Not sure which type of stand mixer you have? Or are you thinking about buying a stand mixer and don't know which to choose? There are a dizzying number of stand mixers on the market, with numerous color, feature and accessory options. Here's a basic summary to start your research on KitchenAid mixers. Important features of each style are highlighted in red.
Ultimately, though, the choice between a tilting head and a lifting bowl is mostly a matter of preference. If you have a friend or relative with each kind, try it out. It's hard to know which style you prefer until you use them.
These mixers are the standard for most casual home cooks and bakers. They typically offer the capacity and power to make normal family recipes---cakes, double batches of cookies or one large loaf of bread. Their mixing head is on a hinge and tilts back out of the way, allowing easy access to the bowl for adding ingredients. The bowl rotates onto the base of the stand. Tilt-head mixers fit under most kitchen wall cabinets.
$$ What you get for your money. A larger budget will get you more horsepower as well as color and accessory options. You can usually find good deals on the Classic models. It's a good starter machine, but is limited in its color offerings and has a less powerful motor. Artisan models come in a rainbow of colors and have a stronger motor, but can cost twice as much.
Bowl-lift mixers use a crank lever to raise and lower the mixing bowl. You lower the bowl to add ingredients; raise it again to mix. The bowl snaps onto pins on arms that come out from the middle of the stand's upright section. Bowl-lift mixers come in a dizzying array of models. Sizes range from 4.5 quarts to 8 quarts; each paired with moderate to hefty horsepower offerings. These mixers are too tall to fit under most upper cabinets. If you intend to purchase additional beaters, like a SideSwipe, know your model number or the bowl size of your mixer. KitchenAid offers two bowl/beater sizes called "6 quart."
$$ What you get for your money: Typically, smaller capacity mixers, like 5 quart styles, are less expensive and less powerful. These are fine for most casual home bakers, even for holiday baking sprees. If you routinely make double or triple batches or very heavy mixtures, you might consider sizing up. The price increases as the size and motor capacity does. Check warehouse clubs for great deals on this type of mixer.