Home Features in Israel
n T Home features in Israel are likely a bit different from what is found in your current home. Some home features in Israel are driven by the region and climate, but others seem to reflect culture and may seem a bit arbitrary to some. These differences can be seen in home utilities, layouts, appliances, and furnishings.
Space & Layout
Homes in Israel are frequently more compact than those in many other places. New luxury homes and those in rural areas may be larger by comparison, but city dwellings are generally fairly small. Outdoor space is a very high priority for most Israelis, so even the tiniest apartments may come with a tiny balcony area. Bedrooms may be relatively smaller, with sufficient space for sleeping, but not generally used as a play area by young residents. Older homes, in particular, may have the toilet and bathing facilities split from each other. Little space is wasted on entrance areas, and the living/dining area is often combined. Exceptions of every sort exist, but the generally accepted standards tend in the direction of smaller living spaces.
Home dimensions in Israel are metric, so appliances and furniture follow mostly European standards. Bed sizes common in North America are unusual in Israel, but the relatively thicker and narrower dimensions of Israeli mattresses are often compatible with linen sets from North America. Appliance cutouts are usually suitable for European models, and appliances from the USA may not fit well into the spaces provided. European appliances may differ substantially from those you use now, such as clothes washers that heat their own water instead of relying on an outside source of hot water.
Home features in Israel discourage the hall closet full of unused items, by means of having almost no closets. Bedrooms will more often feature armoire, shelving, or drawers to store clothing. Kitchen cabinets are generally less generous, and counter space is not often in great supply. Some cook-tops come with a hinged glass cover that can be lowered to be used as counter space when the stove is not in use. A Machsan (storage room) is a common amenity for apartment buildings, and a ceiling storage area within the apartment may also be found.
The electrical current in Israel is 220 volts, unlike the 110 volt standard in the USA. Outlets and switches are also different, with different prong shapes for plugs and a preference for switches where one side is pushed towards the wall, rather than a toggle that is raised or lowered. Interestingly, the ‘on’ position of these switches usually is with the bottom pressed, as opposed to the North American switch ‘up’ position corresponding to ‘on’.
Many switches feature a translucent round area on one side of the switch to indicate that the switch is active. These are seen most frequently on switches controlling heating or motorized devices, and are common on building stairwells and areas where they will operate lighting for a timed interval. When active, the dot on the switch face is illuminated, and it goes dark when the switch is turned off, either manually or automatically.
The electrical code for buildings in Israel contains several differences, such as the prohibition against installing lighting switches within bathrooms. The GFI outlets that are standard in USA kitchens and bathrooms are optional in Israel, but the code does control the proximity of fixtures and outlets to water sources, and requires that outdoor electrical outlets and indoor outlets near water sources be covered.
While Israel’s authorities and population have no qualms about 220 volt electrical power, their attitude toward natural gas use in homes borders on the paranoid. It is rare for any indoor appliance except the kitchen cook-top to be powered by natural gas. Ovens, water heaters, and home heating are almost always powered by electricity. Only a licensed professional may install or alter a gas supply line, and even gas-powered appliances requires professional installation.
Natural gas is supplied through municipal gas lines is some communities, but the most common method is for reusable tanks to be delivered by a gas supply company. The tanks may be supplied for individual homes and apartments, or placed in a shared system with meters for each dwelling in the building. These canisters, known as balloons, are common even in areas where municipal gas supplies are available, because of their relatively lower cost than gas supplied through piping.
Israel was once lit by very simple fluorescent fixtures where the bulbs were either completely exposed or where the ends were disguised only slightly with decorative elements. Newer installations are generally LED, and have a bit more style, but available fixtures tend to be ultra modern or highly ornate, with little in between. Ceiling fans are a popular choice and often include lighting options that are well-suited to home life in Israel.
Israel’s location in the Middle East means that sunlight is abundant and temperatures are fairly high in much of the country. Solar heating of the hot water supply is extremely common, and timing devices are usually employed to heat water in colder weather. This can mean needing to check for hot water instead of just jumping into the shower.
Carpeting is fairly rare, as it can make homes uncomfortably warm in summer. Floors are most often ceramic or stone-based conglomerates, and the dominant cleaning method for floors is the Spongah (squeegee) method where water is propelled to an indoor drain or outside the building. Newer homes often feature underfloor heating to offset the cool feeling of the flooring materials.
Trisim (window shutters) are very popular. Trisim are often a type of roller shade that can be fully opened, fully closed, or lowered gently to expose gaps between the sections to provide shade while allowing air circulation. Trisim are useful both for temperature control and security, as the closed metal roller shades can cover windows and doors that would otherwise be less secure.
Central heating and cooling are found, but split units that control temperature in various areas are more common. A remote control device is used to manage the split unit’s settings, and is commonly found hanging near the area’s entry. These remote controls are usually capable of controlling the hours of operation automatically, as well as the usual mode, fan, and temperature settings.
Windows in Israel are more often casement-type where a handle swings the window open, side-to-side sliding panels, or French doors. The upper and lower sash arrangement popular in older homes of North American is rare in Israel. Window and door screens are surprisingly rare in Israel, but can be found in some homes. Draperies are not rare, but the relatively dusty environment of much of the country lends itself to simpler window coverings such as roller shades and Roman shades.
A variety of architectural styles are used in Israel, but there is a frequent use of Bahaus or International style in buildings, especially those in Tel Aviv or those build in the years following independence. This minimalist style often features the use of geometric elements and curved walls and areas. Modern more utilitarian construction also abounds, and the city skylines feature high-rise buildings similar to those found in other countries.
In summary, there are a wide variety of home styles and configuration s in Israel, but most are not on the scale of homes in the USA, and some significant differences exist. Those differences may affect your choice of furnishings and appliances, such as getting a dining table whose expansion leaves are stored within the base instead of the (likely non-existent) closet. Smaller bedrooms may may bunk beds a better option for children. Locally available appliances are more likely to fit properly, and will have available warranty service that my not be the case for appliances brought from overseas.
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