Five large appliance features that are worth it

Consumer Reports
Large Appliances Buying Guide
In an effort to distinguish themselves in a difficult market, makers of large appliances have been loading their wares with more and more features. But do you really need a washer with 33 cycles or a wifi-enabled refrigerator?

In our tests of hundreds of appliances at Consumer Reports, our technicians have found fabulous features that improve performance, convenience or safety. But others seem frivolous and may be a waste of money.

Here are five of our all-time favorites:

Washers: Auto-load sensing

Are you using too much water, too little? Here's a feature that gives you one less thing to worry about. Auto-load sensing automatically determines load size and the amount of water needed, allowing you to skip a step and possibly save water. Auto-load sensing is common on front-loaders and high-efficiency top-loaders and is coming to some conventional top-loaders.

MORE AT COnsumer Reports

Dryers: Moisture sensors

This is the most important dryer feature and it's been available on all but the least expensive models for a decade. Moisture sensors do a better job of shutting off the dryer when clothes are dry than models with a thermostat, preventing overdrying. Sensor-based dryers are also easier on fabrics because they don't subject them to unnecessary heat. They also use less energy.

Refrigerators: Digital temperature controls

Digital controls tell it like it is by displaying the actual temperature and the set temperature, allowing you to correct discrepancies and prevent meltdowns—yours and the ice cream's. If you thought we'd pick a through-the-door water and ice dispenser as our favorite feature, no way. That's what buyers request most often, but it's a minor convenience with a major drawback. Our surveys confirm that, as a group, refrigerators with water and ice dispensers still require considerably more repairs than those without dispensers (ask neighbors with dispenser-crazy kids). Water and ice dispensers also boost cost and energy use while eating up space.

Ranges: High power elements or burners

Always in a rush? A high-power gas burner or electric element can quickly bring a pot of water to a boil, making pasta pronto. And high-power burners and elements can heat large quantities fast—great for parties—and are terrific for types of cooking that require high heat such as searing and stir-frying. You'll find this feature on cooktops too.

Cooktops: Hot-surface warning lights

This is an important safety feature since the surface of the electric smoothtop can remain hot long after an element has been turned off. Many smoothtops have at least one warning light, but ideally each element should have its own.


Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • FBI searches for teen feared to have been abducted, gang-raped and fed to alligators

      The FBI have searched a remote rural location hoping to find clues about the disappearance of a 17-year-old girl who was allegedly abducted, gang-raped, shot and then fed to alligators. The bureau was searching a rural area of South Carolina on Friday (24 March) in connection to the disappearance of Brittannee Drexel, which occurred almost eight years ago. Last summer Taquan Brown, who is serving 25 years for an unrelated manslaughter case, testified that Drexel was abducted, gang-raped and then shot dead when she tried to escape in 2009.

      International Business Times
    • Christina El Moussa faces fans fury for 'inappropriate' bikini photo with daughter: 'What mother does this?'

      Flip Or Flop co-host Christina El Moussa has landed in hot water over a recent Instagram picture. Fans of the reality TV star flipped after she shared a bikini-clad picture with her seven-year-old daughter Taylor, and took to the picture-sharing site to criticise her "sickening ways". "Welcome to the family!!" the El Moussa matriarch had captioned the adorable picture celebrating the arrival of the newest member of the family – a French bulldog named Cashie.

      International Business Times
    • Ask Amy: My husband told me to ‘get over it,’ so here’s my plan

      DEAR AMY: I have been married for 33 years. I love my husband, but I have totally enabled him — to the point where I am now feeling abused. For instance, this morning, he was in a minor car accident. Through my business relationships, I have an excellent contact in the repair business, and so I kindly took his car in, gave him mine to use in the interim and picked up the rental. I asked him to drive the rental so I could have my car back, and he refused. I told him I felt used. He basically said I should get over it. Because of my family background and decades of behaving this way, I am now at the point where I feel incredibly put upon because of all of the expectations, as well as the total

      MercuryNews.com q
    • This woman wins Mom of the Year award for her response to her daughter’s failing math grade

      Moms have been around since the dawn of time but they still manage to surprise us with their heroism. For example, when…

      Hello Giggles
    • Op-Ed: Trump and the GOP should face it: There's only one option left to fix health care

      Ryan will never convince conservatives to play ball on health care. Here's his only option, says consultant Robert Laszewski.

      CNBC.com q
    • Shaffer: Trump Wiretapping Case Exponentially 'Worse Than Watergate'

      Former CIA officer Col. Tony Shaffer said the basics of President Trump's claim to have been "wiretapped" are likely true, and that the incident is "worse than Watergate." Noting it has been exactly two weeks since Trump tweeted that President Obama wiretapped his namesake tower, Shaffer said the "basic fundamental idea and claim is true." He said that Trump was not physically wiretapped, with a wire into his phone, and it may not have physically been Trump Tower, but his campaign apparatus instead. Shaffer said that due to the simplicity required to "mask" an American's name during an incidental wiretap, that the leak of Gen. Michael Flynn's name was "accidental on purpose." "Clearly they were

      Fox News Insider q
    • Wife does too much and receives too little

      Dear Amy: I have been married for 33 years. I love my husband, but I have totally enabled him — to the point where I am now feeling abused. For instance, this morning, he was in a minor car accident. Through my business relationships, I have an excellent contact in the repair business, and so I kindly took his car in, gave him mine to use in the interim and picked up the rental. I asked him to drive the rental so I could have my car back, and he refused. I told him I felt used. He basically said I should get over it. Because of my family background and decades of behaving this way, I am now at the point where I feel incredibly put upon because of all of the expectations, as well as the total

      Chicago Tribune q
    • 94-Year-Old Woman Has Worked at McDonald's for 44 Years - and She Eats It Every Shift

      Loraine Maurer, 94, Has Been Working at McDonalds for 44 Years

      People
    • Reese Witherspoon Photos with Kids Ava and Deacon (7 photos)

      Reese Witherspoon Photos with Kids Ava and Deacon

      People
    • Rarely Seen Photos of Donald Trump’s Children That’ll Make You LOL

      The Trump brood has been everywhere. We are constantly seeing photos of them on ski trips and in Washington, D.C. But before they became a major fixture in Washington, their childhood was well-documented in photos.

      Yahoo Celebrity
    • ‘Flip or Flop’ Star Christina El Moussa Blasted for ‘Completely Inappropriate’ Mother-Daughter Bikini Photo

      Things didn’t go all that swimmingly on Christina El Moussa’s Instagram account this week. The “Flip or Flop” star came under fire after posting a photo of herself and her young daughter Taylor in bikinis on Thursday. Oh, and there was a French bulldog involved, too.

      The Wrap
    • Astronaut who walked on moon says he knows the truth about aliens

      He was an astronaut on the second manned mission to the moon and the fourth man to walk on its surface. Alan Bean, 85, is one of only 12 people to have taken “one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind” on the moon. The lunar module pilot was one of three crew members onboard Apollo 12 who walked on the moon 10 days after it launched on Nov. 14, 1969. The crew’s primary mission objectives included an extensive series of lunar exploration tasks by the lunar module and the deployment of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package to be left on the moon’s surface to gather seismic, scientific and engineering data. Bean has logged 1,671 hours and 45 minutes in space — 10 hours and 26

      New York Post q
    • Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco celebrates Jim Parsons' 44th birthday with adorable Sheldon-Penny photo

      The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons turned 44 on 24 March and his co-stars from hit CBS sitcom took to social media to wish the actor with adorable posts. Parson essays a nerdy genius character, Sheldon Cooper alongside Mayim Bialik (who plays Amy Farrah Fowler), Kaley Cuoco (who plays Penny) and Johnny Galecki (who plays Leonard Hofstadter). Cuoco also posted an adorable throwback photo from season 9, wherein the gang celebrates Sheldon's birthday.

      International Business Times
    • LaVar Ball Crying Jordan memes and trolling surface after UCLA's loss to Kentucky

      As soon as LaVar Ball, the loud-mouthed father of UCLA star Lonzo Ball, started tearing up during UCLA’s eventual 86-75 loss to Kentucky on Friday, fans had to know that the memes were coming. Almost time to get those LaVar Ball crying jordan memes out

      The Dagger
    • Christina El Moussa Responds to Mommy-Shamers on Instagram

      Christina El Moussa is the latest celebrity who is not here for mommy-shamers

      People
    • Cop calls scammer back; awkward exchange goes viral

      "He is a trained professional – do not try this at home"

      CBS News q
    • Behold the strangest pickoff play you'll ever see

      Aaron Hicks of the Yankees comes up just a bit short with his slide. Would Tommy Joseph of the Phillies realize it in time? With that in mind, it would appear Aaron Hicks of the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph still have some work to do with a little more than one week until opening day.

      Big League Stew
    • Mariah Carey Goes Braless in Sheer Lace-Up Dress While Out: Pic!

      She enjoyed a solo night out on Thursday.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Security, parking, garbage irk Ivanka Trump's DC neighbors

      Residents of a posh Washington neighborhood say Ivanka Trump and her family don't make for very good neighbors, taking up much of the parking on an already crowded street and leaving trash bags at the ...

      Associated Press
    • ‘Flip or Flop’ Star Christina El Moussa Not Dating NHL Player Nate Thompson, Spokeswoman Says

      “Flip or Flop” star Christina El Moussa is not dating NHL player Nate Thompson, despite reports to the contrary. Amid E! Online’s report Friday that the HGTV personality has been dating the Anaheim Ducks player for “about a month,” a representative for El Moussa says that the two are mere puck buddies. “They are just friends,” the spokeswoman told TheWrap.

      The Wrap