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issue: December 2008 APPLIANCE Magazine

Europe Report
IFA 2008 Berlin

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Paul Roggema, Europe correspondent

 European OEMs used their new stage to debut energy-saving innovations.

IFA Berlin’s first edition of Home Appliances @ IFA was widely regarded as a success. Trade visitors liked the combination of brown goods (consumer electronics, which are the staple of IFA) and white goods appliances. Consumer attendees were more than willing to stop by the appliance makers for a cooking demonstration or a free cappuccino.

It was expected that BSH would launch a heat pump dryer in response to other such appliances already marketed by competitor Electrolux, but BSH topped expectations with an innovative and unique self-cleaning heat exchanger. Customers do not like to do appliance maintenance, but energy use goes up when lint plugs the exchanger. Both are very good reasons for this feature, and it is easy to explain on the retail floor. BSH claims energy savings up to 40%, and all this in a convenient 7-kg capacity. The different temperature parameters allow for a lower drying temperature, compared with an air-to-air condenser dryer.

A second innovation was the new dishwasher absorption drying feature using zeolite. During drying, moisture is absorbed into this natural mineral, to shorten the drying time and allow for a lower water temperature during the last rinsing. This reduces overall energy use by 15%. Read more about zeolite dishwasher drying at: ApplianceMagazine.com/content/2090

A third BSH innovation was somewhat harder to see. A new upright freezer requires 40% less power by its use of vacuum insulation panels. And BSH already provides an outstanding range of A++ cooling appliances. Vacuum panels seem to be the most effective solution at the moment for achieving excellent insulation while retaining the present standard measurements for appliances.

But specialists admitted that BSH is not sure if this is the future of insulation technology. The price is high and savings potential is limited as the energy consumption of cooling and freezing appliances is already quite low.


Miele Revives Dual-Feed Appliances

Happily, ultrapremium brand Miele reintroduced an important energy-saving product: a washer with dual water inlet. Americans might be surprised that this is seen as a novelty, but remember that European washers typically only have a cold water inlet with built-in electric heating. Europe’s 230-V electric voltage allows for this.

Another Miele energy-saving feature on all models is a 20°C program, to be combined with selected detergents. This is almost like washing with cold water—also unusual in Europe.

Miele also presented a new heat pump dryer. “Our heat pump dryer uses just 1.8 kWh in 104 minutes, compared with 3.3 kWh and 90 minutes for a comparable condenser model,” explains Michael Endt, product manager, laundry. “All components (evaporator, condenser) are new except for the compressor.”


Raising the Bar by Reducing Water Use

In dishwashing, a new milestone was announced by Miele: a new appliance uses just 8 L of water for a full machine cycle. Most competitors still use at least 10 L.

In cooking, the Con@ctivity feature enables the hood to react automatically to hob (cooktop) settings—venting doesn’t wait until steam and vapors start to rise. Communication between the hob and hood happens over power lines.

The existing large-capacity MasterCool cooling and freezing modules were first presented in Europe. Called Independence in the United States, they are far too large for most European houses, as the heights are 30 and 36 in. (fully integrated). Design is very contemporary, with German understatement. The interior is illuminated with halogen lights. In some markets, Miele offers RemoteVision, a servicing system allowing remote monitoring of the fridge.

In the CombiSet line of half-width cooking modules (29 or 38 cm), an interesting new Salamander unit is available from Miele. It has an infrared heater to heat downwards (keep your cooked meals or plates hot, make a crème brûlée). The heater, well known in professional kitchens and normally quite bulky, lowers itself in the countertop.


Cooling with Liebherr

Many insiders view Liebherr as Europe’s innovation leader in home refrigeration. It may not be the largest, but it does have a wide product line, especially in high-end, low-energy models. The company confirmed its status with several interesting new products at IFA, including some models so energy-efficient that they do not fit into the standard European classification system. One Liebherr chest freezer uses 40% less energy than Europe’s best energy efficiency label, the A++.

Another new model, called Freshness Center, is a high-end, large bottom-freezer combination with a French door design—actually quite unusual in Europe. The 90-cm width is also uncommon in Europe. The appliance is all stainless steel, has a touch screen user interface, and LED illumination. Liebherr engineered this unit to be the most sturdy and solid on the market—to justify the €3600 price tag and to distinguish it from Asian side-by-side models.


Next Year at IFA?

In spite of the success of the first edition, some wishes remain for next year’s Appliances @ IFA. The Italians were absent this time, as was France’s Groupe SEB (their Krups and Rowenta brands are important in Germany). Attendees also missed the full range of Philips small appliance products. Also absent were Spain’s Fagor and Turkey’s Arçelik and Vestel. Perhaps the success of this year’s show will convince these companies to be a part of the next edition.

The success of IFA raises speculation about Cologne’s Domotechnica fair. Will any in the industry return to Cologne? What will industry suppliers do?

Attendees should also not expect the same level of new developments at IFA 2009. Appliance OEMs can’t always plan their innovations according to the Berlin schedule. With that in mind, we can still look forward to next August. 





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