Demystifying Your Appliances: How to Decode Home Appliance Terminology and Jargon
Cfm’s, Btu’s, induction – what does it all mean?
The home appliance industry seems to speak its own language. As a consumer, it’s confusing to try to decode what it all means. If you’re buying a top quality kitchen appliance package, you could spend tens of thousands of dollars. To know which package is right for you, you need to understand the home appliance terminology behind your purchase.
Before you try to sift through abbreviations and jargon, read this. Here are some of the most common terms you’re sure to encounter while shopping.
Cooking With Gas: BTUs
Residential cooking appliances are important. This is where you make your family dinners and embrace your inner chef. Many homeowners opt for gas cooktop burners. Before you choose to cook with an open flame, consider one of the most important standards of measurement – the speed of cooking.
Salespeople will often refer to BTUs when talking about cooking strength. For example, one cooktop burner could have as many as 25,000 BTUs and simmer at only 600 BTUs.
BTU stands for British Thermal Units. Think of this as the appliance equivalent to horsepower in a car. A BTU is the amount of energy needed to heat or cool one pound of water by one degree fahrenheit.
To decide what’s right for you, it’s important to think about your cooking style.
If you prefer simplistic cooking, such as boiling a box of pasta, you probably won’t need a burner exceeding 15,000 BTUs. With that strength, you can boil water in about five minutes.
However, if you’re the type of chef who screams “BAM” when cooking, you’re going to want to kick your BTUs up a notch and research the direction of the flames too. This has a direct impact on BTUs. Burners pointed straight up heat faster than if the flames are pointed sideways because the flame is pointed directly at your pots and pans.
Electrifying Performance: Glass vs. Induction
Not drawn to the romance of an open flame? Electric stovetop options are a popular alternative to gas. When deciding what’s right for you, you’ll likely have to choose between glass or induction.
Glass cooktops are high-speed radiant burners. These are easy to keep clean and fast to heat up. With a simple wipe of a rag and a ceramic cooktop cleaner, you can keep it looking like new. If speed is your top concern, you might want to opt for the more powerful induction style cooktop.
Induction refers to the way the electric cooktop heats up. It uses a magnetic field to do the cooking. It has the same chic look as glass but it works a lot faster. The only trick? You must have a flat bottom cooking vessel that is conductive. To know if you do, stick a magnet to the bottom of your pots and pans and see if it sticks. If it does, you can typically cook with induction.
If you’re worried about your electric bill, you might want to opt for glass over induction. Induction uses high amperage, which means it will cost more than gas or regular electric cooktops.
A Lot of Vent-A-Hood
With higher powered cooktops comes the need for higher powered venting. A simple ceiling fan won’t remove smoke effectively. You need kitchen ventilation that can keep up with the additional smoke, grease, and odors that come from high heat cooking.
Hot air from cooking can expand by as much as 50 times in volume.To capture it, you need a hood.
Open canopy vent hoods are known as Vent-a-Hoods. Produced in Texas for over 75 years, these hoods use a special blower system to separate grease from cooking air, which helps keep your kitchen ducting from getting coated with grease. It’s this unique separation that keeps odors in your home to a minimum and the majority of grease out of your kitchen. It’s suitable for even the most powerful residential cooking equipment.
Let’s Make Up: Make-Up Air
When choosing a vent-a-hood you’ll also want to consider Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). Unlike BTUs, the higher the number doesn’t always mean higher quality for your home. Most states require that if you put out over 400 cfm, you must have make-up air. That’s because a vent hood with this capability could draw out deadly gases from your furnace or water heater, putting your family at risk. Adding this option is only a few hundred dollars – a small price to pay for keeping your family safe.
Our favorite make-up air option is built by CCB Innovations. It’s simple and affordable without sacrificing quality. Check your local codes to be sure this option will work for you. Here is a helpful chart that gives you basic recommendations about how many CFMs you’ll need.
Drop It (In) Like It’s Hot: Cooking Surface
There are several types of cooking surfaces you’ll have to choose from.
Drop-In cooktops include only the cooking surface. There is no oven attached. You must have a hole cut out of your countertop so it can be inserted, or dropped in. If you choose this option, you’ll also need a separate wall oven to pair with it.
Slide-In units are usually sold as the top portion of a professional style range. There is not an oven connected to the cooktop. Instead, it slides into your countertop from the front of your cabinetry. They’re usually about a foot deep top to bottom with controls on the front face instead of on the countertop.
Ranges have both the cooktop and the oven attached. These are the most common and what most people think of when they hear “stove.”
All of these are excellent options. However, if power is important to you, you’ll be better off with the range and range top because there’s more room for powerful burners.
Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you’re clear on what exactly you’re getting. By keeping BTUs, CFMs, and induction vs. glass in mind, you’re better equipped to make smarter purchase decisions for your specific needs.
Did you know that you can test run your appliances before you buy? Showrooms, such as Luwa in Bellevue, have live products where you can see what 25,000 BTUs and 400 CFMs feel, look, and sound like.