Appliances 101

The typical residential kitchen has between 4-8 major appliances whose lifespan varies from 6-16 years, so you will most likely purchase or replace your home’s appliances several times over your lifetime.  At first glance this may not seem like a daunting proposition, but consider this…there are over 40 manufacturers of residential kitchen appliances servicing the United States and each manufacturer has up to 5 different lines or series for each appliance and each series has anywhere from 10-20 different models.  This means there are literally thousands of choices available for your consideration!

To help you get started, I am providing a guide for the basic types of kitchen appliances.  This overview of appliance types and their relative cost ranges will allow you to better understand appliance terminology and help you determine which appliance will best serve your individual needs.  Included are broad cost ranges which are based on actual 2012 prices for Greenville, SC.  If you still feel overwhelmed or need more assistance, don't hesitate to contact me.  Good luck and welcome to Kustom Home Design's Appliances 101.


OVENS  ( $600 - $5,500 )

Traditional Gas or Electric Thermal Ovens use heating elements to heat the oven chamber to cook food.  They typically have settings to bake, broil, or roast food.

Convection Ovens are similar to thermal ovens except they also have a fan which circulates the air in the oven chamber for more even cooking.  Combination Units combine thermal, convection, and microwave power for faster cooking.

Convection Steam Ovens use steam in conjunction with convection heating to cook foods faster.  The steam cooks very quickly and helps foods to retain their moisture.

Warming Drawers fit in the base cabinet typically below an oven or microwave and can be used to heat plates or keep foods warm while the rest of the meal is prepared.

COOKTOPS AND BURNERS  ( $300 - $5,000 )

Traditional Gas burners have an open flame fueled by natural gas.  They are preferred by many professional cooks because they provide greater temperature control and instant on and off control.

Traditional Electric Coil burners produce heat by electrical currents running through the coils.  They do not have an open flame, but they take longer to heat up and cool down than gas burners. 

Ceramic Glass Cooktops have electric coil or halogen burners that are concealed beneath a ceramic glass top.  They have the same problems as traditional electric coil cooktops with delayed heating and cooling.  Halogen elements heat faster than the electric coils, but are more costly.

Magnetic Induction Cooktops produce heat through an electromagnetic field.  The heat is actually produced in the cooking container (pot, pan or skillet) rather than on the cooktop surface.  Therefore, when the pan is removed the cooktop is cool to the touch.  These cooktops require the use of ferrous metal cookware such as steel, stainless steel or cast iron.

REFRIGERATORS ( $400 - $10,000 )

Top Freezer with Bottom Refrigerator models are the least expensive and most common.  They have been around since the 1940’s and finishes can range from contemporary stainless steel to retro avocado green.

Side by Side models have a freezer on the left side and refrigerator on the right.  The downside to a side by side model is that the compartments are narrow and don’t allow for storage of large trays of food.

Top Refrigerator with Bottom Freezer models have a larger refrigeration compartment on the top of the unit and a smaller freezer compartment below.  Storage in these models is wide enough for large items.

French Door models were developed in the late 1990’s and have become a very popular style for newer kitchen designs.  The upper refrigerator with French doors allows for less obtrusive door swings while providing wide, easily accessible refrigeration storage.  The bottom freezer is typically a drawer with sliding baskets or compartments.

Full Refrigerator or Full Freezer models are typically associated with commercial kitchens, but have gained in popularity in recent years for residential use.  Most manufacturers now produce residential grade full refrigerator and freezer models.  Typically the units are placed next to each other which gives them the look of an oversized side by side unit.

Refrigerator or Freezer Drawers are meant to be used in conjunction with a full size refrigerator and freezer unit.  They come in 27” and 30” widths and they are installed in a base cabinet beneath the countertop.

Wine Coolers are under counter models that install in a base cabinet.  They store wine at perfect temperature and humidity levels.  Some models even allow for separate temperature zones for red, white, and sparkling wines.

Undercounter Ice Makers can produce up to 60 pounds of ice a day and work well for very large families or for those who entertain often.  They are typically 15”-18” wide.

Standard Depth models are available in all the styles listed above.  These units are typically 30”-32” deep and come in a variety of widths depending on their capacity.  This style of refrigerator will protrude beyond the face of the cabinets by 6”-8”.

Counter Depth models are available in all the styles listed above.  These units are typically 24”-27” deep and come in a variety of widths depending on their capacity.  This style of refrigerator will be flush with the face of the cabinets or may protrude 1”-2”.  These models have less capacity than standard depth models due to their shallower form.  You may need to consider using a wider model for more capacity.

Built-in models are available in all the styles listed above.  These units are typically 24” deep and come in a variety of widths depending on their capacity.  This style of refrigerator will be flush with the face of the cabinets and will come with an option to install cabinet panels to the doors for a seamless ‘built-in’ look.  Like the counter depth models, these units have smaller capacity.  Wider units are typically used to obtain more conditioned storage space.

DISHWASHERS  ( $200- $1,800 )

Standard models are mounted under counter and are 24” wide.  They have a wide variety of available features including multiple cycles, adjustable racks, water saving cycles, and dirt sensors.

Dishwasher Drawers take up half of the space required by standard models and use less water per cycle, but they hold far fewer dishes as well.  They can be useful for small runs of dishes or for separating pans from glassware.

VENTS  ( $40 - $3,000 )
Updraft Ventilation systems have a fan unit that mounted inside a hood directly over the cooking surface.  The air is pulled up through a filter and exhausted to the outside through a series of ductwork located in the ceiling or roof.  Recirculating units do not vent to the outside.  They pull air through a filter and exhaust the ‘cleaned’ air back into the kitchen.

Downdraft Ventilation systems either use a vent built into the cooking surface or one that rises out of the countertop behind the cooking surface.   These vents pull air through a filter and exhaust the air through ductwork located in the floor or crawl space.


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