December 21, 2014

Is Steam the Thing? – Ovens

Here we have part three in our “Steam” series – Ovens.

Steam ovens harness the power of super heated steam to quickly cook foods without drying them out. Use a steam oven to create healthy flavorful meals while using less fat. Most steam ovens will allow you to adjust the humidity level inside the cooking chamber to create the right environment for the individual foods you’re cooking.

New steam ovens on the market offer conventional dry baking. Users also have the ability to defrost, warm up leftovers and even simulate a high heat grill to finish meats.

“It’s a way to make nutritional food that tastes like it came from a restaurant,” says Portfolio Kitchen & Home in Kansas City owner Geri Higgins. “You don’t have to add butter or sauce to it to make it more moist or flavorful.” The design center demonstrates its Gaggenau steam-convection combination oven and in-counter steamer.

The steamer and the oven are self-cleaning; condensation needs to be wiped up after cooking. For an integrated countertop steamer, a plumber hooks up water and drainage lines. Because calcium can sometimes clog water lines, many models contain water cartridges. Ovens come with detachable water reservoirs and don’t typically require plumbing.

On a recent day, Portfolio made asparagus (3 minutes) and salmon with lemon and herbs (10 minutes) in an in-counter steamer. The texture was moist but not water-logged.

Portfolio baked bread in a Gaggenau combination oven using dough from the grocery store. Steam is misted on the dough toward the beginning of the cycle to create a flaky brown crust on the exterior with the goal of retaining moisture inside.

Steam-combination ovens cook fast, too. A 14-pound turkey takes 90 minutes.

Some opt to reheat food with steam instead of using a microwave. Leftover pizza, for example, tastes like it’s fresh out of the oven.

“You’re starting to see steam ovens as a second oven above a conventional one,” Higgins says. “Instead of a microwave.”

Appliance Prices Are Going Up

Top appliance makers Whirlpool and Electrolux are raising prices to pass soaring raw material costs on to customers, but their attempts may not pass muster with bargain-hungry shoppers.

According to Reuters, both companies reported quarterly profits that fell short of estimates as they grapple with tepid demand in major markets like the United States and Europe.
Many analysts questioned the timing of the move, especially since consumers in the developed world continue to look for incentives to buy expensive goods like appliances.

Korean manufacturer Samsung has not announced increases and appears to be planning to hold existing prices. Still, Whirlpool’s chief executive, Jeff Fettig, insisted it was not “economically feasible” for Whirlpool to remain indefinitely in the promotional mindset it adopted for the holiday season and last year in general. “For 2011, we expect positive but uneven demand levels around the world,” Fettig said, adding the company still hoped to expand operating margins in the year through price increases and boosts in productivity.

LG Electronics does plan an increase as well. The planned price increase matches moves announced earlier by Whirlpool and Electrolux.

Whirlpool has shut plants, cut jobs and moved some manufacturing to lower cost centers like Mexico. It has also started using common parts across its lineup of dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines.

Electrolux, which sells under its own name as well as the Zanussi and Frigidaire brands, is planning to raise prices by 8 percent to 10 percent in North America starting in April and gradually in Europe and other markets. The move comes as manufacturers around the globe plot price increases to offset higher materials costs and regain ground lost in the recession. Electrolux Chief Executive Keith McLoughlin said the rise in raw materials’ costs had been across the board.

GE Appliance Cash Sweepstakes

Beginning January 13th, GE is running an eight week sweepstakes, with weekly $250 VISA card giveaways and a grand prize of $20,000. You can enter each day for a chance to win. Here’s the link to get you there: GE Sweepstakes

LG’s Android Wants to Control Your Appliances

LG, in a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, showed examples of web-connected washing machines, refrigerators, ovens and a robot vacuum substantially improved with Android apps on tablets or smartphones.

“This is the first time the industry has actually had the infrastructure to support the technology for smart appliances,” said Patrick Steinkuhl, head of LG’s home appliances division.

Steinkuhl explained that Wi-Fi connections and apps would enable appliances to be much “smarter” than they are now. On an oven equipped with an Android tablet, you could download a recipe that instructs the oven to automatically change temperatures to provide optimal cooking results for a turkey, for example.

“Imagine an oven that is so smart that on the day of the big game it’s able to send you a text message saying ‘Hey, your roast is about done. Better get to the kitchen,” Steinkuhl said.

Another example he raised was a robot vacuum that could use an Android app to learn the precise dimensions of your home to know exactly which points have and haven’t been cleaned yet.

Apps could also improve energy efficiency in refrigerators, Steinkuhl added.

LG said it plans to sell some of these new appliances this year, but the company hasn’t yet disclosed a price. The question is – are they worth the money?

Tips for Working with an Appliance Repair Technician

Appliance repair is something people generally like to avoid. Break downs never occur at a convenient time. Appliances fail when they are being used or are needed. In addition to not being able to use the appliance, people now have to find an appliance repair service and schedule an appointment. Continental Appliance, a San Francisco appliance repair and sales store, offers advice for working with an appliance repair service.

Below are some guidelines for working with an appliance repair service:

1. Gather necessary information before calling the appliance repair service, including availability, warranty information, brand name, model, and serial number of the appliance.

2. Be home when the appliance repairman shows up. Though it can be frustrating to be given a two to four hour time window, this is often the best they can do. The appliance repairman cannot always be expected to know exactly how long each job is going to take.

3. Don’t put off appliance repair when something is going wrong. If the appliance is making a grinding noise but still seems to work ok, chances are the repair will be relatively inexpensive if addressed right away. Ignoring the problem could lead to a more expensive problem.

4. Owners often like to watch the technician at work, but be considerate. Keep pets and children out of the way. The repairman doesn’t need a dog licking his face or children playing with his tools.

5. Payment is expected at the time of service. Do not wait until the job is complete then tell the appliance repairman to send a bill.

As expensive as it seems, appliance repair fees are generally reasonable when considering the time and money it takes to travel around fixing appliances, to keep up with advancing technologies and new products, and the convenience afforded. Imagine if the appliance has to be taken to the shop.

Ten Money Saving Tips – Read This Before You Buy

Here are some handy tips to consider if you really want to save money on your next appliance purchase:

1. Buy Last Year’s Model
If you don’t mind owning last year’s model, you can shave hundreds of dollars off of your appliance purchase. Best time to shop: September and October when stores are under pressure to clear space for the new arrivals.

2. Shop the Scratch and Dents
A small scratch or dent could become your best friend if you’re on a tight budget. Ask the sales associate if they have any damaged appliances for sale. Then, survey the damaged models to decide what you are willing to live with – even the smallest blemish can net big savings.

3. Buy What You Need
Have you ever noticed how the most expensive appliance models are typically the first that you come to in the store? No coincidence, I assure you. To keep yourself from falling for the latest bells and whistles, make a list of what you need before you venture into the stores. Then, buy the cheapest model that meets those needs. Just remember: that refrigerator with the built-in TV isn’t going to keep your food any colder.

4. Do a Trade-In
It’s no secret that trading in your car can save you money on a new car purchase, but did you know that you can sometimes do the same thing with your appliances? Check with appliance dealers in your area to see if any accept trade-ins. Then, find out how much your current appliance is worth. It could just be your ticket to a bargain.

5. Shop the Sales
Find something you like, but not thrilled with the price? Ask a sales associate when your pick is scheduled to go on sale. Waiting a week or two could be all it takes to reduce your purchase price by 25%. September and October are the best months to make major purchases but the second-best time is during the holidays. Merchants offer deep discounts at Christmas, when consumers want to spiff up their homes for the holidays. Also keep an eye out for sales on the less-celebrated weekends, like Memorial Day, Mother’s Day and Labor Day.

6. Look for a Package Deal
Need a washer and dryer or all new appliances for your kitchen? If so, an appliance package could be your biggest source of savings. Retailers frequently bundle appliances to boost sales, and these packages can offer significant savings over the price of purchasing each item individually.

7. Buy a Floor Model
Do you mind if your new appliance comes without a box? If not, consider purchasing a floor model. You’ll enjoy the same warranty that you’d get with a new-in-box item, without the new-in-box price. Sacrifice a little cardboard and save a lot.


8. Shop Box Stores

Shopping warehouse and box stores can be hit or miss. Sometimes you get a great deal and other times you may pay more. When it comes to appliances, however, you may be surprised at the bargains you can find. Such stores don’t usually honor price matches so what you see is what you get. Before hitting these cut-rate stores, research prices and quality online.

9. Avoid Rentals
It’s tempting to pay just $20 a week for a new refrigerator, but the interest you’ll pay for a rent-to-own appliance means you end up paying much more than the purchase price. These retailers thrive on consumers who pay the minimum amount each month or end up reneging on payments and losing the appliance.

10. Surf Craigslist
Keep an eye on the appliances section for low prices on brand new appliances. Dealers sometimes advertise their overstocks on Craigslist. Look for “dealer” notations to know if you’re working with a store and not a private seller. Realtors and remodeling contractors also offer new or nearly new appliances. You’ll likely have to manage your own delivery and installation, however.

Credit to about.com and couponshepa.com

Rating the Latest Appliances – JD Powers Results

The 2010 Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study and 2010 Kitchen Appliance Satisfaction Study from J.D. Power and Associates found that awareness of Energy Star certified appliances has increased among U.S. owners of new appliances since 2009 and so has the percentage who purchased an Energy Star appliance.

According to appliancemagazine.com, 86% of 2010 dishwasher buyers reported buying an Energy Star certified appliance, for an increase of 5% from 2009 and a 9% increase from 2008.

Satisfaction with appliance performance is strongly influenced by the owner’s perception of the appliance’s water and/or energy efficiency, the study found. Customers who report that their appliance is Energy Star certified are more likely to be more satisfied with their appliance than customers who do not indicate that their appliance is certified.

The Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study measured customer satisfaction with clothes washers and dryers based on performance in six factors:


• ease of use
• features (such as the number of settings available and appliance capacity)
• performance and reliability (including energy efficiency, noise level, and how well the appliance functions)
• styling and feel
• warranty
• price

CLOTHES WASHERS: Samsung ranked highest for the second year in a row when it came to satisfying clothes washer owners, with a score of 832 on a 1000-point scale. Samsung performed particularly well in four of six factors:

• performance and reliability
• ease of use
• features
• styling

Other brands that broke the 800-point mark in the clothes washer rankings included:

• Kenmore Elite (817 points)
• Electrolux (816)
• LG (811)
• Maytag Epic (802)

CLOTHES DRYERS: Samsung scored 833 and was No. 1 in the clothes dryer rankings – the third consecutive year it’s been in the top spot. J.D. Power reported that Samsung did particularly well in four of the six factors:

• performance and reliability
• ease of use
• styling
• features

Only two other brands scored more than 800 points in the study:

• LG (814 points)
• Kenmore Elite (809)

Kitchen Appliances Study
Customer satisfaction was measured based on performance in six factors:

• performance and reliability (including how well the appliance functions, noise level, and energy efficiency)
• features (such as the number of settings available and appliance capacity)
• ease of use
• styling and feel
• price
• warranty

REFRIGERATORS: Samsung – for the sixth year in a row – ranked highest in satisfying refrigerator owners with a score of 803. Samsung performed particularly well in:

• ease of use
• performance and reliability
• features.

Samsung was followed by LG (781 points) and Kenmore Elite (776 points).

DISHWASHERS: Miele ranked highest in customer satisfaction in dishwashers with a score of 806 and performed particularly well in four of the six factors:

• performance and reliability
• styling and feel
• features
• warranty

Bosch also cracked the 800-point mark, scoring 801 points.

COOKTOPS/RANGES/OVENS:
Wolf ranked No. 1 in cooking appliances with a score of 812, and performed particularly well in five of six factors:

• ease of use
• performance and reliability
• styling and feel
• features
• warranty

Samsung ran a close second in this category, with a score of 809, and was the only other appliance brand to top the 800-point threshold.

The Studies

The 2010 Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study was based on responses from more than 5100 consumers who purchased clothes washers and more than 5100 consumers who purchased clothes dryers from a retail store or received one through other means (such as a new-home builder or a gift) during the past 24 months. The study was fielded between March and April 2010.

Tipping Stoves – A Real Danger to Children

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has launched an investigation into the recent death of a toddler crushed by a stove. This horrific accident is not as unusual as we would like to believe.

Since 1980, there have been 34 deaths. In just the past five years, there have been more than 1,600 appliance-related injuries having to do with instability and tip-over.

My News3 put four year old Clementina Gonzales to the test. She was easily able to move the stove off a wall, and she only weighs 40 pounds.

The stove we tested was not mounted to the wall, which was likely the case in the incident over the weekend when a stove toppled over onto a 17 month old boy, killing him. Police say it happened when the boy’s father stepped away to pack a travel bag. He was only gone a few minutes.

Appliance specialist Richard Rodriguez showed us how an L-shaped bracket can prevent a stove from tipping over.

“On every gas or electric range, this is called the anti-dip tip device. Like it says, it keeps the range from tipping over. They’ll put this in backwards toward the wall and then they’ll slide the range in, onto it, and screw it down.”

Since 1991, industry standards have required that stoves come with the brackets. Instructions on how to install them are on the first page of most owner’s manuals. So far, there are no federal regulations requiring the brackets.

Clementina’s father says he did not get a bracket with his stove.

“…we just purchased it not too long ago and pretty much just hooked up the gas line to it and scooted it into place and that’s it,” said Joe Gonzalez.

Big hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s do not sell these brackets separately, but we did locate some with a Google search. You might be able to find one at an appliance part store. You may also contact your stove manufacturer and order one directly.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission just published an evaluation on stove stability. It found static weight between 40 and 50 pounds at the edge of an oven door was enough to tip all ranges tested forward.

The bottom line is that a slide-in range is a danger without being bracketed into the wall. I would suggest that those brackets be bolted into the wall stud.

A quick check behind the range will tell you if you have the brackets already installed:

A simple, inexpensive, lifesaving addition to installation.