The Appliances: Let's Get Cooking
Updated: Feb 2, 2021
Appliances, Appliances, Appliances
The appliances were a huge pain in the ass to research. There are so many brands, features and such a range in price points. We must have changed our mind 950 times. There are also constantly sales going on so you always feel the need to catch a good sale. And then there's the outlet stores and the scratch and dent stores...warranties are involved. There is a lot to consider. Reading reviews will leave you nearly nowhere because for every stellar review there was an awful one. On Thanksgiving your new oven left your turkey half raw and poisoned your Grandma?! I can't get that oven...so let me run through what we considered.
Brands and Features
Believe it or not, appliances are really trying hard to set themselves apart from one another. You'd think, how many features can an oven really have? Well let me tell you, the marketing departments for these brands got very creative. One day I was sold on an oven that doubled as an air fryer until I learned that any and every convection oven doubles as an air fryer. An air fryer is a small convection oven. Then there are the refrigerators with the little door on the outside that gives you access to the condiments. For whatever reason it seems so cool and state of the art and for an hour or so I was like WE NEED THE SMALL DOOR TO ACCESSS THE CONDIMENTS and then the hype passed and I asked myself what on earth is the point of that? How often am I only using condiments and not needing to get into the whole fridge? And why would opening a smaller door make it any easier than just opening the regular door? Then there was the microwave where you could download an app, scan the barcode of whatever item you're microwaving - broccoli in a bag for example - and the microwave would automatically adjust to the right settings. SO COOL. For about 2 days we thought we had to have that microwave. Until we realized it would probably take less time to just read the bag's instructions and punch the buttons on the microwave. Not to mention that the vast majority of the time we are microwaving food it doesn't come pre-packed anyway. I say all of this to say, try not to get too hung up on cool features that cost a lot of extra money but aren't really that practical. Don't impulse buy appliances or you'll end up with an expensive oven that does what most ovens do, a microwave with an app and a fridge with too many doors.
Appliances come in a surprising amount of colors and finishes but we kept it classic with standard stainless steel. We were very tempted by the black stainless, it's slick and modern but more expensive for the exact same item! We were also warned that if a black stainless appliance gets scratched, it's very obvious because you can see through to the regular stainless color so I used that as a way to talk myself out of paying extra for black stainless.
Let's talk about brands. They tend to all have different reputations. LG and Samsung for example are known to be more trendy and high tech. I believe some of the examples above came from these brands. KitchenAid, Bosch and Cafe by GE are luxury. These brands are expensive and aesthetically pleasing and have more luxurious features. For example, the KitchenAid fridge had a built in wine rack. Some versions of these brands have wood panel interiors...fancy. I am sure there are other high end brands that are so expensive that I haven't even heard of them. Luxury is nice but doesn't necessarily extend the lifespan of the appliance just because it's a "better" brand.
We talked with two different sale reps at two different appliance stores and heard the same thing from both. Whirlpool is the by far the most popular brand and surely you can't go wrong. Their items don't tend to have a lot of bells and whistles but they are reliable. Whirlpool also manufactures Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amanda, and Whirlpool of course. Because of this, you can mix and match these brands and expect the stainless steel to match which won't always be the case if you mix and match other brands. BUT make sure you keep the type of stainless consistent. If you get fingerprint resistant on one, get it on all. Both sales reps also said that traditionally GE is a great brand however they were recently bought out by a new company so they didn't recommend buying new GE appliances until we see how that plays out. They both agreed that Samsung makes some nice products but there is a challenge with servicing their products. Samsung appliance parts tends to be pricey and parts are more difficult to attain which can make it more cost effective to replace instead of service- which is not cost effective!
Prices will vary a lot so we set a budget and stuck to it. With our budget in mind and the information from the sales reps and Mr. Google, we decided we wanted something in the Whirlpool family. Initially we went with a lineup of all whirlpool products but the oven that we wanted had really mediocre to bad reviews. One of the reviews that I could not get past was about the "stainless steel" chipping off the front of it which looked terrible in the photos. I will also warn you that every single electric oven will have bad reviews about the stovetop scratching. Stovetops that are made of glass scratch and it seems like there is no avoiding it. Our stovetop is already scratched but I am not losing sleep over it. I don't believe anyone is going to come into my brand new home and say "Wow, Amy and Reppy did a great job with their renovation except, did you see that awful stovetop? So many scratches...they really effed up with that purchase" I am just not that worried about it. Anyway, the oven had bad reviews so then I resorted to the sister brands. I found that a very similar oven by Maytag for a similar price had awesome reviews so we locked that in. The challenge when mixing brands even in the same family, is that the handles are different. We agree we wanted some uniformity there. As the man who does the dishes in this house (despite me alluding that he doesn't in my past post), Brenton felt very strongly about the dishwasher and he liked the idea of the dishwasher handle matching the Maytag oven handle so Maytag it was. We splurged a little on the dishwasher and I will say was worth it- review below. Now the big dilemma was that fridge! The Maytag fridge not only had bad reviews but we saw it in person and it felt cheap which was odd because the other items from the same line were so nice. The look of it paired with the bad reviews made us go with the Whirlpool fridge which has great reviews. We also were able to get the side by side counter depth version of the fridge with similar but not exactly matching handles so that was that. We then decided since the microwave would be directly above the oven, it should also be Maytag. Despite that very intriguing scan-the-bag microwave we settled for the basic, run of the mill, Maytag microwave.
Now let me get you the good stuff....
And the winner is the 21 cu. ft. Side by Side Refrigerator in Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel, Counter Depth. Now, I KNOW what you are thinking. Why on earth wouldn't you go for the French doors? Contrary to popular opinion, we really prefer a side by side fridge/freezer. We talked extensively about it and do not regret it. Here is why:
I like being able to open the door with one hand and see everything. I can open the door with one hand and reach in with the other. It's that simple. With French doors you need both hands top open both doors and then the doors are flailing around possibly opening up too wide and hitting things. Then you grab something with one hand and have to shut both doors with the other hand and it's annoying. No thanks.
I like the icemaker to be in the freezer only, not taking up valuable refrigerator space (assuming you have an ice and water dispenser on the outside)
I don't like to feel like I'm digging for gold in my freezer. I hate how things get piled up in the freezers that are on the bottom. I prefer the shelving of a side by side.
Now I will say, it's nice to have a wide space for things like casserole dishes in a French door refrigerator. Or for my friends who bake, it's nice to be able to fit a baking sheet in there. For things like this, we have an extra fridge in our garage which I can't recommend enough. We also got a counter depth fridge since our kitchen is small and so the extra space is a game changer. This fridge was actually the original fridge that came with the condo. We saved it since it still worked and since this place was a time capsule from 1991 it's the kind with a freezer on top and refrigerator on the bottom so it has wider space than the side by side. It makes for a great beer fridge as well!
So now that I am done defending our decision to not get a French door refrigerator I will give you my review of our selection. We love it! It's pretty standard to be honest. It keeps food cold, it is easy to organize and we like the ice maker which was important to Brenton. It's easy to take the ice bucket out and dump it into a cooler. It sounds like a trivial thing but Brenton's golf habit calls for a lot of cooler filling. Another nice feature that I didn't know I wanted was the option to dispense a set amount of water that is measured. So I can set the water dispenser to give me 6 cups of water which I use when I make coffee and I don't have to hold down the dispense button the whole time. Some people complained about the noise of the icemaker but I don't find it to be problematic even with our open floor plan. Overall I would recommend to a friend.
The Range/Oven - I never know what it's called
The winner is the 6.4 cu. ft. Electric Range with True Convection in Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel. Now, I REALLY wanted a double oven. So I could roast veggies and bake chicken at the same time- it's legit. I got spoiled by a really nice Samsung double oven at our friends house where we stayed (pre-tornado) during renovations. However the price differential paired with the fact that this is not our forever home made me settle for the single oven.
That feature aside, I am super happy with this oven. It seems to bake according to recipe recommendations, it's easy to use, it has the convection oven we wanted (aka an air fryer), and it has a lot of stovetop burners which is nice. The biggest complaint in the reviews was that the bottom warming drawer was a little flimsy and I will second that but it isn't a big deal for me. As I mentioned above, the stovetop has scratched a little from cooking but that is likely true of every oven ever with a glass top. There were some oven reviews that said the glass top was impossible to get clean but I don't feel that way about this one. I usually wipe clean with a little dish soap and water and after a bunch of uses I'll use the heavy duty cleaner. Works like a charm.
Pro Tip: If you're buying a brand new oven, you need to "burn it in" which I never knew. Basically you run it at a high temp for 30 minute or so a few times before you use it. It'll emit a smell that makes you think your home is going to burn down your that it's releasing a gas that may kill you in your sleep but don't worry it's normal and will go away.
We are really thrilled about our dishwasher selection of the Maytag Top Control Powerful Dishwasher in Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel. We got this and the oven from Costco but more below on why we did that. This dishwasher leaves the dishes sparkling! Most of the time the dishes are totally dry when they come out which is a huge plus. It's also SO quiet. Another interesting feature that I love is that the top rack is deeper on the right side above the silverware than on the other side. We can fit the large Yeti tumbler and water bottles on the top rack because of this. This dishwasher also has a large tub and can wash a lot of dishes at one time. I would definitely buy this again!
Meet the most basic microwave you can find. The 1.9 cu. ft. Over the Range Microwave with Stainless Steel Cavity in Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel. Similar to my review on our garbage disposal, I don't have much to say. It works, it warms our food. We are not avid microwave users so I don't know if there are any really specific things I should be discussing but it gets the job done! Some folks had very strong opinions about the fact that the microwave time and the oven time are slightly different shades of neon. It's true, they are but I am not losing sleep over it.
Warranties and Why Costco is The Bomb
We bought the oven and the dishwasher through Costco and the microwave and refrigerator from the Home Depot. I wanted to buy everything from Costco but unfortunately they didn't have the refrigerator and microwave that we wanted. Costco offers some incredible benefits (Costco, if you'd like to send me a gift card because of all the shout outs, I won't be mad)
I stole this infographic from their website because it explains it better than I can. Basically you get extra warranty years, cash back, free delivery and free haul away. It's a great deal! Since we couldn't get everything we wanted at Costco, Home Depot also had free delivery and install and some sales going on.
This is unrelated to appliances but I also HIGHLY recommend Costco if you ever need to replace your AC unit. Okay I am done pretending I work in Costco's marketing department.
There you have it folks! I told you there was a lot to say about appliances!
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