Your ESSENTIAL guide to choosing home appliances

How do you choose essential home appliances? Size, design and budget aside, we tackle the most often-asked questions.


Is it better the more expensive it is?
Not necessarily. Expensive makes come with more features that you might not need. It is more important to consider how you'd use your oven and if these high-tech add-ons are necessary, advises Igor Vincetic, Regional Product Manager of BSH Home Appliances.

For example, a self-cleaning pyrolytic oven costs two to three times more than a regular one because it's able to heat up to temperatures of about 500 deg C and turn grease into ashes, saving you the hassle of scrubbing. If your oven is roast haven, this is made for you. A baker, on the other hand, probably wouldn't need this function and can settle for a more modest model.


Gas, induction or ceramic? 
A gas hob is for you if you typically whip up Asian fare like stews and soups that require simmering on the stove at length. Gas is cheaper than electricity, which powers induction and ceramic cookers. And if your favourite cookware is the round-bottomed wok (most induction and ceramic hobs are flat and do not accommodate a wok) or a claypot (non-ferrous cookware is not induction-compatible), this is your best bet.

An induction cooker is the easiest to maintain. Its surface emits no heat as it uses an electromagnetic field to transfer heat directly to the cookware. So, most spills do not stick and there are no nooks and crannies to clean out, unlike the gas burner.

A ceramic hob looks like an induction one but works differently. It's usually made with electric coils under a glass panel that heat up any flat-bottomed cookware. If you don’t already have an arsenal of induction-friendly cookware and don’t want to invest in one, this is a good option that, like an induction hob, is easy to clean.


What do I look out for?
Choose a hood with a fan power that’s suitable for the size of your kitchen and your cooking style. A small kitchen for an occasional cook does not need an excessively powerful hood, which is also noisier. Bosch recommends this formula to figure out the minimum extraction power of the hood (which ranges from 400 to 1500 cubic metres an hour) you need for:

A kitchen for heavy-duty cooking:
Volume of kitchen (length x breadth x height, in metres) x 12
● A kitchen for simple cooking:
Volume of kitchen x 6


How many doors?
First, decide on the capacity you need, with this guide by Electrolux: 

Family Size Fridge Storage Capacity
One to two people 200 to 380 litres
Three to four 350 to 530 litres
Five and more 400 litres and more

Then, decide which type of fridge is most suitable for you.

A two-door fridge. Top or bottom freezer? The main advantage of one with a bottom freezer is that it lets you grab fruits and veggies without having to stoop down. It's also easy to stack and store frozen food. Top-freezer models are the most traditional and offer a wide range of sizes.

A side-by-side fridge. With a chiller and freezer next to one another, this design is good for people who use both sections frequently. Its slim doors are good for narrow kitchens.

A French door fridge. The chiller section has two doors and the freezer is a bottom pull-out compartment. It's generally wider than most fridges, which makes it ideal if you often have platters of food to chill. 

A multi-door fridge. Useful for organising different food, and saves energy when you open just one door – less cool air escapes. But it is generally smaller in volume than a two-door fridge of the same dimension due to its segmented design.

A door-in-door fridge. Another energy-saving option that lets you pick up items like drinks and condiments from an outer door without having to open up the entire chiller. Good for families with kids who raid the fridge every hour for food. 

When checking out the fridges, also look for:
● Smooth-to-pull drawers, a veggie bin and easy-to-adjust foldable shelves (if any).
● Deep shelves for more space, and to accommodate large cake and pizza boxes.
● The chiller compartment for raw food should ideally be at the bottom rather than the top of the fridge so that any accidental leak of juices of raw meat will not contaminate other food.
● For large fridges, make sure that the top shelf of the chiller or freezer is not too high for you to reach into the back of it. 


Bagged, bagless, upright or robotic?
Bagged: Good for homes with pets or with family members who are sensitive to dust. Its disposable bag minimises the release of dust and pet fur back into the room when clearing it. 

Bagless: More economical in the long run, as there's no need for dust bags.

Upright: Handy for quick cleanups, especially for families with pets that shed or kids who are messy eaters. 

Robotic: Best for homes with plenty of legroom, as these automatic machines can't get into corners and tight spots. 

Another point to note: The wattage of a vacuum cleaner is not necessarily an indication of its suction power, says Jeff Peh, assistant manager, product management, at BSH Home Appliances. A better gauge is its suction power or dust pick-up rating (for European brands; ranges from A to G) of the machine. 

This article was originally published in Simply Her February 2015.