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btlbcc
User Rank
Gold
Re: Inexpensive often means poor quality
btlbcc   8/21/2012 11:04:05 PM
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Loadster, I had a colleague who had one of the original Amana Radar Ranges; you are right about the current draw.  But I never heard any complaints from him (or his wife!) about the oven.  Talking about kitchen appliance current draw, I have another colleague who has an induction range in his kitchen.  The temperature control seems to be some sort of zero-cross switching with relatively long on-off times, so the lights in his house are constantly dimming and brightening when the range is being used....


As for my filing down the upper hook, don't worry, I only need to take off 20-25 thou to allow it to clear the latch pawl.  That leaves the better part of a quarter inch to maintain latching integrity (not only are there two hooks, but they have good engagement).

I know that when I manage to release the bottom hook, but the top hook is still holding the door closed, that there is no change in the door position, so I doubt that I would have any trouble with RF leakage.  If filing the hook fails, I have the choice of scrapping the oven or pulling the door apart.  A hook assembly cut out of G10 board (without copper) should be rigid enough, but probably not worth the time to make it....

As for reinforcing the hook, actually the vertical part of the hook assembly is inside the door - completely surrouned by metal, and the hooks and their latching pawls, etc. also seem to be outside the RF zone.  So you could probably use metal to reinforce (or replace) the hook assembly.  I'm sure that the hook assembly is plastic for economical reasons, not because of RF.  I believe that the old Amana used metal latches.  If the plastic hooks were subject to RF, there's a serious possibility that they would soften, melt or even ignite during long cooking cycles.

Brooks Lyman

loadster
User Rank
Gold
Re: Inexpensive often means poor quality
loadster   8/21/2012 4:07:35 PM
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I grew up in the 70's with an Amana Radar Range that made the lights in the kitchen dim when it cycled and required its own 20 amp breaker. I've had good luck with the Sharp line of carousel microwaves over the years but I've revived my range hood Jenn-air uWave that came with the house by resoldering the interconnects on the control board which gets flexed by aggressive finger mashing. On the hooks, there must be two for UL redundancy and to verify the door is latched for microwave emission safety. I would not start filing down their clearance as you may get unintended consequences. Like a lightshow on your glasses frame if you lean in too close. You can't stiffen the vertical coupling bar with metal but I would look to reduce its flex before I would file down materials. I buy online all the time and rarely have shipping nightmare stories to relate. Don't ever buy the cheapest and you usually don't get that much better with the Audi or Lexus grade. Just something to polish and fret over.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Inexpensive often means poor quality
Rob Spiegel   8/21/2012 3:24:55 PM
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Kennish, it could be that my microwave was built before the outsourcing trend started to include appliances. There seems to be a pattern (which you identify in your posting) that many of the problems can be traced back to outsourced manufacturing.

kenish
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Inexpensive often means poor quality
kenish   8/21/2012 3:20:03 PM
NO RATINGS
@Rob- Hang onto your "golden oldie" as long as possible!  I've been a GE appliance fanboy for years.  My first GE microwave was going strong after 15 years when I sold that house.  The one in the new house was fine when I remodeled after 16 years.  The current one went 4 years but I was able to repair it.  Current reviews leave an expectation of 2-4 years.

Another observation- My GE range and dishwasher have been 100% reliable.  Both are made in Louisville.  The fridge (Mexico) and microwave (Malaysia) have been nothing but trouble.  Also, many microwaves, regardless of brand, are made in Malaysia.  There must be a gigantic magnetron factory over there!

Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Is it the plastic?
Dave Palmer   8/21/2012 3:13:58 PM
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@btlbcc: Actually, what I said was that a reinforced plastic might solve the problem of excessive flexing, but might also make the latch more likely to fail in fatigue.  I suspect that would be a much worse failure mode, since it would render the latch completely inoperable.

For what it's worth, mineral-reinforced plastics are often cheaper than their unfilled counterparts.

A couple of years ago, I was interested in a new plastic that I had read about in a trade magazine.  I called the supplier, and he came to our plant and gave a presentation.  After reviewing the information he provided us, I told him that we liked the material, but the heat deflection temperature and stiffness were too low for our application, the mold shrinkage was too high for our molds, and the price was too high for our budget.

He came back a few months later with a mineral-filled version of the same plastic.   The mineral filler increased the heat deflection temperature and stiffness, and reduced the mold shrinkage.  It also brought the price down by more than a factor of two.  The impact strength is lower, but still quite high.  Needless to say, we were very impressed.  For what it's worth, this is the grade he came up with.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Inexpensive often means poor quality
Rob Spiegel   8/21/2012 3:05:40 PM
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The idea that price point and brand have no relevance is a complaint we're hearing more often on these message boards. The fact that some brands and models have fewer complaints may be a result that fewer of them were sold. I guess I'm luck, my GE microwave has lasted many, many years without any trouble.

kenish
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Inexpensive often means poor quality
kenish   8/21/2012 2:51:42 PM
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I'm shopping for a new microwave to replace my high-end GE. The touchscreen (similar to an iPhone, not membrane keys) failed under warranty and now the replacement screen is failing due to a glass-flex circuit connection. Repairs ever 3-6 months have stopped being effective.

After lots of shopping and reading consumer reviews and info, it seems like nobody makes a reliable microwave.  I feel lucky my GE lasted 6 years of moderate use.   Brand or price point seem to be irrelevant to quality...some very high-end microwaves have numerous, bad, user reviews.

I've found 2 specific models that have fewer reliability complaints (both mid-price) so I'm going that route and will regard a microwave as a 2-4 year purchase.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Inexpensive often means poor quality
Ann R. Thryft   8/21/2012 12:31:26 PM
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Brooks, I don't use a microwave to cook, either. I don't consider that cooking. But I do use it a lot for reheating, melting or softening butter, peanut butter and honey, etc. I consider it one of my sous-chefs. So it needs to be dependable. As I wrote, until recently I bought microwave ovens at Kmart, and had only bought 2 in the last 15 years because they lasted and I don't need a lot of fancy options. Then I bought one more there for about $50 and was disgusted when it stopped working, in stages, over a couple of weeks less than 30 days after purchase. That's when I went to Amazon and had my excellent experience. Since I live way out in the country, there are no local stores that sell them, except for that Kmart.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Inexpensive often means poor quality
Ann R. Thryft   8/21/2012 12:15:50 PM
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I can think of many examples of expensive consumer products that were built of inadequate materials or poorly designed. So yes, expensive doesn't necessarily mean well built or well designed. Unfortunately, though, I can think of far more that are inexpensive and that fail, either immediately or far too quickly, because of bad design or inadequate materials. This didn't used to be the case, but in the last decade or so it seems to have become the rule in consumer products.

btlbcc
User Rank
Gold
Re: Inexpensive often means poor quality
btlbcc   8/21/2012 11:32:36 AM
NO RATINGS
Ann R. Thyft,  Actully, my experience (admittedly limited; see next paragraph) with cheap microwave ovens has been quite good; I've never had one fail to function in it's basic task.  I've given a few away because they were too small or didn't have a turntable to help equalize the heating, but never had to actually dispose of a non-functioning oven. 

The door latch problem, while annoying (and I'll eventually find time to file down that upper latch hook), has not affected the proper functioning of the oven.  That said, I am a very light user of the machine, using it for warming coffee, thawing food and similar tasks.  I prefer not to actually cook in the microwave, a personal preference.  So someone who does serious cooking in a microwave would probably soon discover all sorts of weak points - or outright failures - in the cheaper models.

If I might make a general personal comment about buying stuff online:  It's certainly one way to get a lower price on things, and I often take advantage of it.  On the other hand, one usually has to pay shipping, which on larger items can be a significant amount, and then the package gets beat up by UPS/Fedex/etc. before it gets to you (with heavier items taking a worse hit).  So often, checking out something online (those reviews are useful, and many of the online retailers post all the reviews, including the ones that mercilessly pan the product!) and then buying it at a local store (like Walmart, Target, etc.) is actually a less expensive overall and less-risky, shipping damage-wise than buying it online.


Brooks Lyman

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