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Appliance Pre-Purchase Advice


Ovens/Cooktops:

Cooktop
    • If glass, may present a problem of kashering for Pesach or if bought used. Check with your Rav.
    • If electric, may be a problem adjusting the temperature on Yom Tov.
    • If electric ignition, may be a problem with initiating a flame on Yom Tov.
    • Cooktops (gas or electric) may have a light or light bar that turns on when the burner is turned on. Some of these light bars also increase or decrease as the temperature setting is adjusted. Some cooktops may also have simmer lights that turn on and off as one enters or exits a very low setting.
    • Avoid electronic controls. After return of power from a power failure, these units will probably stay off. Avoid induction cooktops. They work well, but are not usable on Shabbos or Yom Tov.


12-hr Cutoff
    • Should have a way to disable or override.


Temperature Adjustment on Yom Tov
    • If you desire to change the temperature of the oven on Yom Tov, the display readout should not change, nor should any tones be activated.
    • In addition, to adjust the temperature, one must know when power (gas or electric) cycles to the oven or there must be a built in delay (gramma).
    • Please note that not all indicator lights indicate when power is cycling to the oven. Rather, they may indicate only that the oven is on.


Opening the Oven Door
    • Should not activate any tones or icons.
    • Should not activate or deactivate any heating elements (listen for relays clicking or see if power indicator light goes on immediately).
    • If light in oven cavity is activated by opening the door, there should be capability of removing the bulb or leaving the light on for the entire time at the panel switch.


Timed Bake
    • If timed bake is desired for Friday night or the first night of Yom Tov, check to see that the end of the timed bake is not announced with icons, tones, or displays which are cancelled when the door is opened, or a buzzer that must be manually turned off.


Warming Drawers

  • Warming drawers have the same issues as ovens (see above: timed cutoff, temperature adjustment on Yom Tov, opening the oven door, and timed bake) because they are thermostatically controlled and many cannot be set for temperatures below 120°F (yad soledes). Check with your Rav for proper use of warming drawers on Shabbos.


Recommendations
    • Simpler is better.
    • Gas is recommended over electric.
    • Avoid slew controls (up/down arrow). Stick to knobs or number pads.
    • If a company advertises a Sabbath mode, make sure it includes more than the 12-hr cutoff override. Otherwise, see potential problems above. Also, make sure there is a competent halachic authority behind the Sabbath mode to endorse it. To verify that your product has a Star-K certified Sabbath mode, find your model number in the appliance section or call our office at 410-484-4110.
    • Before first use of a new oven, be sure to wash the racks and interior of the oven thoroughly with warm water and soap to remove any coating oil.
    • When remodeling a kitchen with a separate gas cooktop or a dishwasher, it is advisable to install them with a separate on/off switch. Before Shabbos or Yom Tov this switch should be turned off to avoid any problems.
    • It is best to actually see any cooking appliance before purchase.
    • Click here for information on oven products under Star-K certification.


Refrigerators:

Opening the Refrigerator/Freezer Door
    • Should not cause circulation fans to go on/off. (Check to see if fan runs with open door. If it does not, press down door plunger switch and listen to see if fan goes on. Some models have two door plunger switches - one for the light and another for the fan motor.)
    • Should not activate any tones or digital readouts (e.g. door ajar icons, cabinet temperature and settings).
    • Should not affect defrost cycle. (Defrost cycle should not be dependent on the amount of times and duration of the door opening.)
    • Light in refrigerator cavity should be removed - either by unscrewing the bulb or by taping down the light switch. Check to make sure there are no other lights (e.g. door lights) that are turned on when the door is opened.
CAUTION: Disabling Door Switches
Taping or otherwise holding down the door plunger switch to avoid these problems will cause the refrigerator to operate less efficiently (the cavity temperature will be higher than expected) and in hot, humid climates, the compressor may run continuously which may shorten its operating lifetime. Always remember to remove the tape or other hold down device soon after the end of Shabbos/Yom Tov.

Numerous models are now using magnetic door switches instead of the mechanical, spring plunger switches. Avoid these models. If you already have such a model you may disable it by locating the switch with a strong magnet, then taping the magnet over it. The magnet must be flat enough not to interfere with the door gasket sealing properly when you close the fridge. To locate the switch, check the outside top of the refrigerator - there may be a plunger switch located there. Or, you may find a magnetic switch somewhere along the refrigerator’s inside frame, around the sides or at the top of the fridge.


Other Issues
    • Automatic Ice Makers - Lift the hanger bar to an off position before Shabbos or Yom Tov to ensure that nothing is activated by removing ice.
    • Ice and Cold Water Dispensers - Should not be used on Shabbos or Yom Tov because it directly turns on a valve and/or motor.
    • Motion Detectors - Are problematic for Shabbos and Yom Tov because the refrigerator is illuminated when one approaches it.


Recommendations

Air Conditioners:

Room Air Conditioner Units with Electronic Controls
    • May stay off after return from a power failure until manually reset.
    • May also pose a problem when using timers (Shabbos clocks): the unit will turn off as set, but will not turn back on at the set time unless manually reset.


Recommendations
    • Contact the manufacturer for information on which models may have this feature.


News
    • Star-K is pleased to announce that in response to our suggestions, GE has modified its 2004 (and later) electronic room air conditioners so that they will now return to their default position. This means that on Shabbos and Yom Tov, the air conditioners will still function after being off due to a power outage or use with a Shabbos timer.



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