The ideal purchase of a device takes at least ten years, and a lot can happen in that time. One strategy for getting the most out of your devices is to buy an everyday model that’s designed to be used by people of all abilities.
Many standard models already meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which states that controls should be no taller than 48 inches and no lower than 15 inches. Controls, doors, and drawers must be operable with one hand and no more than five pounds of pressure.
Now that more standard models are using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology to integrate remote or hands-free “smart” functions, your kitchen appliances can be even easier to use for household members of all abilities. You can control them with an app on your phone or tablet, or by voice through a smart speaker.
STOVE AND OVENS
With a smart oven and stovetop, you can preheat on the way home, monitor the temperature of a stew on the stovetop from the garage, or even see how golden your cornbread is turning if your model has an indoor camera.
You don’t have to go to the top of the line to get these features. Both natural gas and glass top electric ranges with smart features are listed under $2,000. But if you want to go big, the camera-equipped GE Profile Smart Slide-in Induction Range and Oven is $4,449, with the added benefit of an induction cooktop that cools down once it’s turned off and the cookware is removed.
Switching from knobs or knobs to touch sensors can take some getting used to, but they require no torque, are easy to use, and easy to clean. They’re particularly beneficial on stove tops or ovens with front panel controls because, unlike a button, you can press a button to lock the panel so children can’t turn the stove on.
When it comes to an accessible fridge, the more doors and drawers, the better. The GE Profile four-door smart fridge ($4,199) is configured with the freezer on the bottom of the unit and has an easy-to-reach, temperature-controlled fridge drawer. Another feature is the hands-free auto-fill water dispenser. Put your glass or bottle down and the water will shut off when it’s full.
Step up the convenience and pick up a model with a built-in Keurig coffee and hot water dispenser ($3,999). You can use the GE SmartHQ app to schedule the dispenser to heat up as soon as you arrive in the kitchen for your morning coffee. Another smart advantage: these refrigerator models alert you if the inside temperature suddenly changes or the water filter needs to be changed.
Built-in dishwashers that are fully ADA compliant are not universal, as they have a lower profile to fit a 34-inch countertop design. But the other key features of accessibility — easy-to-reach touch controls, low-pressure operation, remote control through smart features — are present in most other recent models.
Many GE Profile dishwasher models, ADA compliant or not, now feature Microban technology to prevent bacterial growth on surfaces, an internal disposer to break up large debris and prevent clogs, and commercial-grade steam and sanitize cycles. Also pay attention to the decibel level: ultra-quiet models reduce noise pollution indoors.
After comparing all makes and models, it’s important to also consider the intangibles: available warranty, after-sales service and quick repairs if something goes wrong.
Buying locally from a retailer like LP Appliance in Westbrook gives you the benefit of knowing exactly who to call if there is a problem as they provide the service and warranties on the machines they sell. From choosing a model to finding the best price to arranging delivery and a possible repair service, you get a personal touch.
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