Appliance Purchase Guide & Electrical Protection

This guide will provide you with an overview on buying some common appliances for your home or business.
Know your needs: Always set priorities and ask yourself the important questions – How often will this appliance be used?  Who will be the users? What do I need the device to do? What size will reasonably satisfy my family’s needs?  Knowing your particular needs will help you to narrow down the selection significantly, making your ultimate decision less stressful.
Look at the feature and technology: If you have only budgeted enough money for the standard functions of the device, do not worry about the various features that your basic appliance has, because in most instances, additional features mean a greater purchase price and higher operating cost. Those advanced sensors to touch screens technology are nice to have, but they are more sensitive and susceptible to damage due to lightning, poor earthing and internal wiring problems.
Establish a budget: Determine how much you are willing or able to spend before you ever set foot in a store. keep in mind that many retailers have sales, particularly around holiday weekends. We recommend subscribing to e-mails from retail stores. Doing so gives you access to e-mailed coupons, as well as the dates of sales and pre-sales, both in-store and online.
Energy-Efficient Appliances: The energy efficiency of similar appliances can vary significantly. It is usually more cost effective to purchase appliances with high efficiencies. Appliances and equipment can also have a tremendous effect on the cost of your electricity bill. Electric hot water heaters and stoves, clothes dryers, washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners dishwashers, incandescent and fluorescent lamps with magnetic ballast can contribute to excessively high energy bills when they operate inefficiently. Poorly sized and inefficient heating and cooling systems can lead to high costs for space conditioning. Always determine and attempt comparing the energy efficiency of different models.
Purchase price: Most consumers are looking for the greatest return for the least investment. This does not necessarily mean, though, that you should buy the least expensive product or system on the market. In fact, spending a little more money initially for an energy-efficient product or system (as opposed to spending less and sacrificing energy efficiency) is often more economical in the long run because your investment will pay for itself in energy savings.

Common Appliances

  1. Capacity: The first step to finding the best refrigerator is to consider how much storage you need; this is measured in cubic feet (cu ft) or litres (L). The capacity will depend of the number of persons in your family and their needs. Your new fridge has to fit into the kitchen space available without being an obstruction, so measure carefully the height and width of the proposed location. Also, do not forget to measure the size of your doorways as well to make sure delivery and installation go smoothly.
  2. Type: Think about your food-buying habits. If you purchase more frozen than fresh foods, you will need more freezer space. If you buy a lot of fresh foods, you will want easy access and storage space in the refrigerator. There are a number of different makes and models of refrigerators, each with their pros and cons. So think through what is most important to you: Taste? Convenience? Style?

    • Top mount fridges and freezers are the most common and usually the least expensive. The freezer compartment is on top and the fridge below. Most models allow for doors that open left or right depending on the customer’s preference. While this fridge usually fits the best in a smaller home, its biggest downfall is also its compact size.
    • Side-by-side refrigerators are another popular style, with the fridge and freezer alongside one another. Typically, the fridge takes up two-thirds of the space and the freezer the other third. These fridges are often praised for their modern look and definitely have more space, but they do present a common problem – the shelves are quite narrow, which makes fitting some items difficult.
    • Bottom mount models have been steadily increasing in popularity for some time. The fridge section is at the top and below is typically a pullout freezer. People appreciate that their most used items are available without having to bend over, but the drawer-like function of the freezer means your frozen food frequently gets buried, as new items get piled on top.
    • French door refrigerators are the current trend. And they are not much different from bottom mount models except that the doors open from the centre, just like a standard French door would. The freezer drawer is still below and everything else is relatively the same. The sleek appearance of this style is really appealing, but families with children might want to avoid it as the doors do not close as easily.

      Also, you will need to pick a colour and finish, whether you want that stainless steel look, black or the conventional white.
  3. Features: Some of the basic features common to almost all models of refrigerators include shelves, crisper drawers and door compartments, which provide the standard function to keep your food cold and fresh. However, if you would like something with a little more luxury, manufacturers today are offering an increasing variety of new and useful features. These include:

    • Icemakers
    • Water dispensers
    • Adjustable shelving
    • Spill-proof shelving
    • Soda-can dispensers
    • Adjustable controls for crisper drawers
    • Moisture controls
    • Auto-defrosting functions
    • Enclosed condenser coils

      Icemakers and water dispensers are great conveniences, but they represent two more things that can break on your fridge. Adjustable and spill-proof shelving are great too, but often come at an additional cost. Features are different across brands and models.
  4. Energy Rating: A fridge uses more energy than just about any other appliance, so investing in a high standard energy efficiency quality model is recommended. Check the Energy Rating label on each fridge. The more energy efficient the model, the less is the cost to operate.  This results in lower electricity charges associated with its use when compared with a less efficient model. Additionally, the larger the fridge capacity, the more energy it is going to use, therefore it is important to choose the right size fridge to suit your needs. Generally speaking, top freezer fridges tend to have reasonably good energy efficiency ratings, when compared with bottom-mount or side-by-side models.
  5. Brands: Your selection of brand may be based on previous experience, referral from other users, or consumer review reports; however it is good to realize that only a few companies actually manufacture most of the major brands out there. For example:

    • GE manufactured brands include General Electric, Kenmore, and Hotpoint.
    • Whirlpool manufactured brands include Maytag, Inglis, Kenmore, Admiral, Roper, Estate, KitchenAid, Crosley, Jenn-Air, Amana, Glenwood, Hardwick, Magic Chef, and Caloric.
    • Frigidaire manufactured brands include Tappan, Kelvinator, Gibson, White-Westinghouse, and Westinghouse.
    • Some of the other well known refrigerator brands include Samsung and LG.
  6. Decision-making: Finally, after considering all these, it all comes down to price and aesthetics. Head to the appliance shops and compare each of your options while balancing their prices with what they offer. During your visits compare the look and feel of one brand over another to identify your preferred option, and then begin shopping around for the best price.
Air conditioner

Operations & Maintenance: An ounce of prevention

The main reasons appliances malfunction relate to improper use. Poor maintenance and device malfunction due to mechanical or electrical problems such as short circuits and improper earthing are the most common problems.

  • Tip The appliance user’s manual is to be read by the owner to understand the manufacturer’s instructions on how to install, operate and care for the device.
  • Tip New digital controls look great but their delicate nature can lead to malfunction. Make sure you handle panels and switches gently.
  • Tip A periodic inspection of your building electrical wiring installation will help guarantee that your appliance is not exposed to potential electrical problems.
  • Tip Routine appliance testing and maintenance will ensure that the device continues to run without a hitch.

  • Tip Extended warrantyor maintenance agreements (as they are sometimes referred to) should be given high consideration for appliances when (1) competent repair personnel are not available, especially for advanced technology devices; (2) the equipment manufacturer is unknown and does not have a long established history and legacy within the marketplace.