Plans, Drafting & Design

tiny house appliances

Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven Review


I actually got this deluxe toaster oven after three failed attempts at a Kitchen Aid toaster. The Kitchen Aid toaster was the first “fancy” toaster I ever bought, and it was terrible. It broke three times, from the same defect, in a three year period and after the third replacement, I decided to let Kitchen Aid keep its overpriced, defective toaster and opted to try something new. Knowing we were about to move into a smaller space and being keen on having the ability to use a smaller oven for smaller portions anyway, I looked into toaster ovens and eventually settled on the Breville Smart Oven. It toasts bread (and bagels!), roasts, broils, bakes, has a pizza setting and a few other settings as well. You can easily adjust all the functions and it has a convection setting that can be turned off and on depending on what you are baking. I am an avid cook and baker and bake all my own breads.I was walking the other day and started thinking about how homes listed for sale are described in print. I was specifically thinking of the way that you sometimes see homes listed as including Five Appliances. (Sometimes you see numeric variations on this theme, but five is a number I see a lot). Anyway, I began thinking about our home and what appliances it contains…since it’s a home under 200 square feet, I was considering which of our appliances have made it a resoundingly pleasant 200 square feet to live in. To celebrate the end of our first year in our little house, which coincides nicely with the end of 2011, I’ve compiled a list of the Five Appliances that I think have contributed to a successful year living in a small space. If you are considering outfitting a small space, be it house, travel trailer, in-law apartment, or just a smaller sized kitchen, I hope you will find this useful.

We also routinely bake pizzas in this oven. The pizza function is nice. I have a thirteen inch baking stone that I like to bake pizzas on and this stone does fit into this oven. Barely, but it does if I want it to, and the door closes fully. Wow. That’s amazing! You can also choose to bake on the pizza pan that comes included with the oven. The pizza setting includes subsettings for frozen or fresh dough/pizzas and has an inbuilt time and temperature suggestion for each variety that you can easily adjust according to your own preferences.My biggest concern about moving into a small space was being limited to a large toaster oven for all my baking needs. But I’ve been really pleasantly surprised by the Breville. I can fit two two pound loaves of sourdough bread into the oven at a time to bake (though they come out more perfectly shaped when I cook them one at a time). The oven can hold 450 degrees beautifully, and while the baking space is indeed snug for two big loaves, they bake evenly and turn out beautifully. There’s no steam injection, but tossing a bit of water in the base works well to give me a lovely, caramelized crust and I’ve been really happy with the way this oven has performed.

Broiling works beautifully as does baking and roasting. The bagel setting I have not used, but I use the toast setting every day. I like that you can choose to toast 2-6 slices at a range of darkness, depending on what you like. You can adjust the oven rack to various heights inside the oven, which is handy if you are baking bread or other tall items like whole squash. I can’t say much against this little workhorse. It’s much more pricey than a toaster oven, but in this case, you aren’t buying a toaster oven so much as a small oven. This has been an excellent investment. It functions beautifully on every setting, it’s quiet and small and attractive with a stainless finish. It’s sturdily built and in a year and a half of at least once daily usage, I haven’t had a single problem with the machine.

I give this gem a five star rating. I think the Breville Smart Oven would suit a variety of people’s needs and can’t recommend it highly enough.

Product Review: The Max Burton 6200 Deluxe 1800-Watt Induction Cooktop

max burton.jpg

This stovetop was chosen primarily for space saving features (it’s a single burner) and for portability. We often cook when we travel so we thought this stove would both work for our little kitchen and also be a useful tool when needing a portable stove. The unit is somewhat large for a single burner stove but the sensor in the unit allows this unit to service different sized pots and pans. That for me was a big plus over our little hotplate. That unit was impossible to put a big saute pan on as the outer edges hung over the burner and would never get hot. This unit solves that problem.

While this unit has been a real plus in terms of allowing me to do all the stovetop cooking I need to do in a small space, there are actually a couple drawbacks to it. It’s a noisy unit. The fan in the device comes on every time you use it. You get used to the sound but it’s definitely a force to be reckoned with, kind of like a noisy fan. That’s the big drawback. Secondly, depending on what kind of cookware you use, an induction model can be a drawback in that only ferrous materials will work on it. That means cast iron, enameled or otherwise, and various types of (usually) higher end stainless steel covered cookware. In my case, most of my cookware was compatible with the unit so it wasn’t an issue. If you consider induction, read about whether your current cast of pots and pans will function on it, though. And a word to the would be wise from one who learned…not all stainless steel pots and pans, even expensive ones, work on this unit! And some cheap pans will surprise you. My water bath canner, a simple black enameled model, worked perfectly. So do your homework and rejoice in your accumulated knowledge of pot and pan materials.

Pluses to this unit include that it’s a single burner model that both saves space and also self adjusts to the size of the pan you are using allowing you to efficiently use several sized pots and pans. It’s energy efficient. It heats things super quickly although only requiring a 110 outlet. The burner top cools down almost immediately despite warnings to the contrary. This unit cleans up beautifully and easily. Things do not burn on to the surface of this induction model in the same way that they do on glass top stoves, which is a real plus in my book. My prior experiences trying to clean stuff off a regular glass top stove had me wishing I was substantial enough to pick up and hurl the stove out the nearest window. This unit preserves my mental peace and requires no questionable chemicals to remove residue from its surface. All in all, this has been a good fit for our needs. It’s a compact enough unit and I like the way things cook on it. I expect most induction units would have similar pluses and minuses but overall, I consider this one of the appliances that has been helpful to me in the tiny kitchen!

Product Review: The Steibel Eltron SHC 4 Point of Use Water Heater


The Steibel Eltron SHC 4 Point of Use Water Heater

Used in the FreeShare Tiny House 

Used in the FreeShare Tiny House 

This is the second water heater by Steibel Eltron that we have purchased. Stiebel Eltron is a German company and we used an on demand electric model at our self built home in Maine. They’re great machines by a quality company. When we moved into our tiny home, we needed a small water heating unit and originally went with a Bosch-Ariston GL6, which had very good reviews online. It leaked. It was replaced with another one. It leaked too. The design of the model we had just wasn’t great. We opted to return the bad heater and went back to the German made Stiebel Eltron, but in a (less than) four gallon size that fits underneath our counter tops and supplies us with a perfect amount of very hot water. The Stiebel-Eltron SHC 4 heats rapidly, noiselessly, and has a very sensitive temperature gage that lets you control how hot your water gets. It can get very hot, there are no problems with cold showers. Four gallons sounds like a very small amount of hot water, but the tank reheats in less than half an hour (it has a light that lets you know when it is actively heating). For showering comfort, we combined this water heating unit with an ultra low flow shower head from Bricor (.5 gals/min) and we are able to take nearly 15 minute showers, if we so desire. It’s a great combo and highly recommended. There are no leaks associated with the Steibel Eltron because all the water hook ups are on top of the unit rather than on the side, as with the Bosch unit. It’s also built well (and surprisingly in the EU).

I would recommend this as an area to seriously examine design as water leaks are very demoralizing, particularly if you want to have a hot shower to wash your stress away. The Stiebel Eltron has been a real winner for us in this new application. The 4 gallon unit doesn’t have a tremendous energy demand either, although if you are using a 20 or 30 amp service, like us, you might want to give it its own line of electricity. We originally hooked up the oven and the water heater on the same circuit and had the breaker pop, so we rewired. Just a thought if the situation applies to you!