect.

Energy efficiency, as well as style, is a good reason to buy a fan, but turn it off when you are not in the room....

Some Visual Aids:

Showroom Fans

Showroom Fans

Showroom Fans

It is amazing how much different(and better) the store looks in two years

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stainless vs Plastic

This would have been a truly great post had we not switched out the stainless steel dishwasher for white. There are two points to this post (more for your blog dollar).

Have a look at these two dishwashers, and kindly disregard the color...

Pretty similar, aren't they? One is a regular line, another is a derivative. A deriv (as we say in the biz) is the same as the regular line with a different number so you cant price shop. Sears, Home Depot, Best Buy and even Yale has special derivative numbers. The way around this is to compare features, not model numbers...Now you can shop for price.

But the models are similar, what is the difference, you say?....well look again.

Stainless and plastic tubs both hold the water just fine. Stainless is non porous and resists germs and orders (tip here for plastic: use tang once a month to freshen it up).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pro Options

Happy Monday...As The Ole Blog turns 800 posts today, we must reflect on how times have changed. Value is now our watchword. The best segment in our battered industry is the affordable luxury brands like Bosch, Frigidaire and GE.

Now I will show you the reason, but first have a look at this:

The Wolf DF304: It is a truly great range with 3 power burners, dual convection and great simmer on all burners. However, at $5599, it may be out of the realm of most. Don't fret, there are alternatives:

GE Cafe CGS980SEMSS: This is a great range. It has a 17,000 BTU burner(avarage 10 year old stove is 10,0000-12,000 BTU max) along with an oblong griddle burner as well. It is also convection(just nor double), and has a second oven below...At $2489, it is less than half the Wolf.

Bertazzoni A304GGVXE: I like the range in a lukewarm type of way. It is very stylish (style does emanate out of Italy) and has one power burner, but little else...and it is not self cleaning, unless of course, you clean it yourself.

Frigidaire FPGS3085KF: Frigidaire is the value leader without question. For $1549, you have a 17,000 BTU burner, convection oven and warming drawer..Not bad.

Friday, December 11, 2009

KitchenAid Versus Bosch Dishwashers Round 2

The two most popular dishwashers are KitchenAid and Bosch. They both have their strong suits: KitchenAid has more features and a heated dry option. Bosch is quieter, heats water hotter and is more eco friendly.

But which one is better...That all depends. Lets compare the two most popular and rebated sets.

The Bosch SHE5AL $299 vs KitchenAid KUDC03 $369 (after rebates)

Have to give this one to KitchenAid. the tub is all stainless, while Bosch's entry piece is stainless with a plastic bottom. KitchenAid also has more relevant cycles.

The Bosch SHX4 $949 vs KitchenAid KUDS04 $769(after rebates)

In a direct comparison, I like the Bosch , but at a $180 savings, KitchenAid looks like a better buy...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Post 799

Hard to believe the Blog is 3 years old...Harder still to believe there is actually 799 topics as it relates to appliances, lighting and plumbing.

Then again, the blog is about the best and not so good in these industries, energy tips, design and how to buy, so somehow we have only scratched the surface.

In the future, you will see an avalanche of new products and iterations of older ones like LED, QLED, induction ranges and more efficient appliances, so there will be plenty to write...as usual, we will take requests and hopefully we will remain relevant for another 799 posts


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

LED Explained in an Another Way

We are changing our fixtures to more efficient bulbs. Last month, we retrofitted incandescent to color rendering fluorescent. Now we are changing the incandescent track heads to LED.

The gist of this video is simple: We will be using 196 watts of electricity instead of 840 with zero heat emission as opposed to 300 degrees in incandescent. There is also a 20 year year lamp life as opposed to the current 7 month replacement.

This video is my fault: I like improv, Bobby does not...but look at how powerful 18 watts is.

Monday, December 07, 2009

How to Quickly Lay Out Kitchen Lighting

A dishwasher, refrigerator and stove all fit basically in the same space(give or take), lighting is a different story. If you read past posts, decorative lighting is just that. Chandeliers do not effectively light a room. Its a huge misconception.

Recessed/track are the main drivers and backbone of a lighting plan. We will concentrate on the kitchen and bath in the next few posts, because those rooms really require proper illumination. These rooms also require more light. Think about it. In most other rooms like bedrooms, dens and media rooms, you shut off the light.

The best way to to lay out recessed is to place the light where you need it. But be careful...Too far from a cabinet and you will obstruct the light while working on the counter...

As a general rule, place recessed 12-18 inches from the cabinet and 3-5 feet apart...In a normal ceiling use a 5 inch can or 4 inch low voltage with this trim (industry term for decorative piece of a light):

or this trim, if you want to highlight objects on the wall...called a regressed eyeball.

We are not done...Undercabinet lights are part of the plan. These are not hard. Buy the corresponding length to the size of the upper cabinet. For the best color use halogen, low voltage or LED. If you plan to spend more than a few consider LED. It costs more, but will save much more over the long term.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Viking Designer Series

The Viking Designer line...heavy on price, way heavy on design and way light on sales. Its probably a good lesson for Viking or any other company who wants to sell more products simply by leveraging their name. Invariably, customers have to buy it.

Recently, Viking actually improved this line by dialing down the style and improving the price...For $8700, you have an interesting suite of appliances, range, dishwasher (now produced by Viking, not Asko), microwave and refrigerator (actually still manufactured by Whirlpool).

Not half bad...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Rest of The House

Last week, I showed you the outside of a house. This convenient post was one day after showing you how to lay out outside lighting....As you guessed, it was unplanned, I like bouncing from different topics.

Hopefully, you will find it interesting. You can always search the blog for a relevant topic as there is now 3 years worth of posts. I am a free form type of guy, so the beguiling order of posts seems to suit me.

Anyway, lets look at the rest of the house. They actually complete a Colonial design nicely. Colonial is a good look for New England (we were a Colony), but its very specific from a design point of view. If you want a more flexible look, consider turn of the century which can be adapted to many types of interiors (a post for next week)

But enjoy a nice interior:

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A 2009 Review

What should you buy? It really depends on what is important to you. You could be flipping the unit, buying a dream kitchen or a simple replacement. I do not have an all encompassing favorite, but several likable brands.

I can also be convinced to like another product if the rebates warrant a conversation. These are appliances after all, not proprietary medical equipment.

My favs...

Best Brands: SubZero/Wolf

Owned by the same person, these brands are different and better than their many competitors. Refrigerator has two compressors, an air scrubber and a way better gasket to keep air out. The stove has a better simmer, two convection fans and fancy clock and timer.

Best Affordable Luxury: Bosch

For a brand that is recently incapable of a good manufacturing decision, Bosch has weathered the recession quite well. This company does not have a french door refrigerator or a stove under $1000. Bosch, however, survives on being stylishly different (different is good), eco-friendly and produces the best dishwasher on the market.

Best Value: Frigidaire

With the deep pockets of parent Electrolux, Frigidaire was the original manufacturer of stainless steel appliances. Their latest release of Gallery and Gallery Pro is intriguing and very affordable. Their french door will be out second quarter 2010, and will shake up that segment.

Honorable mention: Miele and GE Cafe

Who Dat

A brief departure from appliances...

I went to Tulane from 1982-1986 and became a Saints fan. I remember eating pizza watching as the 8-7 Saints were trying to clinch their first playoff game in franchise history

On fourth and one from the their opponents 45, their coach Bum Philips(Faith, Hope and Bum was the team slogan)decided to punt. I watched as the Rams completed five short passes and kick a field goal with no time left.

Since then watching The Saints(The Aints) has been a gut wrenching experience. I was a Celts season ticket holder through M L Carr and Rick Pitino, so I know gut wrenching. I am a Pats fan absolutely, but it was nice to see The Saints last night win one for a struggling yet charming city and most of all for the most tortured fans in sports

BTW: Who Dat is short for: Who Dat Say Gonna Beat Them Saints...Who Dat? When sung in drunken, Cajun, Creole, almost English, it actually can be endearing