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Kitchen Appliances

Appliances comprise the second most expensive component of the kitchen remodel ranking just below cabinetry.

Cooking: that’s the purpose of the kitchen. Choosing the equipment that enables the cook to roast, bake, broil, and sauté should be based on solid, practical considerations. The question of determining which appliance or appliance combination best suits the work space and the homeowners’ cooking style can be determined by using a systematic approach. First choose between residential and commercial equipment. Then select the appliance style: built-in, dropped in, or slide in. Specifying the type of ventilation system is the next step. Now determine the heat source: gas or electric. And finally the method of heat transference: convection, conduction, or radiation.

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Safety is a primary consideration for the placement of the range/cooktop. There should be 24” of clearance between the cooking surface and a protected surface above, or 30” to an unprotected surface. A microwave hood combination appliance may be lower than the 24” dimension as dictated by the manufacturer’s specifications. The back of the cooking surface also should be protected with a flame retardant backsplash or by a countertop extension in the case of a peninsula or island location. The cooking surface must not be placed below an operable window.

For an open-ended kitchen configuration, at least 9” of counter space is required on one side of the cooking surface top and 15” on the other.

When the cooking surface top is located near an end wall or tall cabinet, at least 9” of clearance is required between the cooking surface and the wall or tall cabinet. The cooktop can be as close as 3” to a wall if it is protected with a flame-retardant surfacing, although it is not recommended to get this close, and 15” has been allowed on the other side of the cooking surface.

Ovens that are separate from the cooktop require additional space. There must be at least 15” of landing space next to or above the oven if the oven door opens into a primary traffic pattern. A 15” landing space, which is no more than 48” across from the oven, is acceptable if the oven door does not open into a traffic area.

For a kitchen with a microwave, at least 15” of landing space should be provided above, below, or adjacent to the microwave unit. Locate the microwave oven after considering the user’s height and abilities. The ideal location for the bottom of the microwave is 3” below the principle user’s shoulder but not more than 54” above the floor.

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Refrigerators are available in a number of styles and sizes. With advances in technology, the placement of refrigerator/freezer systems allows more flexibility for the designer and challenges for the installer. The selection of the refrigerator must be completed before the cabinets are ordered to ensure proper cabinet selection and placement.

Most refrigerators will require a minimum space of between 1 and 2 inches above them to allow for proper compressor ventilation. In addition, the bottoms of these units need to be kept free of obstructions as airflow restrictions can severely reduce the life of the refrigerator.

As a general rule, separate refrigerator-freezer combinations take more space than a combo. Also the cost of the equipment and installation is significantly higher for the separate units.

Commercial-like equipment has see-through doors and typically requires a separate freezer unit. These provide a modern look to a kitchen, but the homeowner must ensure the refrigerator is kept neat and clean or the whole kitchen will look unkempt.

Side-by-side refrigerator/freezers have become very popular. Many have water and/or ice dispensers built-in on the door. If the homeowner intends to use a refrigerator with one of these built-in dispensers be sure to plumb a water supply to a location near the refrigerator.

Side-by-sides will also reduce the amount of door projection into the kitchen, but the doors tend to block access to the counter tops on both sides of the refrigerator. On smaller side-by-side models, the freezer compartment may be very narrow and larger items like large turkeys, roasts, or pies may not fit easily.

Built-in refrigerators are becoming more available. The units are typically 24” deep and tend to be much wider than standard depth refrigerators in

order to hold a comparable size food load. The up-side to these units is that panels can be installed that enable the refrigerator to match the cabinets of the kitchen. The price of built-in refrigerators is typically higher than a comparable standard unit, but using built-ins can have a dramatic impact on the kitchen.

Modular units have appeared on the market recently and enable refrigerators to be placed next to the location where their contents will be used. The use of modular refrigerators must be included at the design phase. When installing these units, be sure to note all clearances and safety precautions listed in the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

The cabinet above a refrigerator should be 24” deep to optimize the storage space usage. Refrigerators that support the use of wood panel inserts require that you exercise care when matching the inserts to the cabinet panel. If the color or grain do not match, it can cause a distraction. It is also recommended that you measure the physical unit before ordering panels – manufacturer’s instructions are generally “clear as mud.”

The refrigerator should be placed so that there is adequate space for loading and unloading and so that it does not interfere with traffic patterns through the kitchen. The plan should allow at least 15” of clear counter space on the latch side of the refrigerator or on either side of a side-by-side refrigerator. An alternative is to provide at least 15” of landing space, which is no more than 48” across from the refrigerator. A kitchen with a side-by- side refrigerator should be designed so the countertop is readily accessible to the fresh food section. For convenience, when there is room for only one appliance adjacent to a countertop, the refrigerator should be the appliance.

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Dishwashers are energy and time saving devices that most clients want installed in their remodeled kitchens. Normally these appliances are placed as a built-in next to the sink and wired to its own electrical circuit or shared only with the disposal. Factors commonly considered in the selection process are the level of noise generated, the best location based on use, and how it will be concealed.

New, high tech dishwashers are now on the market. These units reflect the move to modularization. They can be mounted in a stacked, pull out drawer combination or as a side-by-side system. In a smaller kitchen single drawer models can be used. Modular dishwashers require special cabinets for installation, and mounting must conform to the manufacturers’ specifications. For homeowners with back problems or who are wheelchair bound the modular dishwasher may be lifted higher off the floor for ease of use.

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Clients will fall into two categories when it comes to their need for trash compactors. Either they must have one and feel they can’t live without it, or they don’t want one anywhere near their house. The draw of trash compactors is that they reduce the bulk of non-food kitchen waste generated by the family. This can be useful in locations where trash disposal is costly, difficult, or based on volume. However, as more and more communities implement recycling programs, the trash compactor’s use may decline because it will only be used with non-food items, typically recyclable items.

Residential compactors come with 1⁄2- to 3⁄4-hp motors that require 120V power. The more expensive models have odor and sound control devices included. The best place to locate a compactor is between the sink and refrigerator or close to any recycling bins. As with all appliances where the doors open into the walkway, always ensure clear access and minimize traffic conflicts.

Courtesy of NARI CKBR education program

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