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Induction introduction: A primer on induction cooking

When induction cooking first hit the scene, induction was considered a high-end appliance feature. Now, with more models hitting the market, it’s within reach for just about anyone interested in making the switch to induction.

In case you want to give induction cooking a try without installing a full cooktop, portable, one-burner induction appliances or even hybrid surfaces are available.

While the percentage of electric surface cooking units and electric ranges that include induction is still relatively small, it has risen steadily in recent years. According to AHAM factory shipment data, 15 percent of electric surface units included induction in 2016, up from 8 percent in 2010.

The difference: Unlike gas and electric ranges, induction ranges use a magnetic field to transfer heat directly into the pan. Neither the burner nor the air around the burner are heated, meaning what you’re cooking heats up faster. But only the pan, and what’s in it, will get hot. Not having hot burners reduces the potential that nearby materials can ignite while cooking, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Also, it’s unlikely that the burners will be accidentally turned on, since they won’t heat without the proper cookware on the burner, the NFPA says.

You may need to buy new cookware. Induction burners will only work with cookware made of magnetic metals, such as iron or stainless steel.

Hint: The cookware package will normally state which type of range the cookware can be used with—gas, electric or induction. Cookware with a flat bottom will get you the best results.

Induction also offers more precise temperature control. You can even cook delicate items like dairy or chocolate for long periods, without worrying about fluctuations in temperature. It will take some practice, though, as induction cooking gets you to your desired temperature faster than gas or electric. Water, for example, will boil in about half the time. You’ll need to get used to the faster heating times.

The design of induction ranges, and the fact that they don’t get hot during cooking, can also lend itself to easier cleaning. Since the burners don’t heat up, spills aren’t going to burn onto the cooktop. (Though gas and electric ovens are easy to clean, if you do it right.)

Thanks to AHAM member Viking Range for the information on induction cooking.

Designing your laundry room? Here’s how to choose your appliances

simple laundry room with tile floor and appliances.
Laundry rooms are often multipurpose rooms that are used for storage and pet care in addition to washing and drying. But they’re typically designed around appliances, and appliances are what you should consider first during a laundry room design or remodel.

“Appliances are always the starting point, whether you’re designing the laundry room, a kitchen or outdoor cooking area,” says Charleston, S.C.-based designer Margaret Donaldson of Margaret Donaldson Interiors. “I always ask clients to determine which appliances they want first, because the cabinetry has to be built around that.”

Obviously, the most important appliances in a laundry area are the washer and dryer, but some thought should also be given to other laundry-care appliances, like garment steamers and iron. The design might include a fold-down ironing board or cabinet for a steamer. Here’s what else you should think about during the design phase:

  • Top-load or front-load? Both front- and top-load washers have their merits, though Donaldson says many of her clients are choosing top-load appliances. That fits with AHAM’s factory shipment data, which shows that top-load washers made up 76% of units shipped in 2015 and have been growing as a percentage of shipments since 2009. “The reason the front-loader came out was you could have a continuous counter going across,” Donaldson said. Sometimes, the choice comes down to the ease of loading and unloading. “Some people say they don’t want to bend down. The age of the person matters. Where are you in your lives? Designing for ease of access is a consideration for many who choose to pursue a universal design concept during a remodel. If extra counter space is important and you don’t mind bending over to load and unload your laundry, consider front-load models.
  • Agitator or not? You’ll also need to think about whether you want an agitator with your new washer. More of Donaldson’s clients are choosing to go without. Washers without agitators are also growing as a percentage of units shipped. Fifty-two percent of units shipped between January and July of 2016 had no agitator, up from 47 percent last year.
  • Colors: “What’s really hot right now is a platinum color,” Donaldson says. “I’m seeing it as a go-to color, either platinum or white.” Looking for something a little flashier? Some are going for red, though choosing a more exotic color could limit your options, Donaldson says. “Only certain brands offer fun colors like that.”
  • After washing and drying: Think about where you’ll store your other laundry-care appliances. Will you need to work in a cabinet for your steamer? Should you build the ironing board into the design? “A lot of people steam their clothing instead of ironing,” Donaldson says. “If they’re steaming, the steamers are usually on wheels. It doesn’t usually go into a cabinet, because you’re lifting up and down. You need to have a space in your laundry room that it rolls into, or a closet you can roll it in and out of. Typically, it’s a tall cabinet in the laundry room, not a closet. A closet is more expensive.” Other cleaning supplies, like vacuums, are often stored in a laundry room cabinet, Donaldson says.
  • Soaked: If your design didn’t include a laundry sink, you may want to consider a model with a sink already built in.

Designers: What trends are you seeing in laundry room spaces?  How has this space changed over the past 10 years? Tell us about your laundry redesign experiences!

How to avoid returning home appliances

blog, purchasing, replacing

Are you going to take advantage of Memorial Day or Father’s Day sales on appliances?  While everyone loves a great deal, it’s important to make sure you’re buying the right appliances for you, your home and your loved ones. Fortunately, a little bit of research can save you another trip to the store to return the product.

AHAM partnered with Bellomy Research to study the leading reasons portable appliances—including small kitchen, personal care, garment care, air treatment and floor care appliances—are returned. Here are a few of those, plus some advice that can save you the hassle of a return and help you choose the appliances that work best for you.

Is it the right appliance for the job? Aside from mechanical, electrical or functional defects, unmet expectations about performance are by far the top reason portable and floor care appliances are returned. AHAM’s advice: Ask the retailer for an in-store product demonstration before you buy, including trying it out for yourself. Consider the set-up process. Many consumers who made returns say an easier set-up process would have made them less likely to return the product.

Is the appliance a good fit? Size matters, and many appliances are brought back because they’re too small. AHAM’s advice: Ask a sales representative if you may remove the appliance from the package before you buy it to make sure it’s the right size for you and your home.

Does it match? Choosing the right size, color and model is a big deal. Second thoughts about those, or later finding a preferred model, are both common reasons for returns. AHAM’s advice: Spend time researching what you want to buy, and get a sense of the different sizes, colors, styles and models available.

Research is key to finding the appliances you want and need the first time around. About 18 percent of customers who had made returns said more research on their part would have cut down on the chances of them making a return. Appliance manufacturers have a number of resources available, including their websites and online instruction manuals, to customers who want to learn more about their products.

Contact the appliance manufacturer even if you’ve already bought the appliance and are thinking about bringing it back. Only 40 percent of consumers surveyed said they had spoken with the product’s manufacturer before returning an item. The manufacturer may be able to help you address the issue, eliminating the need for a return.

5 Reasons for Returning Appliances and How You Can Do Better Research Before You Buy

Consumer-Durables

With the holiday season upon us, shoppers are doing their research and looking to take advantage of deals on home appliances. Across the board, from floor care to personal care, retailers and manufacturers are planning to deliver you innovative and energy efficient products this holiday season.

And while the majority of consumers who buy appliances get what they’re looking for, some will return them, even if they’re working.  AHAM, along with Bellomy Research, recently conducted an extensive study on why consumers return small appliances that are in good working condition. Here are the top five reasons:

  • Appliance did not perform the way the customer expected
  • The appliance was smaller than the customer expected
  • Appliance was a gift the recipient did not like or want
  • Second thoughts about the color, style or model
  • The customer found another model they liked better

Overall, though, there was one underlying theme behind why consumers return products: they did not have a clear understanding of what they were purchasing before the purchase.

So what can shoppers to do avoid post-holiday returns? While AHAM’s research suggested improvements manufacturers and retailers could make to reduce return rates, it’s up to the customer to do their own homework—and they know it. Our study found that “some customers also feel they should have completed more research before purchasing, or wished for an easier set-up process.??

Then what can you, as the consumer, do? Here are AHAM’s tips:

  1. Go “hands on”: Product demonstrations are commonplace at many retailers now, allowing you to visualize and use the product before purchasing. This can eliminate confusion about issues such as size, performance, and quality.
  2. Read and watch online reviews: There are limitless resources online for consumers to learn about a product, and potential features that affect decision-making. Videos are both abundant and valuable because they allow you to see the actual product being used.
  3. Research the product through the manufacturer’s website and owner’s manual: Appliance makers strive to be clear about the features and benefits their products offer. Whether online or on paper, they provide extensive resources that allow the everyday consumer to understand what they are buying before a purchase decision is made.
  4. Contact the manufacturer directly: This is perhaps the most important tip, but many shoppers don’t realize it’s an option. Only 40 percent of people surveyed said they had spoken with the product’s manufacturer before returning an item. Most manufacturers have resources to answer your questions and resolve almost any issues before a return becomes necessary.

Do you have any tips you feel should be added to this list? Please share them with us in the comments.

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