The silent kitchen: The way of the future or a remote possibility?
The kitchen is always the noisiest room in the house, but rest assured there are researchers out there doing their best to make it a much quieter space.
No, they can't do much about your noisy kids, but they are coming up with quieter technology.
Our open-plan living preference has prompted appliance companies to rethink their offerings. With the kitchen as the hub of the home and the place where we socialise, there is a growing demand for quieter appliances that won't drown out conversation.
Typical of the new technology is the Schweigen rangehood, which has a motor that is placed outside your home, so there is little or no noise inside the kitchen. Advancements in technology ensure performance isn't sacrificed by having a remote motor for your hood.
The Whispair is another model with a focus on a quiet operation. The company boasts there is no motor noise to be heard over the entire speed range. "The typical resonance or 'phase hum' found in all other rangehoods is ruled out by the design."
Waste disposers are also getting in on the act. InSinkErator says its latest Evolution models have new technology and seals that improve the grinding and significantly reduce the noise.
And instant hot water taps, designed primarily for convenience, have an added benefit – they are completely silent and they do away with the need to boil the jug. And let's face it, boiling the jug for a cuppa became a lot noisier when we all swapped plastic jugs for cool brushed stainless steel models. Even the whisper-quiet models seemed to lose their "whisper" in a very short time.
Sinks, too, are getting the treatment, and we all know how noisy it is to wash up pots, crockery and cutlery. Jodrich Apoderado of Kitchen Things says Franke stainless steel sinks have deadening pads sinks to prevent the metallic sound when water hits the bottom. "However, we find that Franke's Fragranite granite composite sinks cancel out the majority of the noise better than stainless steel."
Dishwashers are the other bane of the kitchen, and the last thing you need to hear when you want to enjoy a post-dinner conversation with guests. High-end Miele dishwashers are designed with an extra-quiet operation that you probably won't even notice.
Refrigerators can also be noisy – they can make the oddest noises reminiscent of a clucking chook. The solution? "An integrated version will be a lot quieter due to their added insulation," says Apoderado.
What about cooking appliances? New technology is working here as well. Neff ovens, for example, have Circotherm technology, which is distinguished by its quiet fan operation. And modern induction hobs are completely silent and fast, so cooking time is reduced.
But there is one noise in the kitchen that's ramping up, just as the others drop away, and that's electronic beeping. It seems these days everything beeps – your dishwasher, oven and microwave all beep to tell you they've finished; your refrigerator beeps if you leave the door open; your smoke alarm will beep when the battery gets low (not a bad thing), and then there are all the beeps and pings from everyone's phones.
For the silent kitchen, it seems we can only go so far.