November 1, 2014

Jenn-Air to Move to Sears From Lowes and Home Depot

According to an article at Remodel.net, Sears will become the sole national retailer of Jenn-Air appliances after the new year, supplanting existing distribution deals between the super-premium Whirlpool brand and Lowe’s and The Home Depot.

Sears, the nation’s No. 1 appliance retailer, said it will introduce 17 Jenn-Air refrigerators, dishwashers and cooking products by mid-month at 255 of its largest stores. Jenn-Air will continue to be available to independent dealers and regional chains.

This presents Sears with a prestige kitchen collection just as consumers begin planning their holiday entertaining.

Price points for the luxury line run as high as nearly $10,000 for some built-in refrigerator models.

Sears has recently beefed up its high-margin premium portfolio with the addition of Bosch appliances and the expansion of its private-label Kenmore Elite collection.

“Sears continues to listen to our customers who have voiced their desire for a super-premium line,” said Sears’ home appliances president Doug Moore. “Our relationship with Jenn-Air to carry its luxury line of kitchen appliances is another great example of how we continue to enhance our brand offerings.”

GE’s Appliances for Smaller Homes

One outcome of the declining real estate market has been a move to building and offering smaller homes. It was a trend that had been suspected but earlier this year the statistics were announced that back it up. The average size of homes started in the third quarter of 2008 was 2,438 square feet, down from 2,629 square feet in the second quarter, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.1

Many consumers are looking for smaller digs for a variety of reasons. Some have made a philosophical shift considering a move to a smaller living space less of a down-sizing and more of a right-sizing decision. They choose to use less of the earth’s resources.

Others have made the switch for demographic reasons:

  • The 80 million-strong Generation Y, the so-called “millennials,” want to live in exciting urban settings, are interested in value engineering, and consider smaller living spaces acceptable.2 Urban lofts are hits in cities less populated than New York City or San Francisco– including Louisville, Kentucky; Des Moines, Iowa; and Spokane, Washington, to name just a few.
  • Aging baby boomers are selling their larger homes and trading them for more convenient patio homes, one or two bedroom homes or condos in communities where shared fees pay for property and landscape maintenance.

“Regardless of why a consumer decides to live in a smaller space, there is no reason to lose upscale features in the furnishings within that space – especially appliances,” noted Marc Hottenroth, Industrial Design Leader for GE Consumer & Industrial.

“Both GE Profile™ and Monogram® lines also offer selections that are perfect for the empty-nester who is moving to a smaller home or condo,” said Hottenroth. Monogram was the first GE product line to introduce undercounter refrigerator modules including wine reserve, double drawer refrigerator, beverage centers, fresh food refrigerator or bar refrigerator with ice maker. In addition Monogram offers a slim 18-inch wide dishwasher with stainless steel door or personalized with customer-supplied cabinet-compatible panel. Both models provide effective, yet quiet cleaning power with a five-level wash system and hidden, integrated electronic. The new Monogram 30-inch chimney hoods with sophisticated bold angles and lines, all hand-finished to seamless perfection, provide powerful venting and a striking focal point that elevates small-scale kitchens into grand statements.

Choose the Profile single double oven wall oven or free-standing range, and, in the same space occupied by a standard free-standing range or wall oven, consumers can have 6.6 cu. ft. of combined oven space. The two ovens can be operated at two different temperatures — up to 450 degrees. That’s twice as much cooking for the same amount of space.

Appliances – Luxury or Necessity?

Americans are changing their view of which appliances are truly necessary. According to the Pew Research Center, many of our past favorites are losing their hold on our pocketbooks.

A microwave oven, a television set or even home air conditioning is no longer considered a necessity. Instead, nearly half or more now see each of these items as a luxury, the report found. Similarly, the proportion that considers a dishwasher or a clothes dryer to be essential has dropped sharply since 2006.

The study also found these recession-era reevaluations are all the more striking because the public’s luxury-versus-necessity perceptual boundaries had been moving in the other direction for the previous decade.

For example, the share of adults who consider a microwave a necessity was just 32% in 1996. By 2006, it had shot up to 68%. But it has now retreated to 47%. Similarly, just 52% of the public in the latest poll say a television set is a necessity — down 12 percentage points from 2006 and the smallest share to call a TV a necessity since this question was first asked more than 35 years ago. Most surprising to me is the change in response to the clothes dryer — down 17 percentage points since 1996.

Will GE’s Appliances Suffer Under a New Owner?

By now, GE’s upcoming sale of their popular appliance division is common knowledge and many people are wondering what will become of one of the most popular brands in the US when it is sold.  GE appliances rank highly with sources such as Consumer Reports.  When news that GE was considering a sale of the appliance arm, the magazine reported how various GE appliances stacked up against rivals. Most did pretty well.   GE had many highly rated (though a few poorly rated, including a ‘not acceptable’ in upright freezers ) models in many product categories and across price points.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s Deal Journal, for the most part, those considered to be potential bidders for the GE business–Sweden’s Electrolux, LG Electronics, BSH Bosch & Siemens Hausgerate of Germany, to name a few–match that. The outlier? Haier. Haier’s Genesis is No. 22, or fourth from the bottom in the rankings of top-loading washing machines and dead last in both large countertop microwave ovens (No. 15) and side-by-side refrigerators (No. 34).

The obvious question? Would a Haier-GE combination lead to an improvement in Haier’s own brand or would it pull down the reputation of the GE brand? Unfortunately, the question isn’t, well, academic. The folks at consumer-satisfaction surveyer J.D. Power & Associates said studying whether or how an acquisition of a high-quality brand by a lower-quality brand affected either brand would be nearly impossible, since it would be difficult to identify what was an effect of the deal or integration as compared with the myriad other issues that affect quality, like design, manufacturing, parts/raw materials.

Of course, Haier has has been down this road before, coming close to but ultimately failing to acquire another well-regarded U.S. brand, Maytag, in 2005. Then Haier’s plan was said to follow the Lenovo way, referring to the Chinese PC maker’s slow conversion of IBM Thinkpads to the Lenovo brand after it acquired the Big Blue business. For its part, Haier declines to confirm whether it was indeed bidding for the GE business or comment on how it would handle the integration should it comsumate a deal.

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Her Magic Bullet- Infomercials

I think infomercials are unbearably annoying, but somehow I find myself pausing on the way to my show of the moment to see the latest gadget being hawked.  Sarah Aycock at Louisiana State University has discovered that she is drawn to appliance infomercials.

You flip to your favorite channel, but instead of the familiar lineup, there’s a friendly woman reminiscent of your mother, grandmother or aunt with neatly manicured nails and a kitchen full of the same peculiar appliance.

Suddenly you find yourself sucked in to this infomercial, watching this woman make steak roll-ups, garlic bread and strawberry shortcake with ease in this magical appliance. It’s complete with dual cooking chambers and a sleek, compact design that would fit in any kitchen.

You begin to think, “Hey, I really could use this. The kitchen in my apartment is really small, and this could come in handy. I would make these breakfast sandwiches in the morning, and for dinner it would be so simple to make a stuffed chicken breast.”
 am proud to admit that I get a huge amount of pleasure from watching infomercials. Sometimes, if the infomercial is a really good one, I’ll watch it instead of regular television.

And I’m not alone. Many people share my view that infomercials are the comfort food of the television world.

When I saw that the Magic Bullet – yes, the personal, versatile countertop magician – had come out with a brand new infomercial, I rushed to call two friends, and they were both as excited as I was to find that chain-smoking Hazel and grumpy Berman, two characters from the original infomercial, had returned and were joined by Tina, who may or may not be a recovering alcoholic, and Betty, who loves garlic.

All infomercial fans seem to have their favorite genre. I’ll watch anything hawking a kitchen appliance, but many people prefer beauty products, workout equipment or music compilations.

And these fans can watch the same infomercials again and again, never purchasing a single product. Viewers keep tuning in to see the overzealous hosts, the delicious food or the compelling demonstrations. Something about the infomercials draws them in. But they can’t exactly explain why.

Some viewers eventually succumb to the pleadings of the hosts and invest in the product they’ve been secretly wanting for months. I’ve personally fallen prey twice. I am the proud owner of the Magic Bullet and the Bare Minerals makeup kit.

Basic Appliance Care and Safety

If you are lucky, you rarely need to pay much attention to the appliances that run, some of them 24 hours a day, in your home. But to keep everything trouble free, it’s good to follow some basic guidelines for care and safety when using or installing appliances in your home. Handymanclub.com offers some simples steps for use with your washer, dryer, refrigerator, ranges, cooktops, even your water heater.

Ventilation and combustion (dryers, water heaters, ranges and cooktops)
• Clean the clothes dryer’s lint filter before or after each load. Check behind the dryer for trapped lint. Clear lint from the exterior vent often. Lint buildup results in inefficiency and excessive wear and can even pose a fire hazard. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an estimated 15,500 fires each year are associated with clothes dryers.
• Use only metal ducting for gas dryers because they run hotter than electric machines. Rigid rather than accordion-pleated ducting is best for airflow.
• Never vent clothes dryers or water heaters into the house to supplement heating.

Plumbing (washers, refrigerators and water heaters)
• To prevent leaky or bursting waterlines, check washing machine hoses for signs of wear. Consider replacing rubber hoses with newer braided stainless steel hoses.
• Check the screens at either end of the water hoses and remove sediment that may have collected there. This is especially important after road construction or water-main work has been done in your area.
• Periodically check that the washing machine is soundly footed and level so the hoses and the drain hose do not come loose.
• If a dishwasher’s tub doesn’t empty after operation, detach the drain line from the household drain and clean any debris from the line.

Gas (dryers, ranges and water heaters)
• Never use an oven as a room heater — combustion pollutants resulting from fuel-burning appliances can cause illness or death. Have gas appliances serviced periodically to ensure they burn with the proper mix of air and fuel.
• Be sure all vented appliances are checked for backdrafting. (This is one reason that it’s important for a city building official to inspect newly installed vented appliances.)

Electric
• Diehard DIYers may bristle at this warning from the CPSC — nonetheless, it’s a lifesaver. Never attempt to repair a microwave oven — because they use high-voltage power, they can pose a risk of electrical shock even after they are disconnected from the power source.
• Use dedicated circuits for large appliances such as washers and dryers.
• Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces.

Appliance Design Magazine’s Excellence in Design Winners Announced

Appliance Design magazine has announced the winners of its 21st Annual Excellence in Design competition.

Entrants were evaluated by an independent panel of three experts in the field of design. The products were judged by four criteria: aesthetics, human factors, innovation, and technical merits.

Products were entered into one of several categories. The winning entries, listed by category below, received recognition at one of three levels: Gold, Silver, or Bronze.

The Gold winners are listed below.  Note that three of our favorites here at Appliance.net are listed as Gold winners:

Electronics: Tatung VOIP Phone

Major Appliances/HVAC: Bosch Nexxt Laundry – Our Pick

Major Appliances/HVAC: Bosch Integra Dishwashers – OurPick

Major Appliances/HVAC: Indesit Moon Washer

Major Appliances/HVAC: KitchenAid Architect Series II Built-in Double Oven

Medical/Test Equipment: Gendex expert DC Intraoral X-Ray System

Medical/Test Equipment: Heath Decto-Pack Infrared Gas Detector

Medical/Test Equipment: Reichert TONO-PEN AVIA Applanation Tonometer

Outdoor/Leisure Appliances: Life Fitness X7 Electronic Adjustable Stride Cross Trainer

Small Appliances: One Touch Automatic Jar Opener -Reviewed here

You can see all the winners listed here.

Appliance Ferris Wheel

I just came across the site www.halfbakery.com, which as the name suggests, is a site where people can share and discuss their half-baked ideas. One I particularly liked is for an appliance ferris wheel that stores small appliances under the counter and brings them up to be used at the touch of a button.

The main body of the device (and most of the appliances) remains hidden under the worktop. Ok, I’ll have to sacrifice some cupboard space, but chances are that the space was being taken up by the long-forgotten appliances anyway.

Press the ‘Forward’ or ‘Back’ button on the worktop, and the wheel whirs into motion, only stopping when you take your finger off the button.

Fresh coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and some freshly baked bread, anyone?

There was some follow-up discussion about the cords getting tangled as the wheel turned, but I just figured the appliances would remain unplugged with coiled cords until needed.

Let’s see, mine would have the coffeemaker, toaster, mixer, food processor, blender, bread machine… it’s going to have to be a big wheel.