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by Jonathan Trout ConsumerAffairs Research Team

Finding the perfect washer, dryer or refrigerator that's affordable, energy-efficient and complements your home can be difficult. Use our guide to research the best appliance company for you. We look at the most prominent businesses and the pros and cons of purchasing new or used appliances.

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How to buy appliances

1. Purchase preparation

Buying a new appliance isn’t easy, especially when a larger home appliance can cost you thousands of dollars; however, we at ConsumerAffairs are here to help. Before you buy the next appliance that is destined to update the look of your kitchen or make your clothes dry faster, we created a few important steps for things to go as smooth as possible.

  • Measure twice, cut once
    If you are buying a large item like a fridge or washer/dryer combo, make sure to measure the space and the surrounding area. Will the door to the unit be able to open all the way? Can the gas line be installed into the back of the dryer? Do you have a water line that can reach your fridge? Can you even fit it through the entryway into the room you want the appliance placed? Do your due diligence to observe the designated space and always measure everything.
  • Accessorize
    Range ovens need exhaust fans, coffee makers need filters, and vacuums need bags. Most appliances need their own specific set of accessories and add-ons that either allow it to function or function better. Take a look and speak with an expert regarding what else you will need to purchase with your appliance, then build that into the overall cost.

2. Buying your appliance

Now it’s time to buy your appliance. As you check out your options, make sure to keep these steps in mind.

  • Choose the right time
    Sometimes, when you buy your appliance is just as important as where you buy your appliance. Looking out for annual sales as well as knowing when new merchandise is going to hit the market can be vital in getting the best deal possible.
  • Buy the appliance that fits your lifestyle
    Are you a great chef with a large family to feed? Choose an oven that will house all those meals you’re going to cook. Not much of a cook? Choose a microwave with various sensors that help cook those leftovers perfectly and in no time at all. Take a few minutes, think about your lifestyle and your expectations for an appliance.

3. What to do after the purchase

Even after your done with your purchase, your job isn’t quite complete. Before moving on to your next home upgrade, you need to take care of a few things.

  • Get that rebate
    Most appliances have a company rebate that is usually mailed in after purchase, so make sure to confirm any rebates with the brand’s info/helpline or the store where you bought the item. You should also follow up carefully as these rebates generally need to be submitted within a finite amount of time. Another rebate to check out is the Energy Star Rebate, where the US Environmental Protection Agency will give you several rebates for things like the disposal of your old unit. Check out their rebate finder for more information.
  • Sell your used appliance
    If your previous appliance is clean and in working order, why not sell it? There are many online marketplaces where you can list anything from a microwave to a washer/dryer combo, and there are even more people out there looking for a deal. Just remember three things: Have a friend or family member with you at the time of sale, make sure to include “buyer pick up” in your advertisement (you don’t deliver!), and be prepared to test the appliance for the buyer before purchase.
  • Keep track of the fine print
    Does your appliance have a 90-day warranty? Do you need to service the item regularly? Where can you go for returns, replacement accessories or have your new appliance fixed? All of these details can usually be found towards to back of most user manuals or can be answered directly through a company helpline or email.

New vs. used appliances

New appliance pros and cons

  • Pros: When purchasing a new appliance, there is usually a limited warranty that goes along with the buy. A new appliance also brings with it the peace of mind you are buying the most advanced item in the market, as new standards are developed every day for energy efficiency, user-friendliness and tech integration.
  • Cons: You will be paying far more for a new item than a used or refurbished appliance. Another thing to remember is whether the new appliance features are actually needed, or if you are looking for the item to do its job. For example, do you need your refrigerator to be accessible through an app, or do you want it to simply keep your food cold?

Used/refurbished pros and cons

  • Pros: With a used or refurbished appliance you are looking at a significantly lower price. In fact, some prices on used or refurbished items can be haggled with the seller. Another pro to think about is not everyone uses their appliances before putting them on the secondary market, making your used purchase practically brand new.
  • Cons: Used purchases usually don’t include a warranty, which can be problematic when you are purchasing an item with medium to moderate usage. You may also be buying an item that isn’t backed by a store purchase guarantee, especially if you are looking at appliances from private sellers.

Appliances FAQ

Should kitchen appliances be the same brand?
No, your kitchen appliances do not need to be the same brand — you should buy the appliances that functionally work best for you.

However, for aesthetics and resale value, it’s usually best to have all your appliances be the same color or finish. Each brand will have slight variations in their finishes, so two black or stainless steel appliances may be slightly different in color or sheen. If you’re a perfectionist, consider sticking to the same brand.

What appliances should I have in my kitchen?
At a minimum, you should have an oven and refrigerator. Many people also consider a microwave and a dishwasher essential.

Which smaller appliances you own depends on your likes and needs. The most popular items are:

What is the power rating of home appliances?
The rating lets you know the voltage/power consumption of an electrical item.
  • Refrigerators and dishwashers run at about 1,500 watts.
  • Microwaves, toasters, coffee machines and electric ovens run between 1,000 and 1,200 watts.
  • Blenders, stand mixers and garbage disposals are all rated at less than 500 watts.
What is considered a small appliance?
Small appliances are portable or semiportable devices that perform practical, household tasks while sitting on countertops or tables. They shorten or simplify tasks you would typically do by hand or with a major appliance. Some examples include:
  • Blenders
  • Mixers
  • Toasters
  • Microwaves
  • Coffee makers
  • Rice cookers
How long does a dishwasher last?
The average life span of a dishwasher is about 10 years, with most lasting between seven and 12 years. Factors that affect longevity include:
  • Maintenance
  • Frequency of use
  • Brand
How long does a fridge last?
The average life span of a fridge is about 14 years, with most fridges lasting between 10 and 20 years. To extend the life of your fridge:
  • Make sure your fridge undergoes regular maintenance.
  • Clean the fridge coils.
  • Repair or replace the door seals.
  • Make sure the fridge has room for proper airflow.
How long does a microwave last?
Microwaves last about 10 years. Though you may not be able to extend the life of a microwave, you can help it run more efficiently:
  • Be gentle with the microwave door.
  • Ensure the microwave has room for air circulation.
  • Don’t run the microwave while it's empty.

Not sure how to choose?

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    Compare Top Appliance Reviews by Brand

    by Jonathan Trout ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Jonathan Trout believes having access to free, comprehensive information on products and businesses is vital to making smart purchasing decisions. He focuses his efforts on researching and reviewing multiple brands across a variety of industries, with the goal of writing unbiased buyers guides to help inform consumers on impending purchases.

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