You think about the motor and resulting power when you buy a car because you probably know an underpowered car isn’t going to get you very far. It also comes up when you buy a lawn mower because it can mean the difference between being outside in the heat for hours and getting a quick cut done and out of the way. I never really thought about a motor in the kitchen, though, until I got my first stand mixer.
The size and power of the motor controls what kinds of things you can make with your mixer. An underpowered mixer can mean it won’t get through heavy doughs you may want to make. On the other hand, a high-powered motor can be really expensive, and you don’t want to get stuck paying for something you don’t really need.
Motors for stand and hand mixers come in a crazy variety of wattages, from 200 watts for a simple, not-entirely-powerful hand mixer to more than 600 watts for a crazy powerful stand mixer. The higher end of that is professional grade, but some non-professional heavy duty bakers still need it. If you do, it just means you have to be ready to pay for it.
High wattage on a poorly constructed mixer isn’t going to do much for you, so make sure to read through the reviews written by real users of the machines. Think about what you make, how often you’ll be using the mixer in question, and what kind of wear and tear that baking is going to put on the machine’s moving parts. If the answer is “not a lot”, then lower power should be just fine. If the answer is, “I’m not sure,” or “I’m going to beat the heck out of this thing,” then you really want more power to make sure you get your money’s worth.
I Can’t Hear You!
Keep in mind, however, more highly powered motors tend to be louder. That’s not true across the board, but you do have to remember motors make noise and with great power comes the very real possibility of great amounts of noise. If you’re really averse to loud droning, you will want to read through reviews to make sure you find a mixer with a properly constructed motor that can work at a purr. I will tell you, though, there aren’t many of them. If you can manage to work despite the noise, then you can deal well with high power.
But now here’s the kicker: lower powered motors aren’t automatically quieter. In fact, some of them are just poorly constructed and clunky, and meaning they make a heck of a lot of noise even though they don’t have a lot of power. It doesn’t make much sense, I know, but it can be really annoying if you thought you were getting something quiet. Again, this is where reviews are your friend.
More Power For More Convenience
I didn’t make a lot of bread, but my old professional-grade mixer was able to knead the stuffing out of it without any input from me. That meant I could be cooking or baking while doing a thousand other things because I didn’t have to actively babysit the dough. It was so convenient to know the power was there to get the end result I wanted even if I couldn’t do it by hand myself. I ended up with a lot of tasty treats I didn’t really have to work that hard for, and it was super convenient.
On the other hand of convenience, there is the space and mobility factor. If you’re short on space, it’s going to be much more convenient to get what you need with a small hand mixer than it will be to take up valuable cabinet and counter space with a stand mixer. That’s a personal preference, though. I didn’t get my stand mixer until I was in a house with my dream kitchen because I didn’t have room for one in my apartment before that.
Again, these are all matters of personal preference, and you have to decide what you need and what you really want, and what you can live without. Power can get through just about everything and make it much easier to get what you want, but that doesn’t mean you need it. Noise is a big consideration for me, but I knew that if I wanted power, I was going to have to deal with it. The convenience factor is also a major consideration, and, though I like to have both, I consider the convenience of my stand mixer to be well worth it because I’m always multitasking. What about you?