Features to Look for in Prosumer Appliances
What level of performance do you need for your kitchen appliances? Some appliances are really "just like the pros use," while others are more consumer-friendly. Here are seven questions to help you choose.
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What's in prime working order: my food processor and finely sharpened knives or the speed-dial on the phone I use to order takeout?
"A pro fridge like a Sub-Zero is huge and it's really meant for people who need to store a lot of ingredients for constant cooking," says Sue Adams. "They do have better seals on the doors and compartments at different temps so different things won't spoil, and special gaskets so odors won't go from one compartment to another."
But if you're not a fervent cook, the big fridge is unnecessary, she says. "You can afford to let a lot of milk go sour for the difference in price between a Sub-Zero and a residential model," she says.
Adams does like the design lines of the built-in pro-quality fridge. "It's a nice, clean plane that fits the profile of the cabinetry."
If you do opt for a Sub-Zero refrigerator, Adams advises against the optional glass doors. "Do you really want people to see inside your refrigerator?" she asks. "And if all they'd be seeing is your takeout boxes, you may want to reconsider the purchase altogether."
MONEY AND BUDGET
Is the price a lot lower on one of the "pro quality" brands I'm considering?
While the wannabe claims to "pro quality" appliances are nowhere near as numerous as they are for smaller kitchen implements, like splatter screens or candy thermometers, some manufacturers will claim a "professional" performance edge where none exists. You can usually tell by the price tag, says Dempsey.
"If you pay less, you get less," he says. "The lower-cost model will work differently. If they could make it work the same way as the expensive model, they'd have to charge the same kind of price."
My budget for an appliance upgrade is A) $200-$300 B) $2,000-$3,000 C) What budget?
"If you do have just a little extra, put it where the upgrade would make a substantial difference," says Dempsey. "For example, if you put just $200-$300 more into a pro-quality dishwasher by Asco instead of buying the typical residential model, you'll experience a significant difference in your kitchen atmosphere? the unit's so quiet you can talk while it's running without raising your voice, and it's large enough to hold the really big pots and pans and more dishes."
In contrast, a significant difference in a pro-quality cooktop versus a high-quality residential unit could cost literally thousands of dollars, notes Dempsey.
"Whenever you consider a kitchen appliance, you need to compare different makes and models, feature for feature," he says. "It all comes down to what would benefit you the most and be a good thing for your lifestyle — and what will keep giving you a benefit for the long haul."
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