AppliancesConsumer Guides

Installing Appliances

Need help? This information can clarify and help answer some questions about purchasing and installing appliances.

Installation Basics

Keep these thoughts in mind when installing electrical appliances. Most standard home electrical circuits are on a 120-volt line. Conventional outlets have two places to plug in devices and are called duplex outlets.

It’s important to note the quality level of your appliance(s) because the labor cost for installing more expensive equipment will be higher than for less expensive appliance(s).

Power requirements. Check the power requirements of each appliance. To run major appliances and heavy electrical equipment, you need 220-volt current in the house. And unless your clothes dryer runs on gas, it will require a 220-volt outlet to operate, so it’s necessary to upgrade to 220 to handle these and other heavy equipment.


When having an appliance installed sure it can be removed easily for service. Flexible hookups for dishwashers and gas ranges can make repair jobs less labor intensive. Also, leave extra electric cable when installing electric wall ovens and cooktops. This will minimize the time the technician spends on the job and reduce the cost to you.

If your kitchen floor is being tiled, make sure that it is tiled beneath the dishwasher or at least raise its flooring to the same height as the tiles. Once down, there may not be enough clearance to remove the dishwasher for servicing. The only alternative will be to lift the whole counter top off of the cupboards, a needless expense.

If having a wall oven installed below counter top level, be aware that small children could be exposed to a burn hazard. Wall ovens do not have to conform to the same temperature standards that regular ranges do. This is because they are designed to be installed above counter height.

When having laundry equipment installed into closets, make sure water shut-offs can be reached easily. Also ensure the water hoses are long enough to remove the appliance when necessary. A floor drain may also be necessary should the water pump or motor fail.

Washing machines are designed to be used on solid flooring, like concrete. If it is being installed on a wooden floor, extra joist bracing may be needed. The mounting of an additional plywood section can also strengthen an existing wooden floor. Severe internal suspension damage can occur if used on unstable flooring.

Refrigerators with forced air condensers are the only kind that can be built in. Models with regular static condensers will not be able to dissipate the heat if used in this application. This will result in poor cooling efficiency and damage to the compressor. You can tell forced air models by the fan, located in the compressor compartment, used to circulate air through the condense.

Tips to Keep in Mind When Purchasing Appliances

Dishwashers. When choosing a dishwasher, you should find out how many gallons of water it uses during different cycles. Look for features that reduce water use. Newer, more expensive stainless steel models enhance efficiency during drying cycles and can tolerate higher water temperatures, even allowing you to sanitize your dishes.

Ovens. When shopping for an oven, your first decision should be whether you want gas or electric. This decision is based on your cooking preferences. An important factor to consider when buying an oven is the type of cleaning process it uses. Standard cleaning ovens require you to clean it yourself. Self-cleaning ovens often have programmable cleaning settings that use high temperatures to clean residue from the oven. Continuous cleaning ovens have special finishes that absorb or burn off splatters from the oven.

Washing Machines/Dryers. Before you go shopping, check the power service to the area where you plan to install your washer and dryer. Some homes only have electrical outlets installed for dryers – look for a large, three-pronged outlet. If your service is designed for a gas dryer, look for a gas pipe sticking out from the wall. Gas dryers are less expensive to use than electric ones – costing about 20 cents per load versus 35 cents per load in electric models. Washers with water level controls, large capacity settings and spin cycle adjustment will help you curb your water use. In addition, front-loading models use about one-third less energy and water than top loading machines.

Refrigerators. As a rule of thumb, plan on purchasing 8-10 cubic feet of space for a family of two, then add an additional cubic foot of space for each family member. Refrigerators with freezers on the top are more energy efficient than models with side freezers.

Garbage Disposals. When shopping for a garbage disposal, there are several things to consider in order to arrive at the best disposal to fit your needs. Think of how many meals per week are prepared in your kitchen, how often you entertain, and the importance of quiet operation and long product life. You also must know if you are hooked up to a septic system or regular water system. Some manufacturers have a guide that you can follow online.

Ventilation system (cooktop ventilation hoods). The most important thing to consider when purchasing a new ventilation hood is its fan. There are two types of fans: axial, which is rather inexpensive, and centrifugal, which is very powerful. In an axial fan, air flows parallel to the axis of rotation across the propeller and through the fan. In a centrifugal fan, the air makes a 90-degree turn after it enters the fan wheel.

Try to find hoods that have a tempered glass light lens. These are more durable than the plastic lens, which yellow and crack, and they last longer. You should also consider buying one with a low sone number. A sone measures the amount of noise created by an air-moving appliance. The lower the sone number is, the quieter your rangehood.

Hot water heaters. Look for hot water heaters that are energy efficient. The EnergyGuide label gives you two important pieces of information when you’re comparing different brands and models: estimated energy consumption and estimated yearly operating costs. Use this information to determine which models are the most energy efficient. Energy efficient appliances can cost more, but will save money and protect the environment over time.

Tank size or capacity refers to the amount of water, in gallons, that the water heater will hold. Your tank size will be determined by your recovery rate needs. The more gallons of hot water you need per hour, the larger the water tank must be to accommodate the need. Large capacity water heaters are also more expensive to operate because they require more energy to heat the large amount of water.

Tankless water heating systems do not store heated water; instead, the water is heated instantly on demand. Tankless water systems are powered by either electricity or gas and turn off when not in use. Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient than conventional types, but have trouble supplying large amounts of hot water at any one time. Don’t plan on taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time.

Room air conditioners. When looking for a powerful air conditioner, check out the yellow energy tag (represented as Energy Efficiency Ratio or EER) and consider its efficiency. The EER numbers range from a minimum of eight to a maximum of 12. You’ll want to look for high EER numbers.

Before you go shopping for an air conditioner, ask yourself a few key questions to find the right one for you. How big is the room? Is it important that the whole room be cooled? Is there variable weather? Am I on a budget? Do I move from room to room a lot? The answers to these questions will help you find the suitable model for your needs.

The most important thing to remember when selecting an air conditioner is to match its cooling capacity to the size of the room you wish to cool. If you get one that is too large, not only will it cost more, but it will also cool the room too quickly and leave the air humid. If you purchase one that is too small, the unit will wind up running continuously without cooling the room efficiently. According to The Department of Energy, air conditioner size should be determined by multiplying the room’s square feet by 20.

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button