Recommendations on "no frills" appliances

Vita1234March 3, 2014


I'm looking for some recommendations on appliances and I'm finding it hard to find reviews of basic models. I tried Consumer Reports. I just want something that works well for it's primary purpose that I won't have to replace for a very long time. Preferably not too noisy. If anyone has guidance on the following, I'd love to hear from you! Thanks.

1) Gas range - just four burners with an interior light and a window, self-cleaning optional, around 30-inch wide. There was an Amana model that was a possibility but I only have a number (AGR5630BDW)

2) Refrigerator - top-freezer model, no ice maker or water dispenser (no water source), about 16-18 cu ft capacity, with crispers and a dairy drawer, adjustable shelves

3) Dishwasher - Not even really sure what to say about this. I just want something that washes dishes well. Has a utensil rack. Not professional grade. About 24-inch wide. Delayed start option would be nice.

4) Built-in microwave - I mainly just cook on high and use the timer. Good ventilation since it will be over the range.

Thanks again for any recommendations or links to previous posts that I might have missed. I tried looking but it seemed like most of the discussions were for higher end models.

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Just to help you in your search, a built-in microwave is a very different thing (much more $$$$) than an over the range microwave. A built-in is like a wall oven. So if you really want an Over the Range micro, look for that or the abbreviation OTR.

Having said that, no OTR micro vents as well as even a low-end range hood, although sometimes in a tiny kitchen it's the only option.

One thing you are going to be up against in your search is the fact that a lot of what you are asking for is only available at the bottom end of quality. You're probably going to have to take more features in exchange for adequate quality, although these days even spending a small fortune doesn't guarantee getting good quality. Try to see the appliances in person rather than going just by price when you pick something.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 3:27PM
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Thanks for the distinction between built-in and OTR. I didn't realize that.

Good point about the added features as well. I hate to spend more on things I don't need though.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 3:53PM
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MW - With OTR you will not have good ventilation. Must it be OTR?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 4:05PM
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Because of the limited space in our kitchen, I think it will have to be OTR. Are you comparing it to a hood?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 4:39PM
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Have you checked Sears scratched and dented? Some years ago, I bought a dw for less than half the price because it had a small dent on the inside of the door (no crease, just a tiny dent).
I read somewhere on this site that someone replaced their fridge for quite a reduction in price. They were building the fridge in anyway and didn't care about the scratch on the side.
Can't hurt to try.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 4:55PM
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Why not post your layout here and see if an alternative to the OTR can be found?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 5:07PM
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I would also suggest posting this over on the appliance forum.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 5:16PM
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" no frills appliances ... I just want something that works well for it's primary purpose that I won't have to replace for a very long time ... "

I don't even know if this exists any more in kitchen appliances.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 5:36PM
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Yeah, jellytoast, I'd pay a large premium for that if I could find it anywhere.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 6:11PM
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Vita, I am on my third DW in our house. First one was original to the house (1989). Developed a leak - once I pulled it out to put in the new one I bought, it turns out it was an easily fixable problem - Grr!

So DW #2 was a cheapo something (I don't remember what brand. In less than 5 years it did not get dishes clean, no matter what we did (pre-rinse, different detergent, different settings, etc).

DW #3 is a Whirlpool Gold. We've had it for 3 or 4 years, and I LOVE it! It is extremely quiet - my son's bed is directly below the DW, and all he can hear is the water running. And my dishes have never been cleaner. I think we paid between $500 and $600 - I learned my lessons with the previous El Cheapo model. Ours has a "top rack only" feature that I thought we would use a lot when our kids went off to college, but it turns out we just do full loads less often.

Good luck on your quest!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 6:56PM
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Thank you all for your suggestions. To follow up, I've posted a couple of gas range models that I'm thinking of over in the appliance forum. I think my general approach right now is to narrow down affordable options available from my KD's supplier and look up reviews online. Best Buy's site seems to offer a lot of reviews of the types of basic models I'm looking for.

Debrak, thank you for your comments on the OTR microwave. I might have overstated my need for good ventilation but I'm glad to know what I can expect if that's what I end up going with. I don't have anything good in the way of a plan to post right now but I might do that later.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 8:28AM
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The best way to post a plan is to draw it out on graph paper with a sharpie. Just take a photo and upload it.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 8:36AM
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Our old refrigerator, inherited from my parents, was just what you describe. It worked fine for at least 15 years before we changed it out with the remodel. The new one is much more energy efficient, which is great, but the greatest thing is a design change. Like you, we weren't interested in ice or water related features. We looked at french door styles, but in a smaller fridge those styles lacked the interior space to accommodate, say, a Costco pizza box. We ended up with a Whirlpool Gold from Sears with a bottom freezer. That bottom freezer is the best! So much more useful than the top freezers we've always had. Were I you, I'd expand my search to include that syle.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 10:29AM
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We are going with a bottom freezer in our small kitchen also. Does yours have a drawer or door?

I get a Whirlpool VIP discount, but even with that, which is great, we bought a GE range. Everything about it felt nicer at the budget price point. I would go to a big box store and touch things before making a decision.

We are getting the OTR microwave as well. It can't be worse than our current metal shelf above the range. Unless we move the range across the room venting is an issue.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 10:46AM
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I second the recommendation for looking at sears outlets for scratch and dents. You can search their website to see whats available at each store. We got our Kenmore dishwasher with the stainless interior for $350.00. It wasn't even damaged it was a floor model at a sears in a questionable neighborhood in Chicago. Also, go to Best Buy's website and type Open Box in the search. It will take you to a page where you can search nearby stores for floor models and returns at discounted prices. Finally do not be afraid to see if they can do better on price. At Best Buy we purchased an Electrolux gas range (dent in side but you can't see it when its installed) for $729.00. They were asking $829 but we asked if they could do better and they did.
As for appliances that last a long time it's really hard to tell. Our OTR microwave had great reviews and after a year it broke. Thankfully Dh is handy and fixed it inexpensively. Consumer Reports often puts repair data for each of the brands - might be a good place to check.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 11:23PM
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Another good website to check out is AJ Madison. They have the best search engine of any appliance store I have seen. Plus, it seems like they have every appliance from every mfg on their website. Or, maybe they really do stock 823 different ranges ?! Haha.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 7:25AM
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Had similar problems finding basic but quality appliances. Basic + quality + sized for small kitchen was especially hard to do with fridges. Currently have a decent frigidaire 30" fridge without ice or water. I was looking for very adjustable shelves, and more glass, less plastic. It is several inches deeper than I would have preferred. My only complaints so far is that it is much noisier than I had hoped and that its lower cost shows in the quality of seams in the metal on the door and the rough edges of molded plastic inside. Can't speak to longevity yet.

The Sears outlet near us had some decent options if we had opted for more features + low price, though we went elsewhere. Agree with the poster above about the great search engine on AJ madison. Also check out craigslist if you want basic and don't mind a "dated" look.

We were successful in finding a 4 burner 30" gas stove with a oven window and interior light, but it took some serious hunting and spending a little more than for an equivalent 5 burner model. And I had to compromise on wanting a knob to control the oven. (HATE leaning over burners to type in the oven temp when cooking at other people's homes, but will have to get used to it.) Most of the 4 burners we saw were decidedly low-end, some without windows into the oven at all.

Consumer Reports was nearly useless for appliance reviews for our needs, which was a shame. Good luck in your hunt!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 12:47PM
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