Talk Like a Pro: Appliance Jargon Defined

You're a prosumer who walks the walk, but can you talk the talk? Find out what all those appliance terms really mean for you and your kitchen.

By: Caren Baginski

Sunny White Kitchen

Sunny White Kitchen

Choosing a professional kitchen appliance these days is like visiting a foreign country: If you don't speak the language, you might get burned. We've defined some of the most common technical terms to help you to avoid purchasing pitfalls and start talking like a pro. Listed in alphabetical order:

all refrigerator or all freezer: The appliance is either solely a refrigerator or solely a freezer, not a combination of both.

auto defrost: The cooling element in a refrigeration or freezer appliance temporarily heats to prevent ice from forming. Appliances with this technology use more energy and any food inside will experience the temperature change.

BTU (British thermal unit): Describes the heat value of fuel for appliances — the higher the BTU, the more heat available for cooking.

catalytic: A kind of surface found in self-cleaning ovens that helps break down food spills and splatters.

CFC and HFC free: Free of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) and chlorofluorocarbon (CFC). Means insulating foam in refrigerators contains pure hydrocarbon refrigerants, which are environmentally friendly refrigerants.

CFM (cubic feet per minute): Measures the amount of air moved by appliances like range hoods. The higher the CFM, the more air is moved within a space, resulting in more efficient ventilation of heat and smells in a kitchen.

convection: A cooking method that circulates hot air around food to cook it faster than conventional ovens.

dual fuel: The appliance comes with two kinds of fuel for cooking: gas and electric, for example.

flame failure safety cut-out: If a gas flame blows out, but the gas is still on, this feature will stop the flow of gas to the burner.

fully integrated: For dishwashers, when the controls are completely hidden behind a door that matches the kitchen cabinets.

hob: Another name for the cooktop or burners, like gas, induction or ceramic.

induction: A cooking method that is faster and more energy-efficient than a traditional cooktop, but requires the use of a ferromagnetic pot (look for "ferrous cookware"). The cooktop itself is flameless, not hot to the touch and will not burn skin; Only the pot is heated.

LPG jets (liquefied petroleum gas): LPG is a product of crude oil distillation mostly containing propane. A jet is a small screw-in cap with a drilled hole that installs into a cooktop burner. LPG jets have holes twice as small as those for natural gas because LPG contains more energy.

semi integrated: For dishwashers, when the control panel is visible on a door that matches the kitchen cabinets.

sones: Measures the loudness of appliances like range hoods. One sone is about equal to a refrigerator running, while four is equivalent to normal conversation. Sones also relate to CFM — the higher the CFM, the higher the sone rating.

trivet: Metal or ceramic structures above burners that hold pots above the cooktop flame.

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