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Need advice on appliances for renovation

  • j

Our kitchen is bare to the studs; I guess it's time I decide on the appliances. I've been searching the Internet for independent advice but most of the sites are 'sponsored'...I'd love to have some real-world advice on the confusing choices available. I'm struggling with balancing looks/features/reliability/cost:
- refrigerator, settled on a 36" counter-depth french-door bottom freezer. KitchenAids were well-rated by CR but saw some posts that they're noisy...love the looks of the Jenn-Air but read they're less reliable and repairs can be difficult. What's worked for you?
- DW, don't need anything too fancy but would like it to be quiet with a flexible interior. Read Bosch and KitchenAid are recommended but Braun is quiet and Miele is super quiet. Are they equally reliable?
- putting a 4-burner drop-in gas cooktop in an island; wanted to use a downdraft vent but just today read the they're REALLY noisy and can adversely affect the flames. Then read some are happy with a compromise (and the absence of a large hood) of using a downdraft vent with multiple speeds--are there also some strategies of moving the blower further away?

I've read the Vikings have strong BTU levels but may be less reliable. Does anyone like the Wolf line? Jenn-Air? Are some downdraft vents better than others? Should I stop resisting getting a hood?

- will use a wall oven/MW combo (30", electric). Any favorites out there?

Thanks in advance for taking the time to comment.


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  1. I have/had GE Monogram 5 burner gas cooktop with down draft, until it shattered (tempered glass) on 12/31. Still trying out what we are going to do about it. My cabinetry is all custom made. Many delimmas. I am not in a position to change my countertops or do another kitchen overhaul. The down draft has been pretty ineffective but to remove it would mean the new countertop which is not in the budget. GE sells replacement galss but for a 16 year old cook top is it worth having an appliance repair person take it apart and put it back together again. I am thinking after 16 years the oven may be next and the fridge is one I have always hated and it is beginning to go too. The problem I am facing is fnding replacements that fit the cabinetry that is already there and not having to have it reworked.

    1. The Bosch DW is a great choice. I have the basic 3 cycle with controls up top. Cleans every time and so quietly too.

      I'd like to get a regular Jenn-Air gas stove but have not heard much response to my own enquiry on this board...with the exception of all those who say to stay away from their downdraft model.

      Don't do the MW/hood if you are serious about cooking. You want a real hood with at least 600 CFM rating.

      1. I haven't had any problems with my jenn-air french door frige. It looks great, like a sub zero at half the cost. You should try it in person though because the twin doors use a somewhat clunky closure to maintain the seal. Also, the water dispenser is in a weird location on the inside left wall.

        I also have a Thermador professional series slide in range which works great. And I also agree that if you're doing serious cooking, especially with a higher BTU stove, you should get an overhead range hood that vents to the outside. I like vent-a-hood because you could take the fan apart and clean it yourself in the dishwasher.

        1. I think all in all the refrigerator and the freezer makes or breaks the kitchen. For me, those would be only household models as a last resort. Go to something with some commercial performance, as home units no longer chills the mustard.

          A friend has one of those French Door refrigerators and it is a serviceman's nightmare. Door alignment problems and the inability to remain in the safe zone (36-40 degrees) are big issues.

          They otherwise have a nice kitchen but are forced to eat out when nothing is fit to cook.

          I hope you follow me for not going any further.

          1. I've haunted GardenWeb forums for years. Check out the appliance forum and maybe post there. ths.gardenweb.com

            Yes, ths.gardenweb.com. It's odd....but great advice!

            1. I bought a Bosch dishwasher about 8 months ago because the GE dishwasher that came with my new home was absolutely worthless and did not have a stainless steel interior. I could not be happier with my choice. It is so quiet, you have to look at it to make sure it's on. Also, it uses a minimal amount of soap and there are no waterspots on glassware or eating utensils. I would definitely recommend a Bosch to anyone. I am not familiar with Miele, but I think they are probably similar.

              1. JHZ, First of all, do not pay retail for any of your kitchen appliances:
                1: Select a dealer that carries the brands you have finally selected.
                2. Meet with the owner him/herself. Tell them you want a package price. (If you're smart, you'll make two or three trips and meetings with the owner. What you want to create is seller's remorse--not buyer's remorse.)
                Given that, we settled on KitchenAid dishwasher & refrigerator (love them). Dacor ovens and cooktop--love those too. Broan Best Rangehood (I don't recommend down draft venting for gas; they do mess with the burners/flames.) The Dacor Microwave is amazing. It will will defrost perfectly to room temperature without steaming or cooking something in the process.
                Make sure you have plenty of under-counter lighting and use power strips instead of individual outlets.
                If your kitchen is bare to the studs and you're still speaking the process is going well. Enjoy your new kitchen!

                1. I like KitchenAid dishwashers for their reliability. I got a high-end model about 5 years ago -- stainless steel interior and quiet. I love my Viking range -- four burners, dual-fuel oven, self-cleaning. My Magic Chef side-by-side refrig is nothing special, but it's not new anymore either. If you are replumbing, I would suggest you look into an on-demand water heater. Takes up little space (wall-mounted). Provides endless supply of hot water, but doesn't waste gas by heating 40 or 50 gallons whether or not anyone is using it -- or even whether or not anyone is at home. One of our best and most energy-efficient investments ever.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ClaireWalter

                    ClaireWalter, do you live in the Northeast? We considered an On-Demand Water Heater, but rejected it because we were afraid you had to get one of the biggest ones in order to get the temp you want in the winter at a flow rate like we would use at times (and then you couldn't run it at a low flow because it would shut off). And the cost of purchase + installation + the special venting required in Mass. would make the savings in gas not pay off for at least ten years.

                  2. Downdraft vents simply don't work. If you need serious ventilation (e.g. you do serious meat sauteing/frying that generates smoke) you need overhead venting. 600 cfm at least, better more. Vent-a-hood is the best.

                    Bluestar cooktop/range is better than the brands you mentioned, if you are truly interested in performance not looks/brand.

                    Don't agree with obsessing over the frig. A cold box is a cold box. The performance among brands is not clearly that different. Also, just about everybody sells boxes made by others anyway, so you need to do some research to see who really makes the one you are thinking about buying. For example, at least as of six months ago essentially all the french door models were made by Amana, which was owned by Maytag anyway, and which I think is now owned by Whirlpool, which also owns Kitchenaid and now Jenn-Air which was also owned by Maytag. I may not be correct in all details, but you get the picture. LG did make a french door model too.

                    Advice above to go to Garden Web is good, but you could spend days digging through it. Also, you will find every possible opinion about every possible piece of equipment, so what good is it? You can drive yourself nuts. In the end, you really do have to face the fact that you must close your eyes and just buy something. They all do the job one way or another. Main thing is to decide what level you need and can afford. Then pick a brand and move on. Bluestar is the main exception--it really is better, due to the flame pattern, based on commercial Garland.

                    1. I suggest that you check out the Whirlpool Outlet Store on EBay. We were able to purchase a Stainless Steel fronted electric convection oven for $634 delivered which was about half of what it could have been. The Outlets sell Whirlpool overstocks, so typically, its last year's model. The stock varies and you may not be able to find exactly what you want but its worth checking.

                      I decided against a Blue Star stove and got a induction cooktop from Sears instead. My rationale was that the Blue Star would have required a new gas line and a much more robust exhaust hood since it gives off so much heat. The induction cooktop is fast, hot and doesn't heat up the room. One needs to have induction capable cookware, but that's not much of a problem.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ericruo

                        Induction is also much more energy-efficient than gas or conventional electric.

                      2. We did a complete remodel last year and I spent a year or two researching prior to that. Everything is very high end and expensive but I am really happy with the choices I made. Here's what we ended up with:
                        Wolf: double wall oven, 4 burner rangetop w/ griddle, warming drawer
                        Sub Zero: side by side 48 inch fridge/freezer and wine fridge with 2 refrigeration drawers underneath
                        Dishwahers- 2 Miele-- one on the island, next to the prep sink, one next to the main sink. My mieles are very quiet but the only thing we put into this house when we moved in was a new dishwasher-- a KA top of the line and it was great. I have no complaints and was planning on putting into the island of the new kitchen but my "kitchen designer" insisted it wouldn't look right so they sold me their floor model that they were abotu to replace. But, if you are near LA, I have a barely used KA that is probably still under warranty sitting in my garage that I should probably find a loving home for.

                        I went with wolf/subzero because all the people I spoke to here in los angeles said Sub Zero was the only way to go for refrigeration. BUT, the freezer is too small and I have an extra fridge/freezer in my garage. I LOVE my refrigertation drawers. I have 3 little ones and keep ALL DRINKS in the fridge drawers. my mom has a 17yo sub zero that is still going fine and sub zero has stood behind thier product when she has had problems.

                        I have a GE spacemaker microwave. I don't use it much but it is fine.

                        I was also told by every applaince dealer I visited that a downdraft was not the way to go on an island and we wound up putting our cooktop against the wall instead.

                        1. Thanks everyone!

                          I appreciate everyone's comments, thanks for taking the time; I feel I have enough perspective now to equip the kitchen. We've decided to archive our progress--take a look at out kitchencam at http://reno.riotsystems.com.

                          thanks again!


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jhz

                            My neighbor selected Jenn-Aire for her entire kitchen which was re-built after a house fire. She had horrible luck with all appliances and recommended that I avoid same. This was four years ago. Hopefully they have improved. Best of Luck with your project. Ours is just beginning.

                            P.S. We love our bosch d/w...very good value,as well.