by Staff Writer
The convenience and comfort that comes from large appliances are a significant part of nearly every modern home. This home appliance buying guide from Overstock.com is designed to help you know just what to look for when shopping for large appliances for your home.
Kitchen appliance styles: Because kitchen appliances are so visible, in the most heavily used room in the house, their appearance has a significant impact on the style of your home. Stainless steel is still a classic choice, and matching white or black kitchen appliances can also help coordinate the space. You can even customize your refrigerator, oven, dishwasher and other large appliances with wood paneling to coordinate with your kitchen cabinetry.
Refrigerators: The type and size of refrigerator you choose can be matched to your cooking style and household style. If you're a culinary master, cooking every day, you may need more room in the main fridge compartment for fresh food, including adequate space in crisper and meat storage drawers, as with a French-door style refrigerator. Frozen dinners, ice cream and other freezer products will require more space and stackable storage, which you can get from a large freezer drawer or side-by-side refrigerator.
Ranges and ovens: Most kitchens are designed to accommodate stand-alone large appliances, so most ranges and ovens tend to be a single unit, with the range on top and the oven underneath; but other styles have started to gain in popularity.
Countertop range: A range top embedded into your countertop requires specific electric or gas hook-ups, as well as a custom-cut counter with a drop-in space just for the range. The placement of the range hood can be different for these ranges, since these large appliances are often installed on countertop islands in the center of the room.
Single and dual wall-mounted ovens: Larger kitchens can often spare space for these large appliances to be installed in the cabinetry or in the wall itself. These ovens are usually paired with countertop ranges.
Gas or electric: The choice between large gas and electric appliances often involves several trade-offs. Electric ranges and ovens are often less expensive than their gas counterparts, but they tend to be less energy-efficient. Gas gives more control over range temperature as well. Electric ranges do feature some attractive variations in coil design, too.
Recessed: Typical recessed coils are the most common in large appliances for cooking. They can usually be removed and cleaned easily.
Smooth-top: Glass-top ranges are entirely smooth, using radiant heat to warm pots and pans. They do require careful cleaning so as not to damage the glass surface but can be simpler to clean than coil ranges.
Magnetic: Magnetic induction ranges heat only special pans, in which a magnetic field causes the pan to warm but not the stovetop.
Dishwashers: With large appliances like dishwashers, water-efficiency is always a consideration. Multiple wash cycles, with both hot-air and cold-air settings for drying can help you cut both water and energy use. Rack design can affect the dish capacity and whether you can wash your larger pots and pans.
Disposals: Appearance isn't an issue with these hidden large appliances. Look for a garbage disposal with a high RPM rating and corrosion-resistant blades and compartments. Also, if your home uses a septic tank, check to be sure your tank is compatible with disposals.
Washers and dryers: A washer and dryer set can make laundry day a lot easier. You can choose between gas and electric clothes dryers, depending on the fixtures available for large appliances in your home. Most apartments feature outlets only for electric large appliances. Most dryers are front-loading only. You may want to check for an energy-saving, cool tumble-dry cycle, as well. Washing machines come in both top and front-loading models.
Top-loading washing machines are the most common large appliances in most laundry rooms. They typically have large capacities but can be less water-efficient than front-loaders.
Front-loading washers use less water, and get clothes dryer, than top-loading washers, which means clothes spend less time in the dryer. These large appliances typically require special high-efficiency detergent, however.
Air conditioners and heaters: A room air conditioner is perfect for cooling smaller rooms, and some of today's energy-efficient models can also handle larger areas with ease. Heaters are great for cold spots or rooms in your home. Space heaters give you control over the direction of the heat, as well as the intensity. Check for adjustable thermostats, timers and BTU ratings as guides to heating power.
Washer and dryer pedestals can lift your large appliances by as much as 12 inches, making it easier to swap laundry between machines without bending low.