I’ve been poring over appliances online and comparing electrical specs. I’m getting a lesson in amps, volts, watts, and jouels and honestly, it’s all just little bit too math-y for this lit major. (Calling all digital entrepreneurs: Someone should launch a website that makes spec comparison easier. Can you imagine the commissions coming in from the merchant you finally send users to? Ka-ching.) But in the end my decision came down to eliminating to the heaviest energy-user, my beloved Thermador wall oven stack. Sniff sniff.
The reason the old kitchen could run on so little power was that we had a gas range. Once I decided to go with a gas cooktop and electric wall oven, I was adding another appliance to the circuits and there’s simply not enough power to go around.
If I had known we were limited by the co-op board in the electrical power supplied to our unit, I could have purchased a gas wall oven. But that opportunity has been and gone. The plumber has already trenched the wall and run the hard line over the ceiling. To divert another branch could potentially reduce the pressure in the line. If we had known just a week ago, we could have planned appropriately. All that’s left to remedy this situation is for me to cut appliance power.
The situation is pretty grim; there’s not much that can be cut:
- Refrigerator — necessary — and only 15 amps
- Cooktop — necessary — and only 15 amps
- Freezer drawers — necessary — and only .08 amps. Why is this necessary? you may ask. I’m a weekend batch-cooker and I freeze meals in bulk. The counter-depth Liebherr definitely doesn’t have the freezer capacity of that honkin’ old Frigidaire, and we were already short of freezer space when we had that.
- Hood — necessary — and only 15 amps. We’re required to have a fireproof layer between the cooktop and the cabinet above it. This does the trick. Will I use it? Probably not. I didn’t use the previous one.
- Wall oven combo — 50 amps (whoa!):
- Warming drawer, this is also something I’ll never use.
- Microwave — pretty necessary — it doesn’t have to be high-powered, but we need one to reheat coffee and leftovers and to defrost frozen soups
- Oven — absolutely necessary
The electricians’ consensus is that I can squeak by if I get a 110 volt oven and if I’m careful about what else I use when I’m using it. I didn’t even think there was such a thing, but Aleks had a client in the past in a similar situation and Verona, an appliance maker out of Spain, has one that’s 30”. The reviews online are… well, not terrible. It of course takes a long time to heat up, as you’d expect.
We decided that I could have a low-powered microwave, any counter top model. And I could place it in the wall oven cabinet and use a trim kit to make it all look cohesive. So I combed the internet for a model that would look good with the Verona oven. In the end I settled on this one from IKEA. It costs about the same as any microwave + trim kit, plus, its sized for the cabinet. IKEA appliances are made by Whirlpool and they come with a 5 year warranty, which is most than the 1 year warranty of most other microwaves. And actually, it doesn’t look bad with the Verona. Both open horizontally and have similar hardware. As a plus, it only requires a 15 amp circuit. On the minus side, it also gets just so-so reviews for taking a long time to heat food and defrost stuff. I hope I don’t regret this. The benefit of putting these in the same wall unit is that someday when our building upgrades the power — which, let’s face it, they’re going to have to do — I’ll be ready to easily upgrade. Note to co-op board: When people are purchasing a home for half a million bucks, they’re naturally going to expect a full suite of kitchen appliances. I have no plans to sell, but this power situation is going to hurt our resale value for sure.
Changing to this oven and microwave is going to require a different IKEA cabinet — and doors. Luckily I did not order the custom doors for the previous version, because wall-oven cabinets are notoriously difficult, and usually have to be fitted in the field. I won’t order the doors until the appliances are in and we see how they fit.
On a related note, I wrote back to Tanner at Scherr’s and, with a calm belying my mood these last few days, explained that it would have been nice if a month ago when I’d tried to check in with him on the timeline he would have indicated that he might be running behind. If he had, that would have prompted a timely discussion about getting me the panels early. I reminded him that I’m not a cabinet pro, just an ordinary person trying to remodel her kitchen. He wrote back equally nicely and said he’d try to rush my order through on schedule. Crossing fingers xx.
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