Integrated Appliances Explained
The perils and pitfalls of integrated appliances and how to avoid them
Integrated appliances are a bit of a problem for the industry for a good number of reasons and, all too often many of the reasons they can be problematic will not be evident to people that buy them.
Here we are going to try to help you avoid the common errors and pitfalls of buying integrated appliances which for the most part will be washing machines, dishwashers, fridges, freezers and fridge freezers. Most other appliances are not integrated and regarded as freestanding.
Wine coolers sometimes come into this but the advice there is really simple, if you want a good one, buy a Liebherr, job done. If you want something reasonable for less, Electrolux Group or maybe a few of the upper echelon Candy’s etc. Anything else will be pumped out in China and be pretty much garbage for the most part which is fine if it’s just for show, not so good if you want it to work as it should.
The point here is to try to let people understand that all is not what it may appear and that, if you’re clever about this you can either save yourself a bucketload of cash or, you can get much better appliances for the same or less money. We would say that it’s worth a bit of effort and bit of reading as it may well save you cash up front and save you a heap of grief down the road when you need spare parts.
We see so many people that get machines that are not what they think and, a number that find themselves having to swap out machines at considerable expense after only a few years. We hope readers of this article avoid those problems.
We Are Impartial
We do not make appliances at all. We do not sell integrated appliances. We just deal with spare parts. The people in the forums almost exclusively just repair them and install them or a few sell them.
We therefore have no vested interest at all in what appliances you buy and, this article is free of advertising (ignoring the Google ads) or any affiliate links unlike many other sites so, all you’re getting is the truth, even if many people both inside and out of the industry might not like it.
Many may not agree with our opinions and that’s okay but, they can’t argue with fact.
Integrated Product Badge Engineering
Before you look to buy a whole suite of appliances for your new kitchen the first thing you really ought to know is that almost no manufacturers or brands actually make all the products that they sell. The fact is, that there isn’t enough demand or volume of sales to justify that massive investment of many millions of pounds or Euros just to make a single product line in low volumes.
So, they almost all buy machines in from third parties.
That’s actual manufacturers, big brand names many people will know.
For lesser brands, kitchen and retailer own labels, none will be produced by the brand normally. Not a single appliance will be made by the company who’s name is printed on the box.
Once more as with other areas of the industry what you will find is badge engineering, where all that changes is the name on the box and perhaps some design elements, is almost unrivalled by any other industry. In this regard the appliance industry is almost unbeaten by any other.
There is some good news there when it comes to spare parts but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The take away point here however is that even if you buy a complete kitchen full of new appliances, all with the same brand name on the front, it is extremely unlikely other than a scant two or three brands, that all those appliances will be made by the same company.
It almost never happens.
You need to know that there are a lot of own label brands when it comes to integrtated appliances and, we mean a lot.
Those That Make It All
Two companies that make all they sell and don’t buy in (currently and, that we know of) are Miele and V Zug.
Every other company depending on the region of the world and what product it is, will buy in products from other producers. Every single one.
Electrolux Group and Whirlpool tend not to as they are behemoths that make almost everything they flog under their own brand name or the raft of other brands that they own. Those are about the only two companies large enough to support the massive investment to make most things themselves.
Bosch Group is again big enough that it can support it’s own production for most things.
Candy Group largely does but, not always.
Of course parts or components they all still buy in but more later about parts.
Smoke And Mirrors
The only way and, we do stress that it is the only way, to know for sure is to cross reference the parts and see or try to find out what and where the original production origin was. For people in store or looking in a brochure, website or whatever, you’ve got zero chance of being able to tell.
And as you might expect, the brands and sometimes the retailers aren’t exactly going to fall over themselves to tell you.
Reason being that you can get say, an integrated dishwasher that is from Smeg for let’s say £500 that is also sold by Kitchens-R-Us or whatever under their own label for £600. A nice bonus for the retailer or, they can write that back to £470-£500 and make it look like you’re getting a bargain when, you’re really not.
On cheaper machines, cheap Chinese junk most likely, you might even get offered an appliance or appliances free. They’re not free, nothing is, it’s just whacked into the price of the kitchen to make you think you’re getting a deal, you really aren’t.
Either way, the system is gamed against you from the outset if you go into buying built in or integrated appliances blind.
Keep in mind that this may well represent a considerable chunk of money that you’re spending so putting a bit of effort into it can pay dividends as we’ve said.
What people should understand here is that unless you put in the effort and find out what it really is you’re buying and from who, you will probably come out of the deal badly. Even if you may think that’s not the case as marketing people are really clever folk at parting you from your cash.
Own Label Appliances
On built in and integrated there are slews of what is called “own label” products.
Many larger kitchen firms and retailers will have their own brand that they sell. Some can be good value, others extremely poor value with shades in between.
These companies do this for a reason and if you press them many will tell you it’s to enhance their brand or some other corporate diarrhoea that they spout or the old chestnut of “that’s what our customers want”.
Often, this is just complete rubbish.
The real reasons will usually be so that they are sell you something (or agents can) that you cannot price compare so, even though it’s exactly the same as a slew of other appliances, you can’t compare prices like for like. Maybe that’s why we’ve seen an increase in this since the internet has grown, who knows for sure but we’d guess that would be a driving factor there.
Or perhaps it’s to try to make people think that, as all the features et all are the same, that the hunk of Chinese trash they’re going to put in your new kitchen is just as good as a Miele, AEG, Bosch or whatever else when it’s not even close.
There again, perhaps its just to increase the margins as you can’t check an own label properly against others.
Sometimes though, it can be a good deal but you need to buy with great care to try to ensure it is that and that you’re not buying a lemon.
Those are just the ones that come to mind quickly, there are more.
Almost all integrated or built in products sold in the UK and Europe are designed to fit into standard European sized kitchen units. Don't let anyone tell you different as, if they do, they're talking rubbish.
There are almost no exceptions.
Apart from what we call, “The Weird Stuff”!
These are machines that will often be the brainchild of some designer that doesn’t want to conform to the norm or, they’ve found their way to these shores from somewhere else, often the USA or somewhere else that are still using imperial and not metric sizing.
Before you even think about putting one of these in think about it really carefully as the chances are, you will need to swap out that appliance before you buy a whole new kitchen.
If you can no longer get a replacement that will fit in the space and, if it’s a niche product the chances are that you won’t get a replacement, what are you going to do then?
If it doesn’t fit into a "600 x 600 x 850" or a "600 x 600 x 600" or a "600 x 600" stack/larder unit our advice is, avoid it if you can as it will be a hassle at some point in the future. The exceptions being 45cm dishwashers and 30cm wine coolers althoguh all the 30cm wine coolers we've seen are Chinese things, enough said.
Over the years we’ve seen many people unable to replace old worn out machines because they’re an oddball size that’s no longer made. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time or, it was all that could be made to fit the space but in most cases using weird sizes is not a good idea.
If you’ve got one and need to replace a weird sized appliance the likelihood is, you’re out of luck or you might have the choice of one or two at best.
Our advice, avoid the weird stuff. It may be funky, might even be pretty but could also be a whole heap of trouble.
How To Buy Integrated Appliances
In our experience buying integrated products blind online or from many a large retailer without knowing what it really is or who made and often based on price alone is a very bad idea. For all the reasons we’ve outlined above.
We strongly advise you to research what you need, narrow it down to a few choices then find out who made the machines and then take a view on what to do.
Do not get hung up on having all the machines from the same brand as, they probably won’t all be made by the same company anyway. And they’re all hidden from view so, what does that matter at any rate?
Either find a local specialist to help you and, with the information you now have as you’ve read all this thoroughly, you should be available to tell the good from the bad as they will know what they’re talking about or won’t or, use our forums and ask for advice. It’s free to use and could save you money, time and grief for your effort.
People that buy then research are doing this all the wrong way around. Sadly, lots of people do and why service technicians will walk in think to themselves, “Oh dear God, not another one of these things…”
Guessing at it is at best , ill advised.
Integrated Appliance Reviews
If you’ve gotten to this page as you’ve been out hunting on the internet for reviews of integrated appliances then please take careful note of this part of the article.
As with all the other articles in this series, most of the reviews you will find are complete and utter garbage.
A lot are PR releases dressed up as reviews. Or articles dressed up as a review to promote affiliate links, that web publishers get paid for if or when you buy. Yes, many are designed to get a slice of your money from you as a part for the sale and very often we see these from sites that have absolutely zero knowledge of appliances, have never tested one and probably wouldn’t have a clue how to.
They are most often completely useless and the people that do such things probably won't be too happy about proper explanations like this.
Even ones you can trust from the likes of Which? cannot tell you about durability, won’t tell you who really made the machine and not just the name stamped on it or anything about service and spare parts.
What those can tell you is stuff about the ease of use, the programs, performance maybe and so forth. It won’t tell you much else, like how long it will last. But it is at least something.
And just as with washing machine and dishwasher reviews, the user reviews we’ve seen range from those made a few days after people have gotten a new machine or a bunch of them, which his hardly indicative of long term performance to some that are, will we say, a bit suspicious in origin. Maybe even some that are perhaps fraudulent to try to dupe buyers, maybe.
By all means please do look and research but do have some pinches of salt to hand, you’ll probably need them.
Here’s a little glimmer of good news in all of this.
As the cross pollination of integrated appliances is so high you can often save fortunes on spare parts further down the road when you need them but, again, only if you’re bit cute and clever with it.
What happens is and, we’ll use Hettich hinges as an example as they are used on slews of integrated fridges and freezers, they all use the same parts for certain purposes. This is not always true and as always our strong advice is to check the requirement on spares, don’t guess it often ends badly so do be aware of this.
Then what you will often find is that exact same part, with a different part number and brand on the bag it comes with at wildly differing prices.
For your example a set of bog standard Hettich hinges can cost you under £30 from us or, over £100 from the original retailer or their agents. Yes, we think the same thing as well, that’s having a laugh is probably the kindest way to put it.
Yet again this is why we stress all the time, check, don’t guess.
And the reasons why we urge people to consider why parts and service matter as if you move home, just want to make a machine last till you can afford a replacement or new kitchen you may find yourself forced to replace an appliance whether you want to or not.
Getting More Help & Advice
This is easy enough for most people.
For researching buying appliances ask in the forums as it’s free and impartial. Just sign in or register and ask away, there’s no spam and we don’t sell your info to anyone, it’s as completely risk free as it gets.
Please don’t use the phone for technical enquiries etc as the guys on there only deal with part orders in the main as dealing with tech stuff over the phone is most often not the best way to do it.