We’re wrapping up our Kitchen & Bath Industry Show 2017 news with a report on the top appliances and interesting tech we spotted on the exhibition floor of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. If you missed our previous reports from KBIS, click here to revisit our summary on fixtures and cabinetry or here to read about the best surfaces and finishes.
Appliance manufacturers are still trying to feel their ways into the Internet of Things and smart-home trends, and we saw a bit of progress in this area on the show floor. These included a few new options for implementing existing popular technologies such as Amazon Alexa voice commands or added wireless connectivity for remote control.
Black stainless steel is on the up-and-up in the kitchen as designers and consumers look for an alternative to the dominating stainless steel. The appliance brands that have jumped on board this year developed warmer blacks that at once look cutting edge yet neutral enough to suit transitional or traditional kitchens.
We observed several fridge models by the well-known brands that offered glimpses into the units. Some sported a window in the front door that allows homeowners to see the contents without having to open it, keeping the cooled air from escaping. A few others integrated a connected camera for remote viewing — a convenience that can come in handy while out grocery shopping, we imagine.
With urban dwelling and smaller-house living on the rise, the appliance manufacturers are catering to tighter kitchen footprints by offering more compact versions of some of their popular models.
OUR TOP APPLIANCE AND TECH PRODUCT PICKS FROM KBIS 2017
Bosch: Home Connect
The buzz about smart homes continues to be a driving force behind appliances these days, and at KBIS last week, Bosch unveiled its foray into this realm with its first line of connected home appliances for the U.S. market. Like other appliance brands that have caught onto the Internet of Things, Bosch formed strategic partnerships with leading systems (from Amazon to Nest to If This Then That), developed its own Home Connect app and made some of its popular products compatible with it all to streamline everyday house chores and kitchen activity.
Bosch Home Connect
Some of the highlights: Users can remote control and monitor laundry machines and, if using IFTTT, can set up alerts for when a cycle is complete. Dishwashers can be connected to Amazon Dash to automatically reorder detergent before the detergent runs out. Homeowners can turn on, adjust temperature and turn off a connected wall oven from a smartphone or tablet. With Nest, one can be alerted through Home Connect to shut off the oven if unintentionally left on while everyone is out or on holiday. Refrigeration and built-in coffee machines are also among the connected product offerings.
Dacor: Heritage Column Refrigeration Collection
In addition to Energy Star certification, this product line earned the 2017 E-Star Emerging Technology Award from the EPA for implementing an environmentally safer refrigerant called R600a. What we also like about the collection’s refrigerators is the “auto-open” feature: A gentle push of the door will essentially release and open it, which can be useful for hands-free operation or for those who have limited mobility. Meanwhile, a built-in camera adds extra convenience for monitoring what needs restocking.
Dacor Heritage Column Refrigeration Collection
Electrolux: Solaro 2.0 Dishwasher
Electrolux rolled out improvements in the Solaro dishwasher line to address common complaints consumers seem to have about dishwashers in general (not necessarily the Electrolux brand). Solaro 2.0 now features Perfect Dry, a system that circulates air more evenly to reliably dry the dishes at the end of a wash cycle. The unit’s “third rack” is removable for accommodating more cooking and serving tools and utensils. And, finally, the new dishwasher features two targeted wash zones for hard-to-clean items and the LuxCare Wash Arm, which delivers more thorough water coverage than conventional spray arms. Other highlights that aren’t new to the Solaro line are a 30-minute fast-wash option, the Perfect Stemware Cycle for ensuring ready-to-use sparkling glassware, Sure-2-Fit adjustable rack system, Smudge-Proof stainless steel and an exterior light that projects on the floor to indicate when a wash cycle is complete.
Electrolux Solaro 2.0
Elkay: Water Dispensers
Everyone has probably seen an Elkay brand of water dispenser, whether in the form of a public school fountain, health club bottle filler or home filtration system. But two sleek water-filtration products are coming out this spring that will deliver carbonated water on demand in addition to the standard hot and cold. Designed for residential and office use, models 130UVPC and 160UVPC are both constructed of anodized aluminum and stainless steel and boast a UV purification light and a fast fill rate of approximately 1 gpm. A floor-standing version of 160UVPC is also available.
Frigidaire: Black Stainless Steel
We’ve been seeing black stainless pop up in kitchens during the last few years, but Frigidaire’s new finish is subtler. Its Smudge-Proof Black Stainless Steel sports a softer, more neutral tone that acts as a chameleon, enabling it to blend in with more cabinetry and kitchen styles and palettes and making it easier for owners to switch out just one appliance instead of purchasing the entire kitchen suite at once. The finish is also called Smudge-Proof for good reason: It has excellent resistance to fingerprints and stains.
Frigidaire Black Stainless Steel
The new finish is available on Frigidaire Gallery models including the French Door Refrigerator, 21-Inch Top Mounted Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Double Wall Oven, Single Wall Oven, Free-Standing Gas Range, Free-Standing Electric Range and Over the Range Microwave.
Frigidaire: Professional Glass Door Refrigerator
Frigidaire’s professional-grade line got a new refrigerator with a glass window right in the door. When the fridge’s proximity sensor is triggered, the unit’s interior lights turn on to allow the user to view what’s inside without letting the temperature-controlled air escape. Nifty window feature aside, the unit also boasts the SpacePro Shelving System (which includes a full-width drawer, door bins and crisper bins) for organization and quick access to ingredients; a removable six-bottle wine rack; and PureAir Ultra Filtration, which removes odor — up to seven times more than baking soda does — to optimize taste. This model is offered in Smudge-Proof Stainless Steel for easy cleaning.
Frigidaire Professional Glass Door Refrigerator
Gaggenau: CI 292/282 Flex Induction Cooktops
These flex induction cooktops allow for free positioning of cookware as well as temperature regulation within designated heat zones for professional precision cooking. The enlarged working surface can accommodate larger cookware such as a cast-iron roaster or Teppan Yaki plate, the latter of which is an included accessory with these models. The cooktops can be flush- or surface-mounted, with or without a stainless steel trim, and are available in 30- and 36-inch widths.
Gaggenau Flex Induction Cooktop
Three years in the making, this new augmented-reality mobile app showed at KBIS with participating brand Sapienstone. Usable on both iOS and Android devices, this tool allows clients, architects, designers and developers to take a snapshot of an actual space and then visualize it with different finishes, furniture, fixtures and materials from participating manufacturers. But unbuilt project CAD files can also be imported for visualization, as well. Currently, a free beta version is available in app stores.
Kohler: Aquifer Filtration System
Increasing concerns about the quality of drinking water — especially following the crisis in Flint, Michigan — led to the development of this easy-to-install filtration system for the home. Using coconut shell–activated carbon, which is eco-friendlier than traditional coal-based filters, the system reduces lead, mercury, pharmaceuticals and other contaminants that can be encountered in water, especially where there’s aging infrastructure. Kohler will supposedly offer the Aquifer Filtration System at a competitive price point and an optional subscription program for auto-delivery of replacement filters.
Kohler Aquifer Filtration System
Legrand: Updated adorne Wi-Fi Lighting System
Legrand has introduced a new hub that communicates with all of adorne’s Wi-Fi-ready designer light switches and a new lighting control app that gives homeowners the ability to switch on or off lights remotely. These new upgrades add a level of security, safety and savings: Users can turn on lights while away to simulate an occupied home; prepare a well-lit entry as one returns home after dark; or turn off lights that might have been left on unintentionally to conserve energy. The app can also control dimming and white light temperature for various tasks and occasions, from ambient lighting during a dinner party to study time.
Legrand adorne Wi-Fi Lighting System
LG Electronics: LG Studio in Black Stainless Steel
When the brand named celebrity interior designer Nate Berkus an artistic adviser for the company’s kitchen appliances, it developed a sleek family of appliances inspired by his timeless aesthetic called LG Studio. This year, the company has introduced the line in trending black stainless steel. While the finish boasts sophistication, warmth and luster, it also features a special coat that makes it fingerprint- and smudge-resistant, making it simple to clean with just a dry cloth.
LG Studio in Black Stainless Steel
The units that are currently available in the new finish include the built-in side-by-side refrigerator, three-door counter-depth refrigerator, both gas and electric ranges, single and double wall ovens, steam dishwasher and microwave oven.
LG Electronics: New InstaView Door-in-Door Models
LG is offering more of its refrigerator models, including the black stainless LG Studio fridges, with InstaView and Door-in-Door technologies. InstaView provides a window in the fridge door to allow viewing without opening; to turn on lights for a clearer view, owners need only knock twice on the glass panel. Meanwhile, the Door-in-Door technology is just as it sounds: a second door within the unit’s door that can be opened for quick-access items without exposing the entire fridge to cool air loss. Users push a button on the door to release this compartment’s magnetic seal, and a ColdSaver Panel functions as a barrier between the compartment and the rest of the refrigerator. A total of 13 refrigerators will now feature both of these technologies.
LG InstaView Door-in-Door
Though we didn’t spot this in the LG booth at the show, it’s worth mentioning that one of the new models, LG Smart InstaView, will utilize Amazon Alexa for a number of conveniences, from finding recipes to placing Amazon Prime orders and creating shopping lists via voice commands.
Liebherr: New BioFresh Models
The German refrigeration expert is offering its patented BioFresh technology — which extends food freshness — on the new CBS 1360 and CBS 1660 models, marking the first time the technology will be available on 24- and 30-inch units. BioFresh was actually introduced as far back as the 1990s but is still a new concept here in the U.S. It essentially maintains a constant temperature of just above 32 degrees Fahrenheit in special drawers; users can adjust humidity levels on these drawers to optimize conditions for different food categories, whether fish, dairy or produce. And supposedly, the BioFresh technology will keep some foods fresh up to three times longer than typical refrigerators.
Liebherr CBS 1360
Liebherr CBS 1660
Liebherr: HWg 1803 Seamless Wine Storage
A more compact wine cabinet, the HWg 1803 was designed with urban modern kitchens in mind. The unit fits niches 17.5 inches high and comes with a white or black doorframe to suit most kitchen palettes. Inside the cabinet is the temperature control, integrated dimmable vertical LED lighting and handcrafted beech-wood shelves for storing up to 18 bottles.
Liebherr HWg 1803
Other pluses include quiet operation at a noise level of 32 dB(A), TipOpen technology that partially opens the door for practically hands-free access, a self-closing feature if the door is in a partially open position for three seconds and tinted insulated glass to protect the wine against UV radiation.
Miele: PerfectCool French Door Refrigerator
Believe it or not, this product is the first French-door refrigerator to be introduced by Miele. The 36-inch built-in unit’s PerfectFresh preservation system allows for separate temperature zones and humidity levels to optimize freshness of various types of contents. Also inside are a Gallon Door Bin, Comfort Clean Door Bins and a plumbed icemaker. Finish the soft-close doors with custom panels for a seamless kitchen aesthetic.
Miele PerfectCool French Door Refrigerator
Moen: U by Moen Shower
This digital shower system includes a valve that wirelessly and precisely controls temperature and operation of up to four shower devices (handshowers, body sprays, rainshowers, showerheads et al.) for a truly customized experience. The Wi-Fi-connected controller sports a non-touch LCD screen that displays shower status and notifications including a timer alert that comes in handy for households that are trying to conserve water. An added bonus is the U by Moen smartphone app, which can store 12 personalized presets or customize system-wide settings
Moen U by Moen Shower
Smeg: ’50s Retro Style Dishwasher
Most everyone knows — and loves — the mid-century retro-style refrigerators that Smeg produces, and now it’s adding retro dishwashers for a more cohesive kitchen aesthetic. Available starting in May 2017, the Energy Star–rated unit will come in red, cream, pastel blue and black, and even the inside baskets will come in matching colors. But don’t let the cuteness of the design fool you — this model is still a true dishwashing workhorse. A concealed stainless steel electronic control panel sits in the top of the self-balancing door. In addition to 10 different wash cycles, including for delicate crystal stemware and such, the model features a sanitation setting.
Smeg ’50s Retro Style Dishwasher
Smeg: SU45VCX1 Stainless Steel Steam Combination Oven
A marriage of high-tech with elements of both modern and classic design, this new built-in combination steam oven boasts a more compact width at 24 inches and an elegant stainless steel finish that’s fingerprint-proof. Other features include ergonomic control knobs, a digital LED display, child safety lock and 10 cooking modes including a pizza-cooking function.
Smeg SU45VXC1 Steam Combination Oven