Purchasing major kitchen appliances (refrigerators, stoves, freezers, dishwashers, ovens, microwave ovens etc) can be a big investment so it's very important to ensure that each appliance can do exactly what you expect it to do. As well it must suit and blend in with the decor of your kitchen. This means that buying cheap kitchen appliances which may seem appealing from a money point of view may not necessarily be the best way in the long run. However, I'm not saying there aren't bargains to be found but taking a bit of time to look into performance, functionality and appearance can often mean the difference between an average result and an outstanding result.
So what should you look for when considering the purchase of large kitchen appliances?
This is the starting point. It's critical that the kitchen appliances you finally decide on will perform efficiently, quietly (in the case of dishwashers especially), and reliably.
Efficiency - These days with most appliances energy ratings are provided to assist in deciding how friendly they are to the environment and your wallet. Something to consider before you buy rather than after when it's too late. Also look into the actual use of the appliances. For example, how long does a particular oven take to heat up compared to others or how long does a dishwasher take to complete its cycle and are there different settings for very dirty dishes as well as lightly soiled ones?
Noise Levels - With refrigerators, freezers, microwave ovens and dishwashers, noise levels can vary tremendously from one make to another. There is nothing worse than a loudly gurgling refrigerator in the background when you are trying to have a quiet meal or a dishwasher that sounds like a freight train. Most manufacturers will stipulate noise levels in their literature, so compare and beware.
Reliability - Most well known brands of kitchen appliances like Maytag, Westinghouse, Miele and KitchenAid to name just a few, have very good reputations for reliability. These days, there are more electronic controls rather than knobs which mean fewer parts to wear out. Talking to people who actually own the brand appliances that you are interested in is a good way to judge reliability. The internet is a great way to find this sort of information and this site in particular, is an excellent source of information. http://forums.consumerreports.org/n/forumIndex.aspx?webtag=cr-kitchenIdx.
You need to decide exactly what you want the appliance to do. For example if you entertain a lot, you may need a larger than normal oven or six hotplates instead of four or maybe a larger than normal freezer so you can prepare food in advance and freeze it. It's very important to work this out before you buy to ensure the appliances you finally decide on do exactly what you need.
The size of the space available should also be a consideration to ensure that the appliances will actually fit into your kitchen. The last thing you need is to have to remodel or customize your kitchen because the fantastic two door refrigerator you bought wouldn't fit into the space allocated. A simple plan of your kitchen with measurements is often all it takes to ensure that size is not an issue.
Large kitchen appliances now come in different colors and finishes from enamel to stainless steel to woodgrain. Some, like dishwashers, can be integrated into cupboard areas. Your taste in decor and how you want your kitchen to look will be the ultimate decider in the color and finish you choose. In my experience, it is best to make appearance the last criteria in choosing your new kitchen appliances only because you are less likely to lower your standards when it comes to performance or functionality without careful thought.
When you have an idea on what you want, visit a couple of the larger appliance retailers so you can see what is available in major kitchen appliances and how they match up with your needs.