Digital vs Manual Controls

chrstnamarieMay 26, 2013

How reliable are digital controls on appliances? My fear is that with digital I will have a higher chance of needing to repair the computer part of it. Where as with an old school manual I wouldn't have that problem.

I'm mainly thinking about washer/dryer and refrigerator's.

Anyone have opinions on this?

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I think you'd be more likely to run into problems with ranges in that their heat output could fry circuitry. The better ranges have no electronics like clocks, timers, digital temp readouts etc. Just get a kitchen clock, a manual timer, and an oven thermometer and you can avoid a whole host of problems.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 11:39AM
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I have digital on the Maytag washer and dryer I purchased a few years ago. They have held up very well.

While I would love to go old school with no electronics for my new ovens, I couldn''t find a double wall oven under 3K that didn't, have them. If they fail in the first year, the warranty will cover it. As long as I can turn it on an it gets hot, I'll do what GDA says.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 12:14PM
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I've had two different washing machine(Maytag 14 years then GE profile for 6 years) with electronics and they never failed, the mechanical parts did. I do have a Speed Queen washer now though that is very old school. No electronics. The reason I bought it though was to get adequate amounts of water for cleaning and rinsing and the general build quality. I would love to have my old Maytag back but love the Speed Queen. It still has all the wash speeds and cycles but all mechanical.

Posted by gtadross
I think you'd be more likely to run into problems with ranges in that their heat output could fry circuitry. The better ranges have no electronics like clocks, timers, digital temp readouts etc. Just get a kitchen clock, a manual timer, and an oven thermometer and you can avoid a whole host of problems.

You also avoid a whole host of benefits.
I guess the definition of "better range" particularly the oven is variable depending on how you cook and use your oven. While you may run an increased risk of problems mixing circuit boards with heat, there seem to be brands that are prone to this and brands that function well as they are designed to do. You just have to do your homework. In a well designed oven with electronics, the purpose is to provide a more specific, advantageous environment in which to bake and roast. For me this is the "better range". I love that I have modes that give you the ability to direct the heat and change the speed of the convection fans in various ways to give optimum results when you are baking/roasting. A "third element" is often incorporated around the convection fan(s) that keeps the temperature super even if your oven is fully loaded. I can put three racks of quiches or whatever I am baking in my 36 inch oven and it cooks evenly wall to wall. I can manipulate heat from the bottom for pies and cakes and mostly from the top for roasting and items that need to brown evenly. Miele has a huge number of modes that replicate brick ovens and all kinds of nuances that a baker would love. Electronics may give a very narrow temperature swing as little as 2 degrees. It may also be more specific and repeatable. You may be able to set the oven exactly in 5 degree increments and 285 will be exactly 285 each time. I have used my oven for a modified sous vide as I can set it for 135 and with convection. A normal swing with a thermostat is 25 degrees. Some people like to have a thermometer that shuts off the oven at the moment the meat is done, avoiding the risk of missing the optimum point of doneness or not hearing the beep. More people are using steam ovens, with electronics, which opens up another whole world of possibilities. Eventually we will probably have cvap for home use. My current ovens have been trouble free, even using self clean(another possible benefit) for five years as far as the electronics go.

All these things may be important for some or you may only care that you oven stays somewhere around 400 to heat a frozen pizza. Most people fall somewhere in between. The key is understanding how you cook, what benefits you might get from what is available. I have made choices both ways looking at what is important to me.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 1:46PM
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Be aware that an appliance that has rotary dials on the panel may still have electronics behind the panel. The dials may be program selectors that send signals to the electronic boards. Many manufacturers nowadays are featuring dials on the panel for a retro-appearance but still use electronics.

The original Maytag Neptune frontload washer dating to the late 1990s and into the 2000s with rotary dials and pushbuttons on the panel in fact had a mechanical timer and switches, and two electronic boards. One board controlled the motor (electrical power to it, speed, forward or reverse direction). The other board controlled the mechanical timer, signaling it when to advance per the cycle sequences programmed into the board's chips along with input from the temperature and options switches and balance sensors.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 2:08PM
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Boy, I had that Neptune washer. It was an unmitigated horror show. There was a class action suit and people actually got money back. I will never own another Maytag product. OT, I know. Sorry.

On topic, I got a Blue Star range because I wanted minimal electronics. Yes, there are a few tricks that the electronics-laden ranges can do, but I wasn't interested in them. I was more interested in avoiding a circuit board failure like I had with my Bosch range. The simplicity is a pleasure.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 8:49PM
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NYCBlueDevil ... what most people don't know is that Maytag made a lot of engineering changes on the Neptune through production. They were much improved in the later years ... the *real* Neptune frontloaders (MAH5500, 6500, and 7500). The 9700, 8700, and 6700 were rebadged Samsungs, different style with controls on the front.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 11:18PM
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with washers and fridges, I'd only worry about power surges. These can be handled with surge protectors.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 1:13AM
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My Frigidaire double oven had touch pad type buttons for everything. In ten years it never had a problem. I didn't use the self-cleaning part that often...maybe 8-10 times a year and I also used the smallest amount of time I could clean it. Some people say the self-cleaning cycle kills the electronics. So would power surges or lightning.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 3:05PM
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