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Inappropriate Technology

September 17, 2016

New technology can help in many ways, and can for example save energy and reduce harmful environmental impact. But this is not always the case; oversophisticated products can be difficult to use, difficult and expensive to maintain and therefore likely to be scrapped too early. It seems unlikely that government will do anything to curb manufacturers’ excesses; it is up to consumers, when buying appliances to be much more canny about ensuring they can be quickly and easily repaired.

An example of this is an electric cooker with ceramic hob and ‘touch screen’ controls. Cookers with ceramic hobbs are easy to clean, responsive, and likely to be energy efficient. Some come with simple control knobs and are likely to be cheaper than those with ‘touch screen’ controls. The latter suffer from the following disadvantages:

  • It takes time to learn how to use the controls. The elderly and partially sighted may well find them impossible to use.
  • If for any reason the power needs to be disconnected you will find on restoring power you cannot use the hob until the clock has been reset, and you may need to find the manual for that.
  • If something goes wrong it can be more difficult to diagnose the fault than with a simpler control system. You may lose the use of any part of the cooker rather than just (say) the oven. It may be that only engineers trained by the manufacturer can put things right, You are stuck with a particular repairer who can over charge and take over a month to fix things (two weeks to attend and another three to order the part and fix it).
  • Ease of maintenance should be a major consideration in choosing a cooker. This is often not thought of by consumers. Even ‘Which’ magazine does not appear to cover this. So what should you do to check this out before purchase:
    • a. Ask the manufacturer what options you have if you need the cooker to be repaired when out of warranty.
    • b. ask your local repair man what he or she thinks
    • c. Look on the manufacturer’s website to see if there is a detailed servicing manual that can be downloaded – a ‘user manual’ is not enough. To this before purchase – manuals relating to older models tend to be withdrawn.
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