Hansgrohe Metro Faucet

Hansgrohe Metro Faucet
The Review

Hansgrohe Metro Faucet
Hansgrohe Metro Faucet

To understand why my wife and I were in the market for a Gooseneck Pull Down Kitchen Faucet, a little history is in order: Number one, our old, Arwa Kitchen Faucet with the pull-out sprayer was leaking from the inside. It needed to be replaced and good riddance!. The Arwa Faucet came with the house along with our Kindred Sink, and while it looked nice it was a nuisance. I replaced the cartridge on it couple of years ago and finding service for it was next to impossible. I had to do a Google image search just to identify the unfamiliar brand, Arwa. I was fortunate enough to locate an exact match of the image on Google and called the service center in Tucson for a $29 replacement cartridge. I never felt comfortable dealing with a kitchen faucet that cannot be purchased or serviced locally. While I liked the faucet overall, I didn’t care for its low height clearance which made cleaning big pots and pans more of a challenge in our deep sink. The attached hand sprayer was powerful, nice and convenient, but wouldn’t it make more sense to have a pull-down sprayer in a large, deep sink? Yes, it would. A gooseneck faucet with a pull down sprayer would be the perfect solution. Delta and American Standard Faucets sounded like good brands to look for, so I set out to find one. You’re probably wondering how I got my hands on two different brands of Kitchen Faucets for review in such a short time.  Before I begin ranting and raving about American Standard Faucets, let me tell you about removing the old Kitchen Faucet.

Removing old Kitchen Faucet to Install American Standard Faucet

Removing the old Kitchen Faucet was by far the most difficult part of the job. In fact, I was eventually able to install and uninstall two different faucets in less than half the time it took to remove the Arwa Faucet. I’ll say one thing for American Standard Faucets – they seem very straight forward. But removing the old one? Argh! To be fair, my past failure was mostly due to inexperience on my part. There is no easy way to get behind your kitchen sink with a crescent wrench or pair of channel-locks. After an hour of frustration I went to my good friend Google and discovered an even better friend – the Basin Wrench. The $12.00 Basin Wrench I bought at Harbor Freight made quick and easy work of the traditional, kitchen faucet nut behind the sink. Next, the challenge was getting the copper water lines pulled out of the nut and through the sink hole. Unlike the two, new faucets, the Arwa used copper lines instead of the flexible tubes which would have made things much easier. I eventually had to cut through the hand sprayer line in order to get the rest of the lines squeezed through the nut and the entire assembly pulled right out. My difficulties were over – or so I thought.
Next, I will explain how the misfortune of buying a defective product on my first try, afforded me the opportunity to do this product comparison review on American Standard Faucets vs the Hansgrohe kitchen faucet.
We’ll start in chronological order, beginning with the Fairbury model by American Standard Faucets.

American Standard Faucets

Fairbury Model

american-standard-fairbury-faucet
American Standard Fairbury Faucet

I have always had good vibes about the American Standard Brand and American Standard Faucets. So, while looking at kitchen faucets at Home Depot, the American Standard Fairbury Gooseneck faucet with pull-down sprayer caught my eye with its low, $138.00 price tag and attractive, elegant looks. The Fairbury not only looked nice, but seemed well made. For the price, what could wrong? I decided to buy it on the spot and take it home. I expected American Standard Faucets of any type to cost twice this much. Only one problem after I took it home. It turned out the water lines were too short, so I did have to buy a couple of adapters for $6.50 each, bringing my total cost up to $151.00 – still a bargain. Just in case, I would read some user opinions before installing it in case I decided to return. To my amazement, the opinions were mostly all very favorable. Is it just the brand? People seem to love American Standard Faucets in general, but it goes deeper than that. Users marveled over the performance and ease of use and installation of this particular model.  Only two, unfortunate Fairbury users reported a problem. The plastic threading inside the neck of the faucet broke, causing them to have to return it after a very short period of use. I decided to give it a go. It turns out that I wasn’t as lucky as the unfortunate users. For me, the threading inside the neck broke as soon as I tightened the nut to the base of the faucet. I kept wondering why I couldn’t get it completely tight before I realized that the inside of the neck had become loose. It was getting late at night and I didn’t want to get ready for work the next morning without a useable kitchen faucet. I rigged the Fairbury up so it was snug enough to use on a temporary basis until it could be returned and replaced with a working unit. While the unit was installed, I was able to get a very favorable impression of the performance, looks and operation of the American Standard Fairbury faucet. The strength of the water flow was excellent and easy to control with the single handle. The Fairbury’s pull-down hand-sprayer is a joy to use. You can choose between regular or a shower-needle type spray with one button. Another button will pause the water flow altogether. That’s a nice feature I wasn’t expecting. The Fairbury was so enjoyable to use that I really had think long and hard about whether or not I should take another risk with the apparent design flaw of the plastic thread construction on the inside of the neck. With a full weekend ahead of me, I decided to take a look at the Hansgrohe Faucet from Costco.

Hansgrohe Metro Faucet by Costco

A name like Hansgrohe going against American Standard Faucets? Are you kidding me? As  luck would have it, both of my local Costco store offer a Gooseneck, Pull-Down Hand-Sprayer Kitchen Faucet for the low, low price of $158.00. With a Google Search on my iPhone, I quickly noted that the same product sells for $219.00 at Amazon. I bought the Hansgrohe Metro Faucet and took it home to compare it to the American Standard Fairbury model I would be returning. I didn’t have to get very far to immediately notice a huge difference in quality. The Hansgrohe feels twice as heavy as the Fairbury and for good reason. Unlike the Fairbury, the Hansgrohe Metro Facuet has solid copper threading inside the neck instead of plastic. Also, the Hansgrohe comes with long enough water lines that no extensions are needed. I was sold. In just 20 minutes, I had the Fairbury removed and the new, Hansgrohe installed! Though both faucets install the same way, it should be noted that the Hansgrohe comes with much better instructions and includes a base which makes a sturdier fit to the bottom of the kitchen granite. Like the Fairbury, the Hansgrohe Metro provides a very strong flow of water; 2.25GPM according to the manual. The Hansgrohe uses a u-shaped handle which I prefer slightly over the single handle of the Fairbury. While the operation of the Hansgrohe Pull-Down Sprayer feels freer and more robust than the Fairbury, it does lack the convenient pause button. Also, the Hansgrohe, has a rather weak flow of water from the hand-sprayer, probably just due to having larger spray holes. At any rate, not a big deal, it’s plenty powerful enough and has a very long reach to either of the bottom sides of our sink. One other thing in the Fairbury’s favor was that my wife thought it looked nicer. Neither its appearance nor hand-sprayer performance made either of us think twice about removing the Hansgrohe. It is a far better product, overall. It just feels like the right choice and considering the $13.00 requirement of extension water lines for the Fairbury, it’s only $7.00 cheaper than the Hansgrohe. The Hansgrohe Metro from Costco represents a great value in Kitchen Faucets with Pull-Down Sprayers and wins this contest, hands-down.

Hansgrohe Kitchen Faucet (9 out of 10)

  • Materials and workmanship: 10
  • Performance and Operation: 9
  • Features: 7
  • Value: 10

American Standard Fairbury Kitchen Faucet (7.75 out of 10)

by American Standard Faucets

  • Materials and workmanship: 6
  • Performance and Operation: 8
  • Features: 8
  • Value: 9

I prefer the Hansgrohe. In fact, I have no partiality to the brand. My plumber actually recommended Delta or American Standard Faucets. I chose the Hansgrohe Metro Faucet because it was better quality. Nothing against American Standard Faucets, but the Metro was the clear winner.

Update – Summer 2014

After two years of flawless operation, our Hansgrohe Metro faucet began linking under the cabinet. The water was coming out of the flex pipe where the weight attaches to hold down and position the sprayer into the faucet. The good news is that Hansgrohe stood behind their lifetime warranty 100%. The bad news is that a broken, leaking faucet cannot wait. We had to replace our Hansgrohe with a new faucet while we waited for the replacement part. The part arrived in just three days. We installed the Hangrohe at my parents house where it is once again operating flawlessly and makes an attractive addition to their kitchen.

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Best Led Flashlight

best led flashlight
Inova

Inova is the new leader in flashlights.  Well, I Remember when Mag lite flashlights hit the scene back in 1979. They were considered the most rugged, well-built, brightest flashlight you could buy for your money. Now, they are to old for Product Review Ratings to even review them, anymore.  I held off buying one many years because I thought they were too expensive.  It wasn’t until I became a home owner that I realized how important it was to have at least one good quality flashlight around the house. I bought the large black Maglite that uses Double-D Batteries. Unfortunately, the Maglite never lived up to my expectations. It looks and feels like a heavy duty flashlight, but doesn’t seem very effective at the one thing I bought it for: Bright light. I also own one of the smaller Maglites and was never all that impressed with it either. I’ve had other, cheaper flashlights that produce brighter light and when I need a lot of light fast, I use a big, candle powered lantern flashlight. I bought a two-pack of small, LED flashlights at my local Harbor Freight store.  Good lights, yes, but probably not the best. They were great at first, but stopped working after a few months. So, what do you do about a better flashlight?  You go look for the best, and I think I’ve found it.

There is nothing more aggravating than not being able to find a good flashlight at home when you need one. The shelf life of your typical AA, AAA, C and D batteries is not very good. The best LED is not only brighter, but will give you considerably longer battery life. Consequently, unless you are replacing the batteries every 2 months, chances are good that flash light kept on your shelf will probably not be very bright by the time you get around to needing to use it. How stressful is it to not have plenty of the right kind of batteries on hand when you need them? When it comes to LED flashlight technology, reliability is at least as important as brightness and lumens.

Technology Behind a Better LED Flashlight

The highest quality LED flashlights produce a far sharper, brighter more focused beam of light. Even the old standby Maglite has gone to LED flashlights. The better ones uses 123A Lithium Batteries which have a 10-Year shelf life. If you buy the best, you won’t have to wonder how strong the light is the next time you use it. The great thing about the Lithium Batteries is that once they’re done, they are really done. They don’t gradually get dimmer like traditional batteries, leaving you wonder how much light you will have left. Generally, the lithium batteries give you 2-4 hours of consistently bright lighting power. Lithium 123a Batteries are expensive if you buy them from the store. Get Lithium Batteries Cheap – Way cheaper than what you’d pay at Walgreens, Target, Walmart, etc.. below.  I wouldn’t mind paying a tad more for the best led flashlight, anyway.

Inova

Strong Case for Best LED Flashlight

The brand Inova and Maglite make a similar LED Flashlight.  Both are well constructed with impact resistance materials and both claim to be the best led flashlight. After some research, I’ve chosen the Inova X03 Flashlight as the one that trumps all others. The Inova X03 is made from an aerospace aluminum material which is both impact and water resistant. The LED light is electronically controlled for precise directional light and has a 50,000 hour life. On the Inova X03 is a 3-Position switch where the end-cap is located. You can keep it locked to off, turned on momentarily, or turned on all the time. This is a well constructed flashlight; weighing only 5.57 ounces. Inova advertised that the X03 has an effective range of 457 feet and 4 hours of battery run time. Real world users have reported impressive results of up to 200 feet or so and say the run time is closer to 2 hours. I’ve searched Amazon and other websites for real user reviews on the X03 and have not found a user rating below 4 stars. Over 50 users, give the Inova X03 a rating of 4.5 stars. I am going to have at least one of the Inova X03 kept on the shelf in my den next to a box of the cheap Lithium 123a Batteries.

RAV4 Review

RAV4 Reviews
Black Toyota RAV4

You’ve seen RAV4 after RAV4 Review for the last 5 years, now that I’ve had a chance to drive one for a while, it’s time for me to weigh-in and add additional insight to the many other reviews on the RAV models. To begin with, I leased a 2011 Toyota RAV4 for a couple of reasons:

  • The Lease Deals on Toyota RAV4s are phenomenal
  • The RAV4 V6 Model provides outsanding horsepower for roughly the same gas mileage as other, less inspiring 4 Cylinder SUVs for the same price: For example, the Honda CRV.
  • I read the RAV4 Reviews from 2006-2011

It’s what You Like

While these were the two factors that led me to look this SUV, the reviews from Magazines and Consumers convinced me I’d be happy driving one for the next 3 years. When the current generation of the RAV was released 5 or 6 years ago, I test-drove a 4 Cylinder model at my local dealer before I even looked at any of the brand new reviews. Like all Toyotas, the RAV4 had a solid, quiet ride with great handling. . What I didn’t care for was the anemic power of the 170HP 4 Cylinder engine and the outrageously high lease payment from $400 – $500 per month. The RAV reviews consistently fail to mention that the upgrade in price from the 4-Cyl to the 6-Cyl is not too steep and uses up very little extra gas. The salesman at the dealership accurately stated that because the new model had just been released, the resale value had not yet been established resulting in a higher than average lease payment for a car in the $23,000 to $27,000 range. This was something the very positive review would soon help. Raising the demand and raising the residual value. I decided to wait for those new reviews to pile up before going back for another look.

Personal Experience

Five years later, the 2006, 2007 and 2008 rendition of the RAV4 is now at the end of its lifespan. For the last 18 months, 2009, 2010 and 2011 RAV4s have had some of the best lease deals going. I opted for the 269HP Base V6 model. The Base Model MSRP is around $25,460. Mine came with the upgraded value package which adds 6-Disc, in-dash CD Changer, 17” Wheels, Rear Privacy Glass, Full Size Spare, Day Time Running Lamps, Tonneau Cover and some other minor accessories. Something you don’t see in RAV4 Reviews, is too much of an explanation on these confusing options, but I digress. This brought the MSRP up to around $27,000 including dealer handling fees. My Lease payment is $280.00 a month before taxes and with nothing down. Actually, I got a check back from the dealer for $547.00 to cover the termination fee and last payment on my 2009 Subaru Legacy Lease. With the check figured into the deal, my real Average Monthly Lease Payment is only $265.00. As the Monthly Car Lease website indicates, a 36 month lease payment for under $300.00 is almost unheard of for a $27,000 Car. A 2011 Subaru Outback V6 model equipped and priced the same, would put me in the $400 a month payment range. There is something else the RAV4 Reviews don’t tell you. They make amazing Lease Deals.  I love Subaru, but didn’t want to pay that much extra for one. And gets even better than that: The dealer threw in a 24-month maintenance package which includes free tire rotation and oil changes. That’s with the expensive, Mobile 1 Oil, too! So, now that you know what the car is going to cost me to drive for the next three years, it’s time to tell you how it drives and what I like and don’t like about the 2011 Toyota RAV4. Rav4 Reviews aside, here is my take.

What I Like about the RAV4

  • V6 Performance
  • Sporty Handling
  • 6-Disk CD Changer, MP3 and Auxillary
  • Great Gas Mileage for a V6
  • Cargo and Storage Capacity
  • AWD / Traction Control
  • Sporty Looks

What I Don’t Like about the RAV4

  • Lacking in Features and Amenities
  • Some unknown rattles here and there
  • Too many RAV4s already on the Road

Performance and Fuel Economy

By far, the most impressive thing about this car is the engine. The 269HP not only feels lightening-quick from 0-60, but is very smooth and quiet doing it. The power of the engine and transmission work flawlessly together to give you very quick, smooth and quiet acceleration. When the RAV4 is at a stop, I can barely hear the engine running. Here’s what really sets the performance version of the RAV4 apart from the competition. It’s V6 engine gets reasonable gas mileage; 19/26MPG. This is only a MPG or two below what the 4 Cylinder RAV4s and Honda CRVs are getting. With 100% city driving, my wife is averaging around 21MPG to and from the school where she works. Acuras, Mazdas and Foresters use a turbo engine in their performance models. Not only do they get worse gas mileage, but they require the significantly more expensive premium fuel. Due to such lousy, cold, snowy weather, I have not had the opportunity to drive the RAV4 west on I70 to the mountains of Colorado.

Cargo, Storage Capacity and Interior Features

The RAV4 not only hold a great deal of cargo for an SUV this size, but it is easy to get your cargo in there. The rear seats fold flat in a heart beat. Underneath, the back floorboard, by the lift gate is a lid which reveals a hidden, 12” high compartment for storage of small items.(Very Handy). I also love the size of cup holders. The front ones even come with an extra attachment for holding skinnier sized glasses and cups. The are roomy side pockets by each seat, and a extra-large, two-compartment console between the driver and passenger. The in-dash, 6-Disk CD Player was simple to use the first time I tried it. One of my 6 disks was a collection of MP3 songs which the CD Player had no problem recognizing. There is also an auxiliary jack for connecting the stereo to your MP3 Player or iPhone/iPod, etc. The controls are very easy to learn. I’m not an XM Radio fan, but it is equipped with a 3 month trial. The Sunglasses compartment above is nice to have.

AWD/Traction Control and Handling

The RAV4 steering wheel feels very good in your hands when you’re on the road. If not for the higher clearance, this SUV handles very much like a nimble, mid-sized car. I’ve had the good fortune of being able to use it in three snow storms so far, and the RAV4 really does well on ice. While, the RAV4 is AWD, with the push of a button it can be locked into 4WD mode so both axels turn simultaneously in situations that require extra traction. V6 RAVs are also equipped with a hill-descent control button which I have yet to try.

Sporty Looks

Some have referred to the RAV4 as being somewhat bland. I thought the minor cosmetic changes which began with the 2009 models, make it a pretty attractive Compact SUV. I much prefer its looks to the Honda CRV and those crazy tall vertical tail lights in back.

What is the RAV4 Missing?

There are a few things I really miss from my previous 2009 Subaru Legacy SE:
The built-in Homelink Garage Door Opener was very useful. Not only does the RAV4 lack this feature, but the thickness of the sun visor makes it impossible for my garage genie door opener to clip to it. I have to keep it stored in front inside the little coin change holder where it’s difficult to reach. I’m surprised that the RAV4 doesn’t come with a trip computer for telling how much gas you’ve used and how much gas is left in the tank. Fortunately, the RAV4 is equipped with somewhat of a crude trip computer which provides you with the outdoor temperature, gas mileage and instant gas mileage. My favorite feature of all that I dearly miss from the similarly priced Legacy SE was the automatic engine starter. Don’t underestimate the convenience of being able to safely start and warm up your car on a -10 degree day. Now, here’s the biggest complaint from my wife so far: The RAV4 does not have automatic headlights. The salesman told us that the lights will shut-off by themselves if left on too long, but I have yet to test his accuracy on that claim. The Daytime Running Lights do provide you with some additional safety in the event you forget to turn your lights on, but the downside is that they can fool you into believing you’ve actually turned your headlights on. Gotta be careful with the headlights on this car!

Other, Minor RAV4 Quirks

I’ve noticed some very subtle vibration coming from the dash; almost like a rattle. I’ve yet to discover what is causing this. The interior of the RAV4 seems very susceptible to rattles caused by items placed within compartments and consoles. This is strange considering the V6 engine is so smooth and idles and accelerates so quietly. We’ve also noticed some squeaking of the brakes.It could be they need to be broken in, but if it continues, I will have to take it into the dealer and have it checked out.

Overall Driving Impressions: RAV4 Reviews Itself

Car and Driver, which rates the RAV4 very highly, suggests that the V6 engine might be overkill for most people. I could not disagree with them more. The V6 RAV4, which outperforms a number of sports sedans, is where this car really shines and serves its purpose on hilly mountain roads with 4 or 5 passengers and luggage. For the same price, I realize I could have leased a leather-trimmed, more fully equipped 4-Cylinder RAV4 with a few of the bells and whistles that are missing on the V6 Base Model / Value Package. I have never given it a second thought. The V6 RAV4, with its acceleration, traction, handling and high clearance gives me a feeling of confidence and authority both on wet and dry roads. All of these virtues will become even more greatly appreciated when I take the RAV4 on that first road trip. If there is one thing RAV4 Reviews and other Car Reviews don’t measure, it’s how the car feels the first time you take it up to the hills.