Slide-in ranges have been a staple of the kitchen industry and my remodeling projects for over 4 decades. On a very recently completed job, it came to light that the Whirlpool corporation, without notice or apparent care for long-established industry norms, is now actively advertising what are effectively freestanding ranges as slide-in ranges! They have morphed slide-in ranges and free standing ranges into one range by simply waving their hands and saying a lot of nonsense and advertising gibberish about how much more convenient and easy to install their new slide in range is. To make it a slide-in you simply apply their peal and stick slide in accessory to the countertop to make it look like a slide-in. Really? Peel and Stick? What trash. How stupid do they think the public and Kitchen Professionals are?
Despite their advertising that this accessory is readily available, I challenge you to find that accessory. It is in their catalog, but good luck getting one. I tried to buy one just to see how bad it really looked and include a picture in this article, but none of my appliance suppliers said they could order it. I then went to the KitchenAid website to order this accessory direct from them. The part is there on the site, but when you click ADD to Cart, nothing happens. So you can’t even buy this part directly from the manufacture. Without this trim kit accessory, this “Slide in Range” is nothing more than a “free-standing range”, with a deceptively misleading name.
This move affects the entire Whirlpool product line, KitchenAid, JennAir, and all the others. For decades, KitchenAid was my top choices for high quality good value appliances, but no more.
What is a Slide-in Range?
A slide-in range is a range designed to slide in between cabinets and provide a built-in look, whereas freestanding ranges can be installed independently of cabinetry. Key characteristics of a slide-in range’s design are:
- Unfinished sides (as they will never be seen, unlike a freestanding model whose sides can be visible)
- Controls on the front and no backguard
- A flange (or a lip) that overlaps the countertop. The lip has a gasket under it so the gasket seals the joint between the range and the countertop.
There is one other less significant factor that typifies a slide-in range. When fully installed, the front of the range only sticks out past the countertop face a few inches while many—not all—freestanding ranges protrude further.
Of the above characteristics, the primary factor that distinguishes a slide-in range from a freestanding range is the flange around the sides and back of the top surface.
What is the purpose of that lip or flange?
A slide-in range is meant to be installed by raising the legs on the range to a height that puts the lip above the top of the countertop, sliding it all the way into place, then lowering the legs until the flange touches the countertop. This results in a firm seal between the countertop and the flange, which prevents crumbs, liquids, and other small items from run down the sides of the range and cabinets to the floor and collect in places you can’t get to or clean.
The pictures above are of a Bosch slide-in range. If you look at the close up, you can see it was designed such that no notches were needed in the countertop and this model does not need a piece of stone behind the range because it was designed to go right up against the wall.
As shown in the two pictures below of an older model KitchenAid real slide-in range, note in the close up that there were no notches or special cuts needed in the countertop to install this range. The depth of this old KitchenAid did require a small piece of countertop behind the range between the range and the wall. The only calculation needed was to take the depth of the countertop and subtract the depth of the range to the front counter stop, to find the size of the countertop needed behind the range, (normally 1 to 2″). If your installers can not do that simple math, do you really have the right installer for your project?
On very occasions where the countertop edge was thicker than normal or a very ornate edge used, a notch could be used at the front of the counter to make the transition from the counter edge to the range look better. Determining the need or location of that notch was not rocket science, and it was not needed for the majority of applications with that model KitchenAid range. Many other manufacturers who make slide-in ranges have modified their flanges so that notching of the front edge is not necessary at all.
The two pictures below are close-ups of our featured picture at the top of this article, a new range that KitchenAid calls a slide-in. These close ups show clearly this range does not have a flange that sits on the countertop as you can see me sliding a business card down the space between the range and the counter and cabinet. That is the biggest difference between a slide-in and a free standing range! How can Whirlpool (and all of its subsidiary brands) have the arrogance and disrespect of industry history and definition to claim differently? They only do it because they are so big they think they can. They use the BIG LIE concept in their advertising, distort reality stating, a lie that most people can not understand, that all old slide-in ranges were too difficult to install, then wrap it with another lie that they made this change to make this new model easier to install. This is all a big lie, because THE OLD MODEL WAS NOT DIFFICULT TO INSTALL.
Why Would They Do This?
Ownership that actually cares about quality, customer service, and reputation is almost non-existent in the appliance industry today. All of the old companies like KitchenAid (now a Whirlpool owned brand) that once took pride in and marketed their business on the reputation and quality of their product offerings and customer service have been purchased by larger corporations that are run by what I call “Bean Counters”. These Bean Counters range from top level corporate CFO’s and CEO’s to production facility managers, who all get their bonuses by making more money for the company, by increasing profit margins wherever they can.
All “Bean Counters” care about is MONEY. Their only concern is to maximize profits by cutting any possible costs while raising prices as high as they can. “Bean Counters” by nature are short-term thinkers.
The range that called my attention to this false advertising practice was a KitchenAid KSGB900ESS, a product that features Whirlpool’s Flex Install (FIT) System technology, which boasts simple and cost effective installations without any required measuring or cutting for builders and remodelers. But if you take a close look at their marketing case study, which they put a tremendous amount of money into produce because the prettier they wrap the package the more likely you will not question if they are lying, you’ll note:
“Installation of our previous slide-in ranges required extra steps, which we aimed to remove, such as bull nosing countertops. By removing the overlapping cooktop and extending the depth of the new slide-in ranges, builders and remodelers are no longer required to carry out those additional installation steps.”
That statement by Whirlpool is categorically not true as evidenced by the pictures above of the old KitchenAid real slide in and the new Bosch Slide in pictures. There was no extra milling of the front edge or notching of the front, in any of those pictures, and in most installations I have done in the last 15 years, the only added item needed was a small 2″ piece of countertop behind the old KitchenAid range for the flange to rest on. Like Bosch model in the pictures above and many other manufacturers their new model does go all the way to the wall now allowing for a large oven and cooktop surface, which are good improvements. But without a viable flange to truly make this oven a Slide-In they are just removing a needed product from the market but trying to keep us buying it by deception on their part.
In other words, they removed the characteristics of a slide-in range (the flange) and gave it those of a freestanding range (extended depth) in order to create a product line that offers a dumbed down one-size-fits-all approach to installation. While this reads well on paper, let’s take a moment to unpack this:
- FIT System installations make Whirlpool’s products more appealing to commercial builders whom also subscribe to the bean counter mentality of cutting all possible costs even if it sacrifices the quality or function of the final product.
- The FIT System also encourages the lack of knowledge of proper installation techniques. Imagine working with a remodeler who can’t install your range because it doesn’t use Whirlpool’s simplified installation system — five years down the line, this may very well become the norm.
- It also allows the manufacturer to sell additional accessories/installation kits to provide the functionality of the flange a proper slide-in range would have had out of the box. If you can find them. I tried and could not.
At face value, Whirlpool’s FIT System reads like an innovation and a natural progression of technology. In reality, they’re changing established industry conventions in order to benefit themselves while pitching it as a benefit to builders, remodelers, and homeowners. They have in essence taken a needed product off the market.
As a homeowner do you really want a peel and stick accessory attached to your countertop? How long before the adhesive wears down from water and spills or cleaning of your countertop and range? This accessory is most likely TRASH, plain and simple. And I have to ask, “Why is this accessory not even available!”
Why should homeowners who want built-in appliances be denied those appliances because Whirlpool has unilaterally decided all installers are not smart enough to install them? There absolutely are installers who don’t have a clue about installing and planning for built-in appliances, but there also are many installers who are very capable of planning and executing for built-in customized appliance installations.
That is why we need both built in appliances and free standing, so consumers and professionals have a choice.
You also have a choice of who to install them. If you want built-in customized appliances make, sure you higher a smarter installer, If you want free-standing, install it yourself or hire any installer.
Whirlpool needs to be held accountable for its shameful indifference for historical industry definition and deceptive advertising of this product as a slide-in. It is necessary for industry professionals and the general public to start sending the message that enough is enough! Whirlpool has crossed a line with this choice of direction in its products. Tell them you don’t like it. Tell them you will buy other brands if they don’t offer products you need and want. There are other companies to buy from. KitchenAid is no longer a go to brand for me, the value is no longer there.
If you are an industry professional who cares about your profession or a consumer who wants more choices and options available, not less, I urge you to contact Whirlpool to let them know what you think. We can make a big difference one complaint at a time.
Post Followup: Meeting with Whirlpool management
Here are some links where you can tell them how you feel: