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Consumer Reports Kitchen Planning and Buying Guide - September 2016

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KITCHEN
PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE
TOP
RATED
BEST FRIDGES
For Every
Budget
DESIGN STAR
VERN
YIP S
KITCHEN REDO
BUY THE BEST!
778
Tested
Products
Ranges | Dishwashers | Microwaves
Countertops | Wood Floors + More
Winner
Kitchens
THE 8 BEST UPGRADES
YOU CAN MAKE
SAVE-BIG
REMODELING
GUIDE
QUICKIE
MAKEOVERS
1 Weekend,
3 Fresh New Looks
SEPTEMBER 2016
“ Yay, It Fits!”
GREAT COMPACT
APPLIANCES
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Display Until September 12, 2016
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Contents
IN THIS ISSUE
COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIC ROTH
5
Update
Our in-house appliance and home
experts share the latest and
greatest kitchen products, news,
and trends.
12 8 Smart Kitchen Upgrades
As you renovate your space, make
choices that add long-term value—with
help from our exclusive survey of millennial
homebuyers, plus advice from the pros.
Kitchen Planning
& Buying Guide
SEPTEMBER 2016
18 Bold in Black and White
30 Instant Makeover
Get an inside look at design star Vern Yip’s
own Atlanta kitchen, a study in the chic,
timeless combo of black and white.
22 Cozy in Color
Our paint picks will help you add warmth
and personality to kitchen walls, cabinets,
or furnishings.
26 Double the Pleasure
This clever remodel added tons of space
without an addition.
No need for a total overhaul. Replacing
or adding a few key design elements can give
your kitchen a fresh new look right now.
36 Open for Entertaining
Create a kitchen with a party-perfect flow
with tips from a pair of design experts.
42 Remodeling
Survival Guide
Our survey of contractors nationwide will
help your project run smoothly.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 1
Contents
BUYING GUIDE
Cabinetry & Surfaces
48
54
60
66
CABINETS
COUNTERTOPS
FLOORING
INTERIOR PAINT
100
Appliances
72
88
98
106
110
112
120
REFRIGERATORS
RANGES
COOKTOPS
WALL OVENS
RANGE HOODS
MICROWAVE OVENS
DISHWASHERS
Fixtures & Fittings
128 SINKS
132 FAUCETS
Shopping
134 BEST APPLIANCE STORES
136 RESOURCE GUIDE
89
114
GO TO CONSUMERREPORTS.ORG
AND CLICK ON APPLIANCES OR HOME & GARDEN
2
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE
EDITOR’S NOTE
KITCHEN
PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE
President and CEO Marta L. Tellado
Senior Vice President, Brand & Strategy
Leonora Wiener
Vice President, Publishing & Marketing Operations
Brent Diamond
Vice President, Integrated Content Creation
Liam McCormack
Vice President, Digital
Jason Fox
Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer
Kim Miller
Executive Director, Content
Gwendolyn Bounds
Editor in Chief, Consumer Reports Magazine Diane Salvatore
Design Director Matthew Lenning
Associate Design Director Mike Smith
Editor, Home Publications Amanda Lecky
Art Directors Janice Hogan, Ewelina Mrowiec, Lisa Slater
Photo Editor Emilie Harjes
Photography John Powers, John Walsh
Imaging Francisco Collado, Mark Linder
Senior Director, Product Testing Mark Connelly
Director, Content Development Glenn Derene
Director, Consumer Safety and Sustainability Urvashi Rangan
Home & Appliance
Editors: Dan DiClerico, Mary Farrell, Kimberly Janeway, Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman,
Ed Perratore; Product Testers: John Galeotaiore, James Nanni, Testing Leads;
Peter Anzalone, John Banta, Susan Booth, Tara Casaregola, Lawrence Ciufo,
Enrique de Paz, Bernard Deitrick, Cindy Fisher, Emilio Gonzalez, Edward Kippel,
Ginny Lui, John McAloon, Joan Muratore, Joseph Pacella, Christopher Regan,
Peter Sawchuk, Pat Slaven, Frank Spinelli, David Trezza, Michael Visconti
Consumer Engagement Testing Charu Ahuja, Director; Linda Greene, Adam Kaplan
Content Systems & Operations Strategy Peter Meirs, Director
Content Operations David Fox, Director; William Breglio; Wayne Lizardi, Anthony Terzo
Production Eric W. Norlander; Terri Kazin, Aileen McCluskey
Content Coordination Nancy Crowfoot; Diane Chesler
Copy Editing Noreen Browne, Alison France, Wendy Greenield
Fact Checking Jane Healey, David Schipper; Kathleen Adams, Tracy Anderman,
Sarah Goralski, Sharon Riley
Administration Decarris Bryant, Elizabeth Scotton
Content Impact & Corporate Outreach Jen Shecter, Director
Statistics Michael Saccucci, Director; Andrew Cohen,
Dreams, Delivered
CREATING YOUR DREAM KITCHEN can
cost a bundle. We know: Consumer Reports
spends more than $400,000 each year
to buy the appliances we test and rate. Of
course, your own project probably won’t cost
anywhere near that much, but that doesn’t
Amanda Lecky
Editor,
mean you don’t want to save where you can.
Home
Publications
That’s where the Consumer Reports
Kitchen Planning & Buying Guide comes in.
We ofer what no other magazine can: product Ratings and
advice from dozens of appliance and home-improvement
experts. Our engineers run exhaustive tests on every aspect of
the 600-plus products in our Ratings to help you choose the
best. Our reader surveys track buyer experience to tell you
which brands are likely to last—and which could lead to pricey
repairs. And because we buy everything we test and accept no
ads, you can always trust Consumer Reports to tell it like it is.
Ready to make your dreams a reality? Let our honest,
unbiased advice help you plan and shop your way to a smart,
stylish kitchen that’s just right for you, and for your budget.
Meet a Few of Our Experts
More than
40 Consumer
Reports product
testers, secret
shoppers,
researchers,
and editors
(including the
six pros pictured
here) put their
years of knowhow to work
for you.
Celia Kuperszmid
Lehrman
Ed Perratore
Kimberly Janeway
Senior Editor
Senior Associate
Editor
Deputy Editor
Keith Newsom-Stewart, Martin Romm
Survey Research Steven Witten, Director; Karen Jafe, Simon Slater;
Mei Fong, James David Gopoian, Kendra Johnson, Debra Kalensky, Martin Lachter,
Olufemi Olu-Lafe, Adam Troy
Dan DiClerico
Tara Casaregola
Joe Pacella
Multimedia
Content Specialist
Test Program
Leader
Project Leader
Consumer Insight Ed Farrell, Director; Karen Hofman;
Chris Holmes, Rachel Lynch, Teneisha Thomas, Andrew Vogel
PHOTOS: JOHN WALSH
Newsstand Marketing Patricia McSorley, Associate Director
Procurement Operations Steven Schiavone, Associate Director
Copyright © 2016 by Consumer Reports, Yonkers, New York 10703.
Published by Consumer Reports, Yonkers, New York 10703.
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole
or in part in any form.
ISSN: 2376-0508
Manufactured in the United States of America.
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ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 3
Inside Our
Test Labs
WE TRY TO TEST models
that represent the spectrum of
products on the market. Staf
shoppers buy them at retail
outlets or online, never revealing that they’re for Consumer
Reports. (We want to make sure
that we test the same products
you buy.) Our experts develop
tests that re-create the real-world
use of each product. If a product
malfunctions or performs in
an unexpected way, we try to
determine whether we’re seeing
an isolated case or possibly a
bigger problem. We may have an
obvious defect repaired. And we
usually buy and test additional
samples of the same product. We
do that to ensure that our Ratings for every model relect the
experience you may have.
OVENS Baking cookies—2,000 frozen, preformed sugar cookies each year, more or less—
and evaluating the color uniformity when they’re done tells CR’s experts how evenly
an oven bakes. What happens to all those cookies? The staff gets to eat most of them!
REFRIGERATORS Engineers load each refrigerator’s freezer compartment with packages of frozen
spinach and cans of frozen juice to determine
freezer performance.
DISHWASHERS Our testers load up the racks
with dishes smeared with everything from coffee
(shown) to beef chili to see how well each model
stands up to typical food messes.
Guide to the Ratings
WE RATE PRODUCTS on a
100-point scale. These symbols
help you tell at a glance which
scored well and which didn’t.
Those rated Excellent aced most
of our tough tests; Poor indicates
the product had serious laws.
Consumer Reports is the world’s
largest independent consumerproduct-testing organization. Each
year we put thousands of products
through rigorous tests and survey
millions of consumers about their
5Excellent
4Very Good
3Good
2Fair
1Poor
d Recommended
These are high-performing products that stand out.
c CR Best Buy
These products offer the best combination of performance
and price. All are recommended.
experiences. We’re based in Yonkers,
N.Y., and are a nonprofit organization.
For complete Ratings for all products,
consider an annual subscription to
Consumer Reports magazine ($29) or
our website ($30).
4 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
What We Do We buy all of the
products we rate. And all of our tests
and Ratings, in print and online, are
unbiased and independent.
What We Don’t Do We don’t accept
any advertising; we get our money
TIP
When narrowing your
choices, weigh performance, price, and details
that matter to you, such
as color, size, or style. For
the best combination
of performance and price,
pick a CR Best Buy.
mainly through subscriptions and
from donations. We don’t accept any
free test samples of products from
manufacturers. And we don’t allow our
name or our content to be used for any
promotional purposes.
Update
Product News and Expert Advice
Actual size
Big Performance
in Small Packages
AMERICAN HOUSES may be growing in size,
but so is the number of single households
in the U.S. Roughly half of all American
women are unattached, and by 2025 there
will be as many single-person households in
the U.S. as there are homes with families.
Manufacturers are taking note of those
shifting demographics and responding
with a bevy of super-compact countertop
appliances, aimed at the single set and their
presumably smaller kitchens. One manufacturer’s representative went so far as to call
the mini appliances part of their “single lady
line.” Though of course the products will
appeal to bachelors, too, not to mention
downsizing empty nesters, urbanites,
or anyone eager to save countertop space.
Among the promising petite models
are KitchenAid’s Artisan Mini Stand Mixer,
$400, pictured, 20 percent smaller and
25 percent lighter than its full-sized
counterpart—a perennial top-performer
in our Ratings—the Mi Aroma Mini Rice
Cooker, $30 to $40, which cooks just two
or three cups at a time; and the Bella
1.5 Slow Cooker, $15, available this fall.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 5
|
news and adv ice
A New Way to Prep Veggies
ONE OF THE HOTTEST new gadgets at this year’s International Home + Housewares show in
Chicago, spiralizers turn vegetables and fruits into fun new shapes, including “noodles” that
can take the place of traditional grain-based pasta. That should appeal to people on low-carb
diets, or those who entertain at home a lot, and to parents of kids who need a little extra
encouragement to get their daily doses of healthful produce. Three models that caught our eye:
CUISINART FOOD
SPIRALIZER, $30
HAMILTON BEACH
3-IN-1 SPIRALIZER, $40
KITCHENAID SPIRALIZER
BLADE, $150
This mechanical model gives the
forearm a bit of a workout, though
Cuisinart says the adaptation
of its exclusive food processor
blade technology to the spiralizer
makes for easy operation. You can
choose from thin or thick julienne,
and ribbon slice. The blade-locking design eliminates contact with
any sharp edges and the entire
unit is dishwasher safe.
This electric 3-in-1 spiralizer from
Hamilton Beach lets you produce
continuous ribbons or spirals of a
variety of veggies, from zucchini
noodles to homemade potato
chips. The additional grating disk
is designed for harder foods like
Parmesan cheese and nuts.
An attachment to any KitchenAid
stand mixer, this new spiralizer
is an upgrade to the brand’s original. It adds two new blades to
the existing five, enabling up to
13 combinations of spiralizing,
slicing, peeling, and coring. The
zucchini noodle strands are pitched
as a healthy alternative to flourbased pasta. Or enjoy garnishes
made from paper-thin fruit spirals.
6 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
MUSIC TO
YOUR EYES
The right soundtrack can
make dining (and cooking) far more enjoyable.
But it’s hard to find speakers that don’t stand out
from your carefully considered kitchen design
like a sore thumb, and
installing an integrated
sound system is pricey.
Sony’s new Glass Sound
Speaker aims to match
style to sound quality:
With its cylindrical shape
and faux leather base,
it’s designed to look like
part of an everyday table
setting. Part of Sony’s
New Life Space UX product line, the speaker uses
organic glass surrounding
an LED light to create
vibrations that produce
360 degrees of highfidelity sound. The $800
device, which is available
through the MoMA store,
lights up like a candle
when it turns on, powering up with a warm, soft
glow and dimming when
the power goes off.
PHOTOS: CHRISTIAN BRIDGWATER/GETTY IMAGES (TOP LEFT); GETTY IMAGES (TOP RIGHT); ROBERT RADIFERA (BOTTOM RIGHT)
UPDATE
If Your Favorite Slice is Pizza
Most Americans get their pizza fresh from the pizzeria
or from the supermarket, in the form of frozen pies. But
there's a growing appetite for pizza made from scratch—
or “semi-scratch” using store-bought dough—at home.
The DIY trend accounted for nearly 10 percent of pizza
sales in 2015. Appliance manufacturers are taking notice,
with several introducing pizza ovens this year.
The most innovative product we’ve seen is GE’s
Monogram Pizza Oven, which came out of FirstBuild, a
microfactory in the company’s Louisville headquarters
that harnesses the brainpower of the maker movement
to develop unique appliances for small batch production (the Opal Nugget Ice Maker is the most successful
creation to date).
The Monogram Pizza Oven fits into the small space of
a standard wall oven cavity, yet is spacious enough to fit
a pizza peel and large pie. It can crank up to 750 degrees,
the perfect temperature for crisp pizza, in about 30 minutes. The oven incorporates a compact
interior ventilation system,
so no special installation or construction is required.
That’s a good thing, since the price tag on the oven is
$9,900. Look for it later this year.
GE Monogram Pizza Oven
Outdoor Options
If you’d rather keep your oven on the patio, one to consider is the Lynx Napoli Pizza Oven, a gas-fired model that
comes on a freestanding cart, or that can be built into an
outdoor countertop. The oven reaches 750 degrees in
about 20 minutes so it’s a bit faster than GE’s. At $4,000,
it costs a lot less, though it’s still a splurge.
If you’re looking for the authenticity of wood-fired pizza,
the Italian manufacturer Fontana offers stainless steel ovens for as little as $1,400. The Fontana Gusto Wood Oven,
its original dual-chamber model introduced 40 years ago,
is still the best seller, starting at $4,900. Thanks to their
thin firebrick inserts, Fontana ovens can reach optimal
baking temperatures in 15 to 30 minutes, compared with
the 2 to 4 hours of other
wood-fired ovens.
Lynx Napoli Pizza Oven
Fontana Gusto Wood Oven
AMERICAN AS PIZZA PIE |
Americans eat 100 acres of pizza each day according to the National Assn. of Pizza Operators
TREND WATCH:
Quartz and Quartzite
WHICH IS IT?
Quartzite, shown,
not only sounds
like quartz but
can look similar,
as well.
LATELY, IT SEEMS like every designer we interview mentions one of two
countertops options: quartz and quartzite, two materials that sound similar
and can look similar—but which have some key distinctions. Quartz, the toprated material in our countertops ratings on page 59, used to be known as
engineered stone, because it’s just that—a synthetic material that’s made in a
factory out of stone chips, resins, and pigments. Quartzite, by comparison,
is a metamorphic rock that originated as sandstone. It’s extracted from a
quarry and formed into finished slabs that become kitchen countertops, as
well as tiles for floors, walls, and backsplashes.
We haven’t tested it in our labs, but quartzite is often compared to granite
in terms of hardness and durability. Like all natural stones, quartzite must be
sealed periodically to protect it against wine, citrus, coffee, and other wouldbe stains. Because it’s non-porous, quartz doesn’t have to be sealed, making it
much easier to maintain. Quartz and quartzite cost about the same.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 7
UPDATE
|
news and adv ice
Cold
Coffee Is Hot
Cold-brew coffee
fans claim it’s smoother
than the traditional stuff.
Judge for yourself with
our tested brewers.
can of soda,” says Maxine Siegel, a registered dietitian and manager of food
testing at Consumer Reports.
Cold brew, on the other hand,
begins with the same beans you’d use
for regular coffee, but they’re ground
more coarsely, then mixed with cold or
room-temperature water and left to sit
for a very long time: Coaxing flavor out
of the grounds with cool water can take
12 to 24 hours or even longer. To avoid
a weak, watery drink, cold-brew coffee
also requires at least twice the grounds
needed for traditional hot brewing,
which explains why cold brew can be
pricey, whether you buy it at a coffeehouse or supermarket or whip up a
batch at home. (See “Cool Ways to Make
Cold Joe,” on the facing page.)
Make no mistake: Do-it-yourself coldbrew coffee makers aren’t a necessity;
they’re essentially steeping chambers
for the water and grounds. But they
make preparing and filtering the coffee
neater and less cumbersome. The
machines also make it easier to experiment with the ratio of water to coffee
until you find the one that produces the
cup best-suited to your tastes.
What comes out of most cold-brew
coffee makers isn’t ready to enjoy. It’s
a thick concentrate that you dilute with
water or milk before drinking.
O
ONCE FOUND ONLY in boutique coffeehouses, cold-brew coffee has grown up,
with sales rising 115 percent between
2014 and 2015. Starbucks and Peet’s
now sell it by the cup in their shops,
and you can buy ready-to-drink bottled
versions from companies such as
Stumptown and Slingshot at Whole
Foods, specialty grocers, and even
some Target stores. Not surprisingly,
several appliance makers eager to cash
in on the trend sell low-tech systems
that take the mess out of mixing up
a batch of cold brew at home.
COLD BREW 101
Cold brew is a very different beast from
either iced coffee or the bottled coffee
products sold at the supermarket. All
of those start with standard hot coffee
that’s then chilled, creating a drink that
has all of the bitterness and acidity of
regular coffee, just minus the heat.
To mask that bitterness, many coffee
drinkers (and manufacturers) add heaps
of sugar and glugs of milk or cream—
and plenty of calories with them.
“Some of the bottled coffee products
we’ve tested have as much sugar as a
PRICE OF A PICK-ME-UP |
8 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Why bother with all of the added time
and expense of cold brew? Because of
how it goes down. Fans say that cold
brewing makes for a far smoother
drink, without much of the bitterness
and acidity of traditional coffee.
Another selling point of cold-brew
coffee is its extended shelf life: It will
keep in the refrigerator for up to two
weeks. Regularly brewed coffee doesn’t
store well in the fridge and starts to go
stale shortly after it’s made because of
an aromatic compound that degrades
as it cools—something to keep in mind
when you want a cool pick-me-up.
DIY Home Brew $0.75 to $2.50 Price depends on cost per pound of coffee
PHOTO, LEFT: NATASHA NICHOLSON/GETTY IMAGES
THE BITTER TRUTH
Cool Ways to Make Cold Joe
The lavor of cold-brew cofee is determined by the quality of the beans and the water,
the amount and grind of cofee used, and the length of time the grounds steep. These machines make the
process convenient, but unlike with hot brewing, they do not inluence the cofee’s taste.
BRUER COLD
BRUER $80
OXO COLD BREW
1272880 $50
BODYBREW
THE BOD $80
TODDY COLD BREW
SYSTEM $40
How it works The Bruer
stands out from the others
we looked at because its
process is flow-through.
You place ice and water in
the upper chamber, and a
drop of water per second
drips to the grounds. The
extract, ready to drink,
collects below, yielding
about 20 ounces.
(Instructions for concentrate are included.)
Pros The fastest per
ounce, with no waiting for
coffee to drain once it’s
brewed. Permanent filter.
Cons Makes among the
least amount of drinkable
coffee per use.
How it works Place the
container on its stand, and
add grounds and water.
After 12 to 24 hours, place
a glass carafe beneath
the stand and flip the
“brew-release switch,” on
the bottom, which lets the
concentrated brew drip
into the carafe.
Pros The brewing chamber can be separated
from the stand, and at
7 inches tall, it fits easily
into the fridge. The
release switch keeps
hands clear of the brew.
Cons The lid doesn’t seal,
and the filter clogged
badly during our tests.
How it works Add
grounds to the stainless
filter basket (in the lower
half), then add water.
Once you attach the
upper half, flip the product
upside down, then back,
to wet the grounds thoroughly. An optional hour
timer will help you keep
track of steeping time.
Pros At 12½ inches, it fits
easily into the fridge; the
top chamber can also
be replaced with a cover
to reduce the height
by 3 inches. It comes in
black and five colors.
Cons It can be tricky to
assemble.
How it works The upper
chamber’s lower recess
holds a filter and a stopper. After coffee has
steeped, you remove the
stopper and the filtered
extract fills the glass
lower container.
Pros It makes about
48 ounces, which yields
twice that much drinkable
coffee. The brew chamber
is unbreakable plastic.
Cons The handle, which
wraps around the upper
chamber, is flimsy.
Removing the stopper
can be messy; the filter
needs replacing ($3.75 per
pair) after about 10 uses.
FELLOW DUO
COFFEE STEEPER
$100
How it works A stainless steel chamber atop
a glass carafe, it lets you
make cold-brew or hot
coffee. To release coffee
through the filter into the
carafe, you twist the two
parts of the top chamber.
Pros At 15 inches high,
it fits into the fridge, and
its permanent fine filter
ensures no gunk at the
bottom of your cup.
Cons If you’d like to fill
two 16-ounce travel cups,
sorry: This unit and the
Bruer make the least cold
brew of the five—roughly
20 ounces at a time.
THE SCIENCE OF SMOOTH
Cold-Brew Coffee
Standard Hot Coffee
As any caffeine addict knows, a regular cup of joe starts with hot
water (between 195° F and 205° F) and coffee grounds. The water
dissolves oils, acids, and other compounds out of the grounds,
giving coffee its familiar acidity and eye-opening aroma. The hot
water also degrades acids, creating coffee’s bitter notes.
Stumptown Cold-Brew Coffee $8
|
VS.
The absence of hot water means that the oils, acids, and
other compounds dissolve much more slowly. The acids also
aren’t degraded, making for a much smoother beverage, free
of bitterness. One downside: This coffee’s aroma is barely
noticeable because heat is what releases it from the grounds.
Starbucks Cold Brew $3.25 to $3.95 National range
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 9
UPDATE
|
news and adv ice
Save Water
in the Kitchen
California isn’t the only place facing a dry spell. Water managers in
40 states say that even if water conditions remain normal, they expect
shortages in some part of their state over the next decade. That’s according
to WaterSense, the water conservation partner of the Environmental
Protection Agency. That means we all could benefit from California’s
efforts to get “more pop per drop,” as a state water authority put it.
When it comes to wasting water in the kitchen, the dishwasher isn’t
the culprit; it’s probably you. Too many people rinse their dishes before
putting them in a dishwasher designed to do that very job—and do it
better than you can. Five ways to save:
Replace your old dishwasher.
Energy Star dishwashers are about
15 percent more water efficient
than standard models. The most
miserly use only 4 to 6 gallons
during a normal cycle. Bonus:
They’re quieter, too.
Give pots and pans a soak instead
of scrubbing them under running
water to loosen caked-on food.
Wash only full loads of dishes.
For maximum efficiency, load
your dishwasher according to the
instructions in your owner’s manual,
SAVE WATER |
which will make the most of the
sprays in your machine.
Keep your drinking water in the
refrigerator instead of running the
tap until it’s cool. Designate one
water bottle per person per day so
that you only have to wash it once.
Install a WaterSense aerator on
the kitchen faucet to reduce flow
to less than 1 gallon per minute.
It’s a cheap fix for only pennies.
Avoid running the garbage disposal, and the water that entails,
by composting your food scraps.
An Energy Star dishwasher will save about 1,600 gallons over its lifetime according to the EPA
After hearing
about lead in
the water in
Flint, Mich.,
I’m worried
about mine.
Should I
buy a filter?
Reports of unsafe water pouring
from taps in Flint and other cities
can be alarming. But before you
panic, you should check your
municipal water report and also
have your water tested, says Chris
Hendel, Consumer Reports’ medical researcher. The Environmental
Protection Agency posts municipal
water-quality reports every July;
find yours at epa.gov/safewater.
But if your home was built before lead-free pipes were mandated in 1986 or if you use well water,
a test is the best way to assess your
home’s water quality. Your state or
local health department may offer
free test kits. The EPA’s website
lists local labs; you can also call
its Safe Drinking Water Hotline
10 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Clear2O
carafe, $30
Culligan
FM-15A, $20
at 800-426-4791. If tests find lead
but it’s below 150 parts per billion
(ppb), a filter can make your water
safer to drink. If it’s higher or if
tests reveal other concerns, such
as arsenic, bacteria, or parasites,
contact your local health department for advice. There’s no
universally accepted safe level for
lead or many other contaminants.
In our most recent tests of
water filters, our top picks were
the Clear2O carafe, $30, and the
faucet-mounted Culligan FM-15A,
$20. Both were top rated for
removing lead and other contaminants. To fill the Clear2O, you
must remove your faucet’s aerator
and connect the attached hose
directly to your faucet.
PHOTO, TOP RIGHT: YUKI KONDO/GETTY IMAGES
I hate handwashing
dishes.
Can I put
plasticware
in the dishwasher?
Yes. Just avoid selecting
cycles such as “sanitize”
that use higher washing
or drying temperatures.
Heat can cause plastic
to degrade, says Urvashi
Rangan, Ph.D., Consumer Reports’ director
of safety and sustainability. And it can cause
worrisome chemicals
such BPA (bisphenol
A) to leach from some
types of plastic containers. Although most
food-storage containers
are no longer made with
BPA, older plasticware
may contain it. BPA has
been linked to health
concerns including
cardiovascular disease
and an increased risk of
breast and prostate cancers. Containers may
also have other chemicals such as plasticizers
and phthalates that can
leach. Use plasticware
that says “dishwasher
safe,” and wash on the
top rack only.
The Dirt on Clean Dishes
If you wonder why dishes come out of your
dishwasher with bits of food still stuck to
them, it could be because you’re rinsing them
first. It seems counterintuitive, but prerinsing can make your dishes come out dirtier,
not cleaner. That goes for glasses, pots, and
silverware, too. The reason is that most dishwashers costing $500 or more sold in the past
five years or so have a sensor that determines
how thorough a wash is needed. At the start
of the cycle, it rinses the dishes, then checks
how dirty the water is to determine the proper
amount of time and water to get everything
clean. If you’ve already rinsed off much of the
muck, the sensor misreads the dishes as already fairly clean. So the appliance gives them
just a light wash, and items come out less than
sparkling. To avoid that lackluster result, don’t
rinse; just scrape off loose food. And use one
of the detergents that topped our tests.
d RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS
Member’s Mark Ultimate Clean
Dishwasher Pacs
(Sam’s Club) 10¢ per load
Finish
Quantum Max Powerball
41¢ per load
Finish
Powerball Tabs 18¢ per load
Cascade Platinum
ActionPacs with the Power
of Clorox 34¢ per load
Finish
Gelpacs 21¢ per load
Palmolive
eco+ 6¢ per load
Cascade Complete Powder
21¢ per load
Seventh Generation
Powder 19¢ per load
Cascade
Complete ActionPacs
29¢ per load
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 11
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8 smart kitchen upg rades
ATTRACTIVE FEATURES
An open layout with easy flow from
the kitchen to entertaining areas and
an island is a highly desirable kitchen
attribute, according to our experts.
Stainless steel appliances and updated surfaces and floorings create
a look that says: “brand new.”
12 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
8 Smart
Kitchen Upgrades
Making the right remodeling decisions will
help you get a kitchen that fits your needs now
and boosts your home’s value later
UNLESS YOU’RE PLANNING to move in the next couple of years, you’re
probably not factoring resale into your kitchen update plans—but you
should. Situations change, and the house you imagined growing old in
could suddenly be just one stop on the path of life. Here are eight ways,
informed by Consumer Reports’ nationally representative survey of
1,573 millennials, to improve your kitchen and your home’s value.
1
MAKE IT
LOOK NEW
Buyers of all kinds have long focused on
the kitchen, but it holds particular sway
over the newest wave of irst-time homeowners. A “modern/updated” kitchen
topped the list of ideal home features in
our survey of millennials, registering as
most important to more than one-third of
respondents. If you plan to sell, don’t rip
your kitchen down to the studs; a smaller
investment can have serious impact. For as
little as $5,000 you should be able to add
a new suite of appliances, as well as a new
countertop and looring. Applying a coat
of paint to the walls or cabinets, and updating the hardware, can work wonders.
VALUABLE ADDITIONS
Stainless steel. Though it has been around for
decades, this clean, contemporary finish on appliances signals “updated” in the mind of the buyer.
Quartz countertops. Engineered from stone chips,
resins, and pigments, quartz has started to challenge granite and marble as the go-to material in
higher-end kitchens. It shrugged off heat, scratches,
cuts, and stains in our tests, and it requires none of
the upkeep of comparably priced natural stones.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 13
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8 smart kitchen upg rades
UP
THE PLAN
2 OPEN
An “open loor plan with lexible living space” was
second only to an updated kitchen on millennials’
list of most desired features. So if you’re considering removing a wall to connect your kitchen to
an adjacent living or dining area, you can take
the plunge, feeling conident that the additional
expense will probably make your home more appealing to future buyers. While you’re at it, add an
island, the No. 1 most requested feature, according
to the kitchen designers we’ve interviewed.
VALUABLE ADDITIONS
Multipurpose spaces. Also known
as flex rooms or double-duty
rooms, you’ll see these advertised
as an additional living area that can
serve a variety of purposes. If your
plans include updating an adjacent
family room, consider making sure
it can do double duty as a guest
room or playroom.
Dedicated laundry room. It’s not
part of the kitchen, per se, but
younger buyers in particular say
they want a dedicated laundry
room, perhaps off the kitchen. Manufacturers are obliging with washer/
dryer sets with a matching fit and
finish that neatly integrates into the
living space. We like the Maytag
Bravos MVWB85DW HE top-loader
and Maytag Bravos MEDB855DW
electric dryer, $1,050 each.
BOSCH
IN
ENERGY SAVINGS
3 BUILD
14 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
VALUABLE ADDITIONS
High-efficiency windows. Energy
Star certified windows can lower
your home’s energy bills by 7 to
15 percent. That will be a selling
point with buyers, though replacing
windows is expensive—anywhere
from $8,000 to $24,000 for an entire house—so you probably won’t
recoup the entire investment if
you plan to sell right away. A major
kitchen renovation is a good time
to update the kitchen windows; you
can always switch out the units in
the rest of the house later on.
LED lights. Some listings emphasize their “green” credentials
by mentioning the presence of
LED lighting. Choose the Feit
Electric 60 Watt Replacement
9.5W LED, a $7 bulb that delivers
superb light quality and has a
23-year life expectancy.
PHOTO, PREVIOUS SPREAD: JANE BEILES
Lowering your home’s energy costs will save
you money for as long as you live there and is
expected to be a major selling point down
the line. Indeed, “energy-eicient” was second
only to “safe community” on the list of attributes
that would most inluence a purchase decision,
according to a 2015 survey by the National
Association of Home Builders.
Older homeowners who have felt the sting
of escalating energy costs tend to be driving the
interest. But there are some early adopters
among younger buyers, too, especially in regions
of the country with more extreme weather.
“My millennial buyers usually ask for two years’
worth of utility payments,” says Joe Rivellino,
a real estate professional in the Buffalo, N.Y.,
area. “They want to know the R-Value on
the insulation and whether the windows have
low-E coatings,” he says, referring to two important efficiency measures.
PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS
Choosing easy-care materials
like quartz countertops and
wood or porcelain tile floors will
make your life easier now, and
may appeal to busy prospective
buyers. Choosing energy-saving
appliances and lighting is another
smart decision, whether you plan
to stay or move.
PHOTO, TOP RIGHT: JANE BEILES
4
THINK ‘LOWMAINTENANCE’
Stain-prone stone countertops, dust-collecting ornate cabinets, and grime-catching ceramic tile used to be symbols
of luxury, but today’s homebuyers are more likely to equate
them with extra work. “We call it stress-free living,” says
Miguel Berger, a real estate professional in Albany, N.Y.
“The younger generation in particular would much rather
spend their time entertaining at home than fussing over it.”
It’s safe to assume boomers feel the same way.
VALUABLE ADDITIONS
Hardwood floors. Long-wearing hardwood flooring with
a durable factory finish is an easy-care alternative to
ceramic tile or linoleum. Engineered wood flooring, which
uses a thin veneer of real wood or bamboo over structural
plywood, tends not to wear as well as the solid stuff,
though it has the same look and tends to cost less, making it a good choice if you plan to sell soon.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 15
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FORWARD
5 LOOK
By 2040 there are expected to be almost 80 million seniors, accounting
for 21 percent of the population. The
existing housing stock isn’t equipped
to safely accommodate that many older
people—too many steep staircases, narrow walker-unfriendly doorways, and
slippery surfaces. Proactive homeowners are making necessary improvements now—and those changes will
beneit people of all ages. According
to a 2015 survey by HomeAdvisor,
56 percent of homeowners who hired
a pro for aging-related projects were
younger than 65, and 10 percent were
younger than 50.
VALUABLE ADDITIONS
Wall oven and cooktop combo. You can place
a wall oven wherever you want it, eliminating the
need to bend down to move heavy dishes in and
out of a range.
Lower microwave. It eliminates the need to lift
a pan into an over-the-range model.
BRIGHTEN UP
Whether you have a windowed nook or not,
brighten your space with paint, choosing
one of our top-rated brands on page 71 to
give walls a fresh, clean new look.
THE POWER
OF PAINT
6 USE
SMART ABOUT
SMART TECHNOLOGY
7 BE
Paint keeps your home looking its best while
also defending its surfaces from wear, tear,
and the elements. If you’re getting ready to sell,
high-traic spaces like the kitchen should be
the irst places you paint. Do the job yourself for
about $100 in material costs or pay a professional
$1,000 or so, which should cover multiple rooms.
High-tech features ofer notoriously bad returns on investment
because technologies tend to evolve quickly. But certain
smart devices add value and interest, including programmable
thermostats, a wise add-on while you’re in renovation-mode.
“I’ll often install a Nest thermostat because it creates the
impression that this is a high-tech home,” Berger says.
VALUABLE ADDITIONS
Neutral color scheme. Whites and off-whites remain the
top-selling interior colors and will appeal to most homebuyers, allowing them to envision the space as their own. Neutrals
appeal to all generations of buyers, according to Jule Eller,
trend and style director at Lowe’s.
16 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
We’re seeing the same benefit with lights, door locks, and
security systems. Those smart features have broad appeal with
millennials, “who grew up on smartphones, so they’re used to
being able to control things at their fingertips,” says JP Endres,
a real estate professional based in Westchester County, north of
New York City. “And they’ll pay 3 to 5 percent more for a home
with the right amenities.”
PHOTOS: JANE BEILES (TOP LEFT AND TOP RIGHT); BOB WIGAND (BOTTOM RIGHT)
Counters at varied heights. Installing some
counters that a user can sit at to work allows
cooks of all abilities and ages to take part in
meal prep.
TO
THE OUTDOORS
8 CONNECT
Your home’s property is another
opportunity to expand its living
space. Adding a deck or patio, with
room for seating and a built-in or
freestanding grill, is a way to create
a deined space for outdoor living
on a large or small scale, and connecting that space to the kitchen or
open family room via glass doors is
a smart decision. (For more on creating an indoor-outdoor kitchen, see
“Open for Entertaining,” on page 36.)
VALUABLE ADDITIONS
GO OUTSIDE
Well-equipped
outdoor living
areas help expand
your home’s usable
living space and
are less expensive
than an addition.
Easy upkeep. “[Millennial buyers] love
outdoor spaces, but whereas prior generations might have gone for the pool, Gen Yers
recognize the maintenance costs associated
with it,” Berger says. “They’d much rather
see an outdoor fire pit surrounded by a
simple seating arrangement.”
Water-savvy planting. Don’t go for overly
lush landscapes, especially in droughtstricken regions with high water costs.
VALUABLE ADDITIONS
Programmable thermostat. The Honeywell RTH9590WF, $300, at right, proved
easier to use than the Nest in our tests. Both
can be controlled from a phone or computer.
Whole-house generator. Power failures
are an increasing reality, and a generator
can save all of the food in that huge
new fridge (not to mention keeping the
lights on). Stationary generators can
usually power the entire property. A
professionally installed unit can range
from $7,000 to $15,000, according to
Porch, a website connecting users with
home service pros. We like the Generac
6241, $3,500, excluding installation.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 17
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bold in black & white
Bold
In Black
& White
Vern Yip’s own kitchen pairs
high-contrast design with
plenty of family-friendly
practicality
D
DESIGNER VERN YIP is a study in
contrasts. Although instantly recognizable from his years as a high-profile
designer and host on HGTV, Yip’s a
down-to-earth dad. He’s as passionate
about his home life with partner Craig
Koch and their children, Gavin and
Vera, as he is about his busy design
business. That commitment to balancing fab with family-friendly shows in
every inch of his remodeled Atlanta
kitchen, which started, as so many do,
as a small space cut off from the rest of
the house. “We wanted to bring it up to
date with the way we live today, which
is very different from the way people
used their kitchens when the house was
built in 1926,” Yip says. The renovation
effectively doubled the space, creating
a large work area open to an adjacent
breakfast room, with cabinets galore
and an island with seating for four.
CABINET DECISIONS
Layout in place, Yip turned to the cabinetry, choosing a simple paneled design and a rich black finish from Omega
Cabinetry, a company he takes care to
note he has no business relationship
with. “It was really important to me to
have well-made wood cabinets. They
18 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
FAMILY AFFAIR
Vern Yip designed his kitchen
with his family in mind,
choosing durable materials
with classic looks that would
stand up to years of “kids and
dogs.” A graphic black-andwhite scheme lends a little
designer attitude.
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bold in black & white
get a lot of wear and tear—kids aren’t
particularly careful when they open or
close a door—and I wanted something
that would really last,” he says. When
specifying the cabinet design, he mostly avoided the standard arrangement of
upper and lower units separated by a
strip of backsplash. “Where we needed
upper cabinets, I tried to extend the
cabinetry from floor to ceiling—it’s a
much more streamlined look,” he says.
Get the Look
Copy Vern Yip’s timeless style with
these look-alike products
MATERIAL MATTERS
DESIGNER STYLE
Of course, Yip was intent on giving
the new space a fresh new look. He
stuck with a simple black-and-white palette but went big on pattern, painting
the walls with broad stripes and using
his own line of fabrics throughout.
The crystal pendants above the island,
from the London collection he created
for Stonegate Designs, add sparkle and
feature energy-efficient LED bulbs.
Like most people post-remodel, Yip,
who has overseen more projects than
he can count, is relieved it’s over—and
pleased with the results. “The kitchen
fits us perfectly now,” he says.
20 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
STRIPED SHADE
Turn a simple hanging bulb into
a focal point with the addition of
a graphic striped shade.
Black Horizontal Stripe Giclee
Shade, $60.
lampsplus.com
PRO-STYLE RANGE
If a hefty pro-style range like this one
is beyond your budget, consider one
of our well-priced picks on page 95.
Wolf 36” Gas Range, $6,345.
subzero-wolf.com
HINT OF COLOR
STREAMLINED STOOL
A few aqua accents pick up the
pretty blue of the painted ceiling. Aqua
Center-Striped Tea Towel, $5 for two.
athome.com
Designed for a 2001 exhibit at the
Museum of Modern Art, this sleek
seat suits any style space.
Emeco Counter Stool, $460.
dwr.com
PHOTOS: DAVID A. LAND (PREVIOUS SPREAD, MIDDLE LEFT, AND MIDDLE RIGHT)
To create a space with equal parts
beauty and brains, Yip chose a mix of
hard-working materials with timeless
style. “We’re busy, we have dogs and
kids, so we didn’t want anything to be
fussy,” he says. His pretty and practical
choices include espresso-stained wood
flooring and white Cambria quartz
countertops with subtle veining that offers the classic look of marble but without the upkeep. “I love Carrara marble,
but I know myself—stains would drive
me crazy, and I didn’t want to have
to reseal the stone all the time. Quartz
looks great, and it’s nonporous. It’s
a no-brainer.” Beveled subway tile
extends all the way to the ceiling on
the back wall. “It’s tempting to have
fun with tile,” he says. “but you have
to think about all the things that will
sit on your counter. Keeping the tile
simple creates a less cluttered look.”
MOD CHAIR
Inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s famous
Brno chair, this modern classic makes a
comfortably casual dining chair.
Mies Executive Arm Chair, $750.
modernclassics.com
FUN FABRICS
SHERWIN-WILLIAMS
ALABASTER M530-7
Limit the palette and even the boldest
mix of patterns, like these fabrics from
Yip’s own collection, won’t overwhelm.
From left: 03365 Black, $41 per yard;
03356 Black, $51 per yard; and 03364
Black, $41 per yard. To the trade.
trend-fabrics.com
That New
Black Magic
When Vern Yip remodeled his kitchen, he knew
one thing for sure: He wanted black cabinets.
As it happened, Yip was ahead of the curve.
Black-and-white kitchens are a full-fledged
design trend, getting lots of love in the blogosphere. Stephanie Pierce, director of design and
trends at MasterBrand Cabinets, weighs in: “At
least 50 percent of the designers we work with
are using two or more finishes in their kitchens,”
she says. “Black’s a natural choice because it’s
timeless and works with every other color.” But
black isn’t for every space. “If you want a bright
look in a kitchen with black cabinets, you need to
have plenty of natural light coming in,” she says.
SHERWIN-WILLIAMS
BLACK MAGIC M530-7
SHERWIN-WILLIAMS
OPEN AIR M530-7
SLEEK FAUCET
This single-handled pull-out faucet has
a sleek silhouette and a spot-resistant
brushed stainless-steel finish.
90 Degree High Arc Pullout Faucet,
$818. moen.com
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 21
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cozy in color
Cozy in Color
These pretty paint shades from our
top tested brands create a warm and inviting effect
LEMON
Try Behr Marquee
(Home Depot), in Spirited
Yellow, P290-4, $43
22 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Sunny yellow is a cheerful
choice for a kitchen. It makes
even a dark room look brighter
and mixes well with a range
of other colors, including lime
green, as shown here.
SEA GLASS
Try Valspar Reserve
(Lowe’s) in
Homestead Resort
Spa Aqua,
5004-5A, $44
Soft, watery blues add
a touch of tranquility
to kitchens in coastal
settings—or anyplace
you’d like to tap a
vacation-house vibe.
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cozy in color
SCARLET
Try: Clark +
Kensington Enamel
in Bold and Beautiful, 06D-5, $32
There’s nothing subtle
about bright red, but
it’s a surprisingly
versatile shade that
pairs well with a range
of colors from warm
neutrals, to navy blue,
black, or crisp white.
PHOTOS, PREVIOUS SPREAD, FROM LEFT: MARK LOHMAN; CASEY DUNN. THIS SPREAD, FROM LEFT: CLEARY O’FARRELL; KARYN R. MILLET
COCOA
Try Benjamin Moore
Aura in Chocolate
Mousse, 1025, $54
A subtle neutral with a warm
base is a foolproof starting point
for your kitchen’s color scheme.
Adding bright accessories creates a colorful look without risking a paint shade you may tire of.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 25
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double the pleasure
Double the
Pleasure
A clever update expanded this
kitchen’s square footage
within the existing footprint,
no expensive addition required
W
WHO SAYS YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN? Shannon
Harris chose to do just that, buying her childhood
home from her parents and moving in with her
husband, Bradley, and their two daughters. But
though the suburban Atlanta home was long on
memories, the kitchen was short on the kinds of
modern amenities a busy young family needs.
The Harrises had been considering an update
for several years when life forced their hand: A
slow leak from the old refrigerator buckled the
wood floors. And then things got worse. “When
they pulled up the wood to replace it, they found
old asphalt tiles underneath,” Shannon says. “Removing all the asphalt meant taking everything
out of the kitchen—basically a gut job—so while we
were at it we decided to remodel.”
Working with architect Kristen Ware of Ware
& Associates and general contractor Jack Mattern
of the local design-build firm Modify Atlanta, the
couple opted not to add on but to reconfigure the
existing space to create a family hub with better
flow and a brighter, more modern look. “Like a
lot of 1960s houses, this one was very segmented
26 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
AFTER
A reconfigured layout eliminated
the once-choppy layout and
inaccessible cabinets, creating a
more efficient workspace and a
comfortable family hangout zone.
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double the pleasure
BEFORE
inside,” Mattern says. “And it’s on a wooded lot, so
getting light inside was a challenge.” The solution
was threefold: To enlarge the kitchen itself, the design team extended it into the former breakfast nook,
creating a long, open space. They removed a half wall
that cut the kitchen off from the adjoining family
room, replacing it with a breakfast bar with seating
for two. And they enlarged the existing bay window
to help usher sunlight into the once-dingy space.
Because they’d been dreaming about a remodel
for so long, the Harrises had a pretty good idea of
the look they wanted in the kitchen: “Traditional but
clean and simple,” Shannon says. They used websites
such as Houzz to find pictures to share with their
designers, and they worked carefully with the cabinet contractor to choose storage that would fit their
needs, eliminating the old kitchen’s “unusable” corner cabinets and incorporating more drawers than
doors. Before they signed off on the cabinet plan, the
couple got to see it in virtual reality. “That gave us so
much confidence,” Shannon says.
Bradley, the family’s main cook, was in charge of
picking the appliances, replacing the old electric range
with a gas cooktop and a pair of wall ovens. “He’s a
great baker, so the wall ovens were important,” Shannon says. A larger fridge comes in handy when the family entertains—as they do just about every weekend.
The efficient new layout, improved storage, and
sleek appliances get a boost from the updated look.
Warm wood floors, durable honed granite counters
in a light-reflecting gray, and a mix of geometric
backsplash tiles create a space that’s as easy on the
eyes as it is to cook—and live—in. Of course, it’s still
the same kitchen Shannon grew up in. “But now it
feels like it’s really ours,” she says.
28 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
A sleek gray-and-white
palette gives the kitchen a
sophisticated look that
flows seamlessly into the
adjoining family room.
BEFORE
The old kitchen occupied a small rectangle bound by a peninsula and cut
off from the family room by an awkward half wall. The existing storage was
minimal and relied heavily on difficult-to-access corner cabinets. A breakfast
table took up a large portion of the floor plan.
The contractor suggested a
highly textured local wood
for the bay window to help
add richness and call
attention to the detail.
PHOTOS, THIS SPREAD AND PREVIOUS: LAUREN RUBINSTEIN (AFTER)
AFTER
Moving the breakfast table to a nearby sunroom allowed for a longer run
of counters on one side of the kitchen and seating for two. Reconfiguring
a doorway on the opposite wall created more space for appliances.
A freestanding island adds prep space but can move aside if not needed.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 29
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instant makeover
Instant
Makeover
ECLECTIC MIX
With equal parts rustic
and modern, this space
has a fun, personal style
that’s easy to copy—
even on a budget.
30 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
PHOTO, LEFT: JEFF HERR
You don’t have to renovate to get a new look.
A few easy pieces will do the trick.
Ideas to Steal
POP OF COLOR
A few bright accessories add energy
to open shelving displays—without
adding clutter.
Linework vase, Maze,
$44; westelm.com
BOLD FIXTURE
A show-stopping pendant, like this one
based on a well-known Mid-Century Modern
design, creates a focal point in an otherwise
simple space.
Arteriors Zanadoo 12-light chandelier,
$2,160; lumens.com
COUNTRY CONTRAST
Variety is the spice of life—and of kitchen
design. Classic country-French chairs in a
mix of metal and wood are an unexpected
match to a modern breakfast table.
Cadence dining side chair in aged elm,
$199; arhaus.com
LOW-PROFILE SHELVES
Open shelving instead of upper cabinets
provides inexpensive storage in a spacechallenged kitchen.
DeanPenn reclaimed 36” wood shelving,
$40 each; etsy.com
RUSTIC TOUCH
Rich Base
A handcarved wood bowl lends
natural texture to balance smooth and
shiny kitchen surfaces.
A coat of high-gloss navy
blue paint on the base
cabinets has a grounding
efect in a bright space.
BEHR
ELEGANT NAVY M530-7
BEHR
SIMPLY WHITE BWC-01
Root Wood bowl, medium,
$58; bambeco.com
SLEEK APPLIANCES
GLAM HARDWARE
Go for the gold: It mixes beautifully with
stainless steel.
Lewis Dolin 5-inch bar pull in brushed brass,
$11.61 each; thehardwarehut.com
You can get the look of pro-style appliances
without the high price. Our top-rated ranges
on page 95 mix performance with great style.
Samsung NX58H5600SS 30-inch gas range,
$800; samsung.com
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 31
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instant makeover
PHOTO, LEFT: JEFF HERR
MODERN LOVE
Clean lines, warm
wood, and plenty of
gleaming stone and
steel create a look
that’s current and
inviting.
32 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Ideas to Steal
SLEEK SEATING
Sculptural chrome bar stools are as cool as
they are comfy. Bonus: The backless design
doesn’t block the view of the kitchen from adjoining areas when the stools are unoccupied.
HANDSOME HOOD
Freddy adjustable bar stool, $361;
sleekmodernfurniture.com
Turn a function into a design feature by
choosing a range hood that holds its own,
like this one with a strong, angular profile
in shining stainless steel.
Broan convertible wall-mounted range hood,
$479; lowes.com
THRICE AS NICE
Pendant lights don’t have to cost a fortune:
Hanging multiples of bargain-priced
fixtures will make a big impact (and brighten
your space).
Home Decorators Collection 1-light pendant,
$66; homedepot.com
BACK SPLASH
An allover geometric pattern in a neutral
color scheme draws the eye to the backsplash, helping a small space look larger.
Kiln chevron milk-white ceramic tile,
$47 per square foot; modwalls.com
FUNCTIONAL FUN
Add a splash of color on the cooktop by
picking bright cookware that’s pretty enough
to leave out all of the time.
Le Creuset Signature 7.25-quart round
Caribbean French oven with lid,
$360; crateandbarrel.com
Cool Attitude
Pale gray walls and white
trim provide crisp, clean
contrast with the warmth of
natural wood inishes.
VALSPAR
NOTRE DAME 5006-1B
BRIGHT IDEA
TIMELY TOUCH
A colorful lacquered tray is both
decorative and useful.
A few minimalist elements add style, subtly.
Convenience Concepts Palm Beach serving tray,
$29; walmart.com
VALSPAR
PARAMOUNT WHITE 7006-22
Clemens clock,
$87; franceandson.com
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 33
|
instant makeover
COUNTRY CHIC
French country
accents help create
an elegant but
comfortable look
that’s easily adaptable.
34 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
PHOTOS: ANDREA RUGG/COLLINSTOCK (LEFT); HEATHER KNIGHT (TOP)
IDEA FILE
Ideas to Steal
TIMELESS TILE
You can’t go wrong with subway tile. It creates
a clean, pulled-together effect in almost
any style space—and it won’t break the bank.
Cobble subway tile,
$18 per square foot; homedepot.com
TOUCHABLE TEXTURE
A pale color scheme gains character from
plenty of rich natural texture.
Medium scallop bowl,
$70; elementclaystudio.com
Bright Backdrop
Work an all-white palette
by choosing two contrasting shades: one slightly
gray, the other pure white.
FRESH GREENS
CLARK+KENSINGTON
STORMY WEATHER CW-C7
ATTENTION GETTER
CLARK+KENSINGTON
SILENT WHITE CW-C1
Create a bold transition from workspace
to entertaining area by hanging a dramatic
chandelier above the dining table.
Edible plants, like a windowsill herb garden
or a miniature citrus tree, lend an appealing
living element to your kitchen.
Similar: Nagami kumquat tree,
$80 for a 2- to 3-foot tree; brighterblooms.com
Napa East Collection wine barrel chandelier,
$1,799; wayfairsupply.com
TAILORED TOUCHES
For a sophisticated look, pick hardware with
simple shapes and subtle shine. Brushed
nickel fits well with a French-inspired look.
CAFE CLASSIC
Designed in France in 1934, this timeless
style lends an appealing French accent
to a casual dining area.
Tolix Marais A chair,
$275; dwr.com
From left: Amerock 3-inch centers cup pull
in satin nickel, $2.59; Amerock Rochdale
1¼-inch knob in satin nickel, $4.50; Schlage
F10 Series Passage Andover doorknob with
Addison rose in satin nickel,
$56; myknobs.com
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 35
IDEA FILE
|
open for entertaining
Open for
Entertaining
See how a pair of design pros gave
their kitchen an easy indoor-outdoor
flow. Then get tips for creating your
own party-perfect living spaces.
A
AFTER A FUN FAMILY BEACH VACATION, Blake Farrow, a builder
in Ontario, Canada, and his wife, Marina Farrow, an interior
designer, decided to renovate their lives. They sold their city
home and bought a dilapidated 1970s ranch on three acres
outside of town with the goal of creating a place for their family
to come together in nature. The setting was perfect. The house,
not so much. "It was very Brady Bunch," Blake says. A gut renovation and a large addition solved that problem. Now the couple
and their three children enjoy a spread designed with flexibility
and a connection to the great outdoors in mind.
Blake describes the kitchen, a grand space outfitted for serious cooking and large-scale entertaining, as the "heartbeat"
of the house. So the couple took particular care to build in a
warm, casual style. "We wanted it to feel comfortable whether
it's just the family or a party for 100," Blake says. The latter is a
fairly common occurrence chez Farrow, and they planned accordingly. When the weather cooperates, a wall of sliding glass
doors can be opened to create a seamless flow to the outdoor
living areas. And "all the furniture is on wheels, so we can push
the table outside or move everything to create a dance floor,"
Marina says. "When entertaining is easy, it's more fun."
SMOOTH TRANSITION
The wall of sliding glass doors links inside
and out year-round. "Even when it's too
cold to be outside, you still feel surrounded by nature," Blake Farrow notes.
To ensure that the connection was truly
seamless, the Farrows built the cedar
deck to the same level as the polished
concrete kitchen floor. "We wanted kids
and everyone else to be able to run in and
out without tripping," Marina Farrow says.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 37
IDEA FILE
|
open for entertaining
INDOOR KITCHEN
Marina's stylish kitchen design is
long on practicality. "We didn't want
to add any maintenance to our life,"
she says. So she chose easy-care
materials like tough quartz for the
countertops and grainy oak for the
cabinets. And she included features
to suit her cooking tastes: a built-in
pizza oven (not shown), a lower
counter for comfortable dough
rolling, and a huge refrigerator for
party-food storage.
Blake loves to barbecue, and he
took care to design an outdoor
cooking area that's accessible for
year-round use. "We created an
overhang so the grills are sheltered,
and installed galvanized metal
behind them because it's fireproof
and easy to clean," he explains.
Fire-resistant horse-stall rubber
matting lines the deck under the
grills, protecting the cedar and providing a cushy standing surface.
38 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
PHOTO, PREVIOUS SPREAD: ROBIN STUBBERT/GAP INTERIORS
OUTDOOR KITCHEN
Connect
Indoors and Out
A close link to outdoor
spaces can make your
kitchen feel bigger. Here,
three ways to create low:
ADD A PASS-THROUGH
The simple addition of an exterior
countertop turns a window into a
functional feature. This configuration allows the cook to interact with
guests as they enjoy outdoor areas,
makes it easy to transfer food and
dishes, and creates a handy bar or
buffet space.
USE WOOD AND STONE
PHOTOS, CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: ROBIN STUBBERT/GAP INTERIORS (2); DARLENE HALABY; CASEY DUNN (2)
Natural materials create a visual
link between an indoor kitchen and
the house's natural surroundings.
Granite is a wise choice for outdoor
countertops because it stands up
well to the elements.
GO FOR A GLASS WALL
Sliding glass walls—wide expanses
of doors that stack at one end or slip
into a channel in the wall, appearing
to "disappear"—are a newly popular
design feature. NanaWall, the maker
of the system used by the Farrows
and shown below, was one of the first
to introduce the look, but a number
of companies offer similar products.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 39
IDEA FILE
|
Take It Outside
Expand your kitchen
with a space that's
great for grilling
Outdoor kitchens and entertaining
areas are popular for good reason.
"They let you extend your home's
living space without making a big
investment in an addition," says
Leslie Wheeler, communications
director for the Hearth, Patio, &
Barbecue Association.
It's easy to create an appealing
outdoor space on a budget. You
can start simply by lighting up the
night with long-lasting LEDs and a
portable fire pit to gather around.
Underfoot, gravel walkways and
patios are a lower-cost alternative
to stone and concrete. Overhead,
a ceiling fan keeps the breeze
moving. Outdoor fireplaces,
and especially fire pits, have
become popular hot spots as
homeowners look to make the
most of the space. You don’t have
to do everything at once. Take a
multiyear approach, if necessary,
because poor planning or working
with inferior materials to save
money are the biggest mistakes
people make. And last, choose
a great grill. Our top three are
pictured on the next page.
40 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
MONEY MATTERS
SCREEN STAR
Most gas grills sell for
less than $300 and are
used for three years, on
average. Spending $400
to $600 can get you a
top-performing midsized
grill; $600 to $900 can
get you a large one.
Keep the mosquitos
from feasting on
you by tucking your
outdoor kitchen inside
a screened porch. Tip:
Factor ventilation into
your plans or risk getting smoked out.
GREAT GAS GRILLS
PHOTO, LEFT: TOM MARKS/MCKINNEY GROUP
Consumer Reports puts gas grills through a battery of tests for evenness,
indirect cooking, temperature range,
convenience, and more. Here, our top picks at every size.
c CR
c CR
Best Buy
Best Buy
MIDSIZED
LARGE
SMALL
NEXGRILL 720-0830H
(HOME DEPOT)
NAPOLEON PRESTIGE
PRO 665RSIB
HUNTINGTON
630124
$270
$2,600
$140
Superb preheating and
even cooking put this grill
at the top of our list. It has
four burners, electronic
ignition, and a side burner.
homedepot.com
This pricey pick performed
very well overall. Perks
include 600 sq. in. of
grill surface, an infrared
rotisserie and side burner,
and lighted controls.
napoleongrills.com
This nicely priced model
preheated quickly and showed
impressive temperature range
and indirect cooking performance. It has three burners and
a push-button ignition.
huntingtonbbq.com
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 41
IDEA FILE
|
remodeling surv ival g uide
Remodeling
Survival Guide
Consumer Reports’ latest survey of
300 general contractors revealed
some shady pro practices and costly
mistakes homeowners make.
Here’s how to avoid the common pitfalls
on the road to a beautiful new kitchen.
42 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
The Planning
Phase
Proper planning is the best predictor
of satisfaction and will minimize the
number of costly changes you make once
the work is underway. So before you even
think of looking for a contractor, you’ll
need to spend time gathering ideas and
taking a hard look at your own budget.
A 2015 report from Houzz, a home-design
website, found that half of homeowners
who renovated their kitchen gathered
ideas for six months or longer. Organize your inspirational photos by using
Houzz’s ideabook feature or starting a
Pinterest page; an old-fashioned scrapbook will also work well.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ZELA LOBB
P
PLANNING TO TACKLE that big kitchen renovation
this year? Welcome to the club. Home improvement
spending is projected to reach $155 billion in 2016,
according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for
Housing Studies. And the construction industry has
shed more than 2 million jobs since 2007.
Though the number of remodeling pros has
declined, there are still less experienced—and less
scrupulous—ones out there, according to a recent
survey of 300 general contractors from around the
country conducted by the Consumer Reports
National Research Center. Among the shady practices general contractors reported are contractors
using unskilled laborers, and winning jobs with
lowball bids and then jacking up the cost later with
“unforeseen problems.”
Our survey asked crucial questions such as:
How much wiggle room is in the estimate? What
are the biggest homeowner mistakes? How long
do projects really take? The answers inform this
guide. Follow our advice and you could save
thousands without compromising quality—or
losing your cool.
most charge fees between 4 and 7 percent
of the total budget—vs. the 10 to 20 percent
most architects charge. Whether you opt for
an architect or a designer, insist on 3D drawings: They’ll help you visualize the remodeled space better than flat elevations will.
Establish a system of checks and balances
between your designer and your contractor
from the start. “It’s those big decisions made
in the first 10 to 15 percent of the design
process that have the most impact on cost,”
says Marc Truant, president of a designbuild firm based in Boston. “An experienced
GC will help you head off things you can’t afford before you pay for finished drawings.”
Though word-of-mouth referrals are best,
real estate agents can also provide leads to
reputable GCs. The National Association
of the Remodeling Industry offers a directory of certified contractors on its website,
at nari.org. (Its members must go through
extensive screening and testing, and adhere
to a strict code of ethics.) Online home
services, such as Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor,
and Porch, can also help you find pros.
Remember these rules as you go through the
vetting process:
PHOTO, RIGHT: CHRIS TURNER/GETTY IMAGES
Know which key
players you need—and
when you’ll need them
ARCHITECT
What They Do
Listen to your ideas, help you
think through the design, and
translate all of it into detailed
architectural drawings for the
general contractor to follow.
When You Need One
CHECK CREDENTIALS.
As excited as you might be to get started,
avoid the temptation to rush: Chances are
you’ll be living with the results of the project
for a long time, so you’ll want to get it right.
Consider factoring major life changes into
your plan, which could include low-profile
transitions between rooms or an open-plan
layout to accommodate your future teenage
kids and their friends.
Once you have a clear idea of what you’d
like to do and how much you can spend, it’s
time to bring in the pros. For major projects
like a gut kitchen renovation you should
gather your entire team as early as possible.
See “Assembling a Winning Team,” at right,
for details. “It’s always best to have the architect and the general contractor working
together right from the start,” says Dawn
Zuber, an architect based in Canton, Mich.
If you’re not knocking down walls or
making other structural changes, an interior designer or a certified kitchen and bath
designer can probably draw up the plans;
ASSEMBLING
A WINNING
TEAM
Even if they come with a glowing review
from your sister-in-law, you still need
to check the bona fides of every professional on your short list. In our survey,
almost one-fifth of GCs lacked either a
state license or the proper insurance, and
9 percent lacked both. Though proper
credentials aren’t a guarantee of quality,
they’re a good sign that the GC runs a reputable business. What’s more, our survey
found that fully accredited GCs are better
at holding down costs when unexpected
problems arise. The Contractor’s License
Reference Site (at contractors-license.org)
has information on licensing requirements
by state and a list of licensed pros.
You’re knocking down walls
or changing your home’s structural or mechanical systems.
What They Charge
10 to 20 percent of overall
project cost.
GENERAL
CONTRACTOR
What They Do
These MVPs take charge of
the project from start to finish,
managing the schedule and
hiring plumbers, electricians,
and all other subcontractors.
GCs also secure all necessary
local building permits.
When You Need One
A job is too big to do
on your own.
What They Charge
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT.
Trust and a good rapport between you and
your contractor are essential. Any negative
feelings you have during the initial interview (Too bossy? Condescending? Rushed?)
will only intensify as the project heats up.
It’s also important to understand how a
25 percent.
(continued on page 44)
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 43
IDEA FILE
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remodeling surv ival g uide
ASSEMBLING A
WINNING TEAM
(continued from page 43)
INTERIOR OR KITCHEN
DESIGNER
What They Do
Help with design choices, such
as selecting a kitchen countertop or the tile and tub for the
bathroom. Budget permitting,
it’s worth considering a designer for the unique knowledge
he or she brings. Find certified
designers through the National
Kitchen & Bath Association
(nkba.org) or the American
Society of Interior
Designers (asid.org).
When You Need One
Trying to decide among granite,
quartz, and laminate countertops is driving you insane.
What They Charge
4 to 7 percent.
INTERIOR DECORATOR
What They Do
These tastemakers offer guidance on decorative style, color,
furnishings, and other aesthetic
concerns.
When You Need One
Never, really, but their advice
can be the difference between
a room that’s so-so and one
that’s sensational. And they can
help you avoid expensive mistakes and know which corners
you can safely cut—and which
will cost you over the long term.
What They Charge
5 to 20 percent.
RENOVATION
CONSULTANT
GC communicates during a project and
to be comfortable with that method. Ask
whether you’ll be dealing with him directly,
or whether he’ll be delegating the job to one
of his project managers (if the latter, make
sure to vet the manager, too). Some GCs rely
on email or handwritten notes, and others
use construction management software,
which lets a homeowner track scheduling,
payments, shipments, and more.
BE FLEXIBLE ON THE BUDGET.
The number you start out with during the
planning phase is likely to change when you
begin to see what materials cost. GCs have
to make similar calculations, factoring what
they think the job will cost against their own
profit margins and unforeseen expenses.
ALWAYS NEGOTIATE.
Only 4 percent of the GCs in our survey
said they are never willing to negotiate the
price of a job (66 percent are somewhat
willing, and 30 percent are very willing).
Getting bids from at least three GCs will
give you a sense of the market rate and
provide bargaining power. Conventional
wisdom holds that you should throw out
the highest bid, but if you think that the GC
offering it is the best for the job, it’s worth
trying to get a lower price.
Keeping the business of a repeat customer was the biggest reason to haggle,
cited by 75 percent of GCs, who reported
offering a median discount of 10 percent.
So if more work is coming down the line,
be sure to mention that. Combining projects could also save you in the long run:
Two-thirds of GCs said they offer discounts
on multiroom jobs.
What They Do
Help you plan, determine your
budget—they’ll even be the
liaison between you and the GC
during the entire renovation.
When You Need One
You’re working on a large,
expensive, multiroom project
and you don’t have time to
manage it yourself—or you
want a lot of hand-holding.
What They Charge
Up to 5 percent.
BE PREPARED FOR SURPRISES.
When we asked GCs about job-related
(as opposed to people-related) problems
that lead to delays or cost overruns, they
said that many of the culprits are hidden
behind walls—electrical wiring that isn’t
up to code, for example. Even though most
contractors plan for those contingencies,
we recommend adding at least a 10 percent
cushion to cover such surprises.
On major projects it’s worth paying a few
hundred dollars for a pre-inspection by a
44 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
certified home inspector. Larger contracting companies might offer a pre-inspection
as part of their overall service. You’ll still
have to deal with any problems found, but
not in the last-minute manner that can
quickly blow the budget.
GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING.
No matter how much faith you have in
your GC, a written contract is an essential
protection for both of you. It should specify
the full scope of the work, including a
detailed breakdown of labor and material costs for each part of the project. For
example, the electrical costs shouldn’t be a
single dollar amount. The contract should
list the number of outlets, switches, and
fixtures, including all model numbers. It
should also state a start and completion
date (ask for a penalty fee of, say, $50 to
$100 for every day past the deadline) and
include a payment schedule, such as a
5 percent initial deposit with the remainder paid at defined milestones.
Be sure the contract also spells out exclusions, or what’s not included. Want to save
money by handling the debris removal?
That must be stipulated. For major projects,
include an arbitration clause. Should a major
dispute arise that can’t be settled in good
faith, the clause provides language for resolution outside the court system, often with
a state-appointed mediator. As for the fine
print, watch out for allowances, which give
the GC a lot of leeway in the prices of materials, and can end up busting the budget.
COVER YOUR ASSETS.
Nine out of 10 GCs in our survey say they
provide a written guarantee for their
work, so insist on one in the contract. The
median time period was 15½ months, with
14 percent of respondents promising more
than three years of coverage. Even if your
contract doesn’t include a guarantee, you’ll
enjoy some protection if the contractor is
licensed. For example, California’s Contractors State License Board will rule on
complaints involving patent defects (such
as a cabinet that’s coming off the wall) for
up to four years and on latent structural
defects (like a buckling foundation) for up
to 10 years.
The Work Phase
Remodeling is always full of uncertainty.
“I always tell my clients to bump up their
estimates of time and money by 20 percent,” says Bruce Irving, a renovation consultant based in Cambridge, Mass. According to our survey, kitchen projects require
a median of three weeks to complete, but
a third of them take longer.
The work is messy, too. If there’s any
way for you to move out, at least during
the dusty demolition phase, you’ll minimize stress—along with possible exposure
to hazardous materials. If your home
was built before 1978, your GC will need
to follow the Environmental Protection
Agency’s Lead Renovation, Repair and
Painting Rule, which includes containing
lead dust with plastic sheeting and disposing of debris in heavy-duty bags.
Store valuable items far from the
worksite. If you have to stay in the house,
a good contractor will help you find ways
to keep disruptions to a minimum, by
setting up a food-prep space and relocating the refrigerator, for instance, during a
kitchen renovation. These other tips will
save you trouble once the work begins:
STAY INVOLVED.
You can’t just write the contractor a
check—then check out. Even if you’ve
moved out of the house, plan on a couple
of in-person meetings every week and
more frequent meetings at crucial points,
such as during the demolition phase or
before tile is installed (changing the
layout or grout color can be difficult and
costly once work has started).
couple of light fixtures in the hall, but that
means the GC has to get the electrician
back in, and probably the painter, too.
The domino effect quickly adds up, and
the homeowner foots the bill.
COMMUNICATE WITH THE GC.
Engaging the subcontractors directly often creates conflict. If you have a question
about their work—or their behavior—tell
the GC and let him or her handle it.
Though you shouldn’t engage the
subcontractors, you do need to be sure
they’re being paid. If they’re not, you
could be held liable. Stipulate in the
contract that the GC will provide you with
lien releases (basically proofs of payment) signed by the GC and subcontractor
throughout the project.
DON’T DEMO YOUR MARRIAGE.
Client-contractor relations aren’t the only
ones that get tested on a remodel. Couples
often feel the strain as well. Consider a
January 2016 survey from Houzz, which
found that 41 percent of people who
remodeled with their partner found the
experience frustrating; 7 percent felt they
needed couples counseling,and 5 percent
even considered a breakup.
The Post-Project
Phase
There’s no such thing as perfection on a
remodeling job. That said, don’t make the
final payment until you’re 100 percent
satisfied with the project.
STICK TO THE PLAN.
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE.
Changing your mind after the work is
under way is the biggest mistake homeowners make, and it can be the costliest,
too, according to our survey. So-called
change orders, or work that arises after
the contract has been signed, inflate
the budget by an average of 10 percent.
It might be as simple as adding another
Word-of-mouth still rules, but the
power of online reviews on sites such as
HomeAdvisor and Porch is getting stronger. Whether you had a great experience
or not, you’ll be providing a valuable service to other homeowners (and threatening to share a negative experience might
bring a wayward contractor back in line).
CONTRACT
PLAYERS
Most kitchen renovations
are covered by one of these
two types of contracts.
Choose wisely.
FIXED-PRICE
CONTRACTS
With a fixed-price contract, the
general contractor provides an
estimate covering labor, materials,
profit margin, and a cushion for
contingencies. If the contractor
exceeds the budget for a foreseeable reason—underestimating the
cost of the drywall installation, for
example—he or she is on the hook.
That can be advantageous for the
homeowner, but it can also affect
the quality of the work if the
contractor cuts corners to stay
on budget—by ordering cheaper
drywall, perhaps. Also, if the
project comes in under budget,
the contractor pockets the profit,
which again could encourage
subpar work.
COST-PLUS
CONTRACTS
A cost-plus contract covers
labor, materials, and profit but
does not include an amount for
contingencies. Instead, additional
charges are passed along to the
homeowner. That could put you at
a disadvantage if you’re embarking on a complicated project that
might reveal expensive unknowns.
If the project comes in under
budget, however, you keep the
savings. What’s more, the contractor has no incentive to scrimp.
“If you trust your contractor,
cost-plus will almost always save
you money and give you the best
quality product,” says Frank
Montgomery, a contractor based
in Franklin, N.C. Most cost-plus
contracts come with a guaranteed
maximum price, or a ceiling on
additional charges. One downside:
You’ll need to stay on top of the
paperwork unless you have
unquestioning faith in your
contractor.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 45
Buying Guide
CABINETRY
& SURFACES
48
cabinets
54 countertops
60
flooring
66
interior paint
APPLIANCES
72
refrigerators
88
ranges
98
cooktops
106 wall ovens
110 range hoods
112 microwaves
120 dishwashers
FIXTURES & FITTINGS
128 sinks
132 faucets
BUYING
APPLIANCES
134 best appliance stores
46 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
NOTES
FROM THE
TEST LABS
$400,000
That’s how much
Consumer Reports spent
last year buying
appliances to test and rate.
23,053
That’s how many items—
including plates smeared with
a sticky mess of egg yolks,
peanut butter, and raspberry
jam—we washed to see which
dishwashers performed best.
7,000
That’s the number of boxes
of frozen spinach we stuffed
into refrigerators we tested
(about 125 per year).
17
That’s the number of
substances we applied to
dishes (baked-on brownie
mix, chili, creamed corn,
eggs, peanut butter, and
more) to sit overnight in the
dishwashers we tested.
BUYING GUIDE
|
MIX FINISHES
Combining two or more
cabinet finishes gives your
space a more personal, less
cookie-cutter look.
cabinets
Cabinets
HIGH-QUALITY STORAGE ON YOUR BUDGET: HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO SHOP SMARTER
C
abinets can be your biggest
expense when remodeling; it
may account for up to 40 percent of your budget. Not only
that, they set the stage for your kitchen,
and you'll have them for years. That's
why choosing cabinets is so daunting.
White cabinets are popular again and
so are cabinet styles that are less fussy
and more streamlined, such as the clean
lines and square corners of Shaker
cabinetry. Use this buying guide to help
you choose. (Note that Consumer Reports doesn't test cabinets at this time.)
It used to be that dovetail joints inside
the drawers were practically all you
needed to distinguish high-end cabinets.
That has blurred as more manufacturers
offer premium features even on low-end
lines. Indeed, tests have found that you
can have once-exclusive features and
still wind up with shoddy construction.
You'll find that a little research
beforehand can often save you time
at the store and money. Check manufacturer and retail websites as well
as catalogs, then take a good look at
store displays. You'll be able to tell the
quality cabinets from the polished pretenders once you know where to look.
And trust your taste. A kitchen should
complement the rest of your home, so
choose what you love.
PHOTOS: JANE BEILES
WHAT’S
NEW
Gray matters.
White cabinets will never go out
of style, but the recent enthusiasm for all shades of gray has
made its mark on cabinets as
well. Whether you paint everything in this cool neutral (left) or
choose a two-tone effect with
gray only on the base cabinets
or island, it's a very livable color
that's not likely to lose luster
anytime soon.
Integrated lighting.
Undercabinet lighting is an essential and relatively inexpensive upgrade. But now cabinet
designers are installing lighting
in more places, including fixtures that turn on automatically
when you open drawers and
cabinet doors.
Easy accessibility.
Touch-to-open drawer and
door releases are catching on,
though they're still not a widely
available feature. Easier-to-find:
Pull-out storage that cuts down
on uncomfortable bending.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 49
BUYING GUIDE
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cabinets
Steps to Success
1
2
3
SET THE BUDGET
Cabinets fall into three categories: stock, semi-custom,
and custom. Stock cabinets start around $70 per
linear foot. (A typical kitchen has 25 to 30 linear feet
of cabinets.) Home centers sell them fully assembled.
Stores like Ikea offer flat-pack versions that need to
be put together on site; styles and sizes tend to be
fairly limited. Semi-custom cabinets, which range from
$150 to $250 per linear foot, come in more configurations, so they’ll fit your kitchen more precisely, if not
perfectly. Custom cabinets can cost $500 or more
per linear foot. They’re crafted to your specs and can
include many personalized features.
CHOOSE A STYLE
The big decision is between framed and frameless.
Framed cabinets consist of a box and face frame to
which doors and drawers are attached. Frameless
cabinets, often referred two as European-style, eliminate the face frame; doors and drawers are attached
directly the cabinet box. That provides great accessibility and a more contemporary look. On the downside,
the absence of a face frame can compromise rigidity.
Some manufacturers compensate by using a thicker
box—say, ¾-inch plywood instead of ½-inch particleboard. For the European look in a framed cabinet, opt
for a full-overlay door, which covers the face frame.
PICK THE FEATURES
Accessories can improve cabinet functionality, but
they’ll also increase the cost by 20 percent or more.
A pull-out trash can is a worthwhile addition. Built-in
charging stations are helpful, too. But appliance
garages, those countertop compartments designed to
conceal small appliances, don’t always offer the best
organization. Instead, consider a lift cabinet with a
spring-loaded shelf that swings up and out, providing easy access to a mixer, a food processor, or other
hefty devices.
You’ll save money by keeping features to the essential. But it doesn’t pay in the long run to skimp on
the construction. A well-built cabinet has solid wood
drawers with dovetail joinery, not stapled particleboard;
full-extension drawer guides rather than an integrated
rail; and doors with solid wood frames surrounding a
solid wood or plywood panel instead of veneered particleboard or a medium-density fiberboard (MDF) panel.
50 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
DETAILS COUNT
Give basic cabinet
units a high-end look
by adding extras
like glass doors and
chunky, high-impact
hardware.
On the Market
Cabinets can vary greatly in price. Here’s an overview of the
three main types of cabinets that you’ll ind at stores.
BASIC
Often called stock, they're are inexpensive, off-the-shelf cabinets. Some are
fully assembled; others will need to be assembled on site. Many are frameless,
meaning the door has no lip or "reveal" around it.
PROS: They're a money-saving choice if you aren't too picky about style options or don't demand a perfect fit. More of them have better drawers, solid
wood doors, and other once-pricey features. And we found basic models that
held up better in our tests than some more-expensive models.
CONS: Many basic boxes are thinly veneered particleboard rather than higherquality plywood. Style and trim options, sizes, and accessories are still limited.
Figure on an hour or more of assembly time for each set of cabinets.
GREAT LEGS
Furniture-style
elements like turned
legs on an island
add individuality.
MIDLEVEL
These semi-custom models are a sound choice for most kitchens. Many are
made with face-frame construction, where a solid wood frame is visible around
the door and drawers.
PROS: Midlevel models offer many made-to-order custom options regarding
size, materials, finish, crown moldings and other trim, and accessories such as
range-hood covers. That can make them the best value overall because you'll
get the look you want without a custom price.
CONS: As with basic cabinets, features and quality can vary considerably.
Boxes may be veneered particleboard rather than higher-quality plywood.
Organized
Inside and Out
PHOTOS: ALEX HAYDEN (BOTTOM RIGHT); CHIPPER HATTER (TOP RIGHT);
GREG RIEGLER (BOTTOM RIGHT)
Working in a clutter-free kitchen is easier and more enjoyable.
Before you order your cabinets, start by making a list of all of
the items you plan to store, including pots and pans, utensils,
dinnerware, dry goods, and dish towels. Make sure you’ll have
easy-to-access spots for everything, plus a bit of room to grow.
Here are some popular storage options to consider as you plan
your cabinet layout:
PREMIUM
Short of custom made-to-order cabinets, these semi-custom models offer the
most style and storage options.
PROS: They generally come with plywood boxes and other premium materials
and hardware options. Widths may come in 1/4-inch increments, rather than
the typical 3 inches, so they can fit your space perfectly.
CONS: While generally less expensive than fully made-to-order custom units,
models with the most features and of highest quality can cost as much as
some full-custom units. So get a price from a local cabinetmaker before
you place an order.
Drawer dividers for corralling
small items such as cooking
utensils and flatware.
Pantry cabinets that feature
roll-out trays and adjustable
door racks.
Slide-out wastebaskets to
keep trash easily accessible
but neatly out of sight.
Message-center cabinets
that include shallow storage
for small items as well as
integrated dry-erase message
boards or bulletin boards.
Toe-kick cabinets that are
installed between the floor
and the base of a cabinet,
perfect for holding shallow
items such as cookie sheets,
trays, and place mats.
Lift cabinets with springloaded shelves that swing
up and out to provide easy
access to mixers and food
processors, then tuck away
when they’re not in use.
Cubby units that are installed
underneath wall cabinets to
hold wine or water bottles.
Vertical dividers that neatly
shelve cookie sheets and
trays on their sides. They can
be a good way to fill gaps
between stock cabinets.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 51
BUYING GUIDE
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cabinets
Details That Count
PARTICLEBOARD
PLYWOOD
What separates a well-made cabinet from a
cheap imitation? Here are the features to look
for—and what to avoid.
DRAWERS
SHELVES
Well-built drawers are critical
because drawers get the most
use. The best ones have solidwood sides, dovetail joinery,
and a plywood bottom that fits
grooves on four sides. Avoid
stapled particleboard.
Look for ¾-inch plywood.
Lesser-quality ⅝- or ½-inch
particleboard shelves may sag.
HARDWARE
Full-extension drawer guides
are better than integrated side
rails or undermounted doubleroller designs. Some premium
models have a “soft close”
feature that stops drawers from
slamming shut. Many cabinet
models allow you to upgrade
the drawer guides. As for door
hinges, in past tests we didn’t
find any significant diferences
among the diferent types.
Get the
Installation Right
A good, safe installation can
prevent boxes from warping,
ensure that doors sit flush,
and even keep wall cabinets
from falling. When the installer
comes to give an estimate,
have a plan handy. That way, he
can account for the height and
type of the new wall cabinets,
the sofits, the location of
electrical outlets and plumbing,
and other variables. Make
sure the estimate includes the
removal and disposal of your
existing cabinets and any other
demolition. Before hiring an
installer, talk with suppliers
and, if possible, at least three
former customers to find out
how the work has held up. Ask
for copies of the installer’s
insurance certificates as well.
Certification in kitchen and bath
remodeling from the National
Association of the Remodeling
Industry is a plus; it indicates
a high level of professionalism.
For safety’s sake, shore up the
wall mountings. And be certain
the installer reinforces the
mounting strips well if they’re
made of thin particleboard.
52 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
MOUNTING STRIPS
Ask the contractor to use
¾-inch hardwood strips or
metal strips with bolt holes.
Thinner wood, medium-density
fiberboard, or particleboard
can be a concern with heavily
loaded wall cabinets.
DOORS
Most manufacturers ofer a
similar range of options for all
of their price levels. Look for a
solid wood frame surrounding
solid wood or plywood panels.
Fake a
Custom Look
If you’re buying budget-friendly stock
or semi-custom cabinets, you don’t have
to settle for the ordinary. Decorative
design elements can give even basic
stock cabinets a more personalized look
in an array of styles, including country,
modern, and traditional.
Accent doors, available in a variety
of styles—textured or colored, frosted
glass, and stainless steel—can enhance
visual interest or create an industrial
look, suggests Janet Vanderlugt, kitchens manager for Ikea.
Moldings, which range in style from
simple and classic to elegant and ornate,
can be added to the top, bottom, or edge
of cabinets as a finishing touch, or along
the bottom of wall cabinets to conceal
undercabinet lighting. Just be sure that
the style you choose suits the look of
your cabinets.
“Legs” (or feet) added to the base of
built-in cabinets create the effect of
freestanding furniture.
You can find decorative trim pieces
such as corbels, corner details, onlays,
and turnings for a great price in local
lumber stores and home centers.
MAKE A LIST
Inventory all
the things you
want to store,
so you’re sure to
plan a place for
everything.
PHOTO, TOP RIGHT: PLAIN & FANCY CUSTOM CABINETRY
Pick a
Winning Finish
The finish you choose for your
cabinets can set the tone for
your entire kitchen. Options include clean and modern looks
for contemporary kitchens and
deep, rich woods for traditional
elegance and distressed finishes for a vintage effect.
The right choice for your
kitchen depends on your personal style—and your lifestyle.
“The white kitchen is a true
classic,” says Susan Serra, a
certified kitchen designer, certified aging-in-place specialist,
and author of The Kitchen
Designer blog. “And it’s popular today as an easy look that
can be used to interpret any
kitchen-design theme.”
If you prefer a more natural
look, consider a finish that
reveals the wood grain of the
cabinet rather than obscuring
it. Glazed finishes, for example,
add soft, translucent color on
top of the wood but also allow
the beauty of the grain to show
through. But that finish often
comes at a premium price.
For those in the market for
something a bit more modern,
matte and high-gloss finishes
are available in almost every
color (not to mention trendy
metallics, black, and white).
If you can’t choose just one
finish, create a layered look
by combining two or more. To
complement a natural wood
finish, for example, add an
accent cabinet in an opaque
color, such as pale yellow or
blue, or in a neutral. Or go bold
in one area, such as the island.
TIP
Glass doors add a light, stylish
look, but use them judiciously. If
your cabinet interiors are lessthan-pristine, choose frosted
panes or only use glass for display
cabinets, as shown here.
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/kitchen-cabinets/buying-guide.htm 53
BUYING GUIDE
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countertops
Countertops
BEAUTY, DURABILITY, AND EASY MAINTENANCE ARE JUST
A FEW OF THE ATTRACTIONS OUR TOP-RATED SURFACING MATERIALS OFFER
s chameleons go, quartz is impressive. The man-made stone
offers an increasingly realistic
look mimicking materials such
as marble, granite, concrete, and more.
But quartz offers easier maintenance
than those materials. Combine those
qualities with granite fatigue and you
A
can see why quartz is gaining in popularity. Quartz is also top-rated in our
tests, narrowly edging out granite.
To test durability we stained, sliced,
scratched, scorched, and nicked 14
materials, including the ultracompact
surface called Dekton. We found big
differences among materials but little
MAINTENANCE MATTERS
Tough quartz surfacing
stands up to most stains
without yearly sealing.
54 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
variation among brands, except for
recycled glass, so we’ve rated materials.
In some instances, the finish can
also affect a material’s performance. So
you’ll see some materials listed more
than once in our Ratings, on page 59.
To choose the countertop that’s right
for your budget and space, read on.
WHAT’S
NEW
The trend for neutral hues in the kitchen
continues, as evidenced by the products
that manufacturers rolled out at the year’s
biggest design shows. If you’re embarking
on a remodel or just looking to give the
space a gentle face-lift, here are a handful
of options that combine good looks with
the promise of solid performance:
Mid-century appeal.
If you want your countertop to be a focal
point, or if the counter is located in another
part of the house—say, an adjacent laundry
room or office—this new laminate pattern
from Formica, created by designer Jonathan
Adler, will certainly turn heads. Inspired by
Quartz lookalike.
Wilsonart unveiled 19 new solid surfacing
designs early in 2016, including Dusk Ice,
the soft gray quartz-inspired pattern shown
above with medium particulates and mirror
chips. Solid surfacing is a good choice for
kitchens, but we especially love it in the
bathroom, where the sink and vanity top can
be molded out of a single piece of material;
plus the material is waterproof and small
scratches can be buffed out.
Steps to 1
Success
2
Josef Albers, the German-born American
artist, Gray Josef Linen has a distinctly
Mid-Century Modern feel, with its geometric
shapes in shades of charcoal, smoke gray,
and white, beneath a fine gray linen. Laminate
holds up well in our tests, except for knife
cuts, so you’ll want to use a cutting board.
Gray matters.
Gray continues its reign as the
current “it” color for kitchens and
quartz is the toughest material in our
countertop tests, so this countertop could start to show up in more
Pinterest boards and Houzz photos.
The diagonal lines and veining of
Caesarstone’s Symphony Gray provide an interesting geometry.
GET A SIZABLE SAMPLE
Tiny swatches or pictures can’t give you an
adequate sense of how the material will look
on your counters. So ask for as large a sample
as the retailer can get. For natural stone like
granite or marble, be sure to see the actual slab
that would top your counters; natural stone can
vary significantly from store samples.
3
4
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Laminate looks better than you may remember,
and it’s durable and budget-friendly.
REMEMBER RESALE VALUE
Tile’s easily stained grout lines, for example,
can raise a red flag for buyers. Stone
counters impress potential buyers and could
raise the selling price.
MIX AND MATCH
Varying countertop materials looks dynamic
and could save you money. For example,
you could choose a more durable or less
expensive material for heavily used areas and
something less durable as an accent.
5
HAVE THE INSTALLER
MEASURE
And make sure the contract includes
everything from the finish to the edges.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 55
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countertops
TRUE OR FAUX
If you love classic
white marble,
consider look-alike
quartz, which is
more durable.
TIP
Details That Count
Small decisions can make the diference in looks and performance
Eased profile
Bevel profile
EDGE
The edge treatment you choose will affect
the look of your counters. Trimming
laminate counters with wood can create a
higher-end look and prevent chipping. For
stone counters, rounded edges are less
likely to chip. Straight and beveled edges
give a more modern look, and an S-shaped
curve called an ogee offers stone or solid
surfacing a more traditional feel. Some add
to the cost, so check first.
block and concrete counters performed
differently in our tests depending on the
sealer used.
SEAMS
The joints between two slabs of stone or
pieces of material can make or break the
look. They should be almost invisible in solidsurfacing and stainless steel countertops.
For other countertop materials, seems that
are 1/16 inch or less is standard. Wide joints
are a telltale sign of sloppy installation.
FINISH
Bullnose profile
Short ogee profile
Quartz and granite are sold with polished
(glossy) or honed (matte) finishes. In our
tests, both were about the same at fighting
stains that were allowed to dry overnight.
Less common are “leather” or “pebbled”
finishes. Granites with proprietary sealers,
such as Stonemark, performed no better
than regular granite. Matte and grain
finishes help conceal scratches in stainless
steel better than in polished finishes, but
expect fingerprints. Quartz performed similarly regardless of the finish, but butcher
56 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Most “white” stone and quartz
countertops are actually
somewhat gray. Before you
order your counters, be sure
to hold up a sample of your
cabinet finish against the
surfacing you’re considering
to make sure the colors
work well together.
SINK
Top-mounted sinks, also called drop-ins, sit
on top of the counter. Undermount sinks are
installed under the countertop and require
a waterproof countertop material, such
as quartz, stainless steel, solid surfacing,
or concrete. (Water will damage wood or
laminate countertops.) Stainless steel and
solid surfacing can be used for the counter
and sink.
PHOTOS, FROM LEFT: ANDREA RUGG; DOMINIQUE VORILLON
BUYING GUIDE
THE WORST
STAINS FOR
EVERY
SURFACE
You might expect mustard and
grape juice to be in a lineup of
worst countertop stain offenders.
But of the 20 household products
in our stain tests, food coloring
and permanent marker proved
to be the toughest to wash away.
Many things stained bamboo,
which is no surprise given its
dismal overall score. And almost
as many items stained limestone
and butcher block with an oilrubbed finish. Here’s what left a
visible mark on the other countertop materials.
Bamboo (beeswax/
mineral oil finish)
Beet juice, coffee, crayon, drain
cleaner, food coloring, pencil,
permanent marker, rust, and tea.
Concrete (with
penetrating sealer)
Food coloring, hot oil, permanent
marker, and shoe polish.
Marble
Food coloring and shoe polish.
Recycled glass
Food coloring.
MIX MASTERY
Mixing materials?
Be sure to use
the more durable
material in the
area that takes
the most abuse.
Stainless steel
Drain cleaner and tarnish remover.
Tile
Food coloring, crayon, ink,
permanent marker, and rust.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 57
BUYING GUIDE
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countertops
QUARTZ
GRANITE
RECYCLED GLASS
Price $40 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Price $40 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Price $60 TO $120 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Pros It mimics the look of stone yet
needs less maintenance. A combination
of mineral, color, and resin, quartz stands
up well to cuts, abrasion, and heat. It
comes in vibrant colors and patterns that
look like granite and marble.
Cons Edges and corners can chip, and
you’ll need a pro to repair them.
Pros Each slab of this natural material is
unique; rare colors and veining cost more.
Heat, cuts, and scratches didn’t harm granite in our tests. Polished and matte finishes
resisted most stains when properly sealed,
so pick the look you prefer.
Cons Needs periodic resealing. Chips must
be professionally repaired.
Pros Available in a range of looks, with
large or fine glass pieces. Most we tested
resisted stains, cuts, scratches, and heat.
Cons It’s the only material for which
we found a difference among brands.
Cosentino’s Eco counters were the only
ones that developed a thin crack during
our heat tests.
LAMINATE
TILE (CERAMIC OR PORCELAIN)
ULTRACOMPACT (DEKTON)
Price $10 TO $40 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Price $5 TO $30 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Price $60 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Pros Inexpensive, easy to install, and so
much better-looking than you probably
remember, thanks to new printing technology and decorative edges. Stains and heat
didn’t damage the laminates we tested.
Cons Cutting directly on laminate
easily and permanently damages it, so
use a cutting board.
Pros Heat-resistant, tile is ideal for
use near stoves. It comes in many colors,
sizes, and patterns.
Cons It chips. The grout between tiles
can stain even when it’s sealed, and it can
mildew. Thinner grout lines and darker
grout might help somewhat.
Pros Resisted damage from heat, stains,
chopping and cutting, and abrasion.
Cons In our impact tests, pieces of
the edges chipped off, and Dekton, the
only ultracompact we tested, cracked into
two pieces on samples that were 2 centimeters thick, the manufacturer-recommended thickness.
SOLID SURFACING
SOAPSTONE
CONCRETE
Price $35 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Price $50 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Price $60 TO $120 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Pros Available in a range of colors and patterns, it can be used for counters, sink, and
backsplash. Color won’t vary much from
sample to slab. It resists most stains. Small
nicks and scratches can be repaired.
Cons It scratches and cuts easily, so
a cutting board is a must.
Pros Best for adding the beauty of stone
to a low-traffic kitchen. It withstands heat
very well; small scratches can be repaired.
Slabs vary, so buy from a stone yard.
Cons It is easily sliced, nicked, and
scratched. Stain resistance is so-so. It must
be rubbed with mineral oil periodically.
Pros It can be custom-dyed or textured.
Cons It may crack. Durability depends on
the fabricator’s skill and the sealers used.
Topical sealers, which resist stains but not
heat, aren’t ideal for kitchens. Penetrating
sealers resist heat but not stains, and they
must be reapplied regularly.
58 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
STAINLESS STEEL
BUTCHER BLOCK
LIMESTONE
Price $50 TO $150 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Price $40 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Price $50 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Pros It repels stains and heat, and doesn’t
rust or discolor. Counters can include an
integral sink for a seamless appearance.
Cons It shows fingerprints, and it dents
and scratches easily. Matte and grain
finishes hide damage better. Stainless steel
can look cold and clinical.
Pros It creates a warm, natural look in
any kitchen. It’s useful for food preparation
and is easy to install and repair.
Cons It might need periodic sealing or
refinishing to remove cuts, dings, and
scratches. Its finish affects performance.
Varnish improves stain resistance, and
penetrating oils decrease it.
Pros It offers a stone look without
heavy veining and resists heat well.
Cons Scratches and dings from our
dropped 5-pound weight marred
the surface of this soft, porous stone,
and even a high-quality sealer didn’t
protect against stains. Eleven of the
20 substances we applied left stains.
*Includes installation.
Ratings
Scores in context: Our tests found big variations in the durability of 14 materials but little difference
among brands, except for recycled glass. That’s why we rate materials, not brands.
Excellent
Pros Available in several styles, including a
parquet pattern.
Cons Bamboo is easily stained, scorched,
sliced, and nicked. The maker might warn
against using it around a sink because
moisture can warp the material. And it
might darken over time.
81
Recycled Glass(penetrating sealer) ⁄
Laminate
$60-$120
69
$10-$40
68
Tile (ceramic and porcelain)
$5-$30
67
Ultracompact (Dekton) €
Solid Surfacing
$60-$100
63
$35-$100
53
Soapstone (mineral oil finish)
$50-$100
46
Concrete (penetrating sealer)
$60-$120
40
Concrete (topical sealer)
$60-$120
39
Stainless Steel
$50-$150
39
Butcher Block (varnished)
$40-$100
37
Limestone
$50-$100
27
Butcher Block (oil finish)
$40-$100
24
Marble
$50-$150
14
Bamboo (beeswax/mineral oil finish)
$40-$100
10
Impact
84
$40-$100
RESISTS
Abrasion
$40-$100
Granite
Poor
Heat
Quartz (engineered stone)
Fair
Cutting
BAMBOO
Price $40 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT*
SCORE
Per Sq. Ft.
Price $50 TO $150 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Pros Marble is best for a classic stone look
in low-traffic areas, such as a baking zone.
Choose from many natural colors.
Cons It’s more porous than granite, so it’s
not as stain-resistant. It also scratches easily, can chip, isn’t very heat-resistant, and
needs to be resealed periodically to help
ward off stains.
PRICE
Good
Stains
MATERIAL
MARBLE
Very Good
X
X
C
Z
V
Z
X
C
B
Z
C
Z
B
B
V
B
Z
Z
Z
V
Z
Z
V
B
C
B
B
B
B
B
B
B
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
V
Z
B
Z
X
V
B
Z
Z
Z
C
X
X
V
V
V
C
V
B
V
V
B
C
V
V
B
X
C
V
X
B
B
B
B
B
B
B
B
B
⁄Unlike other brands, Cosentino’s Eco line of recycled-glass counters developed a thin crack during our heat tests and was
excluded from the Ratings. €Cosentino’s Dekton was tested. In our impact tests, chunks of the edges chipped of, and the
Dekton cracked into two pieces on samples that were the manufacturer-recommended thickness of 2 centimeters.
How We Test: We applied 20 common foods and household products and let them stand
overnight before cleaning to test staining. Not everybody uses a cutting board, so we sliced and
chopped using weighted knives to check resistance to cutting. We put a pot illed with oil heated to
400° F to see how the material resisted heat damage and discoloration. Running a weighted
sanding block back and forth 25 times over each material tested its resistance to abrasion. And
because pots drop and other accidents happen, we dropped blunt and pointed weights from up to
3½ feet to test resistance to impact. Scoring is based on the drop height at which damage is irst
seen. Price is the typical range per square foot, including installation.
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/countertops/buying-guide.htm 59
BUYING GUIDE
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f looring
TIP
Prefinished wood
and bamboo
floors cost more
than unfinished
products, but you’re
likely to save overall
because factory
finishes tend to last
longer—and they’re
warranted by the
manufacturer.
Flooring
KIDS, DOGS, PARTIES—THE BEST MATERIALS KEEP THEIR GOOD LOOKS THROUGH YEARS OF TOUGH LOVE
ll flooring looks great out of
the box, but the true test is
what happens once real life
takes over. Good news: Our
latest tests revealed a variety of options
that pair stain resistance with longlasting good looks.
For many shoppers, there’s no
substitute for the warmth of wood. But
in an active kitchen, both solid- and
A
engineered-wood floors are especially
prone to denting from dropped items.
A great upside to solid hardwood and
bamboo, however, is that many can be
refinished multiple times to get rid of
the scratches and dings of normal use.
Want to pay less for a wood look? The
better laminates we tested performed
about as well as solid wood. And they
can be floated: installed right over your
60 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
old floor with no need for glues or fasteners. Like wood, laminate floors fall
short at resisting foot traffic and dents
but are an excellent choice for holding
up to the effects of sunlight. All tested
models scored Excellent for resistance
to sunlight and moisture.
Vinyl flooring, like laminate, is immune to the effects of moisture and
sunlight, is moderately priced, comes
WHAT’S
NEW
Phthalate-free vinyl flooring.
You may have heard that Lumber
Liquidators suspended sales of
laminate flooring sourced from
China pending its investigation after a “60 Minutes” report
accused the retailer of selling
floors that emitted high levels of
formaldehyde. But another concern, phthalates in vinyl flooring,
has also garnered attention since
Home Depot and Lowe’s announced that flooring products
they sell will be phthalate-free
by 2016. We support what those
home centers are doing.
Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports,
has long raised concerns about
phthalates. Used to make plastics more pliant, those chemical
compounds are also endocrine
disruptors—and some are
classified by the Environmental
Protection Agency as possible or
probable carcinogens.
We recently ran our own
in-house tests for 13 types of
phthalates. Our results? Phthalates are used, but levels in the
flooring varied. In terms of consumer exposure, we found only
very low levels in the air and on
wipes we ran across the 17 vinyl
samples and one sample of wood
flooring we tested.
Although we found phthalate
levels to be very low in our wipe
test of new and artificially aged
floor tiles, we still recommend
caution. Parents of toddlers
especially should take care to
wet-mop the floor often and
wash children’s hands after the
little ones have been crawling or
playing on a vinyl floor.
Steps to Success
Use these strategies to pick a loor you’ll love today and tomorrow
1
PHOTO: SEAN DAGEN
2
in a wide variety of designs, and with
“luxury vinyl” tiles and planks, is easier
to install than sheets and can be installed over existing flooring. However,
resistance to wear, scratches, and dents
was inconsistent.
Porcelain tile flooring, or more accurately, planks, has emerged as a terrific
choice as a subcategory, though some
models with textured surfaces showed
wear on the ridges or higher points
In addition to resisting dents, which
in the case of porcelain and other
ceramic products is really resistance to
cracking and chipping, porcelain products are great at resisting scratches,
stains, sunlight, and moisture.
3
BRING SAMPLES HOME
Before you buy, pick up samples of
your top flooring choices. Compare
them side-by-side where they’re going to be installed.
4
COMPARE FOR
CONSISTENCY
Manufacturers try to match solidand engineered-wood flooring for
color and grain. But variations can
occur from one batch to the next, so
buy all of the flooring you’ll need at
one time. On the flip side, laminate
floorboards within a given package
often have a similar pattern. To
reduce repetition, pull boards from
multiple packages when installing.
MEASURE CAREFULLY
To determine how much flooring
you’ll need, calculate the room’s
square footage by multiplying its
length times its width. (Divide an
irregularly shaped room into smaller
rectangles, calculate the square
footage of each rectangle, then
add them together.) Then buy 7 to
10 percent extra to allow for mistakes, bad samples, and waste. Consider buying an extra box of flooring
for future repairs or additions.
5
6
KNOW YOUR
TRAFFIC PATTERNS
Our top products performed best
in simulated foot-traffic tests. For
less busy areas, consider one of the
top engineered-wood or bamboo
floors for their natural veneer and
easy installation.
PREPARE FOR
INSTALLATION
Before installing wood or laminate
flooring, unpack it and let it sit for one
to three days in the space where it
will be installed so that its temperature and moisture become acclimated
to the levels in the room.
CHECK FOR
CERTIFICATION
Vinyl floors with the industry’s
FloorScore certification emit relatively low levels of volatile organic
compounds—substances linked to
health problems and pollution. For
wood flooring, certification by the
Forest Stewardship Council and the
Sustainable Forestry Initiative offers
some assurance that the flooring
comes from responsibly managed
forests. Check packaging for product and manufacturer certification.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 61
BUYING GUIDE
|
f looring
On the
Market
Consider the pros and
cons of your top options
for kitchen looring
d
SOLID WOOD
AND BAMBOO
ENGINEERED
WOOD AND BAMBOO
Best for natural warmth. Solid
flooring can usually be sanded and
refinished several times if necessary.
But both tend to dent easily, a
problem for busy kitchens. Several
changed color under ultraviolet light,
and some can be damaged by flooding. Both are challenging to install.
Price $5 to $10 per square foot*
Best for easy installation and
natural warmth. This veneer over
substrate can be nailed, stapled, or
glued in place, or “floated” without
fasteners or glue. Many can be
refinished once.
But they can be damaged by flooding, and show wear and dent easily.
Price $4 to $9 per square foot*
LAMINATE
Best for toughness, lots of styles,
and easy installation. It can mimic a
variety of natural materials and can
usually be floated. The best products wear well, and all resist stains
and sunlight.
But most dent relatively easily, and
laminate can’t be refinished.
Price $3 to $7 per square foot*
PREFINISHED SOLID WOOD AND BAMBOO
RECOMMENDED
MODELS
Top performers
usually resisted wear,
scratches, and color
change better than
others of their type. But
dents were a challenge
for most. Here, we
focus on top picks
with specific strengths,
value, or both.
A1 LUMBER LIQUIDATORS
CASA DE COLOUR SELECT
PEWTER MAPLE 10032461
$4.20 PER SQUARE FOOT
This top-scoring solid wood
showed excellent resistance to
foot traffic and stains, and held
up very well against scratches.
But it dented easily.
lumberliquidators.com
A2 ECOTIMBER WOVEN
HONEY WBH061
$6 PER SQUARE FOOT
This top-scoring stranded bamboo resisted foot traffic better
than most other solid floors.
Other pluses include superb
resistance to scratches and
stains. But it faded in sunlight.
ecotimber.com
ENGINEERED WOOD
$5.50 PER SQUARE FOOT
62 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
$7.50 PER SQUARE FOOT
Exceptional resistance to
scratching and staining, along
with a finish that withstood most
foot traffic, are chief strengths
of this solid bamboo flooring.
teragren.com
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
“Teragren’s Synergy
bamboo ofers the best
chance of avoiding dents
and traic wear, usually
the shortcomings of
engineered products.”
B2 HARRIS WOOD
TRADITIONS SPRINGLOC
RED OAK BRIDLE
Toughness against scratching
and staining with resistance to
color change from sunlight made
this oak product a top pick. It did
dent easily.
harriswoodfloors.com
A3 TERAGREN PORTFOLIO
NATURALS WHEAT
TPF-PORTTG-WHT
B1 TERAGREN SYNERGY
WIDE PLANK JAVA
HE2505OK48
$7 PER SQUARE FOOT
teragren.com
—JOHN MCALOON,
TEST PROJECT LEADER
VINYL
LINOLEUM
CERAMIC TILE
Best for practicality and easy
installation. Many products resist
damage from moisture, dents,
stains, sun, and foot traffic.
But even the best still look like vinyl
up close. And scratches deeper
than the decorative layer show the
color of the vinyl below.
Price $2 to $6 per square foot*
Best for those who want a sustainable, resilient surface and lots of
style choices. All of those we tested
resisted stains and sun exposure.
Some also had other strengths.
But all fell down in at least one of
our tough tests. Vinyl tiles offer
more choices and better performance overall.
Price $4 to $9 per square foot*
Best for projects with a bigger
budget, though newer floating varieties are more affordable. There are
a wide variety of colors and sizes
and it tends to resist wear well.
But most can’t be floated and are
difficult to install. Dropped items
can crack it, and grout will stain.
Fixing a broken tile can be tricky.
Price $5 to $15 per square foot*
LINOLEUM
TILE
VINYL
D1 CONGOLEUM
DURACERAMIC SIERRA
SLATE SI-74
GOLDEN GREIGE
E1 ARMSTRONG
MARMORETTE OAK
BROWN LP066
F4 TORINO RUSTIC
SEQUOIA SIERRA GRAY
10109111
$4.50 PER SQUARE FOOT
$7 PER SQUARE FOOT
This product did better than
other linoleum products at
standing up to foot traffic and
resisting stains, scratches, and
color change. But it dents easily.
armstrong.com
This wood-look porcelain tile
performed superbly in our tests,
with Excellent marks for everything except foot traffic. It can be
floated or installed with thinset.
builddirect.com
C1 ARMSTRONG COASTAL
LIVING L3051 WHITE
WASH WALNUT
C2 PERGO MAX PREMIER
HEATHERED OAK 672976
(LOWE’S)
C3 HAMPTON BAY
CLEBURNE HICKORY
367551 (HOME DEPOT)
$3.50 PER SQUARE FOOT
$2.50 PER SQUARE FOOT
$1.80 PER SQUARE FOOT
Superb resistance to scratches,
staining, and color change from
sun exposure helped this flooring
impress. It had impressive resistance to wear from foot traffic.
armstrong.com
This flooring did an excellent job
of resisting scratches, stains, and
color change from exposure to
sunlight. But it didn’t fare as well
against foot traffic.
lowes.com
$5 PER SQUARE FOOT
Strong resistance to foot traffic,
scratches, stains, dents, spills,
and color change from sun exposure make this a durable choice.
congoleum.com
LAMINATE
This flooring showed superb
resistance to scratches, stains,
and fading in sunlight. It was
also impressive at fending off
foot traffic. But it dented easily.
homedepot.com
*Prices include installation.
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
“With many styles that
do an impressive job
mimicking wood stone,
porcelain tiles are a
great choice for any
area of the home.
Lumber Liquidators’
Avella is impervious to
moisture and excelled
in all of our tests.”
—JOHN MCALOON,
TEST PROJECT LEADER
F1 LUMBER
LIQUIDATORS
AVELLA BRAZILIAN
CHERRY 10039367
$3.60 PER SQUARE FOOT
lumberliquidators.com
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 63
Scores in context: Of the 54 flooring products we tested, the highest scored 96; the lowest, 33. Listed below
are the top-scoring models, in order of performance. Recommended models offer top performance in our tough
tests. Among those, CR Best Buys offer the very best for the money.
1. Mark it.
A color-matched felt
marker can hide small
scratches in any floor.
Some hardwood manufacturers even offer colorblended filler for chips
and grooves, available at
home centers and flooring
supply stores.
2. Sand it.
Badly worn or damaged
wood floors must be
refinished. But you can
do spot repairs of wear or
damage with light buffing
or sanding, followed by
staining. But be especially
careful when attempting
this with thin veneers on
engineered-wood floors.
Very Good
Fair
Poor
RESISTS
Installation
PRICE SCORE
Good
Sunlight (UV)
BRAND & MODEL
A. PREFINISHED SOLID-WOOD FLOORING
Lumber Liquidators Casa de Colour Select
d 1 Pewter Maple 10032461
d 2 EcoTimber Woven Honey WBH061
$6.00
71
23
Teragren Portfolio Naturals Wheat TPF-PORTTGd 3 WHT
$7.50
69
20
Down, Staple,
Z X Z B B Nail
Glue, or Floating
C Z Z B C Nail Down or Glue
Floating
C Z X V V
Legend Strand Woven Solid Bamboo Toast
4 Home
HL40S (Home Depot)
Mill Brushed Vintage Hickory Pewter
5 Heritage
PF9759 (Home Depot)
Liquidators Virginia Mill Works Lexington
6 Lumber
County Oak Wirebrushed 10038443
7 Allen + Roth Autumn Oak LSAR45-01 (Lowe’s)
8 Bruce Dundee Plank CB1210
American Scrape Oak Brown Bear
9 Armstrong
SAS503
10 Mullican St. Andrews Solid Oak Strip 10930
Bruce Hickory Country Natural AHS601
11 (Home
Depot)
Raymore Oak Gunstock HCC58-50
12 Mohawk
(Home Depot)
$3.00
59
23
V Z Z V X
Nail Down
or Glue
$6.00
56
21
V Z Z B V
Nail Down
$5.40
55
23
$5.50
$5.70
53
52
19
22
Glue,
V Z Z B Z NailorDown,
Floating
Staple
V Z X B V
Nail Down
C C X B V
Nail Down
V Z C B C
$4.20
76
20
$7.00
51
24
$6.30
51
24
$5.00
50
20
V Z C B V
V Z Z B B
Nail Down
Nail Down or
Staple
Nail Down or
Staple
Nail Down or
Staple
Nail Down or
Staple
Nail Down
$6.00
45
19
V Z C B B
13 Mullican Hickory Saddle 17769 (Lowe’s)
$6.00
44
16
V C X B X
Liquidators Bellawood Natural Red Oak
14 Lumber
10034544
Western Hickory Passage DH83100229
15 Shaw
(Home Depot)
$4.40
41
40
V Z C B V
$7.00
39
27
V X C B Z
$7.00
64
23
C Z C C X
$5.50
62
33
V Z X B Z
$6.50
60
28
C Z X B B
Floating
B. ENGINEERED-WOOD FLOORING
d 1 Teragren Synergy Wide Plank Java
d 2
3
4
5
6
7
Harris Wood Traditions SpringLoc Red Oak Bridle
HE2505OK48
Armstrong Century Farm Hickory Natural
GCH452NALG
Lumber Liquidators Bellawood Natural Hickory
10035269
Heritage Mill Scraped Oak Amaretto PF9773
(Home Depot)
Home Legend Hand Scraped Oak Gunstock ClickLock HL16 (Home Depot)
Mannington American Hardwoods American Oak
Plank
Mohawk Pastoria Red Oak Natural HCC27-10
(Home Depot)
Millstead Red Oak Natural Click PF9356
(Home Depot)
Natural Floors by USFloors Bamboo 609LS
(Lowe’s)
Millstead Smoky Mineral PF9577 (Home Depot)
Floating
Floating or Glue
Down
$5.00
59
34
V Z Z B B
$4.30
53
31
V X X B Z
Nail Down, Glue,
or Floating
Nail Down, Staple,
Glue, or Floating
$3.40
51
25
V Z X B V
Floating
$4.00
48
36
V Z C B Z
Floating
$4.30
41
29
V Z V B V
Floating
$3.00
40
20
V X Z B V
Floating
$3.30
33
17
Floating
$4.00
24
11
V C X B C
V B V V C
Floating
$3.50
76
14
C Z Z V Z
Floating
d 2 Pergo Max Premier Heathered Oak 672976 (Lowe’s) $2.50
8
3. Replace only
what’s damaged.
Heavy damage or a
cracked stone tile usually
requires chiseling out
the damaged section and
gluing in a new piece.
But that’s still easier than
removing an entire row of
tiles or planks.
Excellent
Recommended
Dents
Minor damage may
enhance the rustic look
of distressed or handscraped floors by blending in with other patina,
but you’ll probably want
to fix other flaws, such
as deeper nicks, scratches, and grooves. Check
the manufacturer’s
manual for any special
instructions, then follow
these simple steps:
d
Stains
CR Best Buy
Scratches
c
Rec.
Before you replace
your loor, consider
repairing it
Ratings
Foot Traffic
CAN YOU
FIX IT?
f looring
Sq. Ft. Per
Box
|
Rank
BUYING GUIDE
9
10
11
C. LAMINATE FLOORING
Armstrong Coastal Living L3051 White Wash
d 1 Walnut
Hampton Bay Cleburne Hickory 367551-00087
d 3 (Home Depot)
Architectural Remnants Woodland
4 Armstrong
Reclaim Old Original L3102
5 Pergo Max Natural Oak 90870 (Lowe’s)
6 Pergo XP Grand Oak LF000326 (Home Depot)
64 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
76
17
C Z Z X Z
Floating
$1.80
72
25
C Z Z B Z
Floating
$5.00
62
22
V Z Z C Z
Floating
$3.00
$3.50
62
59
18
20
V Z Z V Z
V Z Z V Z
Floating
Floating
Installation
Dents
Sunlight (UV)
Stains
Scratches
Foot Traffic
RESISTS
Sq. Ft. Per
Box
Rec.
PRICE SCORE
Rank
BRAND & MODEL
C. LAMINATE FLOORING continued
Decorators Collection Distressed Brown
7 Home
Hickory 34074SQ (Home Depot)
8 Style Selections Tavern Oak 528976 (Lowe’s)
Restoration Collection
9 Mannington
Chateau Sunset 22300
Handscraped Saratoga Hickory
10 TrafficMaster
34089 (Home Depot)
11 Shaw Timberline SL247 Sawmill Hickory 255
Legend Santos Mahogany HL87
12 Home
(Home Depot)
$2.00
53
15
53
21
V Z C V Z
V Z Z V Z
Floating
$1.00
$4.30
52
17
V Z C B Z
Floating
Floating
$1.10
51
24
47
18
V Z Z B Z
V C Z B Z
Floating
$5.00
$3.00
46
13
V Z C B Z
Floating
$5.00
94
17
Z Z Z C Z
Glue Down
$5.50
93
24
Z Z Z X Z
Floating
Z
Z
Z
C
Z
X
V
C
Floating
D. VINYL FLOORING
Congoleum DuraCeramic Sierra Slate
d 1 SI-74 Golden Greige
d 2
d 3
Armstrong Luxe Plank Timber Bay
Barnyard Gray A6861
Tarkett Nafco PermaStone Collection—
Natural Slate-Sand Stone NS-660
Armstrong Alterna Mesa Stone Canyon Sun D4112
Shaw Matrix Regency Gunstock Oak LX90100706
(Lowe’s)
Mannington Adura Essex Oak Natural AW511
Tarkett FiberFloor Lifetime
Berkshires Oak Harbour Brown 38163
Style Selections Antique Oak WD4712 (Lowe’s)
Stainmaster Washed Oak 737998 (Lowe’s)
$4.70
92
27
$5.50
86
25
$2.00
77
28
$5.00
76
$2.00
69
$3.00
$2.50
65
59
10 Mannington Black Mountain Oak Fireside 080171
$1.50
59
16
Data not
available
40
19
Data not
available
Legend Oak Graphite HLVT3024
11 Home
(Home Depot)
by Natural Floors
12 SmartCore
Canberra Acacia 50SLV503 (Lowe’s)
Congoleum
13 Path 72102 AirStep Evolution Forest Valley Deer
$2.80
53
23
V C X Z Z
Floating
$2.80
49
20
C B Z V Z
Floating
$2.00
40
Data not
available
V B Z C Z
Glue Down
$4.50
73
62
C Z X C Z
V Z Z C Z
Glue Down
$8.00
Data not
available
7
97
14
Z Z Z Z Z
Thinset
95
91
5
10
Z Z Z C Z
X Z Z Z Z
C Z Z Z Z
Floating
Thinset
Floating or
Thinset
Thinset
Thinset
d 4
5
6
7
8
9
Z
Z
C
Z
B
V
Z
B
X
C
X
Z
Z
Z
C
Z
Z
X
C
C
Z
C
X
Z
Glue Down
Z
Glue Down
Z
Floating
Z
Glue Down
Z
Floating
Z
Peel-and-Stick
Z
Floating
Z
Loose Lay or
Z
Glue Down
E. LINOLEUM FLOORING
c 1 Armstrong Marmorette Oak Brown LP066
2 Forbo Marmoleum Click Square Walnut 763874
Floating
F. PORCELAIN-TILE FLOORING
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Lumber Liquidators Avella Brazilian Cherry
$3.60
c 1 10039367
$8.00
d 2 SnapStone Beige 11-001-02-01
d 3 Style Selections Natural Timber Ash 553878 (Lowe’s) $4.00
d 4 Torino Rustic Sequoia Sierra Gray 10109111
$7.00
81
10
d 5 Dal-Tile Forest Park Timberland FP97
6 Mannington Beachwood Coastline BW2T36
Montagna Saddle ULG56241P
7 Marazzi
(Home Depot)
$7.00
$2.00
80
77
13
13
$2.00
64
15
C Z Z Z Z
V Z Z Z Z
V Z Z C Z
Thinset
How We Test: To check for resistance to foot traic, we use an abrasion machine to see how quickly the surface
gloss changes. For scratches, we drag a sharp, progressively heavier rig across the looring until scratches are visible.
We leave grape juice, mustard, and 10 other common household items overnight on each loor, try to clean them of,
then check for staining. To test for denting, we drop sharp and blunt objects from diferent heights onto each loor.
We measure color change after more than 300 hours of high ultraviolet light levels. And to measure moisture resistance, we leave a damp sponge on the looring overnight and soak samples for a longer exposure. None of the looring
in the Ratings above swelled or warped, and none was slippery, which is why neither of those characteristics is in the
Ratings. Price per square foot is approximate retail. Square feet per box is as claimed.
WAYS
TO SAVE
Get the loor you
want for less with
these easy tips
Retailers’ losses
can be your gain.
Discounters such as iFloor
(ifloor.com) and Lumber
Liquidators (lumberliquidators.com) buy directly
from manufacturers and
sometimes offer deals
on overstocked flooring.
You also can often save
on opened or damaged
boxes and flooring with
minor surface flaws.
Buy only what you need.
Determine the room’s
square footage by multiplying length by width.
Then buy 7 to 10 percent
extra to allow for the
unexpected.
See the real thing.
Paying for samples costs
far less than buying flooring that looks great in a
catalog or online—and all
wrong once it’s installed
in your kitchen.
Do your own prep work.
Even if you hire a pro for
installation, you can save
hundreds by tearing out
old flooring, leveling the
subfloor, and removing
any baseboard that’s in
the way yourself.
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/flooring/buying-guide.htm 65
BUYING GUIDE
|
interior paint
Interior
Paint
A COLORFUL NEW COAT CAN UPDATE
YOUR KITCHEN’S LOOK IN A WEEKEND
OR LESS, NO REMODEL REQUIRED
icking a paint has become harder
than just deciding on a color
(as if that weren’t confusing
enough). Relying on past experiences isn’t a good way to choose a brand
because paints are frequently reformulated, which changes their performance.
But there is good news. Our latest
tests revealed products that make
painting faster and greener—for less.
And we found that a brand’s various
finishes perform similarly overall, so
we’ve combined the scores to make it
easier to use our Ratings and to shop.
That said, be sure to pick the right
finish. See “On the Market,” on page
69, to understand which finishes work
best in every application. Last, keep in
mind that it always makes sense to buy
the highest-quality paint. Budget paint
may cost less up front, but you’ll end
up putting on more coats for better hiding. So you could end up spending far
more in the long run. However, price
doesn’t always guarantee performance:
Some of the most expensive paints we
tried fell short in our battery of tough
performance tests, and some lowerpriced options fared far better, so don’t
let a high price or a European pedigree
fool you: Check our Ratings on page 71
before you buy.
P
66 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Steps to
Success
Many aspects of paint performance
depend more on the quality of the
base than on the color. The tint
base largely determines the paint’s
toughness and resistance to dirt and
stains, and the colorant contributes
to hiding and how much the paint
will fade. Here’s how to ind the
perfect paint and color for the job:
1
2
TIP
To get the color,
quality, and durability you want, take
a swatch to your
preferred retailer
and have the clerk
color-match the
chip into the topperforming formula
of your choice.
3
START SHOPPING ONLINE
Manufacturers’ websites and Facebook
pages offer a wealth of tips on choosing
colors, including photo galleries of finished rooms and calculators to help you
figure out how much paint you’ll need.
They’re also good places to check for
deals such as free samples and military
or moving discounts.
GET THE COLOR PERFECT
Certain hues are specific to a brand. But
retailers can often match colors. With
paint-color formula books and colormatching computer technology, you don’t
have to rely on the skills of a sales clerk,
though one with a good eye and mixing
equipment with clean nozzles can help.
Because the paint base and sheen can
differ slightly among brands, be sure to
have the sales representative put a dab
of the color on the paint chip or sample
you’ve taken with you, then let it dry.
Some stores keep a hair dryer on hand to
speed the process.
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
Paint large swatches on different walls
and look at them at different times of day
and in different light. Fluorescent light
enhances blues and greens, but it makes
warm reds, oranges, and yellows appear
dull. Incandescent light works well with
warm colors, but it might not do much
for cool ones. Color intensifies over large
areas, so it’s better to go too light than
too dark in a given shade.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 67
BUYING GUIDE
|
interior paint
Details That Count
The features most important to you depend on the job at hand. Most of the time
and expense of painting goes into the prep work, so get a coating that can last longer even if it
costs a few dollars more per gallon. Here are the features we consider when testing paints.
HIDING
ABILITY
If you’re changing
walls from dark to
light, you’ll need a
paint that’s good at
hiding. Many new
paints can cover a
contrasting color with
a single coat. But for
best coverage and
a perfect finish we
recommend two, even
with a top-scoring
paint brand.
RESISTANCE
TO STICKING
Some interior paints
never seem to dry
completely. They
can make a window
difficult to open or
cause items to stick to
a shelf.
This is especially
important in a kitchen,
where moisture and
humidity can encourage mildew growth.
SURFACE
SMOOTHNESS
Interior paint should
dry smooth, without
showing brush or
roller marks or leaving
a grainy surface.
68 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
STAIN
RESISTANCE
CHANGE
IN GLOSS
Satin and semigloss
finishes generally are
better than flat paints
at resisting stains, but
there are exceptions.
Some paints dull,
become shinier, and
even change color
when cleaned
aggressively. Semigloss paints are the
most likely to change,
so consider that when
using semigloss on
surfaces such as
handrails and doors
that will need frequent
cleaning.
SCRUBBING
RESISTANCE
This is very desirable
for paints in rooms
with lots of activity—
like kitchens—that
may need frequent
and rigorous cleaning.
PHOTOS: SMITH COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES (TOP LEFT);
GETTY IMAGES (BOTTOM LEFT)
MILDEW
RESISTANCE
WHAT’S
NEW
Self-priming paints.
Manufacturers have
eliminated a step. All of
our top picks let you skip
priming. Paints that are
self-priming are noted
in the Ratings. For most
surfaces, one coat of
a recommended paint
should be enough to hide
most colors beneath.
Water beats oil.
For years, pros relied
on oil-based paints for
projects that required
an extra-hard, durable
finish—like baseboards,
window and door trim, and
kitchen cabinets. But now,
improvements in waterbased latex paint (and laws
requiring lower volatile
organic compounds, or
VOCs) have forced latex to
match oil’s durability.
On the Market
We generally test most lines from major brands,
and we’ve found that some of the best-performing
paints are not always the most expensive in a brand's
lines. Here are the types of paints to consider. The
gloss level affects perception of color. Flat paints
(and textured walls) absorb light, so colors seem
darker. Glossy paints and smooth surfaces reflect, so
colors look brighter. One note about our Ratings (see
page 71): Because a brand’s flat or matte, eggshell or
satin, and semigloss formulations perform similarly overall, we’ve combined the scores into one to
simplify the selection process. Keep in mind that the
degree of glossiness may differ from one manufacturer to another.
FLAT AND MATTE
Flat finishes hide imperfections well but are the least
stain-resistant, so they’re better for low-traffic areas.
EGGSHELL AND SATIN
Use them on fairly smooth, well-prepared surfaces because their shine can accentuate imperfections on the
wall. These paints are best for kitchens, and also family
rooms, kids’ rooms, hallways, and the like. Some might
change sheen when scrubbed.
SEMIGLOSS
Shinier still, these paints are formulated to stand up
to stains. They’re generally the easiest to clean, but
some may tend to dull when scrubbed. They’re ideal
for kitchen and bathroom walls, windowsills, and other
woodwork. Semigloss paints require a smooth, wellprepared surface with few flaws and imperfections.
Less odor.
Many manufacturers
claim that their paint is
free of VOCs, though
the tints used to color
the bases might have
some. Those solvents,
released into the air as
paint dries, have been
linked to headaches,
respiratory problems, and
air pollution. Most paint
companies now say that
their products contain
50 or fewer grams of
VOCs per liter, and some
we tested are claimed to
not have any VOCs at all.
But even those greener
formulations might not be
entirely odor-free.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 69
BUYING GUIDE
|
interior paint
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
d
RECOMMENDED
PRODUCTS
Our recommended
products are highscoring paints that did
well overall in our tough
performance tests.
Among those, CR Best
Buys ofer the best
blend of performance
and low price. We have
found that a brand’s
flat, eggshell or satin,
and semigloss paints
perform similarly
overall, so we’ve
combined the scores to
make it easier for you
to compare.
1 BEHR
MARQUEE
$43 (HOME DEPOT)
homedepot.com
2 VALSPAR RESERVE
$44 (LOWE’S)
The Valspar Reserve interior
paint from Lowe’s is self-priming.
It’s superb at hiding old paint
and impressive at resisting stains
but is not as smooth as some.
The paint withstands scrubbing, and aggressive cleaning
didn’t change the sheen. The
paint lacks volatile organic
compounds. VOCs can cause
headaches and dizziness, and
are linked to pollution, smog, and
respiratory problems.
lowes.com
“The Behr Marquee is the only
excellent paint in our Ratings
because it aced many of our tough
tests. The satin and semigloss are the
best choices for kitchens because
most stains will wipe of easily.
That's important because it not only
makes clean-up easy but the sheen
won't dull because you had to use lot
of elbow grease on the stains.”
—ENRIQUE DE PAZ, TEST PROGRAM LEADER
c CR
c CR
Best Buy
Best Buy
3 BEHR PREMIUM
PLUS ULTRA
4 CLARK+KENSINGTON
ENAMEL
$36 (HOME DEPOT)
$32 (ACE)
Behr Premium Plus Ultra interior
paint from Home Depot is selfpriming and superb at hiding
old paint. It left a smooth finish
but wasn’t the best at resisting
stains. The paint withstands
scrubbing well, and aggressive
cleaning didn’t change the sheen
much. It has low levels of volatile
organic compounds.
homedepot.com
The Clark+Kensington Enamel
from Ace is self-priming, is
impressive at hiding old paint,
and left a smooth finish, but
it wasn’t the best at resisting
stains, which could be a problem
in the kitchen. The paint withstands scrubbing, but aggressive
cleaning will change the sheen.
The paint has low levels of volatile organic compounds.
acehardware.com
HIGHS & LOWS
Once again, our tests have
shown that price has little
to do with quality. The bottom
two paints in our Ratings
are the most and least
expensive formulas we tested.
$105
FARROW
& BALL
INTERIOR
PAINT
70 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
VS.
$17
COLOR
PLACE
INTERIOR
(WALMART)
Ratings
Scores in context: Of the 21 interior paints we tested, the highest scored 83; the lowest, 43.
Many paints, including most recommended products, are exclusive to one retailer, as noted in parentheses.
Excellent
Recommended
Very Good
Good
Fair
RESISTS
Mildew
83
Z
X
C
Z
C
N
N
d 2 Valspar Reserve (Lowe’s)
$44
79
Z
X
Z
Z
C
N
N
Behr Premium Plus Ultra
c 3 (Home Depot)
$36
78
Z
C
X
Z
X
N
N
N
N
Clark+Kensington
c 4 Enamel (Ace)
$32
76
X
C
C
Z
X
N
N
N
N
5 Benjamin Moore Aura
$54
74
Z
C
V
Z
X
N
N
N
N
6 Valspar Signature (Lowe’s)
$34
73
X
C
C
Z
C
N
N
N
N
Premium Plus Enamel
7 Behr
(Home Depot)
$28
71
Z
C
Z
Z
Z
N
N
N
N
8 Olympic One (Lowe’s)
$27
71
X
C
Z
Z
V
N
Value
9 True
EasyCare Ultra Premium
$24
67
X
C
X
X
V
N
10 Benjamin Moore Regal Select
$54
65
X
V
C
Z
V
N
Value
11 True
EasyCare Platinum Enamel
$35
64
C
C
C
Z
V
N
Home Showcase
12 HGTV
by Sherwin-Williams
$40
63
X
C
X
X
V
13 Olympic Icon (Lowe’s)
$25
62
C
V
X
Z
X
N
14 Sherwin-Williams Emerald
$65
61
X
C
V
Z
V
N
15 Sherwin-Williams
Duration Home
$61
61
X
C
C
Z
C
N
16 Ace Royal Interiors
$27
60
X
V
V
Z
X
N
High Endurance
17 Glidden
(Walmart)
$23
60
Z
B
X
Z
C
Home Ovation
18 HGTV
by Sherwin-Williams
$29
57
X
B
Z
Z
V
Premium
19 Glidden
(Home Depot)
$25
54
C
V
C
Z
C
N
N
20 Farrow & Ball Interior
$105
52
V
X
B
X
C
N
N
21 Color Place Interior (Walmart)
$17
43
C
B
V
X
C
N
N
Rank
Self-Priming
Surface Smoothness
$43
Hiding
d 1 Behr Marquee (Home Depot)
Recommended
Poor
FEATURES
Scrubbing
TEST RESULTS
Gloss Change
SCORE
Staining
PRICE
Claims Zero VOCs
d
BRAND & PRODUCT
Fading
CR Best Buy
Sticking
c
N
N
N
N
N
The Right
Paint for
Your Needs
If you’re selling your
home soon, you
need an inexpensive
paint that freshens
in one coat. Buyers,
and homeowners
sprucing up for the
longer haul, need
paint that can also
withstand stains,
scrubbing, mildew,
and more.
INEXPENSIVE
BUT EFFECTIVE
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
OLYMPIC ONE
$27 (LOWE’S)
N
N
N
N
N
BEHR PREMIUM
PLUS ENAMEL
N
N
N
N
N
N
$28 (HOME DEPOT)
BEST FOR
LONG-TERM
VALUE
N
How We Test: Score is mainly hiding, surface smoothness, and resistance to staining, scrubbing, gloss change, sticking, mildew, and fading. Results relect white, pastel, and medium-tint bases. Hiding is coverage of contrasting color
mainly with one coat. Staining is resistance to water- and oil-based stains. Gloss Change is appearance change after
rough cleaning. Scrubbing is ability to resist an abrasive cleaner. Surface Smoothness is absence of roller marks when
dry. Resists Mildew is ability to inhibit mildew growth. Resists Sticking is ability to resist tackiness when dry. Resists
Fading is resistance to lightening from sun rays passing through a window. Price is approximate retail per gallon.
BEHR PREMIUM
PLUS ULTRA
$36 (HOME DEPOT)
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/paints/buying-guide.htm 71
BUYING GUIDE
|
refrigerators
Refrigerators
THE BEST NEW MODELS MAKE ROOM FOR MORE FRESH FOOD
AND CONVENIENT FEATURES, AND OFFER ATTRACTIVE ENERGY SAVINGS
merican shoppers are piling
more fresh foods into their
grocery carts. And retailers
are responding by making
more room for fruits, vegetables, and
other “perimeter foods” that are usually
placed along the outer edges of stores.
The freshness trend isn’t only changing
the layout of many American supermarkets; it’s also having an impact on
refrigerator design.
Take the Samsung Chef Collection
RF34H9960S4, a top-scoring model
with four doors. Its bottom-right chamber can be switched from freezer to
refrigerator for those who’d rather have
more room for produce than Popsicles.
Another feature we’ve seen more of
in our labs is dual-evaporative cooling.
With standard refrigerator design, the
fresh-food compartment is cooled with
air from the freezer. Our tests confirm
that refrigerators with dual evaporators
are better at maintaining optimal humidity. They also keep ice cubes from
tasting like fish and other smelly foods.
A
Steps to
Success
Consider your space and
your lifestyle as you shop
Some other freshness claims are
more difficult to verify. Whirlpool, for
example, has been putting produce
preservers inside many of its crisper
drawers. That’s supposed to extend
freshness up to 25 percent by absorbing the ethylene gas that can accelerate
ripening. Kenmore’s AirTight Crisper
has a special gasket and dimpled surface that the company claims will help
retain moisture in produce.
Then there’s the novel door-in-door
compartment on several new Kenmore,
LG, and Samsung fridges. It lets you
access beverages, condiments, and
the like without reaching all the way
into the fridge’s main compartment. In
theory, that can preserve freshness by
reducing temperature swings. We
can’t guarantee that claim, but the
new door is a cool new place to keep
the ketchup.
Customizable door panels, new finish options, four or even five doors—the
options abound. Read on for more on
the best and worst of what’s new.
1
PICK A STYLE
There’s a configuration to suit
every household. French-door
models are exploding in popularity
and they come in a range of styles,
some with a freezer drawer, others
with lower doors. Many consum-
72 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
ers swear by the convenience of
bottom-freezers because they
keep more fresh food at eye level,
but top-freezers and side-by-sides
can make more efficient use of
space in a smaller kitchen. For
more details on the pros and cons
of each configuration, see “On the
Market,” page 76.
HIGHS AND LOWS
Bottom-freezer
refrigerators like this
one from Jenn-Air
keep more fresh food
at eye level. But you’ll
have to stoop to get
into the freezer.
2
CONSIDER SIZE
Always measure where you plan to
put a new fridge before you buy.
Make sure it can fit through doorways. Allow room for the refrigerator
doors to swing all the way open, and
for a 1-inch clearance around the
sides and back of the appliance for
adequate airflow.
As for capacity, most manufacturers recommend 19 to 22 cubic feet
for a family of four. But if you do a big
weekly shopping trip or buy in bulk,
you may need more—up to about 30
to 33 cubic feet. Our tests found that
the amount of usable capacity was
often less than the amount claimed.
3
DECODE THE
ENERGYGUIDE LABEL
Energy efficiency has become a
big selling point. New fridges are a
lot more efficient than those made
a decade ago, but it’s helpful to
understand the label so you can go
as green as possible. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy
Star rating is a good place to start.
It means that a product is in the top
25 percent of the market. Efficiency
varies by model (i.e., an unlabeled
top-freezer might be more efficient
than an Energy Star-approved
French-door model). We also test
for energy consumption, which can
add up to a $50 to $60 difference
per year, or more than $500 over
the life of the unit.
For an apples-to-apples comparison, look at the EnergyGuide labels
of your favorite fridges to compare
the annual operating costs and the
kilowatt-hours used per year.
We give all of the refrigerators
we evaluate an overall score for
energy efficiency.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 73
BUYING GUIDE
|
refrigerators
SAMSUNG
GE
Details
That Count
BLUESTAR
WATER FILTER
LED LIGHTING
It can remove small particles or contaminants
such as lead and chlorine, and impurities that
cause bad tastes or odors. You can also add a
filter to the refrigerator’s water-supply line.
LEDs take up less space than incandescent
lightbulbs, use less energy, and can be placed to
light the interior uniformly.
SPECIAL SHELVES
DIGITAL CONTROLS WITH
TEMPERATURE READOUTS
These are more precise than dial controls and
can include readouts in degrees for the refrigerator and the freezer compartments.
Adjustable door bins and shelves can be moved
to create room to fit tall items. Elevator shelves
let you crank them up and down without removing their contents. Pull-out shelves or bins improve access to stored items. Split shelves allow
you to adjust them to different heights.
74 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
THROUGH-THE-DOOR
DISPENSERS
Ice and water dispensers are installed in some
French-door models and in almost all side-bysides. Our latest reliability survey indicates that
refrigerators with this convenient feature are
slightly more repair-prone than those without it.
DUAL EVAPORATORS
This feature, which is becoming more common, helps maintain optimum temperature and
moisture levels inside the fresh-food section of
WHAT’S
NEW
More options for small spaces.
Playing to the urban-living trend,
Bosch continues to invest in its
line of 24-inch-wide appliances.
The big news this year is that
consumers now have the option of
applying custom paneling to the
refrigerator ($2,500) or opt for a
refrigerator with a glass door—the
first of its kind in this width.
Built-ins from Blue Star.
Best known for cooking appliances,
BlueStar has new line of refrigerators, starting at $9,850, with many
features a home chef will appreciate. They include fully extending
shelves in the refrigerator (left) and
freezer section that can fit a fullsized commercial sheet pan. The
shelves and bins are customizable,
and the soft, self-close glides on
the fully extending drawers are a
nice added touch. The fridge will
be available in a variety of colors,
including a matte black finish that’s
another example of how black is rivaling stainless steel in the kitchen.
LG
a refrigerator. It should also prevent strong food
odors from migrating between the refrigerator
and freezer compartments.
MULTIMEDIA COMBOS
As the kitchen becomes the new living room,
more manufacturers are hawking $3,000-plus
refrigerators that incorporate high-tech equipment such as TVs, digital-picture or music
devices, and family-organizing centers. You can
save hundreds and get better performance by
buying such equipment separately.
DRAWERS THAT
CONTROL HUMIDITY
Crisper drawers are available in all but basic models, some with controls that maintain optimum
humidity levels. Some models also have drawers
you can set cooler than the rest of the refrigerator. (You might want to keep fish, cold cuts, and
other meat at lower temperatures.) Some drawers
can chill or thaw their contents quickly.
Luxury service plans.
LG is launching a new brand of
ultrapremium refrigerators, dishwashers, and cooking appliances
called the Signature Kitchen Suite.
We’ll reserve judgment on whether
the appliances are a hit until we
get them in our labs for testing. But
what really got our attention was
their customer-service plan for the
brand. Buy an appliance and you
get a dedicated kitchen concierge
to answer your questions and solve
any problems as long as you own
the appliance, which comes with a
three-year warranty compared with
the one-year warranty on many
other appliances.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 75
BUYING GUIDE
|
On the
Market
BUILT-INS
TOP-FREEZERS
THERMADOR
BOTTOM-FREEZERS
FRENCH-DOORS
They range from 30 to 36 inches
wide, and claimed capacities approach 30 cubic feet, though
usable space is less than that of
comparable top-freezers (which
cost less than these, too). Instead
of the freezer (which you use less)
being at eye level, your fridge
shelves are easily scannable. But
you’ll have to squat to rifle through
frozen goods.
COMPACTS OR MINIS
They’re perfect for a dorm room, an office, or a kitchenette. Keep in mind that some models have only one-quarter
the capacity of a regular fridge but cost just as much to operate. Temperature performance can be iffy in some
models (allowing them to rise above 40° F, the point at which food may sprout harmful bacteria, so save these
babies for sodas and other beverages or for temporary storage of snacks (rather than milk or other perishables).
76 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
They have two narrow doors on top,
and a freezer below. Sometimes
there’s one drawer (or more) inbetween. Widths range from 30 to
36 inches. Claimed capacities go
up to 34 cubic feet, though usable
space doesn’t match that of comparable top-freezer models. The
space-saving, small-swing doors
have the added value of opening
only half the fridge when stashing
smaller items. More of these now
have in-door water/ice dispensers.
SIDE-BY-SIDES
They’re traditional models that are
good for a lot of storage in a fairly
tight spot. They tend to offer the
most space for their size (typically
28 to 33 inches wide). Manufacturers may claim capacities up to
22 cubic feet, but our tests found
about 20 percent less. Allow for a
wide swing of the doors, and get
used to crouching down to reach
lower shelves and drawers.
The fridge is on one side and the
freezer on the other, and usually
there are through-the-door ice
and water dispensers. With widths
typically 32 to 36 inches, manufacturers claim about 30 cubic feet capacity, but only about 70 percent is
usable. Narrow doors are a plus for
small kitchens but don’t open wide
enough for, say, a pizza box, and
tall, narrow compartments make
items stuck at the back hard to
find. Overall, they’re not as energyor space-efficient as other types.
ICON: NIKITA KOZIN
Pricey and made to fit almost flush
with cabinets and counters, these
sleek beauties typically come as
bottom-freezer or side-by-side
styles, but sometimes as Frenchdoors or four-doors. They’re
usually wide (30 to 48 inches), with
a capacity of 25 cubic feet (about
70 percent is usable). Look for
optional front panels to match your
kitchen cabinets. Get the look for a
little less with freestanding cabinetdepth versions. Another option:
A column fridge, as narrow as 18
inches, that can fit in small spaces.
d
TOP-FREEZERS
RECOMMENDED
MODELS
Most models we
tested chill and
freeze adequately
and include pull-out
shelves or bins, split
shelves, spill guards,
and room on the
door to hold a gallon
of milk. Top-scoring
models typically
deliver more consistent
temperatures. Once
you know how much
space you have,
particularly the
width, look at our
recommended models
to find ones that fit
your space. Fridges
that have higher
energy-eficiency
scores use less
electricity for their
capacity. And if your
household isn’t large,
remember that a
smaller conventional
refrigerator is likely
to use less electricity
overall than a larger
model will.
c CR
Best Buy
A1 LG LTCS20220S
A2 LG LTCS24223S
A3 GE GIE21GSHSS
Size tested 66HX30WX3D | $950
Size tested 68HX30WX33D | $1,080
Size tested 68HX33WX33D | $1,170
This 20.2-cu.-ft. (claimed) model
provides excellent energy and
noise performance, and very
good temperature performance.
It offers an icemaker, spillproof
shelves, gallon door storage, a
freezer light, and touchpad controls. It is Energy Star certified.
lg.com
With a capacity of 23.8 cu. ft.
(claimed), this model delivers
very good temperature performance and superb energy efficiency and noise level. It has gallon door storage, an icemaker, a
freezer light, touchpad controls,
and spillproof shelves.
lg.com
This model provides excellent
energy efficiency and slightly
less impressive temperature
performance and noise level. But
you’ll benefit from gallon door
storage, an icemaker, pull-out
shelves in the freezer, a freezer
light, and spillproof shelves.
geappliances.com
BOTTOM-FREEZERS: CONVENTIONAL
B1 KENMORE ELITE 79043
B2 LG LDC24370ST
B3 KENMORE ELITE 79023
Size tested 69HX33WX33D | $1,400
Size tested 69HX33WX33D | $1,300
Size tested 70HX33WX31D | $1,300
Superb temperature performance and exceptional energy
efficiency and noise level helped
this 23.8-cu.-ft. model earn a top
spot on our recommended list.
Other pluses include digital controls, spillproof shelves, and an
open-door alarm.
kenmore.com
This model boasts 17.1 cu. ft.
of total usable capacity. It has
excellent temperature performance, energy efficiency, and
noise level as well as digital controls, spillproof shelves, and an
open-door alarm.
lg.com
This 21.8-cu.-ft. model (15.9 actual) provides excellent temperature performance and energy
efficiency. Other pluses include
spillproof shelves, digital controls, and an open-door alarm.
kenmore.com
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 77
d RECOMMENDED
MODELS
BOTTOM-FREEZERS: FRENCH-DOORS
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
“This 22.2-cubic-foot
C1 SAMSUNG
RF28HDEDPWW
Size tested 69HX36WX34D | $2,700
This 27.8-cu.-ft. model (claimed)
offers an external water dispenser, dual evaporators, a builtin water filter, ice storage in the
fridge, and spillproof shelves. It’s
excellent in temperature performance, energy efficiency, noise
level, and crisper performance.
samsung.com
C18 GE CAFE
CYE22USHSSS
Size tested 79HX36WX30D | $2,970
geappliances.com
C2 KENMORE ELITE 74093
C3 LG LFXS32766S
C4 GE GFE26GSHSS
Size tested 69HX36WX36D | $2,800
Size tested 69HX36WX36D | $3,600
Size tested 70HX36WX35D | $1,990
This model with 21.5 cu. ft. of
usable capacity offers an external water dispenser, dual evaporators, a built-in water filter, ice
storage in the fridge, and spillproof shelves. It provides excellent temperature control, energy
efficiency, and noise level, and
very good crisper performance.
kenmore.com
It’s quiet, energy efficient, and
temperature accurate. It offers
21.5 cu. ft. of usable capacity,
special adjustable shelves, split
and pull-out shelves, ice and
water dispensers, a temperaturecontrolled meat/deli bin, gallon
storage on the door, and a child
lockout dispenser.
lg.com
This roomy model has 25.7 cu.
ft. of capacity (claimed) and
delivers excellent temperature
performance and energy efficiency. Among its features are
dual evaporators, an external
water dispenser, an open-door
alarm, spillproof shelves, and
digital controls.
geappliances.com
78 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
(claimed) three-door
French-door cabinetdepth GE Cafe CYE22USHSS refrigerator
only ofers modest usable
space, but it has two
notable features: a hot
water dispenser and a
built-in Keurig K-cup
brewing system”
—JOE PACELLA,
PROJECT LEADER
C5 GE PROFILE
PWE23KMDES
Size tested 69HX36WX29D | $2,600
This quiet cabinet-depth
model provides exceptional
temperature control and energy
efficiency. It offers an internal
water dispenser, dual evaporators, spillproof shelves, and digital controls.
geappliances.com
BOTTOM-FREEZERS: FOUR-DOORS
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
D1 SAMSUNG
CHEF
COLLECTION
RF34H9960S4
Size tested 73HX36WX36D | $5,400
samsung.com
A top-rated four-door model,
the Samsung Chef Collection
RF34H9960S4 bottom-freezer
refrigerator has 23.4 cubic feet
of usable capacity, the most
of any fridge we’ve tested. One
particularly cool feature: You
can convert the lower-right
compartment from freezer to
fridge with the touch of a button.
—JOE PACELLA, PROJECT LEADER
D2 LG LPCS34886C
D3 KENMORE ELITE 72483
Size tested 73HX36WX37D | $6,000
Size tested 69HX36WX36D | $3,600
Overall, this is an excellent
refrigerator, with 33.5 cu. ft. of
claimed capacity and impressive temperature performance
and energy efficiency. It boasts
good ice-making, and among its
features are an air filter, an opendoor alarm, a built-in water filter,
spillproof shelves, and digital
controls on the door.
lg.com
Temperature control throughout
this fridge was outstanding in
our tests, as was energy efficiency and noise. It features a
pull-out middle drawer with four
temperature settings for meat/
seafood, drinks, deli meats, and
chilled wine, and has adjustable
shelves, touchpad controls, and
pull-out freezer bins.
kenmore.com
SIDE-BY-SIDES
E1 SAMSUNG RS25H5121SR
E2 SAMSUNG RH25H5611SR
Size tested 69HX36WX34D |
$1,900
Size tested 70HX36WX35D | $1,600
This 24.5-cu.-ft. model (claimed)
offers outstanding temperature
performance, energy efficiency,
and quiet operation. It’s also
loaded with features, including
an innovative ice and water dispenser, and dual evaporators.
samsung.com
Overall, this is a very good refrigerator, with an external water dispenser, dual evaporators, a dooropen alarm, a built-in water filter,
spillproof shelves, and digital controls on its front door. It received
excellent scores in our noise and
energy-efficiency tests.
samsung.com
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 79
d RECOMMENDED
MODELS
BUILT-INS
F1 MIELE MASTERCOOL
KF1903SF
Size tested 83HX36WX25D | $8,600
With a claimed capacity of
18.7 cu. ft., dual compressors,
and dual evaporators, this model
delivers superb temperature,
crisper, and noise performance,
along with very good energy efficiency. It has spillproof shelves,
an open-door alarm, and digital
controls.
mieleusa.com
F10 SAMSUNG
RS27FDBTNSR
Size tested
84HX48WX26D
$6,570
F4 THERMADOR
FREEDOM COLLECTION
T36BB820SS
samsung.com
Size tested 84HX36WX25D | $7,400
Superb temperature control and
extremely quiet operation with
very good energy efficiency make
this 20-cu.-ft. model a top choice.
Dual evaporators should help
keep food fresh. It offers gallon
door storage and meat/deli bins
with temperature control.
thermador.com
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
80 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
“It just missed our recommended list, but this Samsung 48-inchwide side-by-side had very good performance overall. It stands
out because it has the largest claimed capacity of any built-in
model we’ve ever tested—26.5 cubic feet—and ofers the most
usable space, measured in-house, at 20.3 cubic feet.”
—JOE PACELLA, PROJECT LEADER
KENMORE
F3 JENN-AIR JF36NXFXDE
Size tested 83HX42WX26D | $8,500
This very quiet 24.2-cu.-ft. model
(claimed) provides superb temperature and energy efficiency,
along with very good crisper performance. It has dual compressors, dual evaporators, an opendoor alarm, spillproof shelves,
and a built-in water filter.
jennair.com
MOST & LEAST RELIABLE BRANDS
In our survey of almost 80,000 readers who bought a new refrigerator between 2010 and 2014,
we found that Electrolux and Frigidaire were the most repair-prone brands of bottom-freezers
with icemakers. Whirlpool and KitchenAid are among the more repair-prone brands as well.
KitchenAid is also the most repair-prone brand of side-by-sides with icemakers. When it comes
to top-freezers with icemakers, Kenmore is among the more reliable brands.
PERCENTAGE REPAIRED
OR HAD SERIOUS PROBLEMS
PERCENTAGE REPAIRED
OR HAD SERIOUS PROBLEMS
bottom-freezers
top-freezers
ICEMAKER
ICEMAKER
45%
35%
26%
25%
22%
19%
19%
19%
18%
Electrolux
Frigidaire
KitchenAid
Whirlpool
Maytag
GE
LG
Kenmore
Samsung
Amana
F5 KITCHENAID
KBBR306ESS
Size tested 83HX36WX26D | $8,200
This 20.9-cu.-ft. model provides
excellent temperature and noise
performance; energy efficiency
and crisper performance are very
good. It has dual compressors,
dual evaporators, an open-door
alarm, a built-in water filter,
spillproof shelves, and digital
controls.
kitchenaid.com
GE
Kenmore
GE
Frigidaire
Maytag
Kenmore
NO ICEMAKER
12%
11%
11%
10%
Frigidaire
GE
Whirlpool
Kenmore
NO ICEMAKER
Whirlpool
19%
19%
16%
15%
13%
Whirlpool
24%
21%
15%
12%
side-by-sides
WITH ICEMAKER
KitchenAid
Samsung
Source: Our findings are based on Consumer Reports’ 2014
Annual Product Reliability Survey of almost 80,000 readers who
purchased a new refrigerator between 2010 and 2014. Each figure represents the percentage of fridges that were repaired or
had a serious problem. Differences of fewer than 5 points aren’t
meaningful, and we’ve adjusted the data to eliminate differences
linked to the age and extended warranty/service contract
coverage of the refrigerators. All refrigerators in the graphs are
full-sized, freestanding models. Models within a brand may vary,
and design or manufacture changes may affect future reliability.
Still, choosing a brand with a good repair history can improve
your odds of getting a reliable model.
LG
Maytag
Whirlpool
Frigidaire
Kenmore
GE
29%
23%
22%
22%
21%
21%
20%
18%
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 81
BUYING GUIDE
|
refrigerators
Ratings
Scores in context: Of the 246 refrigerators we tested, the highest scored 87; the lowest, 31.
Recommended models performed the best overall. CR Best Buys combine value and performance.
Temperature
Performance
Energy
Eficiency
Noise
Ease of Use
Energy
Cost/Yr. ($)
Total Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Fridge Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Exterior
Height (In.)
Exterior
Width (In.)
Exterior
Depth (In.)
Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
FEATURES
$950
$1080
$1170
$1100
$750
$900
$540
$880
$1250
$900
$1000
$1000
$690
$600
$500
$1100
$1000
$510
$850
$570
$510
$900
$820
$500
$900
$720
$770
$700
$630
$770
$650
$580
$1050
$1500
$630
$620
$720
$570
67
67
67
65
64
64
64
63
62
61
61
61
60
59
59
58
58
58
58
57
54
53
52
50
50
49
47
43
42
41
41
38
38
38
37
36
30
29
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
C
C
X
C
C
C
C
X
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
V
V
V
C
V
V
C
V
V
B
B
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
C
Z
Z
C
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
C
X
X
C
C
X
C
X
X
C
X
C
X
X
C
C
C
V
C
X
V
C
X
X
X
C
X
C
V
X
C
V
C
X
C
V
V
V
B
B
V
V
B
V
B
V
V
V
B
C
V
V
B
V
B
B
B
B
B
V
B
B
B
V
B
B
V
B
V
B
B
B
B
40
44
47
39
43
45
40
43
54
43
52
46
46
60
52
46
46
42
44
42
40
55
49
45
44
49
53
45
38
53
68
44
49
93
53
47
49
36
16.7
19.6
17.7
15.0
16.8
14.4
11.6
14.7
19.4
14.0
19.6
16.4
13.4
15.2
13.7
18.1
18.1
13.8
13.9
12.9
11.6
14.4
16.0
11.6
15.1
15.2
16.0
16.1
11.9
16.0
13.3
11.9
18.1
17.1
14.7
13.6
15.2
12.0
11.7
13.9
12.1
10.8
12.1
10.9
8.2
11.2
13.8
9.6
14.0
11.4
10.0
11.7
9.9
12.1
12.1
10.6
10.3
9.4
8.2
9.7
11.5
8.2
10.9
10.6
11.5
11.2
8.6
11.5
10.1
8.6
12.1
12.2
11.2
10.4
10.6
8.6
5.0
5.7
5.6
4.2
4.7
3.5
3.4
3.5
5.6
4.3
5.6
5.0
3.4
3.5
3.8
6.0
6.0
3.2
3.6
3.5
3.4
4.7
4.5
3.4
4.2
4.5
4.5
4.9
3.3
4.5
3.2
3.3
6.0
4.9
3.5
3.2
4.5
3.4
66
68
67
69
69
67
62
66
69
67
69
66
68
66
69
66
66
61
67
66
62
69
66
62
65
66
66
66
65
66
65
65
66
73
66
65
66
61
30
33
33
30
30
30
28
30
33
30
33
30
28
30
28
33
33
28
28
28
28
30
30
28
30
30
30
30
28
30
28
28
33
30
30
28
30
28
33
33
33
32
32
30
30
31
32
33
32
32
29
31
32
32
32
30
31
32
30
33
33
30
32
33
33
32
30
33
30
30
32
27
31
30
33
30
20.2
23.8
21.2
20.5
20.4
18
14.6
18
23.5
18.2
23.7
20.2
17.5
18
17.6
21.2
21.2
14.5
17.5
16
14.6
20.5
19.1
14.6
18.1
18.2
19.1
18.2
15.5
19.1
16.3
15.5
21.3
18.1
18
16.3
18.2
14.5
$1,400
$1,300
$1,300
83
83
81
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
C
C
C
59
59
58
17.1
17.1
15.8
12.3
12.3
10.9
4.8
4.8
4.9
69
69
69
33
33
30
33
33
34
23.8
23.8
21.8
TEST RESULTS
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
SCORE
Water
Dispenser
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
c CR Best Buy d Recommended
Very Good Good Fair Poor
Excellent
A. TOP-FREEZERS
c
d
d
d
d
d
c
d
d
d
d
d
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
LG LTCS20220S
LG LTCS24223S
GE GIE21GSHSS
Frigidaire Gallery FGHI2164QF
Frigidaire FFHT2021QS
Frigidaire Gallery FGHT1846QF
GE GTE15CTHRWW
Frigidaire FFHI1831QS
Kenmore 79433
GE GTE18ISHSS
Kenmore 78032
LG LTC20380ST
GE GTS18GSHSS
Frigidaire FFHT1814QW
Ikea Energisk B18W
Maytag MRT711BZDM
Whirlpool WRT511SZDM
Frigidaire FFTR1514RW
GE GIE18GSHSS
Whirlpool WRT106TFDW
Hotpoint HPE15BTHWW
Frigidaire FFTR2131QS
Whirlpool WRT549SZDM
Hotpoint HPS15BTHLWW
Haier HRT18F2APSS
Whirlpool WRT318FMDM
Whirlpool WRT519SZDM
Amana ART308FFDW
GE GTE16GTHWW
Maytag MRT519SZDM
Frigidaire FFTR1621QW
GE GTS16GTHWW
Whirlpool WRT541SZDM
Summit Ingenious Series FF1935PLIM
Frigidaire FFTR1831QS
Frigidaire FFHT1614QW
Maytag MRT318FZDM
Frigidaire FFHT1521QW
N
N
N
N
N
N
Int.
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
B. BOTTOM-FREEZERS
d
d
d
1
2
3
Kenmore Elite 79043
LG LDC24370ST
Kenmore Elite 79023
N
N
N
How We Test: To measure temperature performance we see how uniformly models maintain 37° F in the fridge and 0° F in the freezer, even as we
crank up the heat in our labs. Storage is also key, so we measure usable capacity, excluding nooks that manufacturers include but we don’t think are
usable. We also measure height, width, and depth (HxWxD), rounded to the nearest inch. Noise is measured with the compressor running. Noise is
how much the unit will cost to run per year based on average electricity prices.
82 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Temperature
Performance
Energy
Eficiency
Noise
Ease of Use
Energy
Cost/Yr. ($)
Total Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Fridge Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Exterior
Height (In.)
Exterior
Width (In.)
Exterior
Depth (In.)
Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
FEATURES
$950
$1,550
$1,300
$1,260
$1,250
$1,220
$1,300
$1,530
$1,260
$1,400
$1,580
$1,700
$1,800
$1,490
$2,150
$2,300
$2,000
$900
80
77
77
77
72
71
67
67
67
67
66
65
63
63
62
61
48
43
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
X
X
X
X
C
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
C
C
C
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
V
V
Z
C
C
C
C
C
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
C
X
X
X
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
C
C
C
C
V
V
V
V
V
C
C
V
44
54
54
54
56
51
63
63
63
63
65
71
55
61
38
58
65
76
13.4
14.9
14.9
14.9
15.3
12.5
12.1
12.1
12.1
12.1
16.2
17
13.4
13.7
8.4
13
12.4
14.9
8.9
10.7
10.7
10.7
11.1
8.9
8.6
8.6
8.6
8.6
12.3
12.7
9.7
10.2
5.8
9.7
9.4
10.4
4.5
4.2
4.2
4.2
4.2
3.6
3.5
3.5
3.5
3.5
3.9
4.3
3.7
3.5
2.6
3.3
3
4.5
66
69
69
69
69
66
67
67
67
67
68
68
67
67
79
68
69
66
30
33
33
33
33
30
30
30
30
30
33
36
32
30
24
32
33
30
31
31
31
31
31
31
31
31
31
31
33
33
29
33
26
28
28
32
18.5
22.1
22.1
22.1
21.9
18.5
18.7
18.7
18.7
18.7
23.2
23.1
17.5
20.4
11.3
17.3
17.5
17.5
$2,700
$2,800
$3,600
$1,990
$2,600
$1,800
$2,000
$2,800
$2,900
$2,400
$2,300
$1,500
$3,100
$2,700
$2,000
$2,400
$2,800
$2,970
$2,800
$3,400
$1,600
$2,900
$2,100
$1,400
$1,400
$2,000
$1,600
87
85
85
84
84
83
83
83
82
82
82
81
81
81
80
80
80
80
79
79
79
79
78
78
78
77
77
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
X
Z
X
X
C
Z
X
X
Z
X
Z
X
X
Z
Z
Z
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
X
X
C
X
V
X
C
V
V
70
74
74
48
47
66
56
81
57
62
55
55
68
68
70
73
73
66
66
75
59
74
51
57
66
50
50
20
21.5
21.5
17.1
16
20.9
20
20.9
19.8
20
18.3
17.4
19.1
19.1
20.8
21.8
20.1
15.1
15.1
19.6
17.4
18.3
15.5
18.6
14.8
15.2
15.2
13.3
15.4
15.4
11.3
11.1
14.7
13.3
14.1
13.2
13.3
13.3
12.6
13.1
13.1
14.6
14.7
13.3
10.1
10.1
12.8
12.6
12.8
11.2
13.4
10.2
10.9
10.9
6.7
6.1
6.1
5.8
4.9
6.2
6.7
6.8
6.6
6.7
5
4.8
6
6
6.2
7.1
6.8
5
5
6.8
4.8
5.5
4.3
5.2
4.6
4.3
4.3
69
69
69
70
69
70
69
69
70
69
69
69
69
69
69
69
69
70
70
69
69
69
69
69
71
69
69
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
33
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
33
36
33
36
32
33
33
34
36
36
35
29
34
34
35
36
34
33
33
34
34
34
36
35
30
30
35
33
34
32
35
30
32
32
27.8
31.7
31.5
25.7
23.1
28.7
28.1
30.2
27.7
27.8
25.5
23.8
29.6
29.6
30.6
31.6
27.7
22.2
22.2
28.5
23.9
26.8
22.1
25.5
19.4
21.7
21.7
TEST RESULTS
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
SCORE
Water
Dispenser
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
B. BOTTOM-FREEZERS continued
c
d
d
d
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
Kenmore 69313
KitchenAid KRBR102ESS
Maytag MBF2258DEM
Whirlpool WRB322DMBM
Amana ABB2224BRM
Amana ABB1924BRM
KitchenAid KBRS19KCMS
KitchenAid KRBR109ESS
Maytag MBF1958DEM
Whirlpool WRB329DMBM
GE GDE23GSHSS
GE GDE23ESESS
Fisher & Paykel ActiveSmart E522BRX5
GE GDE20GSHSS
Bosch B11CB50SSS
Fisher & Paykel ActiveSmart RF170WDRUX5
Fisher & Paykel RF175WCRUX1
Haier HBQ18JAD[W]
Ext.
Ext.
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
C. THREE-DOOR FRENCH-DOORS
d
d
d
c
d
c
d
d
d
d
d
c
d
d
d
d
d
d
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
Samsung RF28HDEDPWW
Kenmore Elite 74093
LG LFXS32766S
GE GFE26GSHSS
GE Profile PWE23KMDES
GE GNE29GSHSS
Samsung RF28HFPDBSR
Samsung RF30HDEDTSR
GE Profile PFH28PSHSS
Samsung RF28HDEDBSR
Samsung RF26HFPNBSR
LG LFC24770ST
Kenmore Elite 74033
LG LFXS30766S
LG LFCS31626S
Samsung RF323TEDB[SR]
GE Profile PFE28RSHSS
GE Café CYE22USHSS
GE Café CYE22TSHSS
LG LFXS29766S
Kenmore Elite 71313
KitchenAid KRFF507ESS
Bosch 800 Series B22FT80SNS
Samsung RF261BEAE[SR]
Samsung RF20HFENBSR
KitchenAid KRFF302ESS
Whirlpool WRF532SMBM
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Int.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Int.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Int.
Int.
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 83
refrigerators
Total Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Fridge Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Exterior
Height (In.)
Exterior
Width (In.)
Exterior
Depth (In.)
Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Water
Dispenser
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
77
77
77
77
77
76
76
75
75
75
75
75
75
74
74
74
74
74
73
73
73
73
73
73
72
72
71
70
69
69
69
68
68
68
67
67
67
67
67
67
67
66
66
65
65
65
64
64
61
61
Energy
Cost/Yr. ($)
$1,800
$2,160
$1,900
$2,000
$2,650
$1,800
$1,800
$2,400
$3,100
$1,250
$1,400
$2,800
$2,500
$2,700
$2,100
$1,700
$1,500
$1,670
$3,000
$2,000
$1,300
$2,300
$1,700
$1,800
$1,200
$3,100
$2,800
$2,400
$3,000
$3,200
$2,400
$1,900
$3,100
$1,550
$1,600
$2,200
$2,400
$2,650
$1,700
$2,400
$2,500
$3,000
$1,950
$1,900
$2,200
$1,440
$1,800
$2,200
$3,000
$3,300
FEATURES
TEST RESULTS
Ease of Use
SCORE
Noise
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
Energy
Eficiency
|
Temperature
Performance
BUYING GUIDE
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
Z
X
C
Z
X
X
X
Z
C
C
X
X
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
Z
X
X
X
X
C
Z
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
C
C
V
Z
X
X
X
X
V
X
C
X
X
Z
X
X
Z
Z
X
X
X
C
X
X
C
X
X
C
X
X
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Z
X
X
V
X
C
C
C
C
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
C
C
X
X
C
X
C
C
C
X
V
V
X
X
C
C
V
C
X
X
X
C
C
X
V
C
C
C
C
C
X
X
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
68
86
75
75
88
58
51
61
70
54
71
67
67
63
62
61
56
54
77
59
59
52
71
74
61
54
57
76
71
80
59
86
81
78
57
75
87
84
79
83
83
82
85
90
62
62
71
74
59
83
16.4
19.4
16.4
16.9
20
20
15.5
17.6
15.1
13
15.4
15
17.4
13.5
15.3
17.1
16
19.1
18.3
17.4
17.4
14.3
16.2
17.5
14.6
13.9
13.5
16.4
17.6
18.1
12.6
18.6
16
17.2
13.3
17.7
18.2
16.4
20.1
19.5
19.5
18.6
19.5
18.2
12.3
15.3
14.6
15.3
12.5
14.3
11.9
13.1
11.4
11.5
13.3
13.8
11.2
11.9
10.1
8.9
11.1
9.7
12.6
9.7
11
12
11.4
13.9
12.8
12.5
12.5
10.5
11.2
12.6
10.4
10.4
10.4
11.7
12.4
11.9
9.3
12.3
11.1
12.4
9.3
12.7
12.3
11.2
14.1
13.5
13.5
12.9
13.8
12.2
8.9
11.3
9.9
11.1
9.1
11
4.5
6.4
4.9
4.9
6.7
6.2
4.3
5.7
5
4.1
4.3
5.3
4.8
3.8
4.3
5.1
4.6
5.2
5.5
4.9
4.9
3.8
5
4.9
4.2
3.5
3.1
4.8
5.2
6.2
3.3
6.3
4.9
4.7
4
5
5.9
5.2
6
6
6
5.7
5.7
6
3.4
4
4.8
4.2
3.4
3.3
69
70
69
69
69
70
69
69
70
71
68
69
69
70
68
69
67
70
70
69
69
68
69
69
70
72
72
69
70
69
68
70
69
69
68
70
70
70
69
69
69
69
69
69
66
69
69
70
69
73
36
36
36
36
36
36
33
36
36
33
30
36
36
36
30
36
30
36
36
36
36
33
36
36
33
36
36
36
36
36
32
36
36
36
30
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
30
33
36
36
36
36
34
34
32
32
34
34
32
34
35
29
33
29
29
28
33
35
34
34
33
34
34
33
32
34
32
29
28
34
34
34
28
34
29
33
33
33
32
33
33
34
34
33
31
34
33
33
29
29
28
28
25.5
27.7
23.9
23.9
28.1
26.4
22.1
26.6
27.8
17.5
21.8
23.5
24
21
21.8
25.6
21.8
26.5
26.8
24.8
24.8
22.8
24.7
26.6
21.7
21.9
21.8
26.8
28.6
27.8
17.2
27.8
22.5
25.2
19.6
26.7
26.7
25.9
27.7
29.8
29.8
26.6
27.8
27.1
20
22.7
21.9
22.6
19.5
21.9
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
C. THREE-DOOR FRENCH-DOORS continued
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
c
Samsung RF26J7500SR
GE GFE28HSHSS
Kenmore 70333
LG LFXS24566S
Samsung RF28HFEDBSR
GE GNE26GSDSS
KitchenAid KBFS22ECMS
GE GFE27GSDSS
GE Café CFE28TSHSS
Samsung RF18HFENBSR
LG LFC22770ST
Kenmore Elite 74053
LG LFXC24726S
LG LFX21976[ST]
Kenmore 71323
Samsung RF263BEAE[SR]
Samsung RF220NCTASR
Frigidaire FFHN2740PS
Maytag MFT2778EEZ
KitchenAid KRFF305ESS
Whirlpool WRF535SMBM
GE Profile PFS23KSHSS
LG LFX25974ST
Frigidaire FFHB2740PS
Kenmore 7200[2]
Bosch 800 Series B22CT80SNS
Jenn-Air JFC2290V[EP]
Whirlpool CoolVox WRF991BOOM
KitchenAid KFIV29PCMS
Electrolux Wave-Touch EW28BS85K[S]
Fisher & Paykel ActiveSmart RF170ADUSX4
Frigidaire Gallery FGHB2866PF
Samsung RF23HCEDBSR
Maytag MFF2558DEM
Whirlpool WRF560SEY[M]
Electrolux EI27BS26J[W]
Frigidaire Professional FPBS2777RF
Bosch B26FT70SN[S]
LG LFC28768ST
Kenmore Elite 74023
LG LFXS30726S
Kenmore 73063
Frigidaire Gallery FGHN2866PF
Kenmore 70343
GE Profile PNS20KSHSS
GE GNS23GSHSS
Kenmore 70443
Frigidaire Gallery FGHG2366PF
DCS RF195AUUX1
KitchenAid KRFC302ESS
CR Best Buy
d
Recommended
84 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Excellent
Very Good
Good
Int.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Int.
Int.
Int.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Int.
Fair
Poor
Temperature
Performance
Energy
Eficiency
Noise
Ease of Use
Energy
Cost/Yr. ($)
Total Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Fridge Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Exterior
Height (In.)
Exterior
Width (In.)
Exterior
Depth (In.)
Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
FEATURES
$1,900
$1,100
$3,700
$1,800
$1,800
$2,600
$1,900
$1,980
$1,550
59
59
57
54
54
53
52
45
43
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
C
X
V
V
C
C
V
V
V
X
V
Z
Z
V
V
C
X
X
X
X
X
C
C
V
C
C
C
C
C
X
V
70
56
65
81
81
55
83
62
53
14.6
11.2
11.7
13.6
13.6
14.4
13.9
16.4
15.5
10.1
8
8.7
10.2
10.2
10.5
9.7
11.7
11.2
4.5
3.2
3
3.4
3.4
3.9
4.2
4.8
4.3
70
71
69
69
69
71
70
69
69
36
28
36
36
36
36
36
36
33
28
27
28
28
28
28
29
33
32
20.6
15
19.8
20
20
20.1
22.6
24.7
22.1
$5,400
$6,000
$3,600
$2,850
$3,500
$3,900
$2,700
$3,000
$3,000
$3,300
$2,800
$3,330
$2,600
$3,200
$2,900
$4,000
$3,000
$2,400
$3,000
$2,700
$2,700
$3,250
84
84
84
84
83
82
80
80
80
79
79
76
74
73
73
71
71
70
66
58
54
31
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
Z
Z
Z
X
X
C
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
Z
Z
C
C
C
Z
C
X
V
B
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
Z
Z
X
X
Z
Z
Z
X
X
C
X
Z
X
C
X
X
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
C
C
C
X
99
73
70
70
70
74
73
64
66
69
58
67
68
75
88
88
88
70
67
85
115
158
23.4
24.4
21.1
21.1
22.9
21.7
18.8
16.1
16.6
19
14.7
15.1
17.9
20.5
17.5
17.1
17.1
18
14.3
17.7
17.5
18.5
14
15.7
15.4
15.4
13.7
12.8
13.3
10.1
11.7
13
10.7
10.5
12.7
13.9
12.3
11.9
11.9
12.9
10.2
11.4
11.4
13.1
9.4
8.7
5.7
5.7
9.2
8.9
5.5
6
4.9
6
4
4.6
5.2
6.6
5.2
5.2
5.2
5.2
4.1
6.3
6.1
5.4
73
73
69
69
72
69
69
72
69
69
71
69
69
69
69
70
70
69
69
73
73
69
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
33
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
37
36
36
36
37
34
29
34
36
29
29
34
36
34
34
34
34
28
34
34
34
34.3
33.5
29.9
29.9
31.8
29.8
28.2
22.5
24.7
30.5
22.7
22.6
28.1
29.5
26.2
25.8
25.8
28.1
23.6
23.3
23.3
28.2
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
$1,900
$1,600
$1,700
$2,500
$2,200
$2,400
$1,350
$2,200
$1,800
$1,260
$1,800
$1,350
$1,400
$1,600
$1,540
$2,350
$1,350
$1,900
83
80
78
77
76
76
76
76
75
74
74
74
72
72
72
72
71
71
Z
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
Z
X
Z
X
X
Z
X
X
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
X
Z
C
C
X
C
X
X
C
Z
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Z
Z
C
X
C
C
C
C
X
X
X
58
63
63
71
53
76
64
83
63
64
53
54
61
66
58
73
63
98
18.6
19
20.7
22.9
15.6
19.5
20.6
17
16.1
16.5
18.7
14.4
16.1
18.9
13
21.2
17.4
22
11.8
12
13.8
14.9
11.1
14
13.7
11.9
11.4
10.7
12.3
10.3
11.6
12.3
8.8
13.4
11.8
13.6
6.8
7.0
6.9
8.0
4.5
5.5
6.9
5.1
4.7
5.8
6.4
4.1
4.5
6.6
4.2
7.8
5.6
8.4
69
70
69
69
69
69
69
70
70
70
69
68
66
69
68
69
70
70
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
34
33
36
32
36
36
36
34
35
34
36
29
28
34
33
33
32
34
33
33
33
32
36
34
34
24.5
24.7
26.2
28.5
21.6
22.3
26.2
28.2
25.3
24.7
24.8
21.8
21.9
25.6
19.9
28.5
26
29.8
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
TEST RESULTS
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
SCORE
Water
Dispenser
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
C. THREE-DOOR FRENCH-DOORS continued
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
Haier HB21FC45NS
Haier HRF15N3AGS
Viking DDFF136D[SS]
Maytag MFC2062DEM
Whirlpool WRF540CWBM
Fisher & Paykel ActiveSmart RF201ADUSX5
Frigidaire Gallery FGHF2366PF
Maytag MFT2574DEM
Maytag MFF2258DEM
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
D. FOUR-DOOR (OR MORE) FRENCH-DOORS
d
d
d
d
d
d
c
d
d
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
Samsung Chef Collection RF34H9960S4
LG LPCS34886C
Kenmore Elite 72483
LG LMXS30746S
Samsung T9000 RF32FMQDBSR
LG LPXS30866D
Samsung RF28HMEDBSR
Samsung RF23J9011SR
Samsung RF25HMEDBSR
Samsung RF31FMESBSR
LG LMXC23746S
Samsung RF23HSESBSR
Whirlpool WRX988SIBM
Samsung RF30HBEDBSR
Maytag MFX2876DRM
KitchenAid KRMF706EBS
Whirlpool WRV986FDEM
Kenmore 72383
Samsung RF24FSEDBSR
Blomberg BRFD2650SS
Blomberg BRFD2650SSN
Samsung RF28HMELBSR
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
E. SIDE-BY-SIDES
d
d
d
d
d
d
d
d
d
c
d
d
d
d
d
d
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
Samsung RS25H5121SR
Samsung RH25H5611SR
LG LSXS26366S
Samsung RH29H8000SR
LG LSC22991ST
Samsung RS22HDHPNSR
LG LSXS26326S
GE Profile PSS28KSHSS
GE Profile PSE25KSHSS
GE GSE25ESHSS
Whirlpool WRS975SIDM
GE GSE22ESHSS
Kenmore 51813
Whirlpool WRS586FIEM
GE GSS20ESHSS
Samsung RH29H9000SR
Frigidaire Gallery FGHS2655PF
Whirlpool WRS950SIAM
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 85
refrigerators
Total Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Fridge Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)
Exterior
Height (In.)
Exterior
Width (In.)
Exterior
Depth (In.)
Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Water
Dispenser
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
70
69
69
68
68
68
67
67
67
66
66
66
65
65
63
62
61
60
60
59
58
55
52
51
48
46
45
45
43
43
43
42
37
Energy
Cost/Yr. ($)
$1,250
$1,490
$1,700
$1,500
$2,000
$1,400
$1,800
$2,300
$1,710
$1,650
$950
$1,120
$3,050
$1,500
$2,500
$1,260
$1,170
$2,350
$950
$1,250
$1,800
$1,700
$1,050
$1,260
$900
$1,200
$1,200
$950
$950
$1,700
$900
$1,350
$1,000
FEATURES
TEST RESULTS
Ease of Use
SCORE
Noise
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
Energy
Eficiency
|
Temperature
Performance
BUYING GUIDE
X
X
X
X
X
C
C
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
C
X
X
X
C
X
C
C
C
C
V
V
V
V
C
V
V
X
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
C
X
X
Z
X
X
Z
Z
X
Z
C
X
C
C
C
Z
Z
Z
C
Z
Z
Z
X
C
X
C
C
C
X
C
C
Z
X
Z
C
X
C
C
X
C
Z
C
C
X
C
C
X
X
C
X
C
C
X
X
C
X
C
C
C
X
C
X
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
C
X
C
C
X
C
C
X
C
C
C
C
C
X
C
C
C
C
X
C
67
67
77
59
60
74
47
86
85
72
74
83
75
65
59
87
65
61
72
83
90
80
65
63
60
76
71
60
67
63
102
90
84
14.6
15.2
16.1
15.4
17.1
18
21.8
14.5
19.4
13.7
17.9
19.2
14.7
15.1
15.5
16.4
16.3
15.3
15.7
14.6
16
13.4
15.8
15.4
15.7
13.1
18.1
15
15.5
14
18
18.9
15.1
9.8
11
11.3
10.4
11.6
11.8
14
10.2
12.7
9.9
12.3
12.5
10.5
10.1
10.5
11.1
11
10.3
10.9
9.8
10.9
9.1
10.6
10.2
10.6
9.8
12
10.3
10.3
9.7
12.2
12.3
10
4.8
4.2
4.8
5.0
5.5
6.2
7.8
4.3
6.7
3.8
5.6
6.7
4.2
5.0
5.0
5.3
5.3
5.0
4.8
4.8
5.1
4.3
5.2
5.2
5.1
3.3
6.1
4.7
5.2
4.3
5.8
6.6
5.1
69
70
70
69
66
69
69
69
69
69
70
69
72
70
69
69
70
69
70
69
70
66
69
69
69
66
70
69
69
70
69
69
69
36
33
36
33
33
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
36
33
36
36
33
36
36
36
33
36
33
36
36
36
36
36
29
33
34
34
32
34
34
28
36
29
32
34
28
29
29
32
33
28
32
28
33
33
32
33
33
33
34
33
33
28
32
34
33
20.6
23.2
26
22.6
21.9
24.5
27.6
20
26.5
21.4
25.5
26.5
26.4
22.6
21.5
24.6
25.3
21.5
22
20.6
26
22
25.5
24.5
25.4
21.2
25.6
22.6
25.4
21.9
26
25.6
25.4
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
Ext.
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
E. SIDE-BY-SIDES continued
25
26
26
25
26
26
25
25
25
N
N
N
N
N
N
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
36
42
42
36
36
36
36
36
30
Water Dispenser
83
83
83
84
83
83
84
84
83
Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
X
C
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
Fridge Usable Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Total Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Bottom-Freezer
X
Z
Z
X
X
X
C
C
X
French-Door Style
Exterior
Depth (In.)
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Side-by-Side
Exterior
Width (In.)
FEATURES
Exterior Height
(In.)
TEST RESULTS
Ease of Use
SCORE
Noise
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
Energy
Eficiency
Kenmore 51783
GE GSS23HSHSS
Electrolux EI26SS30J[S]
Frigidaire Gallery FGHS2355PF
Kenmore Elite 51823
Samsung RS25H5000SR
Kenmore Elite 51773
Fagor FQ9925XUS
Whirlpool WRL767SIAM
Whirlpool WRS321CDBM
Frigidaire FFHS2622MW
Kenmore 51133
GE Café CZS25TSESS
Frigidaire Gallery FGHC2331PF
Samsung RH22H8010SR
Maytag MSF25D4MDH
GE GSS25GSHSS
Samsung RH22H9010SR
Frigidaire FFHS2322MW
Whirlpool WRS571CIDM
Electrolux EI26SS55G[W]
KitchenAid KSF22C4CYY
Amana ASD2575BRS
Whirlpool WRS335FDDM
Kenmore 50023
Amana ASD2275BRS
Samsung RS261MD[WP]
Frigidaire FFSS2314QS
Kenmore 51123
GE GZS22DSJSS
Frigidaire FFSS2614QS
Whirlpool WRS576FIDM
Whirlpool WRS325FDAM
Temperature
Performance
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
F. BUILT-INS
d
d
d
d
d
d
c
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Miele MasterCool KF1903SF
$8,600
KitchenAid KBFN502ESS
$9,000
Jenn-Air JF42NXFXDE
$8,500
Thermador Freedom Collection T36BB820SS $7,400
KitchenAid KBBR306ESS
$8,200
Jenn-Air JB36NXFXRE
$7,400
Bosch Integra 800 Series B36BT830NS
$7,500
Thermador Freedom Collection T36BT810NS $8,000
Miele MasterCool KF1803SF
$8,100
CR Best Buy
d
Recommended
86 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
81
80
80
80
80
80
78
78
77
N
N
N
N
N
Excellent
14.1 10.6
17
13
17
13
14.3 9.8
14.9 11.4
14.9 11.4
13.8 9.2
13.8 9.2
11.4 8.5
Very Good
3.5
4
4
4.5
3.5
3.5
4.6
4.6
2.8
Good
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Fair
Poor
Fridge Usable Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Water Dispenser
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
26
25
26
25
25
25
26
24
26
26
26
26
26
26
24
25
24
Total Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
48
36
42
36
30
30
36
35
42
42
36
36
36
42
30
36
30
French-Door Style
84
80
84
81
84
84
84
83
83
83
84
83
83
84
80
83
80
Side-by-Side
X
C
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
C
X
X
B
C
Bottom-Freezer
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
C
C
X
X
X
Z
Z
X
C
Z
Z
Exterior
Depth (In.)
Z
X
X
X
C
C
C
X
Z
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
C
Exterior
Width (In.)
X
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
Ease of Use
76
75
73
73
73
73
72
72
72
70
69
69
69
69
67
67
67
FEATURES
Exterior Height
(In.)
$6,570
$5,000
$8,500
$5,300
$7,000
$6,500
$8,500
$9,050
$9,800
$10,160
$8,000
$8,500
$8,000
$9,800
$7,050
$7,600
$5,600
Noise
Samsung RS27FDBTNSR
Liebherr CS2060
LG LSSB2791[ST]
Liebherr CS2062
Thermador Freedom Collection T30BB820SS
Bosch Integra B30BB830SS
GE Monogram ZIPP360NHSS
Viking VCBB5363ERSS
Sub-Zero BI-42UFD/S
Viking VCSB5423SS
Dacor Discovery DYF36BFTSR
KitchenAid KBFN406ESS
Jenn-Air JF36NXFXDE
Sub-Zero BI42SIDS/PH
GE Monogram ZIC30GNZII
Sub-Zero IT36CI
Liebherr HCB1560
TEST RESULTS
Energy
Eficiency
SCORE
Temperature
Performance
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
20.3
13.9
17
13.7
12.2
12.2
14
15.3
17.4
18.3
15.8
14.5
14.5
16.4
11.5
15.1
10.9
13.5
10.4
11
10.2
8.6
8.6
10
11.7
13.4
11.1
12.5
11
11
11.8
8.7
10.4
8
6.8
3.5
6
3.5
3.6
3.6
4
3.6
4
7.2
3.3
3.5
3.5
4.6
2.8
4.7
2.9
Ext.
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
BUILT-INS continued
10
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Ext.
Int.
A TALE OF
TWO FRIDGES
What you get when you pay
$1,000 more for a refrigerator
As French-door refrigerators become more
popular, the price range for them has also widened. You can now spend less than $1,500 for a
three-door French-door refrigerator with basic
features and limited capacity and more than
$5,000 for a luxury four-door version that’s
huge on storage and innovation.
Those are two ends of the extreme. But even
among midrange French-door refrigerators, you
might find two similar models with a price differential of $1,000 or more—nothing to sneeze
at, especially if you’re renovating on a tight
budget. So is it worth spending more? A pair of
GE French-door refrigerators recently tested by
Consumer Reports offers some insights.
The GE GFE26GSHSS, $1,900, and the
GE Profile PFH28PSHSS, $2,900, both make
our recommended list, so it’s clear that you
can find top performance in a less expensive
French-door refrigerator. In fact, the $1,900
model scored a couple of points higher overall
because of slightly better temperature control.
That helped it earn a CR Best Buy distinction.
$1,900
$2,900
GE
GFE26GSHSS
GE PROFILE
PFH28PSHSS
How They Compare
Both French-door models offer excellent energy efficiency and quietness. In terms of storage capacity, the pricier GE Profile has a slight
edge, offering 19.8 cubic feet of usable capacity
compared with its brandmate’s 17.1 cubic feet.
Now let’s look at the features. Both Frenchdoor refrigerators have an external ice and
water dispenser, but the GE Profile comes with
an LCD display and hands-free precise auto-fill,
which lets you walk away while the machine
automatically fills any container. It also has a
temperature-controlled drawer with settings
for meat, deli, and beverages. And it features a
drop-down shelf for tall containers.
Those convenience features are nice, as is
the extra capacity inside the GE Profile. The
upgrades might even be worth the splurge. But
it’s good to know that if you don't have an extra
$1,000 in the budget, you can still get a superb
French-door refrigerator.
See our Ratings for the complete list of recommended French-door refrigerators, including
other CR Best Buys from LG and Samsung.
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/refrigerators/buying-guide.htm 87
BUYING GUIDE
|
ranges
Ranges
WHETHER YOU WANT RESTAURANT STYLING OR SOMETHING A BIT MORE STREAMLINED,
OUR TOP PICKS OFFER GREAT LOOKS AND PERFORMANCE—AT EVERY PRICE
HAIER
88 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
he range is the workhorse of the kitchen,
and if it’s stylish, it’s probably the centerpiece, too. Electric radiant smooothtop
ranges remain the big sellers, but you have
more options than ever, including double-oven
ranges for the multitasker in all of us. And though
a cooktop and wall-oven combo has its appeal, the
two appliances often cost more than one range.
At Consumer Reports we buy every range we
test. So we know what it’s like to pay big money
for pro-style ranges. We don’t rate them on style—
that’s your call—but we do test and score them on
how quickly they deliver cooktop heat, simmering, baking, broiling, and self-cleaning, just as we
do with all ranges we test.
T
WHAT’S
NEW
Smaller sizes.
Big, beefy ranges have gotten a
lot of love in recent years, but now
we’re seeing many of the same
features and design details in much
smaller packages. Perfect for the
tight floor plans of urban kitchens,
24-inch wide ranges are available
from a number of manufacturers,
including Bertazzoni, Blomberg,
and now Smeg. We haven’t tried
the small sizes, but their big brothers didn’t fare well in our tests.
Steps to
Success
1
2
3
MIELE
PICK A TYPE
Freestanding ranges are the most widely
used and easiest to install. The oven
control panel is usually on the back
panel, above the cooktop surface. Slidein ranges give a custom built-in look
and easily slide in between surrounding
cabinets. The oven controls are on the
range front, and there’s no back panel,
which showcases your backsplash.
CONSIDER THE SIZE
Most electric and gas ranges are 30 inches wide, and what we buy and test.
Pro-style ranges usually span 36 inches
or more. We test 30-inch and 36-inch
pro-style ranges. They’re big on style but
aren’t the best performing ranges we’ve
tested. Even regular ranges now have
beefy knobs, rugged grates, style, and
stainless trim for a lot less money.
FACTOR IN CAPACITY
A roomy oven comes in handy when
baking or entertaining. We measure oven
space you can actually use, so check the
capacity scores in our range Ratings.
The smallest ovens in our tests are a little
more than 2 cubic feet; the largest are
almost 4 cubic feet.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 89
BUYING GUIDE
|
ranges
Details
That Count
ELECTRONIC TOUCHPADS
Be sure they’re well-placed and visible while you
cook. Front-mounted touchpads can be easy to
bump and reset by accident.
CONTROL LOCKOUT
It lets you disable the oven controls. We
recommend it if the electronic oven-control
panel is at the front of the range, rather than
on the back panel, especially if there are small
children in the house.
FLEXIBLE COOKING SURFACES
Continuous grates on gas ranges let you slide,
instead of lift, heavy cookware between burners. Most smoothtops have expandable (dual or
triple) elements that allow you to switch between
a large, high-power element and a small, lowpower element contained within it.
HOT-SURFACE
WARNING LIGHTS
This light warns when an element is still hot and
is particularly useful on electric radiant smooth-
GE
JENN-AIR
90 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
KITCHENAID
tops. Some ranges have a warning light for
each burner; others just have one.
DOUBLE OVENS
Two separate cavities let you roast a turkey in
one while baking pies in another and at different
temperatures. Certain ranges pair a smaller top
oven with a larger oven below; others have two
same-size ovens. Keep in mind that there’s no
storage drawer and usually the convection feature is in the bottom oven, although some have
convection in both ovens.
On the
Market
There are three types of ranges
based on fuel: electric, gas, and
dual-fuel, which pairs a gas cooktop
with an electric oven. Both gas and
electric have their advantages.
SELF-CLEANING CYCLE
Most use high heat to burn off messes in the
oven. An automatic safety lock prevents the
door from being opened until the oven has
cooled. Certain models have a digital countdown
display that shows the time left in the cycle.
DUAL-FUEL
These ranges feature a gas cooktop paired
with an electric oven. Manufacturers tout more
even oven heating compared with gas ovens,
especially for baking. But our tests have found
no clear advantages.
FIVE OR MORE
OVEN-RACK POSITIONS
The more, the better. You can adjust for the size
of the food and its distance to the broiler, and
have more flexibility when using multiple racks.
CONVECTION
Many midpriced and higher priced ranges use
one or more fans to circulate hot air in the oven.
Certain ovens, usually electric models, have an
additional convection heating element. Convection cooking usually reduces cooking time,
especially for large roasts.
VARIABLE BROIL
ELECTRIC SMOOTHTOP
Ranges with electric radiant smoothtops
are the popular pick. All of the models in
our tests have at least one high-power
burner. Most have expandable dual or triple
elements that let you switch from a large,
high-power element to a small, lower-power
element within it. Certain ranges have a
warming element in the center to keep side
dishes warm. There is a lot of residual heat,
so when reducing the temperature it can
take a few minutes to really settle at the
lower setting.
ELECTRIC INDUCTION
Electric ranges with an induction cooktop
use magnetic coils below the ceramic glass
surface to quickly generate heat directly
to the pan, offering precise simmering and
control. You’ll find these models in our
Ratings of electric ranges.
Magnetic cookware is needed for
induction to work. If a magnet strongly
sticks to the bottom of a pot, it will work
with an induction cooktop. Some stainlesssteel cookware is induction-capable, and
some isn’t.
GE
GAS
If you prefer cooking with gas, we get it.
The flame makes it easier to judge the heat,
to get a feel for it, and to quickly move from
a high setting to a lower one.
The capacity of a burner is measured in
British thermal units (Btu) per hour. Most
ranges have four surface burners in three
sizes: one or two medium-power burners
(about 9,000 Btu), a small burner (about
5,000 Btu), and one or two large ones
(about 12,000 Btu or more). Some have
a fifth burner instead of a center section.
Response time is particularly quick,
especially when compared with a radiant
smoothtop. When you turn the knob from
high to medium on a gas cooktop, the pot
and the food in it experience that change
almost immediately. And with most gas
burners you can strike a match to light
them when your power is out.
Most electric and gas ovens have it. Variable
broil provides adjustable settings for foods
that need slower or faster cooking.
WARMING DRAWER
This convenient feature keeps plates and food
warm and comes in handy when you’re cooking
for a crowd, or in stages.
TIMED/DELAYED START
This lets you set a time for the electric or gas
oven to start and stop cooking. But this feature
is not essential—you shouldn’t leave the oven on
when it’s unattended, and most foods shouldn’t
stay in a cold oven for long.
GE
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 91
BUYING GUIDE
| ranges
d
ELECTRIC SMOOTHTOP
RECOMMENDED
MODELS
Recommended ranges
can do it all and, based
on our survey of
thousands of readers,
do not have brand
reliability problems.
The recommended
ranges will bring pasta
water to a fast boil, hold
a big batch of spaghetti
sauce or chili at a low
simmer, and deliver
dozens of cookies that
are evenly baked and
nicely browned. They
all do at least an okay
job broiling, and many
are excellent—nice
if you enjoy a good
steak or burgers. The
oven is large, and
self-cleaning is good
or better. CR Best Buys
are recommended
ranges that
combine impressive
performance and value.
A1 LG LDE3037BD
Type SMOOTHTOP, DOUBLE OVEN
(30-INCH) | $1,620
The only electric smoothtop range
to ace all of our tests, it’s at the
top of our Ratings of double-oven
ranges. It was superb at simmering,
delivering fast cooktop heat, baking, broiling, and self-cleaning. It
has four cooking elements, including two high-power, and a warming
element. The lower oven has convection, and steam-cleaning.
lg.com
B1 KENMORE
95052
Type SMOOTHTOP, SINGLE-OVEN
(30-INCH) | $1,300
A2 SAMSUNG
NE58F9710WS
A3 SAMSUNG
NE59J7850WS
Type SMOOTHTOP, DOUBLE OVEN
(30-INCH) | $1,800
Type SMOOTHTOP, DOUBLE-OVEN
(30-INCH) | $1,400
Though this model has one oven
cavity and a single door, it comes
with a divider that splits the oven in
two. You can cook different foods
simultaneously, but the foods must
cook within a certain temperature
range. Cooktop heat was fast. Simmering, broiling, self-cleaning, and
baking were impressive.
This freestanding model was
superb at simmering. It has four
cooktop elements, including one
high-power. Baking and selfcleaning were impressive, and
broiling was excellent. The oven
has a large capacity and a slide-in
partition that converts the cavity
from a single oven to dual cavities.
samsung.com
samsung.com
B2 LG LRE3083SW
Type SMOOTHTOP, SINGLE-OVEN
(30-INCH) | $800
This top-rated freestanding range
has four cooktop elements, including two high-power. It excelled at
simmering and was one of the few
smoothtop ranges to excel at baking. Even self-cleaning was superb.
This electric smoothtop range was
superb at simmering and delivered
fast heat. Baking and self-cleaning
were impressive; broiling was
superb. The oven has convection
and a steam-clean feature for
light cleaning.
kenmore.com
lg.com
92 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
B3 FRIGIDAIRE GALLERY
FGEF3035RF
Type SMOOTHTOP, SINGLE-OVEN
(30-INCH) | $870
This freestanding electric smoothtop range was superb overall,
delivering fast cooktop heat and
superb simmering, broiling, and
self-cleaning. The large oven was
impressive at baking.
frigidaire.com
ELECTRIC INDUCTION
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
“Induction cooking surfaces
perform really well in our tests
and have other advantages, such
as the surface not getting as hot
when you use it and fast response
when you adjust the heat. The
Kenmore 95073, though still
a bit of a splurge, is one of the
least expensive ranges we’ve tested
featuring an induction surface.”
A4 LG LDE4415ST
Type SMOOTHTOP, DOUBLE-OVEN
(30-INCH) | $1,640
Pairing a smaller top oven with a
larger oven below, this freestanding smoothtop range has four
burners, including two high power
which delivered fast heat. Simmering was superb. Baking, broiling, and self-cleaning were very
good. Total oven capacity is large
and extras include convection
and smart features that work with
Android smartphones with NFC.
lg.com
B4 GE CAFÉ CS980STSS
D1 KENMORE 95073
—TARA CASAREGOLA,
TEST PROGRAM LEADER
Type INDUCTION, SINGLE OVEN (30-INCH) | $1,530
kenmore.com
D2 KENMORE 95103
Type SMOOTHTOP, SINGLE-OVEN
(30-INCH) | $2,550
Type INDUCTION, DOUBLE OVEN
(30-INCH) | $1,400
This model was excellent at simmering, baking, and broiling, and
impressive at fast cooktop heating.
It has five cooking elements, including one high-powered, and a large
oven equipped with convection.
This induction range has four burners, including two high-power, and
a warming element. A slide-in partition converts the cavity from a
single oven to dual cavities (that
share the one oven door.)
geappliances.com
kenmore.com
D3 SAMSUNG
NE58H9970WS
Type INDUCTION, SINGLE OVEN
(30-INCH) | $3,330
D4 BOSCH HIIP054U
Type INDUCTION, SINGLE OVEN
(30-INCH) | $3,200
This slide-in induction range was
excellent overall and offers fast
cooktop heat, but not as fast as
the other induction ranges tested.
It has four surface elements, and
three are high-power.
This slide-in induction range was
superb overall, delivering fast cooktop heat and excellent simmering.
But the oven was smaller than most
induction ranges we tested and
self-cleaning was so-so. It has four
cooktop elements.
samsung.com
bosch-home.com
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 93
d RECOMMENDED
MODELS
GAS
E1 LG LDG4315ST
Type GAS, DOUBLE OVEN
(30-INCH) | $1,500
Top-rated, this freestanding gas
double-oven range pairs a smaller
top oven with a larger oven below.
It has five burners, including two
high-power. Simmering, baking, and
self-cleaning were very good.
lg.com
F3 GE PGS920SEFSS
F1 SAMSUNG
NX58F5700WS
Type GAS, SINGLE OVEN
(30-INCH) | $2,550
Type GAS, SINGLE OVEN
(30-INCH) | $1,500
Unlike most gas ranges tested,
this one offers fast cooktop heat
and superb baking. Even broiling
was impressive. It has five burners,
including two high-power. The
warming drawer is a nice touch.
It's a slide-in range so it costs a lot
more than the other top picks.There
are five burners and they were
superb at simmering and delivered
fast heat. The oven is large and
impressive at baking. The oven has
a convection option.
samsung.com
geappliances.com
G1 KITCHENAID
KDRS407VSS
Type DUAL-FUEL, PRO-STYLE
(30-INCH) | $4,140
This range outperformed all others
of its type. It pairs a gas cooktop
with an electric oven, delivering impressive performance overall. But
the oven is not as large as those in
most mainstream gas ranges and
broiling was mediocre.
kitchenaid.com
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
“The GE PGB911ZEJSS
range has a lot to ofer at
a moderate price: high
performance, good
brand repair history,
and a nifty built-in
center griddle feature.”
H1 KITCHENAID
KDRU763VSS
Type DUAL-FUEL, PRO-STYLE
(36-INCH) | $7,300
Type GAS, SINGLE OVEN (30-INCH) | $1,100
This dual-fuel, 36-inch model is
tops among the “pros” and pairs a
gas cooktop with an electric oven.
Simmering was superb, and baking
and broiling were impressive. It also
has plenty of oven space and a convection feature.
geappliances.com
kitchenaid.com
F7 GE PGB911ZEJSS
94 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
—TARA CASAREGOLA,
TEST PROGRAM LEADER
Ratings
Scores in context: Of the 102 ranges tested, the highest scored 89; the lowest, 23. Below are ranges in order of performance in eight categories.
Recommended ranges offer top performance and don’t have brand-reliability problems. CR Best Buys combine performance and value. Note that
dual-fuel ranges pair a gas cooktop with an electric oven.
Poor
Low-Power Elements
Convection
Mode
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
C
C
C
C
Z
Z
Z
X
C
C
X
C
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
2
0
2
1
2
1
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
X
X
X
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
X
Z
X
Z
X
X
X
C
Z
Z
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
C
X
Z
X
C
X
X
Z
C
V
X
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
X
X
C
Z
Z
Z
C
X
X
X
V
V
V
C
X
C
C
X
Z
X
Z
Z
X
Z
X
Z
C
X
Z
C
Z
C
Z
C
C
C
Z
Z
Z
C
Z
X
Z
C
Z
X
Z
X
Z
C
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
B
Z
C
Z
B
B
X
2
0
2
NA
2
0
2
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
X
X
C
X
Z
X
C
Z
X
C
C
X
C
X
Z
B
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
B
X
2
0
2
N
2
2
0
2
0
2
2
0
2
Stainless Steel
Available
Medium-Power
Elements
Z
X
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Slide-In
High-Power Elements
FEATURES
Self-Cleaning
TEST RESULTS
Fair
Oven Capacity
SCORE
Good
Very Good
Broiling
PRICE
Rank
BRAND & MODEL
Recommended
Excellent
Recommended
Baking
d
wwCooktop Low
CR Best Buy
Cooktop High
c
A. SMOOTHTOP, DOUBLE OVEN (30-INCH)
d 1 LG LDE3037BD
d 2 Samsung NE58F9710WS
d 3 Samsung NE59J7850WS
d 4 LG LDE4415ST
$1,620
89
$1,800
85
$1,400
82
$1,640
81
5 GE Profile PB960SJSS
$1,530
74
6 Kenmore 97312
$1,700
71
7 Kenmore 97212
$1,600
68
8 Kenmore 97613
$1,400
60
1
2
1
2
0
2
1
1
2
2
1
1
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
1
2
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
1
2
1
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
B. SMOOTHTOP, SINGLE OVEN (30-INCH)
d
d
d
d
d
d
d
d
Kenmore 95052
$1,300
87
2 LG LRE3083SW
1
$800
86
3 Frigidaire Gallery FGEF3035RF
4 GE Café CS980STSS
$870
86
$2,550
86
5 GE Profile PB911SJSS
$890
85
6 Samsung NE58F9500SS
$1,400
83
7 GE PS920SFSS
$1,800
83
8 Whirlpool WFE905C0ES
$900
81
9 Frigidaire FFEF3018LW
$540
79
10 Bosch HEI8054U
$1,800
79
11 Kenmore 94242
$1,000
78
12 Samsung NE59J7630SS
$750
76
13 Kenmore 42549
$1,440
72
14 GE JB650SFSS
$800
70
15 Kenmore 41313
$2,200
70
$900
68
16 Maytag MER8800DS
17 Whirlpool WFE515S0ES
$550
67
18 Frigidaire Gallery FGES3065PW
$1,600
66
19 Frigidaire FFES3025PW
$1,300
66
20 KitchenAid KFEG500ESS
$1,000
63
21 Whirlpool WFE715H0ES
$720
62
22 Samsung NE59J3420SS
$630
59
23 Frigidaire FFEF3013LS
$500
48
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
2
0
2
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
C. ELECTRIC COIL
c
$560
81
2 GE JB250DFWW
1
Kenmore 94142
$470
69
3 Whirlpool WEC530H0DS
$1,200
51
4 Whirlpool WFC340S0AW
$700
44
N
N
How We Test: To test high cooktop heat, we time how long the highest-powered burner takes to bring a 6-liter pot of water to a near boil. For low cooktop
heat, we note how well the lowest-powered burner keeps a low temperature, as for melting chocolate, and how well the highest-power burner, set on low, holds
tomato sauce below a boil. To test how evenly the ovens bake, we bake cakes and cookies on two oven racks. We broil a pan of burgers to ind out how evenly
they brown and to check high-heat searing. To evaluate oven capacity, we measure usable space. And then it gets messy: We test the oven’s ability to remove
a baked-on mix of cheese, eggs, pie illing, and other stuf on the self-cleaning setting. Price is approximate retail.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 95
Baking
Broiling
Oven Capacity
Self-Cleaning
High-Power Elements
Medium-Power
Elements
Low-Power Elements
Convection
Mode
TEST RESULTS
FEATURES
$1,530
$1,400
$3,330
$3,200
$1,540
$1,800
$1,700
89
88
86
81
81
79
77
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Z
Z
Z
C
X
X
X
Z
X
C
X
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
C
X
X
X
2
2
3
2
2
3
2
1
1
1
2
1
0
0
1
1
0
0
1
1
2
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
73
57
52
49
X
X
X
X
X
Z
C
X
X
C
X
C
C
V
V
V
X
Z
X
C
X
V
V
X
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
1
N
N
N
N
79
77
73
73
71
71
69
68
68
67
64
63
61
60
59
57
57
53
53
51
48
46
45
44
43
33
28
X
X
X
C
X
C
X
X
X
X
C
C
X
C
X
C
C
C
C
X
C
C
C
C
X
X
C
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
X
X
Z
C
Z
C
Z
Z
C
Z
C
X
V
C
C
B
B
Z
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
Z
Z
V
X
C
Z
X
C
X
C
X
X
C
X
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
Z
V
V
C
Z
C
B
V
C
C
V
V
V
V
V
C
X
X
X
Z
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
X
C
Z
X
Z
X
Z
C
Z
C
C
C
C
X
X
C
C
Z
C
C
X
X
C
C
C
V
X
X
C
B
Z
B
V
B
2
2
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
1
2
1
2
3
2
2
2
3
2
2
2
3
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
0
1
1
1
1
2
1
1
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
N
N
N
N
72
68
66
65
65
62
60
55
X
C
C
C
X
C
C
X
Z
X
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
C
X
X
C
X
X
Z
C
C
C
X
C
C
X
V
C
X
C
C
X
Z
X
C
C
X
3
3
3
1
1
3
4
4
0
1
1
3
2
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Stainless Steel
Available
SCORE
Slide-In
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
wwCooktop Low
| ranges
Cooktop High
BUYING GUIDE
D. ELECTRIC INDUCTION
d
d
d
d
d
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Kenmore 95073
Kenmore 95103
Samsung NE58H9970WS
Bosch HIIP054U
Frigidaire Gallery FGIF3061NF
Electrolux EI30IF40LS
Samsung NE595N0PBSR
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
E. GAS AND DUAL-FUEL, DOUBLE OVEN (30-INCH)
d
1
2
3
4
LG LDG4315ST
GE Café CGS990SETSS
Samsung NX58J7750SS
Kenmore 78043
$1,500
$3,000
$1,300
$1,275
N
N
N
N
F. GAS AND DUAL-FUEL, SINGLE OVEN (30-INCH)
d
d
d
d
d
d
d
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
Samsung NX58F5700WS
Samsung NX58H9500WS
GE PGS920SEFSS
Samsung NX58H5600SS
Kenmore 74132
Samsung NX58F5500SS
GE PGB911ZEJSS
Kenmore 74332
Kenmore 75232
LG LRG4113ST
LG LRG3081ST
Bosch HDI8054U Dual-Fuel
GE Café CGS985SETSS
Whirlpool WFG530S0ES
GE JGB660SEJSS
Bosch HDIP054U Dual-Fuel
KitchenAid KSGG700ESS
Frigidaire FFGF3023LS
Maytag MGR8800DS
GE Café C2S985SETSS Dual-Fuel
Whirlpool WEG760H0DS
Frigidaire FFGF3017LW
Whirlpool WFG715H0ES
Frigidaire FFGS3025PW
Frigidaire Gallery FGGS3065PW
Frigidaire Professional FPGH3077RF
Kenmore 32363
$1,500
$2,000
$2,550
$1,200
$700
$800
$1,100
$1,040
$1,200
$1,200
$800
$2,300
$2,250
$650
$700
$2,800
$1,700
$700
$1,000
$2,700
$1,700
$550
$800
$1,300
$1,500
$2,250
$2,000
NA
B
C
V
C
C
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
G. PRO-STYLE GAS AND DUAL-FUEL (30-INCH)
d
c
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
KitchenAid KDRS407VSS Dual-Fuel
Wolf DF304 Dual-Fuel
Dacor DR30G
GE Monogram ZGP304NRSS
Kenmore Pro 79523 Dual-Fuel
Jenn-Air JGRP430WP
NXR DRGB3001
Miele HR1124
CR Best Buy
d
$4,140
$6,400
$3,100
$4,700
$2,940
$4,000
$2,000
$5,000
Recommended
96 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
X
V
NA
C
X
X
NA
X
Excellent
Very Good
Good
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Fair
Poor
SCORE
Baking
Broiling
Oven Capacity
Self-Cleaning
High-Power Elements
Medium-Power
Elements
Low-Power Elements
Convection
Mode
52
45
45
X
X
C
Z
C
Z
V
C
V
V
V
V
C
V
C
NA
NA
NA
4
1
3
0
4
1
0
0
0
N
N
N
N
N
N
43
40
32
C
X
X
X
Z
B
C
V
C
C
C
V
V
V
X
NA
1
3
3
1
2
1
2
0
0
N
N
N
N
N
N
74
72
68
68
59
56
43
29
25
23
X
C
X
X
C
C
C
C
X
C
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
B
B
B
X
X
X
X
C
C
X
V
V
V
X
C
C
X
V
C
B
C
B
V
X
X
Z
C
X
C
X
Z
C
V
X
X
B
V
3
4
6
4
5
6
5
5
3
1
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
2
4
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Stainless Steel
Available
wwCooktop Low
FEATURES
Cooktop High
TEST RESULTS
Slide-In
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
G. PRO-STYLE GAS AND DUAL-FUEL (30-INCH) continued
9 Thermador PRG304GH
10 Smeg C30GGXUI
11 Wolf GR304
$4,500
$3,000
$4,900
G. PRO-STYLE GAS AND DUAL-FUEL (30-INCH)
12 Bertazzoni PRO304GASX
13 Viking RVGR33015BSS
14 American Range ARR304
$3,100
$4,600
$3,600
V
NA
H. PRO-STYLE GAS AND DUAL-FUEL (36-INCH)
d 1 KitchenAid KDRU763VSS Dual-Fuel
d 2 GE Monogram ZDP364NDPSS Dual-Fuel
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Thermador PRG366JG
Viking VGSC536-4G
Wolf GR366
NXR DRGB3602
Jenn-Air JGRP436WP
BlueStar RCS36SBSS
Verona VEFSGE365SS Dual-Fuel
Smeg C36GGXU
$7,300
$7,500
$7,500
$7,200
$6,000
$3,000
$5,200
$3,600
$2,500
$3,200
NA
NA
X
NA
NA
NA
MOST & LEAST
RELIABLE BRANDS
In our survey of 6,880 owners of electric ranges purchased new between
2010 and 2015, no brand stood out as the most or least reliable electric
range. However, GE/GE Monogram is meaningfully better than Samsung,
LG, and KitchenAid. In our survey of 6,114 owners of gas ranges purchased
new between 2010 and 2015, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, and Maytag were
among the more repair-prone gas ranges. Those brands are meaningfully
less reliable than LG, Frigidaire, Kenmore, and GE/GE Monogram.
PERCENTAGE LIKELY TO BREAK BY 3RD YEAR
GAS RANGES
ELECTRIC RANGES
KitchenAid
LG
Samsung
Maytag
Kenmore
Frigidaire
Whirlpool
GE
GE
12%
10%
10%
8%
8%
7%
7%
5%
Maytag
KitchenAid
Whirlpool
GE
Kenmore
Frigidaire
LG
12%
12%
11%
7%
7%
6%
5%
Source: Our findings are based on Consumer Reports’ 2015 Summer Product Reliability Survey.
The graph shows the estimated failure rates for 3-year-old electric and gas ranges by brand that
were purchased new. Differences of fewer than 4 percentage points are not meaningful. Models
within a brand can vary, and design or manufacture changes might affect future reliability. Still,
choosing a brand with a good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model.
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/kitchen-ranges/buying-guide.htm 97
BUYING GUIDE
|
cooktops
Cooktops
FROM FAST BOILING TO GENTLE
SIMMERING, THE MODELS THAT TOP OUR
TESTS CAN DO IT ALL, IN STYLE
tyle and flexibility are the biggest attractions
when replacing your range with a cooktop
and wall-oven combo. The look is modern,
and you have more choice about where you
install the appliances. For example, you could place
the wall oven at a height that eliminates the bending
a range requires.
Most cooktops are gas or conventional smoothtop electric. But induction technology is growing in
popularity as prices fall. The downside of a cooktop
and wall-oven combo is price. You might pay as little
as $2,000 or so, but you can often find a great range
for about half that price. And we’ve found that with
cooktops, pricier doesn’t always mean better. See our
Ratings to find a model that matches the best performance and price.
S
WHAT’S
NEW
“Invisible” induction.
Viking’s Incogneeto Induction Warmer can be mounted
underneath your stone or engineered stone countertop in
a drawer and will turn the countertop itself into a cooktop
with the help of a “Magneeto 2” trivet (shown below) that
comes with the burner and an electrical connection. When
you place induction-compatible cookware on top of the
trivet and select a temperature, the Magneeto 2 acts as a
temperature sensor and wireless communicator. Sounds
handy, especially for entertaining, but $2,000 is a lot to
pay for an occasional convenience.
98 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Steps to
Success
Consider your space and your
family’s cooking habits as
you choose your new cooktop
1
2
TIP
If you’d like to interact
with family and friends
as you cook, consider
placing your cooktop
in an island so that you
can face out.
3
PICK A SIZE
Most cooktops are 30 or 36 inches wide,
so that’s what we test. But you’ll find
cooktops ranging from 21 to 48 inches.
Some have five or six burners.
CHOOSE A FUEL
Whether you pick electric or gas may
depend on the type of fuel available where
you live, or on which type your appliances
already use. If switching fuel type is not
an option, don’t worry that you’ll have to
sacrifice performance: Both are capable
of delivering fine results. But you may find
it easier to judge heat by the appearance
of the gas flame, and when you turn the
knob from high to medium on a gas model,
the pot and the food in it experience that
change almost immediately.
Electric elements tend to heat faster
and maintain low heat better than gas
burners. Electric smoothtop cooktops
are relatively easy to clean but require a
special cooktop cleaner (available at most
grocery stores) and can be damaged by
dropped pots and spilled foods.
Electric induction cooktops use an
electromagnetic field to directly heat
pans, offering speedy response and
control. In our tests no other technology
was faster, but we’re talking 2 to 4 minutes
faster to bring about 6 quarts of water to
a near boil.
WEIGH THE FEATURES
If you often cook for a crowd, look for at
least one high-power cooktop element
or burner to heat large pots and pans
more quickly. Touch-sensitive controls on
smoothtops are sleek, but some are more
finicky and less intuitive than conventional knobs. Manufacturers tout burners’
high Btu/hr., but we’ve found that they
don’t always deliver faster heating.
WOLF
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 99
BUYING GUIDE
|
cooktops
Details That Count
Look for these features to ensure that your new cooktop is safe and easy to use
HOT-SURFACE WARNING
INDICATOR LIGHTS
EXPANDABLE ELEMENTS,
BRIDGE, AND OVAL BURNER
Many smoothtops have at least one. Ideally, each
element should have a separate warning light.
It’s an important safety feature; the cooking
surface can remain hot long after an element has
been turned off, and without the indicator it can
be difficult to tell at a glance.
Most smoothtops have an expandable burner
that lets you choose the size burner that best
matches the pot’s diameter. Some cooktops
have an elongated bridge element that spans
two burners to accommodate rectangular
or odd-shaped cookware such as a griddle.
(In some, one knob or touch control then
operates both.) On gas cooktops oval burners
accommodate griddles and elongated pans.
CONTROLS
On cooktops the controls take up space on
the surface and can limit the area cookware can
cover. Electric models with touch-sensitive
controls provide a flat, easy-to-clean surface,
but they can be finicky.
GAS
1
2
GE
100 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
3
INDUCTION
On the
Market
Choose from electric smoothtop,
electric induction smoothtop,
or gas. Each has its advantages.
ELECTRIC SMOOTHTOP
ELECTROLUX
ELECTRIC
Electric radiant smoothtops are the popular
pick. All of the models we tested have at
least one high-power burner. Most have
expandable dual or triple elements that let
you switch from a large, high-power element
to a small, low-power element within it.
There is a lot of residual heat, so when
reducing the heat it can take a few minutes to
really settle at the lower setting. Smoothtops
do make it easy to clean up spills but require
a special cleaner, and dropped pots and
sugary liquids can damage them.
ELECTRIC INDUCTION
FPO
Electric induction smoothtops use magnetic
coils below the ceramic glass surface to
quickly generate heat directly to the pan,
offering precise simmering and control.
You’ll see these models in our Ratings of
electric cooktops.
Magnetic cookware is needed for induction
to work. If a magnet strongly sticks to the
bottom of a pot, it will work with an induction
cooktop. Some stainless steel cookware is
induction-capable, and some isn’t.
GAS
VIKING
If you prefer cooking with gas, we get it.
The flame makes it easier to judge the heat
and to quickly move from a high setting to low.
Response time is particularly quick,
especially when compared with a conventional smoothtop. When you turn the knob
from high to medium on a gas cooktop,
the pot and the food in it experience that
change almost immediately. And with most
gas burners you can strike a match to light
them when your power is out.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 101
BUYING GUIDE
|
cooktops
d
ELECTRIC INDUCTION
RECOMMENDED
MODELS
Want a cooktop that
quickly brings a large
pot of pasta water
to a boil but can
also gently simmer
tomato sauce? You’ve
come to the right
place. Recommended
cooktops are top
scoring and all come
from reliable brands,
based on our survey
of thousands of
readers. CR Best Buys
are recommended
cooktops that
combine impressive
performance and
value. We test major
brands, including
Bosch, GE, Jenn-Air,
Maytag, Thermador,
Viking, and Whirlpool.
The cooktops difer
greatly in price, from
$650 to $5,000, so use
our Ratings to find the
cooktop that meets
your needs and budget.
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
F4 KENMORE 43800
30-inch INDUCTION | $1,440
kenmore.com
F1 GE CAFÉ CHP9530
G1 THERMADOR CIT36XKB
Type 30-INCH INDUCTION | $1,800
Type 36-INCH INDUCTION | $5,000
Top-rated, this cooktop scored
99 out of 100, delivering precise
simmering and fast heat. There
are four burners, including three
high-power. The two left burners
can be used as one large burner
when cooking with a griddle or
other big pan.
geappliances.com
There are no set elements on this
cooktop: Place a pot anywhere on
the surface and it adjusts automatically to the pot’s shape and
size, accommodating up to four
items. It delivers fast heat and
superb simmering. The touchscreen controls are fairly intuitive.
thermador.com
“All the tested induction
cooktops are excellent
performers, so it’s
hard to pick one. This
well-priced Kenmore
is tempting since it
has three high-power
elements, and the
zigzag element pattern
could make it easier to
tend pots in the back.”
—TARA CASAREGOLA,
TEST PROGRAM LEADER
ELECTRIC SMOOTHTOP
D1 KITCHENAID
KECC604BBL
Type 30-INCH SMOOTHTOP | $750
Fast heating and precise simmering put this model ahead of the
pack. It has four elements; two are
high-power, and one is expandable to accommodate larger pots
and pans. High- and low-heat
performance are excellent.
kitchenaid.com
102 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
D2 JENN-AIR JEC4430BS
Type 30-INCH SMOOTHTOP | $1,400
This smoothtop delivers precise
simmering and fast heat. There
are four burners, including two
high-power and one with the
flexibility to function as smaller
elements to fit various-sized pots
and pans. Touch controls and
stainless trim are part of the deal.
jennair.com
D3 GE PROFILE
PP9030SJSS
Type 30-INCH SMOOTHTOP | $1,260
Overall, this smoothtop cooktop
excels at simmering and delivering
fast heat. There are five burners,
including two high-power. Two
burners to the left can be used
together to accommodate
a large pan.
geappliances.com
GAS
D4 KENMORE
TURBO-BOIL 45313
Type 30-INCH SMOOTHTOP | $1,200
This electric smoothtop cooktop
is excellent overall, delivering
fast heat and superb simmering.
There are five elements, including
two high-power, and one that’s
expandable to accommodate
a larger pot.
kenmore.com
A1 WHIRLPOOL
WCG97US0DS
B2 GE MONOGRAM
ZGU385NSMSS
Type 30-INCH GAS | $1,800
Type 36-INCH GAS | $1,500
This top pick provides superb
simmering, but it isn’t the fastest
of this group. It has five burners,
one of which is high-power.
Center-mounted controls and
hinged grates make for easy
cleaning.
whirlpool.com
B3 KENMORE 32713
Type 36-INCH GAS | $1,215
This cooktop with continuous
grates provides excellent lowheat and very good high-heat
performance. There are five
burners, two are high-power, and
simmering is superb.
kenmore.com
This model delivers superb
simmering, but heating isn’t
as fast as with the top-rated
Thermador (below). It has five
burners (three are high-power),
continuous grates, and centermounted knobs.
geappliances.com
D5 BOSCH NETP066SUC
Type 30-INCH SMOOTHTOP | $1,200
Excellent overall, this model
is superb at simmering and
delivering brisk heat. It has five
elements, but only one is highpower. Touch controls and stainless steel trim offer a sleek look.
It has an “AutoChef” feature that
uses a special pan and a sensor
to automate some tasks.
bosch-home.com
B1 THERMADOR SGSX365FS
Type 36-INCH GAS | $1,900
E1 KITCHENAID
KECC664BSS
thermador.com
Type 36-INCH SMOOTHTOP | $1,080
At 36 inches wide, this electric
smoothtop cooktop delivers superb
simmering and fast heat. There are
four elements, including two highpower, and a warming element.
Knobs are center-mounted. The
stainless trim adds style.
kitchenaid.com
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
“I’d pick the 36-inch Thermador SGSX365FS gas cooktop, $1,900.
Fast heating and excellent simmering make it versatile, and I like
that it has large burners in the front, rear, and center, so you can
keep pots up front for stirring and tending or tuck them away at
the back for long simmering.”
—TARA CASAREGOLA, TEST PROGRAM LEADER
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 103
cooktops
Ratings
MOST &
LEAST
RELIABLE
BRANDS
Scores in context: Of the 55 cooktops we tested, the highest scored 99; the lowest, 47. Below are
high-scoring models in order of performance in each category. Recommended models offer top
performance and don’t have brand-reliability concerns. CR Best Buys combine performance and value.
64
3 Kenmore 32683
$990
d 1 Thermador SGSX365FS
GE Monogram
d 2 ZGU385NSMSS
1
1
N
N
N
N
N
N
2
0
N
N
3
2
0
N
N
Z
Z
X
C
C
2
2
1
1
3
1
2
2
1
2
3
0
3
2
0
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
1
3
1
3
1
2
2
Z
3
C
Z
62
$1,900
81
X
$1,500
80
d 3 Kenmore 32713
$1,215
79
d 4 GE Café CGP650SETSS
d 5 LG LSCG366ST
$1,440
77
Poor
FEATURES
Z
X
C
C
C
X
Fair
Continuous
Grates
80
$990
TEST RESULTS
Good
Porcelain
Enamel
$900
2 GE PGP953SETSS
Very Good
Glass
Ceramic
d 1 Whirlpool WCG97US0DS
Rec.
SCORE
High Heat
PERCENTAGE LIKELY TO
BREAK BY 3RD YEAR
PRICE
Rank
BRAND & MODEL
In our survey of 5,976 owners of
gas and electric cooktops, no
brand stood out as most or least
reliable. However, Kenmore electric cooktops are meaningfully
more reliable than KitchenAid gas
or electric cooktops.
Excellent
Recommended
Stainless
Steel
d
Low-Power
Burners
CR Best Buy
Medium-Power
Burners
c
High-Power
Burners
|
Low Heat
BUYING GUIDE
A. 30-INCH GAS COOKTOPS
B. 36-INCH GAS COOKTOPS
GAS COOKTOPS
KitchenAid
Thermador
Jenn-Air
Wolf
Whirlpool
Kenmore
GE
Bosch
8%
8%
7%
7%
6%
5%
5%
4%
$1,100
74
6 Wolf CG365P/S
$2,000
64
7 Miele KM3474GSS
$1,750
62
X
C
X
X
X
Frigidaire Professional
8
FPGC3677RS
$1,350
60
C
C
2
2
1
N
N
9 KitchenAid KCGS556ESS
$1,100
54
2
38
V
B
2
$2,000
X
X
1
10 Jenn-Air JGD3536BS
3
1
1
N
N
N
N
$1,920
44
X
B
3
2
1
N
C. 36-INCH GAS RANGETOP
1
Kenmore Pro Slide-in 34913
N
N
How We Test: To test high cooktop heat, we time how long the highest-powered burner takes to
bring a 6-liter pot of water to a near boil. For low cooktop heat, we note how well the lowest-powered
burner keeps a low temperature, as for melting chocolate, and how well the highest-power burner, set
on low, holds tomato sauce below a boil. Price is approximate retail.
Ins and Outs of Induction
BOSCH
104 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Every induction range and
cooktop Consumer Reports has
tested delivers fast cooktop heat
and superb simmering. That’s
because induction models have
an electromagnetic coil below
the glass cooktop surface that
generates heat directly to the
pan, offering precise simmering
and control. But induction models
aren’t cheap, so here’s what you’ll
want to know before you shop.
What induction is—
and what it isn’t
There’s a difference between
induction and conventional
electric smoothtops. The surface
elements on an induction
model heat pots by using an
electromagnetic field rather than by
radiant heat, says Tara Casaregola,
the engineer who conducts our tests
of cooking appliances.
MOST &
LEAST
RELIABLE
BRANDS
Touch Controls
Expandable
Elements
Low-Power
Elements
Medium-Power
Elements
FEATURES
High-Power
Elements
TEST RESULTS
Low Heat
SCORE
High Heat
Rec.
PRICE
Rank
BRAND & MODEL
1
$900
94
2 Jenn-Air JEC4430BS
KitchenAid KECC604BBL
$1,400
94
3 GE Profile PP9030SJSS
$1,260
92
4 Kenmore Turbo-boil 45313
$1,200
91
5 Bosch NETP066SUC
$1,200
88
6 Whirlpool G7CE3034XP
$700
86
7 Frigidaire FFEC3024LB
$500
85
8 Thermador CES304FS
$1,500
75
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
C
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
2
0
2
2
0
2
d 1 KitchenAid KECC664BSS
d 2 Viking VEC5366BSB
2
2
1
2
0
3
1
1
3
2
0
2
2
0
2
1
2
Z
X
Z
Z
2
1
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
3
1
0
3
1
0
2
2
0
3
1
0
3
1
0
2
2
0
2
0
2
Z
X
Z
Z
N
N
N
N
1
N
N
$1,080
93
$2,150
88
1
1
3
2
N
N
$1,800
99
2 Kenmore 43820
GE Café CHP9530
$1,440
99
3 Bosch NIT5066UC
$1,440
98
4 Kenmore 43800
$1,200
97
5 Frigidaire FGIC3067MB
$1,260
95
6 KitchenAid KICU500XB
$1,395
95
7 Whirlpool GCI3061XB
$1,215
95
Frigidaire
Whirlpool
GE
Kenmore
F. 30-INCH INDUCTION COOKTOPS
1
8%
7%
5%
4%
4%
3%
Jenn-Air
N
N
N
N
N
N
E. 36-INCH SMOOTHTOPS
d
d
d
d
d
d
d
ELECTRIC COOKTOPS
KitchenAid
D. 30-INCH SMOOTHTOPS
d
d
d
d
d
c
c
PERCENTAGE LIKELY TO
BREAK BY 3RD YEAR
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Source: Our findings are based on
Consumer Reports’ 2015 Summer Product
Reliability Survey of 5,967 owners of
electric and gas cooktops. The statistical
model estimates failure rates for 3-year-old
cooktops purchased new and not covered by
a service contract. Note that models within
a brand may vary. Each rate represents the
percentage of electric or gas cooktops we
estimate will require repair or experience
serious unrepaired problems by the third
year of ownership. Differences of fewer
than 5 points aren’t meaningful.
G. 36-INCH INDUCTION COOKTOPS
d
1
Thermador CIT36XKB
2 Jenn-Air JIC4536XS
Because the electromagnetic
field doesn’t create a glow, you
won’t know it’s on. That’s why
manufacturers are adding virtual
flames and other special lights as
a warning.
The induction advantage
Induction models use a standard
240-volt outlet, just like any other
electric cooktop or range, but
induction elements usually heat
quickly. And no other technology
that we’ve tested is faster than the
fastest induction elements. But
we’re talking 2 to 4 minutes faster
$5,000
92
$2,100
90
to bring 6 quarts of water to a near
boil. Life changing? Probably not.
However, if you turn on an induction
element by mistake with no pot on it,
it won’t get hot, and when you
remove a pot from an element, the
heating stops. Plus an induction
surface stays cooler than a radiant
smoothtop, which should make
cleaning up spills easier. But your
pots will get very hot while cooking,
and that heat will then transfer
to the surface below and around
the pot. So if you’re using several
induction elements, the surface can
get very hot, too.
2
1
1
5
0
0
N
N
N
N
What’s that noise?
“A buzz or hum is common
and often is louder at higher
settings,” Casaregola says.
“And we often hear clicking of
element electronics at lower
settings, and the sound of the
cooling fan for the electronics.”
Dig out your dial thermometer
The magnetic field of an induction
cooktop can interfere with a
digital thermometer, so you may
need an analog thermometer,
an old-fashioned solution to a
modern problem.
TIP
Not all cookware
works with induction cooktops. If
you’re not sure
whether your pots
and pans are induction-compatible,
hold a magnet to
the base of the pan:
If it strongly sticks,
you’re good to go.
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/cooktops-wall-ovens/buying-guide.htm 105
BUYING GUIDE
|
wall ovens
Wall Ovens
YOU DON’T HAVE TO SPEND A FORTUNE TO GET AN IMPRESSIVE COMBINATION OF PERFORMANCE AND CAPACITY
nlike a range, a wall oven can
go wherever you want it: at
waist or eye level so that you
won’t have to bend to pull out
heavy pans, or even under a counter
or in an island or peninsula. And now
lower prices have made wall-oven and
cooktop combinations more affordable.
Although most combos will cost more
than a stand-alone range, there are af-
U
fordable options, especially compared
with pricey pro-style ranges.
Some manufacturers offer double
ovens; other options include electronic
touchpad controls, a self-cleaning
mode, a convection function, and
24-, 27-, or 30-inch widths. Gas models
are available, but most wall ovens, including all of the models in our Ratings,
are electric.
Once again, we found that a high
price doesn’t necessarily guarantee
top performance. Some of the more expensive models we tested scored only
Good in our baking or broiling tests. So
shop carefully, using our Ratings and
reliability data as a guide. And remember that you don’t necessarily have to
choose the same brand for your wall
oven and cooktop.
GE
WHAT’S
NEW
Side-swing and French doors.
The first is a single door with hinges on one side. Bosch’s 30” Benchmark single wall oven, $2,899, is
one example. French-door models like the GE CT907OSHSS , $3,900, pictured here, have two doors
that separate in the middle and open outward. Both types prevent you from having to reach over the
door to retrieve that 30-pound turkey. And the narrow door clearance of French-door models can be
a space saver in smaller kitchens.
106 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Steps to Success
1
2
3
4
MAYTAG
START WITH SIZE
Wall ovens come in a range of widths: 24, 27, 30, and 36 inches. Consumer
Reports tests 30-inch-wide wall ovens, the most popular size. You’ll also find
single and double-oven styles. If you’re replacing one, it’s crucial that you
measure the wall oven and the cabinet cutout.
DECIDE: GAS OR ELECTRIC?
A majority of wall ovens are electric; they usually have a larger capacity than
similar gas models and don’t require a gas connection. But remember that
electric wall ovens need their own electrical circuit. No matter how your
new wall oven is fueled, be sure to have it professionally installed.
CONSIDER CAPACITY
There was a time when choosing a wall oven over a range meant you had to
settle for a small oven without a self-cleaning feature. No longer. Manufacturers are finding ways to increase capacity. Of the single wall ovens we
tested, usable-capacity scores (which differ from the figure supplied by the
manufacturer) ranged from Fair to Excellent. The smallest in our tests was
about 2 cubic feet and the largest was more than 3 cubic feet.
PICK THE FEATURES YOU NEED
A convection feature circulates heated air throughout the oven. That can
speed cooking, but you’ll usually pay about $250 more for the convenience
compared with a version without convection. Models that excelled at broiling
produced well-seared, evenly cooked burgers in our tests. If you’re an avid
baker, look for high scores in our baking tests.
Details That Count
On the Market
ELECTRONIC TOUCHPAD
CONTROLS
Most wall ovens sold are 30-inch-wide electric
models, and that’s what we test. They come
with single or double ovens. With a model in
mind, check the manufacturer’s online manual
(or when shopping, read it at the store) to find
out the exact cutout dimensions.
Some online user reviews complain that
a wall oven’s cooling fan can be noisy. Manufacturers’ websites explain what’s normal and
what’s not. Check before you buy.
SELF-CLEANING CYCLE
Setting and monitoring precise temperatures are easier with a digital display. Touchsensitive controls are available on some
models. You’ll often find a control lockout
that lets you disable them, an important feature in households where the control panel
is within a curious child’s reach.
A special cycle removes spills and spatters
in electric and gas wall ovens. An automatic
safety lock on high-temperature selfcleaning models prevents the oven door
from being opened until the oven has
cooled. Some models have a countdown
display that shows the amount of time
left in the self-cleaning cycle.
OVEN WINDOW
TEMPERATURE PROBE
One without a decorative grid allows a
clearer view of what’s inside, so that you can
judge progress without opening the door.
When you insert this electronic thermometer into your food, it displays the internal
temperature on the oven’s control panel,
an easy way to know when the food is done.
COVERED ELEMENT
A cover over the bottom baking element
catches drips and spills. You won’t have to
reach around the element to wipe the bottom of the oven, making cleanup easier.
SINGLE WALL OVEN
Make sure the controls are easy to see and
reach. Consider side-swing and French-door
styles for easy accessibility.
VARIABLE BROIL
DOUBLE WALL OVEN
Most electric ovens have this feature,
which offers adjustable settings for food
that needs slower or faster cooking.
Having two ovens lets you prepare different
foods at different temperatures simultaneously.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 107
BUYING GUIDE
|
wall ovens
d
SINGLE WALL OVENS
RECOMMENDED
MODELS
Our Ratings of dozens
of electric single and
double wall ovens
tell you how well
they bake, broil, and
self-clean. You’ll also
learn whether the
oven capacity is small
or large, and what
features, such as
convection and remote
control, are included.
Given that the prices
vary significantly, use
our Ratings to find
out as much as you
can before you buy.
Recommended wall
ovens are top-scoring
and from reliable
brands. CR Best Buys
are recommended
models that
combine impressive
performance and price.
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
“The Whirlpool
WOS92ECOAH single
wall oven, $1,500, is
right in the sweet spot
of price and performance. Plus, since I
always seem to be in a
rush when I’m cooking, I love that the
control panel is so
clean, clear, and
uncluttered.”
c CR
Best Buy
A1 WHIRLPOOL WOS92EC0AH
$1,500
whirlpool.com
—TARA CASAREGOLA,
TEST PROGRAM LEADER
c CR
Best Buy
A2 GE CT9070SHSS
B3 GE PT9050SFSS
$3,600
$2,430
This stylish French-door model
delivers impressive baking and
broiling, and superb selfcleaning, and you can control
oven functions from your smartphone. It has a touchpad for setting cooking time and two dials
for setting temp and mode. It
also has a convection option.
geappliances.com
This model is very good overall,
impressive at baking, broiling,
and self-cleaning. And it offers
remote control of the oven functions via your smartphone.
geappliances.com
108 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
B4 WHIRLPOOL
WOS51EC0AS
$1,300
Though it lacks convection, this
model is almost as capable as
its more expensive brandmate
above. It browned cakes and
cookies evenly, was excellent
at turning out nicely broiled
burgers, and aced our tough
self-cleaning tests.
whirlpool.com
Ratings
Scores in context: Of the 25 wall ovens rated, the highest scored 80; the lowest, 44. Below are models
in order of performance in each category. Recommended models offer top performance and don’t
have brand-reliability issues. CR Best Buys combine performance and value. The performance of
double wall ovens is based on the tested oven in the single electric wall-oven category.
Very Good
Good
Poor
Temperature Probe
FEATURES
Convection Mode
TEST RESULTS
Fair
Covered Element
SCORE
Baking
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
Excellent
Width (In.)
Recommended
Self-Cleaning
d
Oven Capacity
CR Best Buy
Broiling
c
MOST &
LEAST
RELIABLE
BRANDS
In our survey of 4,703 owners
of electric wall ovens, no brand
stood out as the most or least
reliable. But Kenmore and GE/
GE Monogram are significantly
better than KitchenAid electric
wall ovens.
PERCENTAGE LIKELY TO
BREAK BY 3RD YEAR
A. SINGLE ELECTRIC WALL OVENS
c
1
Whirlpool
WOS92EC0AH
$1,500
80
X
Z
Z
Z
30
N
N
d
2
GE CT9070SHSS
$3,600
76
X
X
X
Z
30
N
N
N
N
N
d
3
GE PT9050SFSS
$2,430
73
X
X
X
X
30
N
c
4
Whirlpool
WOS51EC0AS
$1,300
72
X
Z
Z
Z
30
N
5
GE JT5000SFSS
$1,800
70
X
X
Z
X
30
N
N
6
Frigidaire Gallery
FGEW3065PW
$1,400
70
Z
C
C
X
30
N
N
7
Kenmore 49513
$1,000
68
X
C
C
Z
30
N
N
WALL OVENS
KitchenAid
Electrolux
Bosch
Frigidaire
N
Whirlpool
GE
Kenmore
8
Electrolux
EW30EW55PS
$2,100
66
X
X
C
Z
30
N
N
N
9
Viking VESO5302SS
$4,099
66
X
X
C
X
30
N
N
N
10
Thermador ME301JS
$2,700
63
X
X
C
X
30
N
N
N
11
GE JT3000SFSS
$1,400
58
C
X
Z
X
30
N
12
Wolf E-Series
SO30-2F/S
$4,000
55
C
Z
C
V
30
N
N
N
13
Bosch HBLP451RUC
$2,900
55
C
X
X
Z
30
N
N
N
14
Kenmore 48363
$2,430
52
C
X
X
X
30
N
N
N
15
Bosch HBL5351UC
$1,500
51
C
X
X
Z
30
N
14%
12%
11%
11%
11%
8%
7%
Source: Our findings are based on Consumer
Reports’ 2015 Summer Product Reliability
Survey. The statistical model estimates failure rates for 3-year-old wall ovens by brand
that were purchased new and not covered
by a service contract. Differences of fewer
than 6 percentage points are not meaningful.
Models within a brand may vary, and design
or manufacture changes may affect future
reliability. Still, choosing a brand with a good
repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model.
JENN-AIR
B. DOUBLE ELECTRIC WALL OVENS
d
1
Whirlpool
WOD93EC0AS
$2,350
80
X
Z
Z
Z
30
N
N
d
2
GE PT9550SFSS
$3,350
73
X
X
X
X
30
N
N
d
3
Whirlpool WOD51EC0A
$1,850
72
X
Z
Z
Z
30
N
4
GE JT5500SFSS
$2,550
70
X
X
Z
X
30
N
N
5
LG LWD3010ST
$2,500
65
C
Z
X
C
30
N
N
6
Thermador ME302JS
$4,000
63
X
X
C
X
30
N
N
7
GE JT3500SFSS
$1,900
58
C
X
Z
X
30
N
N
N
How We Test: To test how evenly the ovens bake, we bake cakes and cookies on two oven racks. We broil
a pan of burgers to ind out how evenly they brown and to check high-heat searing. To evaluate oven
capacity, we measure usable space. And then it gets messy: We test the oven’s ability to remove a bakedon mix of cheese, eggs, pie illing, and other stuf on the self-cleaning setting. Price is approximate retail.
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/cooktops-wall-ovens/buying-guide.htm 109
BUYING GUIDE
|
range hoods
Steps to
Success
1
DECIDE: VENTED
OR DUCT-FREE
We do not recommend a
ductless hood because it will
take the smoke and odors and
disperse them throughout the
kitchen and the rest of the
house. Venting the hood to
the outside is better but more
complicated to install.
THERMADOR
Range Hoods
THE RIGHT VENTILATION WILL KEEP THE AIR IN YOUR KITCHEN CLEAR
ure, it’s tempting to save space
and cut costs by relying on the
built-in ventilation of an overthe-counter (OTR) microwave.
But if you care about venting smoke and
fumes, you’re better off with a separate
range hood, especially if you cook on a
higher-powered stove or cooktop.
We no longer test range hoods, but
none of the over-the-range microwave
ovens we tested in the past could match
the smoke-capturing or fume-clearing
abilities of a good range hood.
Range hoods have become as stylish
as they are practical. Most now offer
the commercial look of stainless steel,
S
or choose from the lighter look of glass
or an integrated look with a canopy
matched to your cabinetry. Some
manufacturers offer hoods in finishes
that match their ranges.
The best hoods we tested in the
past excelled at exhausting smoke and
fumes. Some were quieter than the
others and better at delivering high and
low levels of lighting. Try those features
in the showroom if you can. Our recent
tests of microwaves focused on cooking
evenness, automatic defrosting ability,
speed of heating, noise, ease of use,
and venting. For the results of those
tests, see our Ratings on page 116.
110 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
3
INSTALL IT
PROPERLY
Whether you opt for a hood or
an OTR microwave oven, be
sure it’s installed according to
the manufacturer’s directions—
usually 18 to 30 inches above
the burners or elements. That
gives you working room while
helping to prevent steam from
escaping to the sides. Vent
outdoors, if possible, using the
largest-sized solid, smoothwalled metal ducting that fits.
Keep duct runs short, and
minimize bends to maximize airflow. A wall or roof cap outside
prevents back drafts. Wash or
replace the filters every one to
three months—more often if
you cook frequently.
PHOTO, LEFT: ALEX HAYDEN
2
DON’T DOWNSIZE
This is one time when bigger
often is better. Any hood you
consider should be at least as
wide as the cooking surface
it will be installed above. And
avoid downdraft hoods, which
have been unimpressive in our
past tests. Keep in mind that
cubic feet per minute (CFM)
isn’t everything. Manufacturer
airflow claims tout CFM of air
exhausted. More airflow does
mean faster venting, but it
doesn’t guarantee better smoke
capture and removal.
WHAT’S
NEW
ZEPHYR
Low-profile designs.
Cooktops and ranges are popular
options in kitchen islands. The only
concern is that the overhead vent
hoods, necessary for sucking up smoke
and odors, can block sight lines. Zephyr
claims to solve the problem with its
Lux Island, a $2,100 hood that mounts
discreetly into the ceiling above the
island. It works with a wireless remote
control, and the tri-level LED lights
help illuminate the work surface.
Details That Count
Select a model at least as wide as the cooking
surface underneath. These are some range
hood features to keep in mind as you shop:
variable speed switch that the user can easily
set to any speed desired.
THERMOSTAT CONTROL
AIRFLOW
Manufacturers tout the cubic feet per minute
(CFM) of exhausted air. More airflow means
faster ventilation, but it doesn’t guarantee better
smoke capture and removal in your kitchen.
NUMBER OF FAN SPEEDS
We recommend a minimum of two speeds: a
high-speed setting to use when cooking and
a very low and very quiet setting to use after
cooking to continue to ventilate the space while
eating. Any more than three set speeds are too
many. If the manufacturer wants to provide more
than three speeds, we believe it should just use a
A built-in temperature sensor automatically
turns on the fan if the temperature below the
hood gets too high. That feature is available
mainly on over-the-range microwaves and is
intended to protect the microwave electronics
from being damaged by high heat. But we do
not recommend that feature because if you are
cooking with oil and your pan catches fire, the
exhaust fan will come on, adding air to the fire,
fanning it, and perhaps making matters worse.
EXHAUST TIMER
This convenient feature turns off the fan after
a period of time—so you can set it and forget it.
ZEPHYR
On the Market
UNDER-CABINET
WOLF
These mount under the bottom
of a wall cabinet. Ductwork inside
an adjoining wall, chase, soffit, or
ceiling can exhaust smoke and
fumes to the outside. In a few
models, a shallow hood slides
out of the upper kitchen cabinet
when you need it. Typical kitchen
cabinets extend only about halfway
across the stove, so that extension
routes steam and smoke away from
cabinet faces and back toward the
suction end of the range hood. The
design steals cabinet space but
might be the only choice for those
who cannot achieve the recommended stove-to-hood clearance
with a standard design.
WALL-CHIMNEY
These work where there are no
cabinets over the range and mount
with exposed vent stacks on the
wall to vent to the outside.
ISLAND
Mounted to and vented through
ductwork in the ceiling, they lack a
wall or cabinets alongside them to
help funnel fumes, so they should
be wider than the cooking surface.
DOWNDRAFT
These try to reverse the direction
of rising smoke and fumes, and exhaust them through ducts running
beneath the floor. Our past tests
found that they were among the
least effective at removing smoke
and steam. Though they can be
used anywhere in the kitchen, their
main application is in islands where
it might not be possible to route
ductwork through the ceiling.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 111
BUYING GUIDE
|
microwave ovens
Microwave Ovens
THEY’RE NOT JUST FOR REHEATING. THE BEST NEW MODELS ARE FAST, VERSATILE, AND EASY TO USE.
WHAT’S
NEW
Steam.
File this under “interesting microwave alternatives.” For several years
we’ve been testing builtin and countertop ovens
that combine steam
cooking with regular
convection and have yet
to find one that wows
us. But the technology
continues to evolve, and
we’re intrigued by a new
version from Sharp for
$2,500. Its “SuperSteam”
feature supposedly
reaches 485° F, allowing
you to grill, roast, or
sauté a variety of foods.
Sharp promises a “fall off
the bone” tenderness to
meat dishes because the
oven doesn’t rely on dry
convection heat to reach
roasting temperatures.
We’re looking forward
to testing it.
AMANA
peed and smarts now go hand
in hand as more microwaves
have enough features to let them
serve as second ovens. Many
have sensors that automate cooking
for more than just popcorn. More also
include convection and even slow-cooking options for people who want added
S
capability without having to add a wall
oven or replace a range with a doubleoven model.
You’ll find more automation as
microwaves take on a growing list
of tasks. Browning and speed-cook
modes, along with interactive recipe
databases, are also on the menu as
112 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
brands push features aimed at busy
families. But as our tests have shown,
you can pay a premium for those perks
without getting the even heating and
defrosting that are a microwave’s two
top tasks. Our microwave Ratings also
show that some brands overstate usable
space by as much as 50 to 60 percent.
Steps to Success
1
PICK A TYPE
AND SIZE
Countertop models cost the least and
are best for kitchens with lots of counter
space. Compact models can cost very
little but usually offer the least cooking room. Midsized and large models
add capacity and features. But because
manufacturers often include unusable
space in their capacity claims, be sure
to bring a large platter to the store to
see whether it fits inside models on your
shopping list. Two other caveats: Some
countertop microwaves can hang below
a cabinet, but you’ll wind up with little
working space below the oven. And overthe-range models save counter space
and add convenience, but they don’t vent
as well as a dedicated range hood and
usually require an electrician to install.
2
BE REALISTIC
ABOUT EXTRAS
Decide whether you’ll really use grilling
and browning features, convection, or
other added functions before paying
extra for them. Our tests have shown that
you shouldn’t expect those features to
replace your range broiler or grill. But a
sensor is a convenient feature that helps
prevent overcooking and undercooking
food, so it’s a worthwhile function.
KITCHENAID
Details That Count
Manufacturers are adding more programmed keys and other perks. When
considering features, think twice about investing in shortcuts you may not use.
POWER RATING
Midsized and large ovens
are usually rated at 850 to
1,200 watts; compact ovens,
about 600 to 800 watts.
More watts typically mean
more cooking power. But
differences of 100 watts or
so don’t matter much.
SENSOR
3
QUESTION
CAPACITY CLAIMS
Certain models effectively deliver as little
as half of the claimed interior space if
you use the included turntable or moving
platter. So check the Ratings for our
measurements, and take your largest
casserole dish to the store to make sure
it fits comfortably inside. Also consider
models with a sliding tray that moves
from side to side and fits large plates, or
those that allow you to turn the turntable
off when you’re using a large platter or
dish. (You may want to pause to turn the
dish once or twice during cooking to help
the oven heat your food evenly when you
can’t use the turntable.)
It measures emitted steam
to determine when food is
done. That helps prevent
overcooking or undercooking food and is an essential
feature.
A 1-MINUTE OR
30-SECOND KEY
It extends the preset
cooking time, maintaining
whatever power level was
selected. It also allows quick
adjustments to your previous settings. Pushing the
button more than once multiplies the time extension.
NUMERIC
KEYPAD
Use it to set cooking
times and power levels.
It’s easier to use than a dial.
TURNTABLE
VS. TRAY
A microwave oven must
keep food moving for uniform heating. Most
microwaves have a rotating
turntable. Some replace the
turntable with
a rectangular tray that
slides from side to side.
An elongated platter that’s
too large to rotate might
fit better on a sliding tray.
CONVECTION,
GRILLING,
AND BROWNING
consistently provided
the results you’d get from
a regular oven or a grill.
MULTIPLE RACKS
They let you cook several
foods at once. But even
a coffee mug is too tall for
some models unless you
remove a rack.
SHORTCUT KEYS
Many models now have auto
settings for foods like grits,
oatmeal, pasta, and stews
as well as for reheating or
defrosting. That eliminates
the need to worry about
time and power settings;
just press the appropriate
button. Avoid paying extra
for keys you probably
won’t use.
Those features, along with
broiling, steaming, and
speed cooking, are for
people who want a second
oven without having to
remodel. But none of the
microwaves we tested
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 113
BUYING GUIDE
|
microwave ovens
KITCHENAID
LG
SHARP
On the Market
You’ll find three major types. Most microwave ovens still sit on a countertop, but more
consumers are mounting them over a range,
especially in kitchens where counter space
is at a premium. Others models are mounted
within custom cabinetry, either over counters
or in an island or wall unit.
COUNTERTOP MICROWAVES
These models are best for kitchens with lots of
counter space and for cooks who use their range
often and thus require the optimal venting of
a range hood. You can hang some countertop
models below a cabinet, though that often leaves
little working space below. Some countertop
models can be adapted as a built-in and installed
within custom cabinetry.
Pros Countertop microwaves often cost less
than over-the-range models. And no installation
is needed; simply plug it into an ordinary outlet.
Cons Midsized and large models we tested take
about 3 square feet of counter space, a concern
in some kitchens.
OVER-THE-RANGE
MICROWAVES
Often labeled as OTRs, these models are
typically bought as a replacement or when a
kitchen is remodeled. They can be vented to the
outside, but don’t expect them to vent as well as
a dedicated range hood that extends over the
front burners.
Pros Over-the-range microwaves leave the counter workspace clear. And they often have more
features than a countertop model.
Cons They cost more, and installation might
require an electrician. And even the best don’t
vent as well as a capable range hood.
114 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
BUILT-IN MICROWAVES
Often bought as a replacement or when a
kitchen is remodeled, built-in microwaves are installed within custom cabinets or over counters
but flush with the bottom of flanking cabinets.
Built-in models usually don’t have finished sides
or vents, though some (over-the-counter types)
do have finished sides and work lights mounted
on the underside.
Pros Built-ins keep counters clear and allow
you to have a range hood, which works better
at clearing smoke and fumes than the vent
provided with over-the-range microwaves.
Cons They’re relatively expensive, and installation may require an electrician, adding to the
overall cost.
d
LARGE COUNTERTOP
RECOMMENDED
MODELS
Most of them did a
respectable job of basic
microwaving tasks
like defrosting meat,
reheating leftovers,
and making popcorn.
You’ll probably pay
more for an oven with
a larger capacity, a
stainless-steel finish,
lots of presets, and
additional functions like
convection and speed
cooking. The Ratings
rank models by overall
performance.
B1 PANASONIC INVERTER NN-H965BF
B2 LG LCRT2010[ST]
Type LARGE COUNTERTOP | $180
Type LARGE COUNTERTOP | $200
panasonic.com
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
“The Panasonic Inverter NN-H965BF
is roomy and was especially efective
in defrost mode. But it was a bit noisy,
so it might not be the best pick if your
kitchen is open to other areas.”
This 2.0-cu.-ft. 1,200-watt model
is very good at defrosting and
heating evenness, and fast at
heating. It’s easy to use and relatively quiet on the high setting.
The sensor lets you know when
food is ready.
lg.com
—GINNY LUI, SENIOR TEST PROJECT LEADER
OVER-THE-RANGE
c CR
Best Buy
D1 GE PROFILE
PVM9215SFSS
Type OVER-THE-RANGE | $550
This 2.1-cu.-ft. 1,000-watt model
provides very good heating
evenness and excellent defrosting, ease of use, and quietness.
It has detailed prompts, a popcorn program, and a wire rack for
bi-level cooking.
geappliances.com
D2 GE JVM3160RFSS
D3 GE JVM7195SFSS
Type OVER-THE-RANGE | $250
Type OVER-THE-RANGE | $400
This 1.6-cu.-ft. 1,000-watt model
offers very good heating evenness and excellent defrosting,
ease of use, and quietness. It has
detailed prompts and a popcorn
program, and is available in stainless steel or a stainless-look
finish option.
geappliances.com
This 1.9-cu.-ft. 1,100-watt model
is impressive overall and was the
fastest at heating of the three
top-scoring GE models, but it
isn’t as quiet as they are. It has
the same usable capacity as the
other two GE models and has a
sensor and a child lock.
geappliances.com
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 115
BUYING GUIDE
|
microwave ovens
Ratings
Scores in context for countertops: Of the 73 models tested, the highest scored 76; the lowest, 38. For over-the-range models: Of the 91 tested, the
highest scored 81; the lowest, 36. Below are high-scoring models in order of performance in each category. Recommended models offer top performance and don’t have brand-reliability concerns. CR Best Buys combine performance and value.
Poor
Z
Z
Z
X
X
Z
C
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
Z
X
X
C
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
X
X
Z
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
0.8
0.6
0.7
0.6
0.5
0.7
0.5
0.8
0.8
0.6
0.8
0.6
0.6
0.5
0.7
0.7
0.6
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.6
0.6
0.5
0.7
0.7
0.5
0.7
0.7
0.5
1.2
1.1
1.2
1.1
1.1
1.2
1.1
1
1
1.1
1.1
0.9
0.9
0.9
1.1
1.2
1.1
1.1
1.1
1.2
1
1.1
0.9
1.2
1.2
0.9
1
1.1
1
1000
1000
1100
1100
1100
1200
1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
900
900
950
1000
1000
1000
800
1000
1100
1150
1000
900
1100
1000
900
1000
1000
800
Z
X
X
X
X
X
Z
Z
X
X
X
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
1.4
1.2
1.5
1.5
0.9
1.2
1.1
0.8
1.3
2.2
2
2.2
2.2
1.6
2
2
1.4
2.2
1250
1200
1200
1250
1250
1200
1100
1200
1200
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
X
X
Z
X
X
C
Z
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Z
X
C
X
Z
Z
X
C
Z
X
X
X
Sensor
X
X
Z
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Z
X
C
Z
Z
C
X
C
C
C
V
Z
C
V
V
B
X
X
C
C
C
X
C
C
X
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
V
C
C
C
C
C
X
V
C
C
V
C
Convection Mode
76
75
75
74
73
72
72
71
70
X
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
X
Detailed Prompts
$180
$200
$280
$250
$290
$250
$270
$120
$180
Watts
X
X
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
C
X
C
V
X
C
X
C
C
X
V
C
X
C
X
Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
70
68
68
68
68
68
67
66
66
65
63
62
61
60
60
57
57
53
53
52
51
51
50
48
48
48
43
42
38
Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
$130
$140
$150
$105
$120
$180
$110
$350
$250
$90
$300
$70
$90
$140
$125
$250
$230
$320
$160
$300
$500
$80
$90
$300
$200
$95
$180
$80
$250
Fair
FEATURES & SPECS
Venting
(Airflow)
TEST RESULTS
Ease of Use
SCORE
Good
Very Good
Microwaving
Noise
PRICE
Rank
BRAND & MODEL
Recommended
Excellent
Recommended
Speed of
Heating
d
Defrosting
Evenness
CR Best Buy
Heating
Evenness
c
A. MIDSIZED COUNTERTOP MICROWAVES
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
Avanti MO1250TW
LG LCS1112ST
Kenmore 72123
Kenmore 66227 [Item # 1345111] (Kmart)
Frigidaire FFCM1134L[S]
Panasonic Genius Prestige NN-SD681S
West Bend AG028PLV
General GEW1000E
Summit SCM1000SS
Danby DMW111KBLDB
Samsung MC11H6033CT
Oster OGB8903
Haier HMC935SESS
Panasonic Prestige NN-SD372S
Sharp R331ZS
Cuisinart CMW-200
LG LCSP1110[ST]
GE Profile PEM31SFSS
Samsung MG11H2020CT
Frigidaire FFCT1278L[S]
Sharp Steamwave AX-1100S
Magic Chef MCM1110ST
Kenmore 73093
Breville Quick Touch BMO734XL
Half Time AAC34-S
Sharp R248BS
Cuisinart CMW-100
RCA RMW1138
GE Profile Spacemaker II PEM31DM[BB]
NA
NA
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
B. LARGE COUNTERTOP MICROWAVES
d 1 Panasonic Inverter NN-H965BF
d 2 LG LCRT2010[ST]
d 3 GE Profile JES2251SJ[SS]
4
5
6
7
8
9
Panasonic NN-SD975S
Panasonic NN-SE785S
GE JES2051SN[SS]
Maytag UMC5200BA[B]
Oster OGG61403
Kenmore Elite 74229
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
How We Test: Score is based mainly on evenness of heating, ease of use, and auto-defrosting ability. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points. Heating
evenness relects how evenly a model reheated a dish of cold mashed potatoes. Defrosting evenness is based on how well the auto-defrost program defrosted
a pound of frozen ground beef. Speed of heating is based on the temperature rise of water heated. Microwaving noise relects how quiet the oven is while
microwaving on high. Ease of use includes how easy it is to set the microwave without referring to the instructions. Venting (airlow) is based on the volume of
air drawn in by the OTR’s internal fan on the highest setting. Usable capacity is the usable space based on our measurements and excludes the corner spaces for
models with rotating turntables. Note that most over-the-range models allow you to turn of the rotation to it large dishes. (A few countertop models also ofer that
feature.) With the rotation of, measured capacity approximates claimed. But food might require extra tending and stirring. Price is approximate retail.
116 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Watts
Detailed Prompts
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
C
C
C
X
C
X
X
C
C
X
X
C
X
C
X
X
C
C
C
X
C
C
X
C
X
C
C
C
X
Z
X
C
X
C
X
Z
X
Z
C
X
Z
X
X
X
X
C
C
C
X
Z
X
C
C
X
C
C
X
X
X
X
C
C
C
X
X
X
C
X
C
X
C
X
X
C
X
C
X
C
C
X
C
C
C
C
X
C
C
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
C
C
Z
X
X
C
Z
C
Z
Z
C
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
X
X
Z
X
X
C
X
X
X
X
Z
C
X
Z
X
X
Z
Z
C
X
X
Z
X
X
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
1.2
1.3
1.3
1.3
1.3
1.2
0.9
1.5
0.9
0.9
1.1
1.1
1.3
1.3
1.2
1.1
0.9
0.7
0.9
1.1
1.4
0.7
0.9
0.9
0.9
0.7
0.9
0.9
0.9
0.7
0.9
0.6
2
2.2
2.2
2.2
2.2
1.5
1.6
2.2
1.5
1.6
1.8
1.6
2.2
2.2
2
1.8
1.5
1.4
1.6
1.5
2.2
1.4
1.3
1.4
1.4
1.3
1.3
1.6
1.6
1.4
1.4
1.3
1200
1250
1200
1200
1100
1100
1100
1250
1200
1250
1100
1100
1100
1200
1100
1100
1100
1100
1250
900
1250
1100
1100
1200
1100
1000
1000
1100
1200
1100
950
1000
N
$900
$1,100
$380
57
52
46
X
V
X
X
C
V
V
C
X
C
X
X
X
X
Z
NA
NA
NA
1
1.1
0.9
1.1
1.2
1.5
700
1000
1100
N
N
N
$550
$250
$400
$450
$300
$350
$300
$500
81
79
76
74
71
70
70
68
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
C
C
X
C
X
C
C
C
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
X
C
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
C
C
C
X
X
0.9
0.9
0.9
0.9
0.9
0.9
0.9
0.9
2.1
1.6
1.9
2.2
2
2
2
2.1
1000
1000
1100
1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
Venting
(Airflow)
69
69
69
69
67
67
67
67
67
66
66
66
65
65
64
64
63
63
63
63
63
61
61
60
60
59
57
57
56
53
52
50
Sensor
Ease of Use
$320
$190
$540
$270
$330
$650
$170
$280
$190
$205
$160
$140
$180
$190
$470
$140
$150
$150
$200
$530
$300
$150
$130
$170
$170
$110
$130
$150
$210
$120
$230
$105
Convection Mode
Microwaving
Noise
FEATURES & SPECS
Speed of
Heating
TEST RESULTS
Defrosting
Evenness
SCORE
Heating
Evenness
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
B. LARGE COUNTERTOP MICROWAVES continued
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
Frigidaire Gallery FGMO205K[F]
Panasonic NN-SN973S
KitchenAid KCMS2255BSS
Whirlpool WMC50522AWS
GE Profile PEB7226SFSS
Panasonic Inverter NN-CD989[S]
Kenmore 73163
Panasonic Prestige NN-SD997[S]
LG LCRT1510SV
Panasonic NN-SN773S
Sharp R551ZS
Magic Chef MCD1611ST
Sharp R651ZS
Frigidaire FFCE2278L[S]
Electrolux EI24MO45IB
Magic Chef MCD1811ST
LG LCRT1513ST
Frigidaire FFCE1439LB
Panasonic Inverter NN-SD797[S]
Sharp R930CS
Panasonic Genius Prestige NN-SE982S
Danby DMW14SA1BDB
Magic Chef MCD1311ST
LG LCS1410[SW]
LG LCS1413SB
Emerson MW1337SB
Sharp R409YV
Frigidaire FFCE1638L[S]
Whirlpool WMC30516A[S]
Toastmaster TM-141EM
Samsung MG14H3020CN
Haier MWM13110G[SS]
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
C. BUILT-IN COUNTERTOP MICROWAVES
1 Sharp SuperSteam Oven AX-1200[K]
2 Sharp SM-D3070AS
3 Sharp Carousel R-1214
N
N
N
N
N
N
D. OVER-THE-RANGE MICROWAVES
d
c
d
d
d
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
GE Profile PVM9215SFSS
GE JVM3160RFSS
GE JVM7195SFSS
LG LMH2235ST
Amana AMV6502RES
Whirlpool WMH53520CS
LG LMV2031ST
Samsung ME21F707MJT
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 117
microwave ovens
Venting
(Airflow)
Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Watts
Detailed Prompts
Convection Mode
Sensor
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
67
67
67
67
67
67
65
65
65
65
64
64
63
62
62
62
62
62
61
61
61
61
61
60
60
60
60
60
60
59
59
59
59
59
58
58
58
57
57
56
56
55
55
55
55
55
54
54
54
54
FEATURES & SPECS
Ease of Use
$630
$700
$250
$500
$540
$350
$350
$300
$550
$450
$400
$900
$450
$500
$400
$400
$450
$300
$300
$570
$600
$280
$280
$700
$250
$190
$1,270
$750
$170
$260
$1,000
$550
$600
$1,100
$360
$230
$350
$600
$650
$300
$950
$250
$700
$680
$1,000
$540
$500
$320
$230
$270
TEST RESULTS
Microwaving
Noise
SCORE
Speed of
Heating
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
Defrosting
Evenness
|
Heating
Evenness
BUYING GUIDE
X
X
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
Z
C
C
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
C
C
Z
C
C
X
X
X
X
X
C
C
X
X
X
C
C
X
C
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
X
Z
X
Z
C
Z
Z
C
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
Z
X
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
X
Z
C
X
Z
C
Z
C
X
X
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
X
X
X
Z
Z
C
Z
C
X
X
C
C
C
C
X
C
X
C
X
C
X
C
X
C
X
C
X
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
X
C
C
X
C
X
C
X
C
C
C
X
X
C
C
C
X
C
C
C
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
X
C
Z
X
X
Z
X
X
X
Z
Z
Z
C
X
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
Z
X
Z
X
Z
X
X
C
Z
C
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
C
V
C
X
C
C
X
C
C
V
C
C
C
X
C
C
C
V
V
V
C
C
C
C
C
C
V
V
X
V
C
C
V
C
C
X
V
C
V
V
C
C
V
C
V
V
V
V
X
C
0.9
0.9
0.8
0.8
1
1
0.8
0.8
0.9
0.9
1.2
0.9
0.9
1
1
0.8
1
0.8
0.8
0.9
0.8
0.9
0.7
1
0.8
0.8
0.7
0.7
0.8
0.8
0.9
0.9
1
1.1
0.8
0.8
0.8
0.8
1
0.8
0.8
0.9
0.8
0.8
0.9
0.8
1
0.8
0.8
0.7
1.8
1.8
1.6
2.1
2
2
1.7
1.8
1.9
2
2.1
1.8
2.1
2.1
2
1.6
2.1
2
1.7
2.1
1.7
2
1.7
2
1.6
1.5
1.1
1.1
1.6
1.6
1.9
1.9
2.1
2
1.7
1.6
1.7
1.7
2
1.8
1.7
1.8
1.8
1.8
1.9
1.7
2.1
1.7
1.6
1.6
1050
1050
1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
1100
1100
1100
1000
1050
1100
1050
1000
1000
1000
1100
1000
1100
950
1000
1000
1000
950
1000
850
850
850
1000
1200
1000
1000
1200
1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
925
1000
1000
1000
1000
950
1100
1000
1000
1000
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
D. OVER-THE-RANGE MICROWAVES continued
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
c
Electrolux IQ-Touch EI30BM60MS
Kenmore Elite 80373
GE AVM4160DFBS
Samsung SMH2117[S]
KitchenAid KMHS120ESS
Maytag MMV4205DS
Frigidaire Gallery FGMV174K[M]
LG LMV1813[SW]
Whirlpool Gold WMH76719CS
LG LMHM2017[SW]
Maytag MMV5219DS
Electrolux Icon E30MH65QPS
Whirlpool WMH73521CS
GE PVM9005SJSS
Samsung ME20H705MSS
Bosch 300 Series HMV3052U
Samsung ME21H706MQS
LG LMH2016[ST]
Kenmore 80339
Kenmore 80353
Samsung ME179KFET[SR]
Maytag MMV4203W[B]
GE JVM1740SP[SS]
Electrolux EI30BM55H[S]
Ikea Framtid 501.423.37
Amana AMV1150VA[B]
Dacor Discovery PCOR30S
Fisher & Paykel CMOH30SS
Samsung SMH1622[S]
Kenmore 80323
KitchenAid KMHP519ESS
Maytag MMV6190DS
Samsung Chef Collection ME21H9900AS
KitchenAid KHHC2090S[SS]
Frigidaire Gallery FGMV175QF
Haier HMV1640AHW
Kenmore 80349
GE Profile PVM1790SR[SS]
Electrolux IQ-Touch EI30SM55JS
LG LMV1831ST
GE Profile Advantium PSA1201R[SS]
Samsung ME18H704SFS
Bosch 800 Series HMV8052U
Maytag MMV6186W[S]
Jenn-Air JMV9196CS
Samsung MC17F808KDT
Bosch 500 Series HMV5052U
Whirlpool WMH32517AS
Hotpoint RVM5160RHSS
LG LMV1683[ST]
CR Best Buy
d
Recommended
118 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Excellent
Very Good
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Good
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Fair
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Poor
Venting
(Airflow)
Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Watts
Detailed Prompts
Convection Mode
X
X
X
C
Z
C
C
X
X
X
X
Z
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
C
X
C
C
C
X
C
V
V
V
X
C
X
C
C
C
C
X
C
C
C
C
C
C
X
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
V
C
X
C
C
C
C
C
C
Z
X
X
X
X
Z
X
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
Z
C
C
C
X
Z
C
X
Z
C
Z
X
C
C
Z
C
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
X
Z
Z
X
X
Z
Z
X
X
Z
Z
X
X
Z
X
X
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
X
Z
C
V
V
X
V
C
C
V
C
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
C
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
C
V
V
0.8
0.7
0.8
0.8
0.7
0.8
1
0.8
0.9
0.8
0.9
0.9
0.7
1.2
0.7
0.7
1.4
0.9
0.9
0.9
0.8
0.8
0.8
0.7
0.8
0.7
0.6
0.8
1
0.7
0.7
0.8
0.9
1.7
1.5
1.9
1.6
1.1
1.5
1.9
1.5
2
1.6
1.5
1.7
1.1
2
1.7
1.5
2
1.7
1.6
1.8
1.4
1.7
1.8
1.5
1.6
1.5
1.1
1.6
2
1.5
1.6
1
1.5
1000
900
1000
1000
850
900
1000
950
1000
1000
950
1000
850
1000
1000
900
1000
1000
1000
1000
950
950
1000
900
1000
900
850
1000
1000
900
1000
950
1000
N
N
N
N
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
Ease of Use
X
X
X
C
X
X
X
C
C
X
X
C
X
C
X
C
C
C
C
C
X
C
X
C
C
C
X
C
C
C
X
C
C
Sensor
Microwaving
Noise
54
54
53
53
53
52
52
51
51
50
50
50
50
50
49
49
49
49
49
49
48
47
47
47
46
46
45
44
44
43
42
38
36
FEATURES & SPECS
Speed of
Heating
$280
$630
$360
$280
$500
$190
$770
$190
$520
$250
$650
$290
$1,300
$320
$300
$600
$750
$250
$210
$650
$220
$550
$900
$450
$170
$400
$600
$250
$480
$480
$250
$700
$330
TEST RESULTS
Defrosting
Evenness
SCORE
Heating
Evenness
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
D. OVER-THE-RANGE MICROWAVES continued
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
GE JVM1750DP[BB]
Kenmore Elite 80363
Samsung SMH1926[S] (Lowe’s)
Haier HMV1652AHS
Sharp R-1875T
Frigidaire MWV150K[W]
KitchenAid KMHC319ESS
Hotpoint RVM1535DM[WW]
KitchenAid KHMS2040BSS
Frigidaire FFMV162L[S]
Viking D3 Series RDMOR200SS
Amana AMV2175VAS
Viking VMOR205[SS]
Maytag MMV5208W[W]
Samsung ME17H703SHS
Electrolux IQ-Touch EI30SM35QS
Jenn-Air JMV8208WS
Whirlpool WMH31017A[S]
Maytag MMV1164[W]
KitchenAid KHMC1857W[SS]
Sharp R-1405
LG LMVH1711[ST]
Jenn-Air JMV9186W[S]
Frigidaire FFMV154CL[S]
Magic Chef MCO165UB
Frigidaire FFMV152CLB
Sharp R-1871
Samsung ME16H702SES
Frigidaire Professional FPBM189K[F]
Frigidaire Gallery FGMV154CL[F]
Magic Chef MCO160UBF
Bertazzoni Professional Series KO30PROX
Sharp R-1514
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
MOST & LEAST
RELIABLE BRANDS
PERCENTAGE REPAIRED OR
HAD SERIOUS PROBLEMS
OTR MICROWAVES
Samsung
AMANA
16%
LG
9%
GE
8%
KitchenAid
8%
Kenmore
7%
Frigidaire
7%
Maytag
6%
Whirlpool
6%
Source: Our findings are based on Consumer
Reports’ 2014 Product Reliability Survey of
37,042 owners of over-the-range microwaves.
Samsung is the most repair-prone brand
of OTR microwaves. Whirlpool and Maytag
have the lowest repair rates, but they don’t
differ meaningfully from the repair rates of
Frigidaire, Kenmore, KitchenAid, or GE. Note
that models within a brand may vary. Each
figure represents the percentage of over-therange microwaves that were repaired or had
a serious problem. Differences of fewer than
5 points aren’t meaningful.
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/microwave-ovens/buying-guide.htm 119
BUYING GUIDE
|
dishwashers
Dishwashers
THE LATEST MODELS GET YOUR DISHES CLEANER, USING LESS WATER AND ENERGY
reakfast cereal, egg yolk, raspberry jam: What do these different foods have in common? Their
dried-on, baked-on, caked-on
residue is a challenging adversary for
just about any dishwasher.
In our tests, we ask more of a dishwasher than you probably ever will—we
load 10 place settings slathered with the
B
aforementioned stubborn foods. We
let them sit overnight, then run them
through a normal cycle using the hightemperature option (if it’s available).
Our listening panel evaluates how noisy
each model is.
We also check energy efficiency.
Tougher rules have slashed the amount
of energy and water dishwashers
can use and still get the government’s
Energy Star seal. Dishwashers that
qualify for the Energy Star designation
are, on average, 5 percent more energy
efficient and 15 percent more water
efficient than standard models, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars
over the life of the appliance. Here,
get a load of some of your options.
TIP
If your dishwasher
will be across from
an island or a run of
cabinets, measure
to be sure there
will be adequate
clearance when the
door is open.
AMANA
120 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
Steps to
Success
WHAT’S
NEW
Remember these tips when
you shop for a new dishwasher
1
2
3
4
5
CHECK THE DIMENSIONS.
Conventional dishwashers are intended
for a cavity measuring 24x24 inches. Fitting
in your new dishwasher could be a challenge
if you’ve tiled the floor or re-done your
counters, changing the height of the cavity.
So measure your space and ask the seller
for the full height range (and allow extra for
the leveling feet).
MATCH YOUR DÉCOR.
All about good looks? Then opt for a cabinetfront dishwasher; they accommodate panels
that blend in with your cabinets.
LOOK FOR CONVENIENCE.
Dishwashers that score well in our
Ratings for ease of use usually have
adjustable racks and lots of flatware slots.
Some midpriced dishwashers have third
racks that let you lay down large utensils
or short cups. Many also have fold-down
tines, which allow for fitting in large or
odd-shaped dishes and other dinnerware.
RECONSIDER YOUR HABITS.
All of our top picks clean well enough for you
to skip the prerinse before loading.
Prerinsing can even make your dishes come
out dirtier, not cleaner. The reason is that
most dishwashers costing $500 or more
sold in the past five years or so have a
sensor that determines how thorough a wash
is needed. At the initial rinse of the cycle,
the sensor checks how dirty the water is to
determine the proper amount of time and
water to get everything clean.
CHECK THE CONTROLS.
Some dishwashers have interactive touch
controls, but the usual touchpads are fine
if they’re clearly marked. If controls are
invisible when the dishwasher door is closed,
look for cycle-time and other visible displays.
A view of the action.
You can watch your bread bake and
your popcorn pop through the windows
in your kitchen appliances but are
you ready to watch your dishes wash?
That’s what KitchenAid is envisioning
with its introduction of the KitchenAid
KDTM804ESS, a sleek dishwasher with
a big window in the door.
The $1,800 KitchenAid KDTM804ESS is the first dishwasher we’ve
seen that puts on a show as your dishes,
glasses, and utensils get sprayed and
dried. (A lower-end model, the KitchenAid KDTM384ESS, also comes with
a window.) For washing and energy
use, the KitchenAid KDTM704ESS was
top-notch. In addition to easy operation,
this model takes only 110 minutes to
complete a normal cycle. That might
seem long, roughly comparable to the
running time of many movies, but it’s
about 25 minutes shorter than the
average of the other dishwashers in our
tests. One complaint: This KitchenAid
dishwasher was only mediocre at drying
plastic items, among the hardest to dry.
So you might be towel-drying during the
closing credits.
But there’s more to like: A motorized
spray arm, plus an adjustable upper
rack, a third rack for large utensils and
other short items, adjustable tines, a
stainless interior, a self-cleaning filter,
and plenty of flatware slots. Both
KitchenAid dishwashers also have
interior lighting that comes on at the
end of the cycle.
Even if you prefer to watch traditional TV or online movies rather than
your dishes get doused—and to be
fair, you know the ending—there’s
another benefit to having a window
in your dishwasher. With the better
dishwashers becoming quieter and
quieter, you’ll always know when your
dishwasher is running.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 121
BUYING GUIDE
|
dishwashers
Details That Count
DCS
Convenience features will make your dishwasher easier
to load and to use. Here are the best of the bunch.
ADJUSTABLE (OR EXTRA)
RACKS AND LOADING AIDS
Racks that move up and down, tines you can
adjust, and silverware and stemware holders let
you reconfigure the interior of the dishwasher
and organize the contents. Those devices are
handy when you cook for a crowd, and can help
fit large and oddly shaped items. Certain models
go an extra step with, for example, upper racks
you can adjust single-handedly. Pay a premium
for your dishwasher, and you're likely to get a
third rack for large utensils and small cups (think
espresso). A few models let you raise or lower
portions of the rack to fit slightly taller items.
in as little as 20 minutes. Some offer singlerack, pot-scrubber, soak/scrub, steam clean,
china/crystal, or sanitizing cycles as well. The
three basic cycles should be enough for most
chores—even for baked-on food. A sanitizing
option that raises water temperature above the
typical 140 degrees F doesn't necessarily deliver
better cleaning for dishes; if it lasts long enough,
it’’s meant to disinfect the dishwasher interior.
STAINLESS-STEEL TUB
This adjusts the cycle's time and water use to
the load's soil level, improving efficiency.
Typically available in mid-priced and higher-end
models, stainless steel tends to resist staining
better than light-colored plastic. Gray-speckled
plastic tubs help camouflage stains and trim the
overall cost. Any plastic tub should last longer
than most people keep a dishwasher. Some
newer models have hybrid stainless/plastic tubs.
RINSE/HOLD CYCLE
HEATED DRY
It lets you rinse dirty dishes when you're not
quite ready to start a full cycle (rather than
letting stubborn food mess get even more
recalcitrant). This perk can reduce odors and
prevent soil from setting while you stack up
enough dirty dishes for a full load.
Budget-priced dishwashers typically dry in the
few hours after a cycle using drainage and the
residual heat in the tub. Pay more, and some
will either heat the water further during the final
rinse (to warm up the stainless tub) or use a
heating element—perhaps coupled with a fan
to circulate the air. These options increase
convenience, but also your electric bill.
SOIL SENSORS
WASH ZONES
Some newer models designate a certain part of
the dishwasher for heavily soiled items needing
a special cycle. These zones don't always run
the for the whole cycle. In our labs, they seem to
work as promised.
FILTERS
These keep wash water free of food that could
be re-deposited on clean dishes. There are two
types: self-cleaning and manual. With selfcleaning filters, a grinder pulverizes the debris
and flushes it down the drain. That's convenient
but can be noisy. Some models instead have a
filter without a grinder. It's quieter, but you need
to clean it periodically to avoid iffy smells, a job
that takes a few minutes.
SPECIAL WASH CYCLES
Most dishwashers come with at least three
cycles: light, normal, and heavy (pots and pans),
with many newer models also including "quick"
or "express" cycles that clean lightly soiled loads
TIP
Dishwasher drawers
can add flexibility,
especially for small
households. But the
ones we’ve tested
haven’t impressed.
HIDDEN TOUCHPAD CONTROLS
Controls mounted along the top edge of the door
(that are hidden when the door is closed) are
strictly about style. The downside: You typically
can't see cycle progress at a glance. Partially
hidden controls are a good compromise. You’ll
know when the machine is running and, often,
the remaining cycle time. Some have only an
indicator light that tells you the dishwasher is on.
QUIET PERFORMANCE
Some dishwashers sound like an airplane landing, which can be annoying when wash cycles
range from 90 minutes to about three hours
(by the way, we found no correlation between
time and performance). The KitchenAid
KDTE254ESS (shown) got an “excellent” score
for noise in our tests. Caveat: Manufacturers
may display a decibel rating, but they average
the sound level of an entire cycle (including
the—silent—dry cycle), which can be misleading.
122 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
WHIRLPOOL
On the
Market
Aside from how they perform
in our tests, dishwashers
difer in type, features, and,
of course, cost. On the lower
end, dishwashers cost from
about $250 to $600. Prices
for high-end models can soar
to around $2,200.
KITCHENAID
BUDGET DISHWASHERS
In general, if you opt for a model at
a modest price point, you’ll get more
performance than glitz, and fewer
convenience features. They typically
cost up to $600. Some clean nearly
as well as premium-priced dishwashers, and you may still get adjustable
racks and a soil sensor. On the flip side,
budget dishwashers tend to be noisier
than upscale versions and have fewer
flexible-loading options to accommodate oversize items.
HIGH-END DISHWASHERS
At roughly $700-plus , premium
models tend to be quieter and have
ample flatware slots, folding tines, and
other flexible-loading features. Hidden
controls and a cycle-time display add
style and convenience. Many high-end
dishwashers have a stainless-steel tub,
which resists stains better than plastic.
DISHWASHER DRAWERS
For new construction or a complete
kitchen renovation, you might consider
dishwasher drawers. They typically
include two small, stacked drawers
that you can use simultaneously or
separately. Compared to dishwashers
with doors, the drawers are easier to
load. But they can be expensive, and
the models we’ve tested haven’t performed as well overall as budget-priced
conventional dishwashers. Capacity is
relatively small, limiting how much you
can wash at once.
Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 123
BUYING GUIDE
|
dishwashers
d
DISHWASHERS
RECOMMENDED
MODELS
FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
c CR
Almost all of the
models we tested
clean well and are
easy to load, and they
come in stainless steel.
They also use far less
water and energy
than washing dishes
by hand. You’ll save
money on your new
dishwasher by passing
on the hidden controls
and stainless-steel tub.
Targeted spray jets,
adjustable racks, and
features designed to
improve loading and
washing performance
will also add to the
price, but some highscoring models in this
report have those perks
and cost less.
The dishwashers
included here are very
good or excellent
overall performers,
and most have a timedstart feature, heavyduty or pots-and-pans
cycle, and self-cleaning
filters. The Ratings
rank models by overall
performance.
Best Buy
The Bosch Ascenta
SHX3AR7[5]UC is excellent
for its wash performance
and energy eiciency.
At $700, this model is
half the price of many
other recommended
dishwashers. With its
95-minute Normal cycle,
it’s quicker than most
others, and Bosch is
among the more reliable
brands of dishwashers.
6 BOSCH ASCENTA SHX3AR7[5]UC
Cycle time/water usage 95 MIN./4 GAL. | $700
—LARRY CIUFO,
TEST PROJECT LEADER
bosch-home.com
2 KENMORE ELITE 12793
Cycle time/water usage
145 MIN./5 GAL. | $1,200
In addition to top-notch performance, this model offers
a motorized spray arm that
reverses direction if a utensil
falls through the racks, blocking
the arm’s rotation. The model’s
other pluses include a stainless
steel interior and an adjustable
upper rack and tines. (Unlike
other models we’ve seen, the
rack can be adjusted using only
one hand.)
kenmore.com
124 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
3 KITCHENAID
KDTM704ESS
Cycle time/water usage
110 MIN./4 GAL. | $1,620
This model aced our wash test,
and we judged it very good for
noise. It is also especially energy- and water-efficient. Pluses
include a soil sensor, motorized
wash arm, bottle-wash option,
third rack, and a lighted interior.
It also has delayed start, ample
flatware slots, an adjustable
upper rack, and adjustable tines.
kitchenaid.com
4 KENMORE ELITE 14833
Cycle time/water usage
115 MIN./4 GAL. | $1,500
This dishwasher has lots of
features and fine performance
all around—with the exception
of mediocre drying. One attraction is a motorized spray arm
that reverses direction should
a utensil fall through the racks,
blocking the arm’s rotation.
Other pluses include fairly quiet
running, a stainless-steel, lighted
interior, self-cleaning, and timeremaining display.
kenmore.com
Ratings
Scores in context: Of the 181 dishwashers we tested, the highest scored 85; the lowest, 34.
Good
Very Good
Fair
Poor
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
125
Interior
Material
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Z
X
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Hidden
Controls
X
Z
X
X
X
X
Z
Z
X
X
X
C
X
Z
X
X
X
C
C
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
C
C
C
C
C
X
X
Z
X
C
X
Z
X
Sensor
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Self-Cleaning
filter
Z
C
C
C
C
X
C
Z
Z
C
Z
Z
C
C
C
Z
C
Z
Z
C
C
X
X
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
C
C
X
Z
Z
C
C
Z
C
Z
Z
Adjustable
Upper Rack
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
X
Z
X
Z
Z
X
Z
Ample F
latware Slots
FEATURES
Cycle Time (min.)
TEST RESULTS
Ease of Use
SCORE
Noise
PRICE
Rank
BRAND & MODEL
Recommended
Excellent
Recommended
Energy Use
d
Drying
CR Best Buy
Washing
c
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
CONVENTIONAL DISHWASHERS
d
d
d
d
d
c
d
1
KitchenAid KDTM354DSS
2 Kenmore Elite 12793
$1,080
85
$1,200
85
3 KitchenAid KDTM704ESS
$1,620
83
4 Kenmore Elite 14833
$1,500
82
5 Kenmore Elite 14763
$1,000
82
6 Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR7[5]UC
$700
81
7 KitchenAid KDFE454CSS
$1,500
81
8 Thermador Topaz Series DWHD640JFM
$1,500
80
9 Bosch 800 Plus Series SHX7PT55UC
$1,300
80
10 Kenmore Elite 14793
$900
80
11 Bosch 500 Series SHP65T55UC
$900
80
12 Bosch 300 Series DLX SHX53TL5UC
$850
80
13 KitchenAid KDTM404ESS
$1,200
80
14 KitchenAid KDTE254ESS
$1,100
80
15 Kenmore Elite 14753
$1,100
80
16 Bosch 800 Series SHE68T55UC
$950
79
17 GE Profile PDT750SSFSS
$1,100
79
18 Blomberg DWT55300SS
$850
79
19 Viking 100 Series FDW101
$800
79
20 GE Profile PDT760SSFSS
$1,500
78
21 Blomberg DWT54100SS
$750
78
22 Maytag MDB8979SEZ
$850
78
23 Miele Futura Classic Plus G4925US
$1,000
78
24 Thermador Emerald Series DWHD440MFM
$1,300
78
25 KitchenAid Architect Series II KDTE554CSS
$1,600
78
26 Miele Futura Crystal G6165SCVISF
$1,400
78
27 Kenmore 13693
$600
78
28 Kenmore 13223
$500
77
29 Blomberg DWT55500SS
$900
77
30 Viking 300 Series FDW300
$1,100
77
31 GE Café CDT725SSFSS
$1,000
77
$600
76
33 Thermador DWHD651JFP
32 GE GDT580SSFSS
$2,200
76
34 Bosch 800 Series SHXN8U55UC
$1,200
75
35 KitchenAid KDTE104ESS
$600
75
36 Kenmore 13209
$450
75
37 Bosch 300 Series SHP53U55UC
$720
75
38 Bosch 800 Plus Series SHE9PT55UC
$1,950
75
39 Whirlpool WDT720PADM
$380
75
145
110
115
115
95
140
125
125
145
125
125
110
145
145
125
140
130
130
140
85
155
150
130
145
150
160
160
115
115
145
155
120
130
135
155
160
130
155
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Some
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless/Plastic
All
Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel
N
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel
N
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
All
Plastic
Plastic
N
N
N
How We Test: In our washing tests, we slather 10 place settings with a variety of foods and let the dishes sit in the machine overnight. Then we run a
normal cycle, using the high-temperature option if available. The machine is loaded according to instructions in the owner’s manual. Noise is judged
by a listening panel during ill, wash, and drain. We measure energy use, most of which goes to heating the water, as well as how much water is used
per cycle. And we manipulate the adjustable tines and racks to see how easy they are to use.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 125
dishwashers
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Interior
Material
110
Hidden
Controls
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
C
X
Z
X
X
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
C
X
C
X
X
X
X
X
C
C
X
C
C
C
C
X
Z
Sensor
X
X
X
Z
C
X
X
X
C
C
C
C
C
X
C
X
X
X
C
X
C
X
X
X
C
X
C
C
X
C
X
X
C
Z
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
X
X
Self-Cleaning
filter
X
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
X
Z
Z
X
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
X
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
X
X
Adjustable
Upper Rack
Z
Z
X
C
C
C
Z
Z
Z
C
C
C
C
C
C
V
C
V
Z
C
Z
V
V
C
V
V
Z
V
V
V
V
C
X
V
V
V
B
V
C
C
V
X
V
Ample F
latware Slots
X
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
Z
X
X
Z
Z
X
Z
X
X
X
X
Z
X
Cycle Time (min.)
FEATURES
Ease of Use
TEST RESULTS
Noise
SCORE
Energy Use
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
Drying
|
Washing
BUYING GUIDE
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
None
Stainless Steel
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
CONVENTIONAL DISHWASHERS continued
40 LG LDS5040ST
$500
75
41 Samsung DW80F800UWS
$800
75
42 Bosch 500 Series SHE65U55UC
$850
74
43 GE Monogram ZDT870SPFSS
$1,800
74
44 GE GDT590SSJSS
$700
74
45 Samsung Chef Collection DW80H9970US
$1,450
74
46 Bosch 800 Series SHX78U55UC
$900
74
47 Miele Futura Lumen G6595SCViK2O
$1,800
73
48 Kenmore 13473
$500
73
49 GE GDT680SSHSS
$700
73
50 GE GDT545PSJSS
$400
73
51 Amana ADB1700ADS
$500
72
52 GE GDT635HSJSS
$700
72
53 LG LDS5540ST
$580
71
54 Dacor Renaissance RDW24S
$1,700
71
55 Bosch 300 Series DLX SHS63VL5UC
$720
71
56 Whirlpool WDT920SADM
$720
70
$1,200
70
$720
70
59 GE Monogram ZDT800SSFSS
$1,500
69
60 Maytag MDB4949SDM
$450
69
61 Jenn-Air TriFecta JDB9200CWS
$1,400
69
62 Bosch Ascenta SHX5AV55UC
$630
68
63 LG LDF8874ST
$800
67
64 Whirlpool WDT780SAEM
$500
67
65 Samsung DW80J3020US
$400
67
66 Whirlpool WDF540PADM
$550
66
57 Jenn-Air TriFecta JDB9000CWS
58 Maytag MDB8969SDM
67 Haier HDBL655AFS
68 Jenn-Air TriFecta JDB9800CWS
66
66
69 Haier HDBL865ATS
$850
66
70 Frigidaire Professional FPID2497RF
$700
66
$1,400
66
72 Frigidaire Gallery FGBD2445N[F]
$550
65
73 Samsung DW80J7550US
$700
65
74 Amana ADB1500ADS
$450
64
71 Scholtes LFDS3XL60HZ
c
$725
$1,600
75 Asko XL Series D5436XLS
$1,100
62
76 Smeg ST8646XU
$1,100
62
77 Asko XXL Series D5636XXLSHI
$1,300
62
78 Frigidaire FFBD2406NW
$270
60
79 Frigidaire FFBD2411NS
$280
60
80 Frigidaire FFID2423RS
$380
60
81 Electrolux Wave-Touch EW24ID80QS
$980
60
82 Electrolux Wave-Touch EWDW6505G[S]
$1,200
59
CR Best Buy
d
Recommended
126 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
140
160
150
155
155
160
155
160
155
150
N
N
N
N
N
N
145
155
145
150
125
160
140
170
165
170
140
120
150
155
145
115
115
155
120
135
105
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
120
195
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
140
115
N
100
115
N
N
N
125
130
120
200
135
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Excellent
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Plastic
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Plastic
Stainless Steel
Some Stainless/Plastic
Stainless Steel
N
All
N
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel
N
All
Plastic
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel
N
Plastic
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Plastic
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
Plastic
N
Stainless Steel
Plastic
N
N
N
All
Plastic
N
All
Stainless Steel
Plastic
Stainless Steel
Very Good
Good
Fair
N
N
N
N
Poor
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Stainless/
SS-Look Option
N
N
N
N
N
N
Interior
Material
125
All
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Hidden
Controls
C
X
X
C
X
X
V
X
X
V
V
Z
V
V
V
C
C
C
V
Sensor
X
X
X
C
C
C
C
X
Z
C
V
X
C
V
V
C
C
V
V
Self-Cleaning
filter
Z
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Z
X
C
Z
Z
Adjustable
Upper Rack
V
B
B
B
B
B
C
C
B
C
C
V
X
C
V
V
V
C
B
Ample F
latware Slots
Ease of Use
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
X
C
C
C
C
Cycle Time (min.)
Noise
FEATURES
Energy Use
TEST RESULTS
Drying
SCORE
Washing
PRICE
Rank
Recommended
BRAND & MODEL
CONVENTIONAL DISHWASHERS continued
83 Jenn-Air JDB3200AW[W]
$1,100
59
84 Frigidaire Gallery FGID2474QF
$600
58
85 Frigidaire Gallery FGCD2456QF
$750
58
86 Summit DW2433SSX
$625
58
87 Electrolux IQ-Touch EI24ID30QS
$800
58
88 Electrolux IQ-Touch EI24ID50QS
$900
57
89 Frigidaire Gallery FGBD2438PF
$450
57
90 LG LDF7774ST
$700
57
91 Samsung DW80J9945US
$900
56
92 Frigidaire Gallery FGBD2434PF
$400
55
93 Amana ADB1100AWW
$250
54
94 Electrolux Icon EDW7505HP[S]
$1,500
54
95 GE GDF510PSJSS
$480
52
96 Whirlpool WDF110PABW
$380
51
97 GE GSD3301JWW
$360
49
98 Haier DWL3225SD[SS]
$500
45
99 Haier DWL7075MC[SS]
$750
44
100 Fagor LFA75IT
$700
43
101 Frigidaire FBD2400KS
$280
34
Dishwasher Dos and Don’ts
DO Run the hot water
faucet on the kitchen
sink until the water
gets hot before starting the dishwasher.
That prevents the
wash cycle from starting with cold water.
DON’T Pre-rinse.
Today’s dishwashers
can handle the food
detritus. Scraping off
leftover food is usually
enough.
DO Check the location
of your water jets then
load large items in a way
that doesn’t block them.
DO Use the top rack
for dishwasher-safe
plastics and delicate
items like wine glasses
(if they fit without hitting the roof). If you’re
washing sauce pans or
mixing bowls put them
face down.
DO Rest glasses on
the prongs to prevent
breakage and to keep
water from pooling
in the stems of wine
glasses.
DO Load forks and
spoons with the
handles facing down,
but place knives with
their handles up, to
avoid cutting yourself
as you remove them.
DO Use the bottom
rack for plates and
saucers and such large
items as platters and
120
120
145
120
120
Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
Some
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
130
Plastic
140
195
125
Plastic
160
125
205
Plastic
N
N
N
N
All
N
Stainless Steel
Plastic
160
Plastic
110
120
120
135
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Plastic
N
N
N
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
All
Stainless Steel
90
Plastic
N
N
N
N
MOST & LEAST
RELIABLE BRANDS
serving bowls. Place
items with baked-on
food face down and
toward the spray arm.
DON’T put brass,
bronze, cast-iron, wood,
or china with gold leaf
in the machine. And to
keep china from chipping, don’t allow it to
touch other items.
DO Consider handwashing your fine
china and porcelain by
lining the sink with a
towel and using a mild
dish detergent.
DO Use a top-rated
dishwasher detergent
from Consumer Reports’ tests. See page
11 for our top picks.
In our survey of more than 70,000 readers who bought a
dishwasher between 2010 we found Bosch and Whirlpool to
be among the more reliable brands of dishwashers. Samsung
is the most repair-prone brand of dishwasher and KitchenAid
and LG are among the more repair-prone brands.
PERCENTAGE REPAIRED
OR HAD SERIOUS PROBLEMS
DISHWASHERS
Samsung
LG
KitchenAid
Frigidaire
Maytag
24%
18%
18%
16%
15%
Kenmore
Miele
GE
Whirlpool
Bosch
14%
13%
13%
10%
9%
Source: Our findings are based on Consumer Reports’ 2014 Annual Product Reliability
Survey of more than 70,000 readers who had purchased a dishwasher between 2010
and 2014. Differences of less than 3 points aren’t meaningful, and we’ve adjusted the
data to eliminate differences linked solely to the dishwasher’s age and coverage by an
extended warranty or service contract. Models within a brand may vary, and changes
in design or manufacturer may affect future reliability. Still, choosing a brand with a
good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model.
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/dishwashers/buying-guide.htm 127
BUYING GUIDE
|
sinks
AMERICAN STANDARD
Sinks
THE BEST MODELS WILL STAND UP TO YEARS OF DISH DUTY—AND LOOK GREAT DOING IT
ood news: Our tests found
impressive sinks at all prices.
For months we stained,
scoured, dropped objects, and
put hot pots in 18 double-bowl sinks.
We compared thick stainless steel with
thinner versions, and heavy cast iron
with lightweight acrylic and fireclay.
We found that the manufacturer mattered less than material, so we arranged
G
our Ratings by material. Here’s what else
our tough tests revealed:
Finish matters more than thickness.
We tested 18- to 23-gauge stainless steel
sinks. (The lower the gauge, the thicker
the steel.) We found that expensive,
thicker-gauge stainless didn’t hold up
any better than thinner versions. And
sinks with polished or glossy surfaces
showed scratches and stains more than
128 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
those with matte or brushed finishes.
You can add color to your kitchen
with a solid surface, an enameled steel,
an enameled cast iron, an acrylic, or a
fireclay sink. But almost all were damaged in our tests. Fireclay cracked after
our toughest drop tests. The acrylic
sinks didn’t chip, but they melted when
we left a hot pot in them. Solid-surface
sinks fared better.
Steps to
Success
1
2
EXTRA HELP
Some sinks now
ofer convenient
optional accessories
like racks and
cutting boards.
AMERICAN STANDARD
3
BLANCO
FOCUS ON THE MATERIAL
Our tests showed that the material is more
important than the manufacturer. Similar materials
performed similarly across brands, so we based
our evaluations of sinks entirely on materials.
COUNT THE HOLES
Most kitchen sinks come with mounting holes
drilled for faucets. If you’re buying a new faucet for
an existing sink or vice versa, you’ll need to match
the hardware to the number and spacing of the holes
in the sink. You can install a base plate to cover an
extra hole in the sink or countertop, but don’t try to
drill new holes in an existing countertop.
THINK AHEAD
Replacing a faucet and sink together is easier
because the faucet can be mounted in the sink
or counter before the sink is put in place. Most
kitchen faucets come with a lifetime warranty
that covers leaks and stains. But if you have
a problem, the manufacturer will give you just the
replacement part. It will be up to you to install it.
CLEAN LINES
Undermount sinks eliminate a
grime-catching raised lip, making
for simpler maintenance.
ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 129
BUYING GUIDE
| sinks
On the Market
Match the style of sink to your
space, needs, and budget
FARMHOUSE
Also known as apron-front, farmhouse sinks
usually have a deep single bowl with the faucet
installed in the countertop or wall. This stylish
choice can provide a traditional or country kitchen look, and stainless steel versions can work
well with modern designs. But they’re expensive
and require a special cabinet, and water can drip
on and damage the cabinet.
BLANCO
TOPMOUNT
Also called drop-in and self-rimming, the sink is dropped
in above the counter with the lip overlapping the
countertop. Topmount sinks work with any countertop
material and are relatively simple to install, so they’re
a good choice for a tight budget. But a topmount sink
can detract from the look of a beautiful countertop and
grime can build up around the lip of the sink.
DOUBLE BOWL
FRANKE
Double-bowl sinks have a partition that separates them
into two sections. A rectangular shape is most common,
but D-shaped sinks with a curved back are available.
Double-bowl sinks are handy because they let you perform two tasks—soaking and rinsing—at the same time.
Note that the narrower sections of a double-bowl sink
may not fit large pots, cookie sheets, or roasting pans.
UNDERMOUNT
Rather than being lowered onto the counter,
undermounted sinks are raised into place from
below. Undermount sinks provide a sleek look
and easier cleanup because they sit slightly below
the surface of the counter, so you can wipe spills
and crumbs from the countertop directly into the
sink, and there’s no lip or crevice to catch dirt. But
undermounted sinks are more expensive to buy
and install, and should be used with a waterproof
countertop, never with wood counters.
TROUGH
These are best for use as prep or bar sinks.
They’re narrow and long, from 8 to 14 inches
wide and up to 50 inches long. But trough sinks
are expensive and more fun than functional.
130 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
KOHLER
MATERIALS MATTER
STAINLESS
More people buy stainless steel kitchen sinks
than any other type. We tested 18- to 23-gauge
sinks; the lower the gauge, the thicker the steel.
We also listened to the noise made by running
water and dropped weights. We found that the
gauge had little to do with performance, and
sinks with sound-absorbing pads on the exterior
bottom and sides were quieter than those with a
spray coating. Those with matte finishes showed
fewer scratches than their polished counterparts.
You may not cook every day, but is there ever a day when
you don’t use your sink? We subjected more than 20
double-bowl sinks from major manufacturers to a barrage
of hot pots, scouring pads, dropped weights, and stains.
The results of our sinks tests:
SOLID SURFACE
Made of polyester or acrylic resins combined with
mineral fillers, solid-surface sinks can be paired
with counters made of the same material for a
seamless look. In our tests, high heat and dropping
a sharp, light object—similar to a knife—damaged
solid-surface sinks.
ENAMEL
These sinks, sold in two versions (enameled
cast iron or lighter, less expensive enameled
steel), are available in many colors and are easy
to clean. Our hot pot test didn’t damage them,
but when we dropped a 5-pound weight—similar
to dropping a heavy pot—enameled steel sinks
chipped or cracked. Enameled cast iron chipped
when we dropped a sharp, light object—similar
to a knife—on them. Damaged enamel can cause
the metal underneath to rust. Acrylic sinks might
look like enamel, but they scratch more easily
and heat can be damaging.
KOHLER
Ratings
Scores in context: Of the six sink materials we tested, the highest scored 83; the lowest, 66.
Scores among brands were similar, which is why we list only material Ratings.
Excellent
Heat
Stainless Steel
$100-$600
83
Z
Z
Z
C
Z
C
Solid Surfacing
$200-$500
80
Z
Z
C
Z
V
Z
Enameled Steel
$100-$350
77
X
Z
Z
V
Z
X
Enameled Cast Iron
$150-$450
74
C
Z
V
Z
Z
X
Noise
Blunt
Impact
RESISTS
Sharp
Impact
SCORE
Poor
Abrasion
PRICE
Fair
Stains
MATERIAL
Good
Very Good
Acrylic
$75-$200
71
Z
X
Z
Z
B
C
Fireclay
$550-$800
66
Z
Z
V
B
Z
C
How We Test: Score summarizes performance in
all tests. Stains shows resistance to 15 common
foods and cleaning products. Abrasion relects
resistance to damage from nylon and metal
scouring pads. Impact shows resistance to damage
from sharp and blunt objects dropped from up to
20 inches. Heat gauges resistance to damage from
a pot illed with oil and heated to 400° F. Noise is
based on sound transmission from a stream of water
and the impact of a sharp metal object. Our tests for
sink and countertop materials are diferent, which
is why the scores of materials may vary. Price is
approximate retail.
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/sinks/buying-guide.htm 131
BUYING GUIDE
| faucets
Faucets
PICK A FAUCET WITH A DURABLE FINISH AND FEATURES THAT MAKE CLEANUP EASY. HERE’S HOW.
eaky faucets could be a thing of
the past, with top-notch valves
and tough finishes now common
on all but the cheapest models.
Most faucets also come with lifetime
warranties (for the original buyer) that
cover defects and even finishes.
Our tests found few performance
differences between brands, and that’s
L
why our advice is based on finish and
why the faucets aren’t rated. We tested
single-handle pullout faucets, a popular
style. They combine spray head and
spout for added convenience and flexibility, but our findings apply to other
faucet styles, too.
You’ll find a range of finish options
on the market, including chrome, stain-
WHAT’S
NEW
Hands-free technology.
When your hands are
covered in a sticky
or greasy mess, it’s
convenient to be able to
turn on the tap without
smearing it in the process.
Hands-free technology
has been available in the
kitchen for several years,
but manufacturers have
improved their sensors,
making them easier to
activate. Look for Moen’s
MotionSense, Delta
Faucet’s Touch2O, and
Kohler’s Response lines,
or check out American
Standard’s new Beale
Faucet, pictured here,
which caught our eye
when it was introduced
earlier this year.
132 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
less, brass, and bronze. The exterior
of some faucets are bombarded with
charged metal atoms that chemically
bond to the surface of the base metal
in a process called physical vapor
deposition, or PVD. Those finishes
resisted our best attempts at scratching them, but corrosives such as drain
cleaner can stain them slightly.
Steps to
Success
1
2
3
COUNT THE HOLES
Most sinks come with mounting holes
drilled for faucets. If you’re keeping
your sink, you’ll need to match what
you have or get a base plate to cover
any extra holes. The base plate may
come with the faucet and can also be
used to cover holes in your countertop if that’s where your faucet will be
installed. Do not try to drill additional
holes in an existing sink or countertop.
ONE HANDLE OR TWO?
Single-handle faucets are easier to
use and install. A sprayer can be
part of the faucet spout or part of
the faucet deck. Two-handle faucets
have handles for hot and cold water,
the handles are part of the base plate
or are separately mounted, and the
sprayer is usually separate.
PICK A SPOUT STYLE
Straight-spout faucets are compact
and often inexpensive, but you might
need to move the faucet to fit a big
pot under it. Gooseneck models have
higher clearances but can cause
splashing if your sink is shallow.
Details That Count
SPRAY/
STREAM
SELECTOR ⊲
Consider these features, which
can affect durability and function.
FINISH
Tough finishes are common on all
but the cheapest kitchen faucets.
Physical vapor deposition (PVD) is
the toughest. The process involves
bombarding the faucet with charged
metal atoms that bond to the surface,
producing a variety of metallic
finishes. PVD finishes resisted our
best attempts at scratching them, but
corrosives such as drain cleaner can
stain them slightly. Chrome—another
popular finish—is quite durable, but a
heavy-duty scouring pad can scratch
it. Without the PVD finish, bronze
was the least resistant to abrasion.
⊳ PULLOUT
SPOUT
SPOUT ⊲
SHAPE
⊳ FINISH
SPOUT SHAPE
Though faucets with a straight
spout are often inexpensive, they’re
compact, so you might need to
swivel the faucet to one side to fit
a big pot under it. Gooseneck faucets provide
more clearance but can cause splashing in a
shallow sink. Whatever you choose, make sure
the faucet head swivels far enough to reach into
all corners of the sink, especially if you have a
wide or double-bowl sink.
PULLOUT SPOUT
The spout pulls out of the single-handle faucet
head on a hose; a counterweight helps the hose
and spout retract neatly. A pullout spout comes
in handy when rinsing vegetables and rinsing
the sink. Note that the hose should be long
enough to reach all corners of the sink.
SPRAY/STREAM SELECTOR
Finger-friendly buttons on the side of the spray
head let you switch between spray and stream
functions. The buttons should stay in the mode
you set even after you turn the water of and on.
On the Market
There are two main types of faucets. If you are replacing an older faucet, your choice may be
limited to the configuration of your current sink and/or counter. But if you’re buying a new
sink and faucet, consider the pros and cons of each type.
KOHLER
SINGLE HANDLE
TWO HANDLES
Move the handle to one side or the other for hot
or cold, or midway to mix. Some cooks prefer a
faucet with a spout on a hose that can be pulled
out from the faucet head so that you can spray
the sink or fill a pot on the counter.
Pros Single-handle faucets are easier to use and
install, and take up less space on the countertop
than two-handle faucets.
Cons They may not allow quite as precise
temperature selection.
This traditional setup has separate hot and cold
handles to the left and right of the faucet.
Pros Two handles may allow slightly more
precise temperature adjustments than a singlehandle faucet.
Cons Two handles are harder to use than one,
and twisting the handle usually requires free
hands—you can't just use your wrist or forearm
to maneuver the handle.
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/faucets/buying-guide.htm 133
BUYING GUIDE
| appliance stores
Best Appliance
Stores
CONSUMER REPORTS’ SURVEY TELLS WHICH RETAILERS OFFER
THE BEST COMBINATION OF SELECTION, PRICE, AND SERVICE
SELECTION AND SERVICE VARY
A fair number of major-appliance
shoppers went to a retailer because it
stocked a particular brand or model.
Far fewer chose a store specifically for
its selection. Only a small percentage
of those shoppers complained about
seeing few brands or models when they
went to a walk-in retailer.
TIP: About one in three shoppers
ome Depot, Lowe’s, and Sears
may sell the most large appliances in the U.S., but they
aren’t necessarily customer
favorites. In our most recent survey,
Consumer Reports subscribers told us
about their overall satisfaction based
on their experiences buying more than
32,000 large and small appliances.
A Chicago-area store, some regional
chains, and independent retailers
got good marks from our readers,
who shopped at a variety of places,
including warehouse, big-box, and
H
SUITE DEAL?
Picking the best-value
appliances from different
manufacturers can cost
less than a package deal.
134
department stores. Here's what else we
learned from our survey:
PRICE GETS YOU IN THE DOOR
Low prices and sales were the top
reasons people bought from a specific retailer. Many of our respondents
searched price-comparison websites
before shopping.
TIP: Most shoppers who checked prices
before buying online said it helped
them find a better deal overall. Online
coupons and email offers also helped.
who bought a major appliance online
checked it out at a walk-in store first—
and then saved $68, on average. But
don’t rule out walk-in stores when it
comes to buying. Some retailers offer
“meet or beat” price policies. Stores
may also sweeten the deal in other
ways, including offering such perks as
free shipping and installation.
TIP: Shoppers who successfully haggled usually saved $100 on major appliances and $40 on small ones. Here’s
a winning tactic from a Facebook follower: See whether you can buy a floor
Ratings
Scores in context: We surveyed more than 21,000 readers about their experiences
purchasing almost 32,500 major and small appliances from January 2013 through
June 2014. Here’s how the retailers measured up.
5
4
Better
2
1
Worse
Web Support
Shipping/
Delivery
Installation
Haul-Away
SURVEY RESULTS
Checkout Ease
appliance shoppers were encouraged to
buy an extended warranty; P.C. Richard
& Son, a chain in the New York area,
proved to be the pushiest, followed by
Sears and HHGregg. But our research
shows that repairs during the extendedwarranty period often cost about the
same as the warranty. Instead, check
our brand-reliability data in the Buying
Guide section starting on page 46.
3
In-Store
Service
TIP: Eighty-five percent of our large-
SCORE
Order
RETAILER
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
Z
C
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
Z
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
X
X
X
X
C
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
Z
X
Z
Z
X
X
C
C
C
C
C
C
V
C
V
Z
X
Z
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
C
Z
C
C
C
C
B
C
C
V
C
–
–
–
Z
Z
X
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
X
X
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
Product
Quality
Getting hit with a sales pitch to get you
to buy an extended warranty at checkout has been a top annoyance in past
surveys. And a majority of subscribers
who bought a major appliance said the
retailer at least suggested they buy one.
About a quarter of major-appliance buyers did. But we don’t generally recommend buying extended warranties.
Abt Electronics & Appliances tops Consumer Reports’ most
recent Ratings of major-appliance retailers, as does Amazon
among small-appliance retailers.
Selection
SKIP EXTENDED WARRANTIES
BEST PLACES TO BUY LARGE
AND SMALL APPLIANCES
Price
model or one that’s slightly blemished
for less. And try to get fees for shipping,
installation, and haul-away waived.
X
C
Z
X
X
C
X
X
X
C
C
Z
X
B
Z
C
X
C
C
X
X
C
Z
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
C
Z
X
C
X
C
X
X
C
C
C
C
X
C
C
Z
C
C
B
C
C
C
C
C
B
V
V
V
V
B
V
V
Z
Z
Z
X
X
Z
X
X
X
X
X
X
C
C
C
C
C
–
MAJOR APPLIANCES
1
Abt Electronics & Appliances
94
2
Independent local stores
90
3
Costco
90
4
Nebraska Furniture Mart
89
5
Lowe’s
88
6
Pacific Sales
87
7
Home Depot
86
8
Best Buy
86
9
P.C. Richard & Son
86
10
HHGregg
84
11
Sears
83
–
–
C
X
C
C
X
X
C
SMALL APPLIANCES
1
94
2
Williams-Sonoma
93
3
Ace Hardware
93
4
5
6
7
Costco
QVC
Independent local stores
Kohl’s
92
92
90
89
8
Bed Bath & Beyond
89
9
Macy’s
88
10
11
12
Sam’s Club
Lowe’s
Home Depot
86
86
85
13
Target
85
14
Best Buy
84
15
Kmart
84
16
Sears
83
17
LG
Amazon.com
Walmart
79
X
Z
B
–
Z
V
C
V
B
V
V
B
V
B
V
B
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
C
B
X
X
–
–
–
–
How We Test: Score represents overall satisfaction with the retail experience. If all
respondents were completely satisied with a particular retailer, the score would be 100; a
score of 80 indicates “very satisied,” on average. Diferences of fewer than 4 points aren’t
meaningful. A dash (–) indicates there was an insuicient sample size for analysis.
For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/appliance-stores/buying-guide.htm 135
Resources
8 SMART KITCHEN UPGRADES
12-13, 14-15, 16, 17: Brooks &
Falotico Associates Inc,
brooksandfalotico.com and Lynn
Morgan Design, lynnmorgandesign.com
COZY IN COLOR
22: Styled by Sunday Hendrickson and
Room Design by Elizabeth Low
23: Dillon Kyle Architects, dkarc.com
25: Studio Tim Campbell,
UPDATE
studiotimcampbell.com
FLOORING
60-61: Cecily Mendell of Cecy J
Interiors, cecyj.com
63: Home Depot, Montagna Wood
Weathered Gray 6 in. x 24 in. Porcelain
Floor and Wall Tile, homedepot.com
INTERIOR PAINT
66-67: Benjamin Moore,
7: bottom left,
Aiden Design,
aidandesign.com
57: Madeline Stuart, madelinestuart.
com and Tichenor & Thorp Architects,
tichenorandthorp.com
DOUBLE THE PLEASURE
benjaminmoore.com
26-29: Project by Modify Design/Build,
69: Clark + Kensington,
modifyatl.com and Architectural Design
by Kristen Ware
thepaintstudio.com
SINKS & FAUCETS
INSTANT MAKEOVER
30: Mitchell Gold-Bob Williams,
mgbwhome.com and Cindy Lynn
Dunaway, cldinteriors.com
32: Renewal Design Build,
renewaldesignbuild.com and styled by
Jeanee Ladoux, finelycrafted.net
34: The New Old House Company,
thenewoldhouseco.com
BUYING GUIDE, OPENER
46-47: Viking, vikingrange.com
CABINETS
BOLD IN BLACK & WHITE
18-21: Cabinets: Omega Cabinetry, omegacabinetry.com; Countertops:
Cambria Natural Stone Surfaces, cambriausa.com. Lighting: Capri Drum
Pendant and London Pendant from the Vern Yip Collection for Stonegate
Designs, stonegatedesigns.com
48: Burke Cheney for Deane Inc,
deaneinc.com
49: Morgan Harrison Home,
morganharrisonhome.com
50: Ikea, ikea.com
51: top left and middle, Merillat,
merillat.com; top right, Lynda
Fisher, The Countertop Shoppe,
mycountertopshoppe.com; bottom
left, Liselotte Kragh of Abita Studio,
abitastudio.com; bottom middle,
Masterbrand, masterbrand.com;
bottom right, Cheryl Kees Clendenon,
indetailinteriors.com
53: left, Tad Hellmann Design,
tadhellmann.com; right, KraftMaid,
kraftmaid.com
American Standard,
americanstandard-us.com
Blanco, blanco-germany.com
Franke, franke.com
Kohler, kohler.com
MAJOR APPLIANCES
Amana, amana.com
Bertazzoni, bertazzoni.com
Blomberg, blombergappliances.com
BlueStar, bluestarcooking.com
Bosch, bosch-home.com
Dacor, dacor.com
DCS, dcsappliances.com
Electrolux, electroluxappliances.com
Fisher & Paykel, fisherpaykel.com
Frigidaire, frigidaire.com
GE, geappliances.com
Haier, haier.com
Jenn-Air, jennair.com
Kenmore, kenmore.com
KitchenAid, kitchenaid.com
LG, lg.com
Maytag, maytag.com
Miele, mieleusa.com
Panasonic, panasonic.com
Samsung, samsung.com
Sub-Zero, subzero-wolf.com
Thermador, thermador.com
Viking, vikingrange.com
Whirlpool, whirlpool.com
Wolf, subzero-wolf.com
Zephyr, zephyronline.com
COUNTERTOPS
54: Cambria Bellingham Countertop
from Waterstone Collection,
cambriausa.com
56: Meriwether Inc. Architecture &
Design, meriwetherinc.com
OPEN FOR ENTERTAINING
36-37; 38: Farrow Arcaro Design, farrowarcarodesign.ca and Blake Farrow
Project, blakefarrowproject.ca
39: top, Gonterman Construction, gontermanconstruction.com
39: bottom left and right, Dillon Kyle Architects, dkarc.com
41: right, Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com
136 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org
COVER
Photographer: Eric Roth
Photographer: David A. Land,
Vern Yip inset
Designer Builders: Main Street at
Botellos, Mashpee, Massachusetts,
mainstreetbotellos.com
THE
CONSUMER
REPORTS
DIFFERENCE
We Buy all of the products we rate.
We Test in our own independent,
state-of-the-art facilities.
We Don’t Take Ads or accept free samples.
We Tell You the Truth and don’t allow our
name to be used for promotional purposes.
Get Ratings and Buying Advice with
Consumer Reports Publications.
®
From
kitchens
to cars,
we’ve got
you covered
# Kitchen Planning &
Buying Guide
# Consumer Reports®
Buying Guide
# Used Car Buying Guide
# Best & Worst New Cars
# Ratings & Pricing Guide
# New Car Preview
# Best SUVs & Trucks
Make
sure you
buy only
the best!
# New Car Ratings
& Reviews
At bookstores nationwide or online at:
www.ConsumerReports.org/books
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