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Sep 24, 2013 09:22 PM

Appliance guidance

We are remodeling our kitchen (fairly small). Have just moved for the 5th time and this is it. We are doing custom cabinets and would like high quality appliances. However, many of the brands that I thought would be not only of beautiful quality and have tremendous reliability have mixed reviews. I am decided on a 36 Blue Star all gas range but cant decide on the fridge and dishwasher. I am not a name brand snob i want solid well finished and well designed quality. Suggestions appreciated!!

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  1. Your post makes me suspect you wanted somebody to say: "buy dishwasher "x" and fridge "y." But trustworthy answers are rarely that simple any more.

    Might help if we could narrow down your preferences some. Some suggestions for refining your questions:

    First, while waiting for replies here, you might check out the appliances forum on the gardenweb site where there are lots of threads on questions like yours. Here's a link if you have not already been there.

    Second, do you have a budget: the choice of a 36" Blue Star imnplies a sizable budget but maybe you are splurging on the stove? Giving a budget helps narrow choices to discuss.

    Third, if you are reading online reviews for evidence of reliability, you may be getting misled. when you come across poor "reviews" look for patterns in failures but don't be immediately fearful about a brand because there are some complaints. Every brand of appliance in the known universe will have some lemons and some breakdowns. Warranty service these days --- well, it just ain't what it used to be. It is often outsourced to contractors with staff whose competence can be variable. Poor service can and does turn disappointed customers into a truly irate ones. Angry buyers are much more likely to post online than pleased customers. Worse, some positive reviewers can be shills or astro-turfers while some negative reviewers can be trolls.

    Fourth, when you see repeated patterns in the complaints, then there may be cause for concern. (I'm thinking in particular about the several years of problems with self-cleaning ovens in KitchenAid-Whirlpool stoves and LG's continuing problems with their side-by-side fridges).

    Fifth, all that being said, some brands have been more problemmatic than others. When you refer to "brands that I thought would be not only of beautiful quality and have tremendous reliability" are you maybe referring to Viking? To all indications, Viking seems to have had some serious quality control problems that resulted in defect rates higher than in the rest of the industry. It remains to be seen if the acquisition of Viking by Middleby group will improve things on that front. And, even with VIking, there are lots of pleased customers. It may be that, say, 1 in 5 of Viking buyers get a lemon but the other 80% of the customers may be feel they have fine products. Are those acceptable odds for you.

    Sixth, it can be hard to find objective data on reliability rates. Do you have access to Consumer Reports? They annually survey their members for experience on reliability and repairs on appliances. The listings are mostly for major brands (simply because that is where they can get large enough samples for what they feel are statistically valid results).

    Seventh: what kind of refrigerator are you looking for and how much capacity do you want. Are you looking for a built-in? Counter-depth? Side by Side (SxS)? French Door (FD)? Conventional bottom freezer (CBF)? Standard top freezer model? Do you want through-the-door ice and water dispensers? Do you want to avoid ice makers and water dispensers altogether? (Through the door dispensers are troubleprone no matter who makes the fridge.) Do you want/need a smaller fridge (say, a 17 cu. ft. capacity counterdepth model) or very big one (numbers of makers are now offering FD fridges with capacities of as much as 32 cu. ft.) SxS fridges have restricted usable space (despite claimed large capcities) but may be more convenient to use for some people. But SxS friges are significantly less reliable than other kinds of fridges (although most brands have about the same 15% defect rate for SxS fridges, LG's SxS fridges have shown a 22% defect rate in CR's annual surveys.


    Eighth, finding objective testing can be hard. Consumer Reports tests many models and brands, although their reports are somewhat skimpy and use dumbed down graphics. has much more detailed and informative reviews, but they test a very small number of models.