Integrated or freestanding appliances: happy the well installed

Despite the crisis, household appliances are doing quite well. In 2014, the sales figures even returned to the increase. As for the integrable household appliances, they are popular. If the Spaniards are not the best equipped in Europe with integrated kitchens, they are interested in it and project themselves into it ... What are the differences between integrable and freestanding household appliances? How to install them well and especially can we install any type of device anywhere? What are the technical constraints and the precautions to be taken?

Integrated household appliances are on the rise; the Spaniards let themselves be seduced by these devices which seek to fit perfectly into their kitchens, or even to hide there. And the rate of equipment in fitted kitchens in Spain still has a significant margin for improvement - it is therefore a safe bet that sales of integrable household appliances will continue to climb. How do you distinguish a built-in device from a built-in or free-standing device? Are they installed the same way? And above all, assuming that you are a bit of a handyman and courageous, can you install your own kitchen yourself and what rules must you follow?


Freestanding refrigerators (Bosch).

Integrated household appliances, a healthy market

Whether ovens, refrigerators, washing machines or dishwashers, according to GIFAM, sales of integrable household appliances are growing: this sector grew by 2% in 2014 (figures from GIFAM and of GfK) - after already comfortable growth in previous years (notably 2,7% growth in 2012) in addition to a mixed year in 2013. It should be noted, however, that "free-standing" devices constitute the largest market share (68%).

Source: GIFAM / GfK. There is a strong demand for integrable microwaves.

This sales growth is not very surprising and should continue to develop as the Spaniards equip themselves with fitted kitchens. According to the IPEA (Institute for Foresight and Furnishing Studies), only 60% of Spanish homes have it. Our European neighbors are more likely to be equipped with it, in particular the Germans, reaching an equipment rate of over 80%. Moreover, still according to the IPEA (figures from Habitascope 2015), this year, the purchasing intentions of Spaniards in fitted kitchens are high (5,8%) and one of the only sectors of the furniture for which purchasing intentions are growing. If there is a budget to sacrifice, it is the one devoted to the bathroom, but we take care of the kitchen.

In the built-in category: built-in and built-in

By abuse of language, we sometimes tend to name built-in all household appliances that are not "free-standing" appliances. By "free-standing" mean those that can be installed anywhere in a kitchen, an open living room ... without a worktop or niche. Provided with a complete shell worked both on the front and on the walls, they take place where the user wishes. As opposed to free-standing, all devices to be installed in niches or chests are grouped together under the term of integrated.

Example of a free-standing mini oven. You can see the ventilation grilles on the sides.

The insert is designed to be installed in a complete safe; the walls and the facade are therefore not worked but rough. The appliance is intended to disappear completely behind a cabinet door matching the fitted kitchen in which it takes place.

© SieMatic. Example of a very refined realization where only a few household appliances are visible.

To push this concept to its limits, some manufacturers have even done away with handles. We are thinking, for example, of Miele with its 6000 series dishwasher, fitted with the "Knock 2 Open" system: you knock twice for the door to open; the controls are on the upper strip inside.

As for the embedded devices, they still have a "worked" facade. They are doomed to be installed in a niche or between two pieces of furniture.

Embedded appliances (Samsung).

The insert, and even more the insert, are sold in priority at kitchen designers, but there are all the same some products of this type with certain large brands, in particular on the Internet, which makes it possible for example to change oneself. an end-of-life product.

© Asko. Another example of embedded appliances.

So, are you ready to install your kitchen? Here are some rules to follow and some tips for installing it while avoiding unpleasant surprises.

Some rules to respect, even for free installation

If you choose to design your kitchen yourself, there are a few basic rules to consider in relation to household appliances, to ensure both the proper functioning and the longevity of your appliance. The first consists - quite logically - in checking the electrical installation of the fireplace: the appliances must be connected to earthed outlets (especially not to multiple sockets). Optionally, the power of the electric meter can be checked to ensure that the need for household appliances is met by the meter. This is calculated quite easily on the websites of energy suppliers and can be changed by changing the subscription. 

Another point to be observed, do not install hot and cold side by side. For example, avoid installing a refrigerator and freezer next to an oven or hotplates. Also to be considered, the presence of any radiators in this room from which refrigeration devices must be kept away. In reality, it is not because these devices produce cold, but because they give off heat and must not prevent themselves from cooling each other.

Another important point concerning appliances "making cold": choose the right climatic class - this corresponds to the temperature ranges of the room in which the appliance will be installed (valid for refrigerators, freezers, combined, wine cellars. ...) - to be taken into account when the kitchen is facing south in hot regions, for example. 

Finally, during installation it is necessary to properly adjust the shims so that the device is stable and in a very horizontal position. This limits the risk of leaks from devices that use water, such as washing machines and dishwashers. In the case of all household appliances, this of course also limits the risks of noise and vibrations. It is possibly possible to level the device even better and to further limit these noise emissions using dedicated pads.

Finally, it is necessary to let the devices "breathe" and not to stick them to the walls or to each other: on its site, GIFAM recommends leaving 1 cm on either side of devices intended for free installation as well as at the back. Most specialists even advise leaving a distance of 5 cm. This is especially the case with refrigerators and ovens, which must not be glued to the walls, locked in a "tight" formwork. Note also that in the case of the latter, we will avoid installing other devices or a shelf just above, the heat tending to rise. No ventilation grid, whatever the device, must be obstructed. 

Are there devices which, for technical reasons, cannot be built-in or built-in? 

Once these first points have been verified for the position of appliances in the kitchen, is everything possible in terms of integrating household appliances?

Today, we can easily see it and in particular among high-end kitchen designers, whose clients are sometimes advised and supported by interior designers, everything is possible in terms of design and in the kitchens, all fantasies are allowed. . Raphaelle Coulon, sales director for SieMatic Spain (kitchen designer of German origin) confirms this: construction of walls around household appliances, "placo" formwork, we can do anything and household appliances do not present any technical constraints. that. “When we go upmarket, since everything is tailor-made, we can really meet all the aesthetic and stylistic wishes of customers,” she explains.

In passing, we asked him what was most requested between the insert and the insert: in short, is the tendency to show off your beautiful oven or to make everything disappear? "Regarding Siematic, we mainly work with built-in units because we often make kitchens in a more contemporary style, with more subtle things, we want less visual contrast between the different volumes". Only certain very beautiful centerpieces of household appliances are on display, such as a large American refrigerator or a beautiful wine cellar. 

On the other hand, kitchen designers more oriented towards the entry level tend to favor the built-in, with devices that simply slip into niches, whose references are less complex and whose installation is faster, not requiring special assembly (no hinges in particular).

© Darty. Example of a built-in refrigerator.

And for DIY enthusiasts, can we embed any device? 

For do-it-yourselfers who would have the idea of ​​making a custom-made kitchen themselves, could we imagine building in or enclosing in a niche products initially intended for free installation (for example to avoid buying new appliances) ?

Washer, dryer and dishwasher, the easiest to install

The cases of the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher are the least complex. They are very often installed under the kitchen worktop without this being a problem. When they are stuck against a wall, in general, the plinth gives them a little space. At the back, the connections also ensure a minimum of space so that they do not stick to the wall. And on the sides, as Raphaelle Coulon (SieMatic) remarks, from the moment you have to leave a little space to slide them under the plan, this is enough to leave them air. 

A warning all the same for the dishwasher: make sure that when opening at the end of the program, there may be steam escaping - if the worktop is a little fragile, perhaps it is better to shift it a little so that it is less sunken under the worktop and limit deterioration in the long term.

Oven and refrigerator: a slightly more complex case

In the case of ovens and refrigerators, it's a bit more complicated. These devices give off heat and need space for it to escape. Therefore, it is necessary to plan to leave spaces on the sides, at the back and above. At the back, the same as for washing machines, dryers and dishwashers: the connections and wiring ensure that they are not generally glued to the wall. But on the sides, you need to allow a few centimeters - from 1 to 5 cm, to be checked on the instructions for use of the devices - to let the heat escape. 

And in the case of these devices, it is not at all advisable to embed (or rather to embed) models normally intended for free installation. "A free-standing appliance is not a built-in appliance (...) So if you slide your microwave into a niche which is exactly the size of your microwave, there you have no air circulation . The rear box of your microwave is the same width as the front glass. Moreover, on these ovens, you can clearly see that there are grids on the sides; the appliance is made to be placed on a countertop work or a shelf and not placed against a panel that will prevent this air from being evacuated. Moreover, it is well described in the sheets of the devices if they are intended to be installed or built-in. is not just an aesthetic question, but a technical question "explains Raphaelle Coulon. If this air is not evacuated, there is normally no risk of fire, but there is a risk of overheating, or risk of malfunction, possibly overconsumption for refrigeration devices.

Example of a freestanding refrigerator around which the necessary ventilation space has been provided.

But then are the integrable models designed differently? In reality, no. They also need to dissipate heat. But in most cases, the facades - take the example of oven windows - are wider than the shell of the appliance, which necessarily leaves air circulation when installed in a niche. In the case of certain refrigerators intended for perfect integration, we do not distinguish any external circuit, no resistance ... This does not mean that these elements are absent, but they are enclosed in an overshell which already provides for air circulation. (between the hull and this overhull) - these models can therefore be glued to a wall or inserted into a niche with no space. 

In short, making your own custom-made kitchen by putting in appliances yourself, yes it is possible, preferably by choosing appliances intended to be integrated. And this has another advantage than good air circulation: the opening and closing of the doors are often provided without overflow in the case of devices dedicated to be integrated and the dimensions of the devices are designed to be flush with furniture.

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