Small appliance refers to a class of home appliances that are portable or semi-portable or which are used on tabletops, countertops, or other platforms. Such items are contrasted with major appliances, which are typically fixtures that cannot be easily moved. All appliances are intended to perform, enable, or assist in performing a job or changing a status, such as the humidity of a room. In this way, they can be differentiated from other portable electrical items that provide only entertainment. Some items not typically considered appliances, such as lamps, can be used as appliances if they are used to cook or warm food.
Many small appliances are powered by electricity. The appliance may use a permanently attached cord which is plugged into a wall outlet or a detachable cord. The appliance may have a cord storage feature. A few hand-held appliances use batteries, which may be disposable or rechargeable. Some appliances consist of an electrical motor upon which is mounted various attachments so as to constitute several individual appliances, such as a blender, a food processor, or a juicer. Many stand mixers, while functioning primarily as a mixer, have attachments which can perform additional functions.
A few gas-powered appliances exist for use in situations where electricity is not expected to be available, but these are typically larger and not as portable as most small appliances. Items that perform the same function as small appliances but are hand powered are generally referred to as tools or gadgets, for example a hand-powered meat grinder.
Some small appliances perform the same or similar function as their larger counterparts. For example, a toaster oven is a small appliance that performs a similar function as an oven. Small appliances often have a home version and a commercial version. The commercial, or industrial, version is designed to be used nearly continuously in a restaurant or other similar setting. Commercial appliances are typically connected to a more powerful electrical outlet, are larger and stronger, have more user-serviceable parts, and cost significantly more.
Small appliances which are defective or improperly used or maintained may cause house fires and other property damage, or may harbor bacteria if not properly cleaned. It is important that users read the instructions carefully and that appliances that use a grounded cord be attached to a grounded outlet. Because of the risk of fire, some appliances have a short detachable cord that is connected to the appliance magnetically. If the appliance is moved further than the cord length from the wall, the cord will detach from the appliance.