August 1, 2014

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

LG Electronics Debuts New Four Door French-Door Refrigerator

LG’s new four-door refrigerator, with an ultra-large capacity of nearly 28 cubic feet, is among the largest in the industry. This LG model offers the most refrigerator shelf space available, even more than refrigerators with a larger claimed capacity. The refrigerator compartment can accommodate up to 47 gallons of milk and provides ample space for the entire family’s favorite foods, as well as keeps them conveniently organized and within reach.

Innovations such as the Slim SpacePlus Ice System allow for more shelf space providing greater organization and access for consumers. This innovation moves the icemaker from the top shelf of the refrigerator to the door, which is compact enough to also include door bin shelves, allowing for maximum refrigerator shelf space.

Additional convenience features of this four-door model include two bottom freezer drawers. With these two separate freezer drawers, consumers have easy, organized access to the things they need often—and an ample lower compartment that is perfect for larger items or longer-term storage.

The refrigerator’s upgraded Four Compartment Crisper System is designed to help keep fresh foods organized and ensure every fruit, vegetable and soda has its place. With three top drawers – two of which are humidity-controlled – and a fourth Glide N’ Serve drawer below, there is greater organization and easier access. The extra tall ice and water dispensing center, measures 12.6 inches, among the tallest in the industry. A slide-out pitcher rest makes filling uniquely shaped and assorted sized pitchers and glasses easy, including coffee pots and sports bottles.

LG’s Four-Door French-Door Refrigerator Evolution…Converta Drawer

With this latest model, LG has transformed the concept of the four-door refrigerator with a unique Converta Freezer Drawer, which allows the top freezer drawer to be used as extra refrigerator space if needed. This delivers new flexibility options previously unavailable to consumers, and is especially helpful for entertaining at home when extra space is often desired. Additionally, this drawer can operate at numerous temperatures, including at a “soft freeze” setting to safely thaw meat and poultry. With the Converta drawer set to refrigerator mode, this model can accommodate up to 53 gallons of milk, nearly 13 percent more than the already-spacious refrigerator section alone. This is more fresh-food storage space than any other freestanding French-door refrigerator on the market.

In addition to the convenience of Converta Drawer, this refrigerator includes an auto open/close freezer drawer option. This enables users to automatically open and close the bottom freezer drawers with the touch of a button, making it easier to access food items or unload groceries. The drawers also have an assisted open/close function; a slight push or pull on the drawer will prompt it to open/close by itself. A Safety Interruption feature stops automatic closing if a child’s hand or any obstacles are in the way.

Stainless Steel Never Looked So Green…Linear Compressor Technology

To achieve maximum efficiency, LG redesigned the refrigerator’s compressor, the element that uses the most energy. Typically, the refrigerator’s compressor is either running at full capacity or off completely; however, LG’s Linear Compressor can vary output depending on need, saving eight to 17 percent in energy usage compared to previous models with conventional compressors. This technology leads to fewer temperature swings, which means consumers use less energy and spend less money. LG’s Energy Star rated refrigerator is 20 percent more efficient than the minimum federal standard. The compressor is backed with a 10-year warranty, so consumers can be confident their home will be environmentally friendly for years to come.

LG’s new French-door refrigerator (Model: LMX28994) is available at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $3,299.

Recall: Fagor America Inc.Refrigerators Due to Fire Hazard

Name of Product: Fagor Refrigerators

Units: About 1,400

Importer: Fagor America Inc., of Lyndhurst, N.J.

Hazard: The refrigerator’s control board can overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Fagor America has received 19 reports of incidents, including two reports of fires resulting in damage to the refrigerator and surrounding property. No injuries have been reported.

Description: This recall involves Fagor 24-inch wide refrigerators sold in stainless steel and black. “Fagor” is printed on the refrigerator’s front door. Model and serial numbers are located inside the refrigerator door, on the left hand side near the food storage drawers.

Model: Fagor T/3FCA-68NFX — Serial numbers starting with 0609xxxxx through 0727xxxxx
Model: 3FCA-68NFX — Serial numbers starting with 0746xxxxx through 1017xxxxx
Model: FCA-86ART — Serial numbers starting with 0839xxxxx through 0915xxxxx

Sold at: Specialty Home Appliance Stores nationwide between July 2006 and May 2010 for between $2,000 and $2,500.

Manufactured in: Spain

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the refrigerator, unplug it and contact the Fagor repair hotline to schedule a free inspection and repair.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Fagor America at (888) 354-4411 between 8.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at www.fagoramerica.com

Haier’s New Under-Counter Dual Drawer Fridge

Haier America has introduced a line of built-in dual drawer refrigerators that were designed with today’s integrated kitchens in mind.

Available in stainless steel, white and black finishes, the units have two refrigeration drawers with a total of 5.4 cubic feet of capacity and an easy-to-clean electronic temperature touch-control panel. In addition, the drawers’ divider system easily adjusts with one hand to securely hold different-sized items such as fruits and vegetables, cheeses and beverages.

The dual drawer series also features side installation brackets that allow the units to be easily secured to the sides of kitchen cabinets without having to drill upward into expensive stone or solid-surfacing countertops.

“Haier understands the customer’s needs and we provide premium features and benefits which empower consumers to live a modern, affordable and sustainable lifestyle” said Matt Sekelick, the company’s major appliances senior brand management VP.

Other product features include quiet 47dB operation and deep drawers that can hold items up to 12.1-inches tall. Manufacturer suggested retails are $999 for the smooth white and smooth black models, and $1,399 for the stainless-steel finish.

GE’s Plans to Help You Manage Your Energy Use

GE Appliances & Lighting created the Home Energy Management (HEM) business, intending to be the first major appliance company to provide a whole-home solution for energy management.

When synchronized with the local utility company’s home smart-meter, coming into popular use, the HEM acts as the “central nervous system” for monitoring resource usage and controlling energy consumption within the home. The HEM, with the ability to collect data on multiple appliances, provides both real-time and long-term trend information on power and resource consumption and solar generation to the homeowners.

GE’s new Home Energy Manager (HEM) monitors all networked appliances which can include the refrigerator, range, dishwasher, washer and dryer, water heater, and will track all other home energy consumption including microwaves and televisions.

One of the primary goals of U.S. smart grid initiatives is to better use the energy production capacity the country already has. Home energy consumption efficiency can increase significantly when homeowners the option to participate in time-of-use pricing programs, which reward homeowners for lowering their consumption during periods of peak energy demand (usually 2-7 PM).

Simply providing consumers with energy consumption information motivates energy savings. A U.S. Department of Energy study showed that providing real-time pricing information to consumers via a smart meter helped reduce electricity costs 10% on average and 15% during peak periods.

“Knowing what is consuming electricity, and how much electricity that appliances are consuming, can be very empowering,” states Dave McCalpin, general manager of the new HEM business. “People will be able to make smarter choices if they have information. The once-a-month electrical bill provides no insight into your usage habits. We intend to change that.”

HEM’s design is targeted to include:

* Demand Response Integration, supporting communication standards Zigbee SEP 1.0, to enable demand response communication between a utility’s home smart meter and appliances on the home network, enabling real-time load shedding of networked appliances;
* Five-Day Weather Forecasts on Internet-enabled installations (communications supporting Ethernet, Wifi, and Zigbee SEP 1.0 standards);
* Electricity Usage Data Monitoring for the whole home for both short and long terms;
* Power Sub Metering for each GE demand response-enabled appliance;
* Solar Generation Monitoring of inverter output, including short- and long-term data where available;
* Water Usage Monitoring via household-wide data monitoring at 1-gallon resolution;
* Smart Thermostat Interface with full-featured seven-day programmable communicating thermostats that accepts demand response temperature offsets.

Energy Standards for Refrigerators Upgraded

Advocacy groups and appliance manufacturers hailed a 25 percent increase in energy efficiency for most new refrigerators, starting in 2014, thanks to new efficiency standards that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today, continuing a 40‐year trend of improving energy efficiency for this essential home appliance.

The groups said the new standards are the first step in the department’s implementation of the
recommendations they proposed to DOE in July for new minimum efficiency standards, tax credits and ENERGY STAR incentives for smart appliances affecting six major categories of home appliances.

According to the proposed rule, a typical new 20‐cubic‐foot refrigerator with the freezer on top would use about 390 kilowatt hours (kwh) per year, down from about 900 kwh/year in 1990 and about 1,700 kwh/year in the early 1970s. On a national basis, the new standards would, over 30 years, save 4.5 quads of energy, or roughly enough to meet the total energy needs of one‐fifth of all U.S. households for a year. Over the same period, the standards will save consumers about $18.5 billion. DOE will finalize the standards by year’s end, and they take effect in 2014.

“This big step forward for refrigerator efficiency proves that the well of innovation leading to energy savings is very, very deep,” said David B. Goldstein, energy program director for the Natural Resource Defense Council and winner of a MacArthur Prize for his work on refrigerator efficiency. “These standards pave the way for manufacturer investments in a next generation of products that demonstrate ever‐increasing energy and cost savings.”

Based on the July agreement, home appliance manufacturers and efficiency, environmental and consumer advocates have agreed to jointly pursue with Congress and the administration new standards for six categories of home appliances (refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers and room air conditioners), a recommendation that ENERGY STAR qualification criteria incorporate credit for Smart Grid capability and a package of targeted tax credits aimed at fostering the market for super‐efficient appliances.

As part of the new refrigerator standards, ice maker energy consumption also will be reflected in product energy‐use ratings, giving consumers a better way to gauge actual energy use when making a choice among refrigerators.

“Even though refrigerators have become much more energy efficient, they still account for about 10 percent of household electricity use,” observed Alliance to Save Energy Vice President for Programs Jeffrey Harris. “With the new standards, consumers will not only save energy, they’ll also have a better picture of total energy use, because the ratings will include automatic ice makers.”

Several prior refrigerator standards, including those put in place in 1993 and 2001, are also the result of joint industry/advocate agreements.

A table showing the percent energy savings achieved by the proposed standards relative to current standards for select categories and the complete press release can be seen at AHAM.org