A home appliance is an important investment, but with the many brands, models and styles out there, it can be hard to find the right one. To help you make a wise purchase, we’ve teamed up with Dane Marcy of Kelly’s Appliance Center in Cotati to provide some tips for buying a home appliance.
1. Take advantage of features.
Today’s home appliances incorporate cutting-edge technology that allows for fully customized usage. Whether you want an oven that offers precise temperature control or a washer with multiple load settings, there’s a model that can provide what you’re looking for. Alternatively, if you’re the type who likes to keep things simple, there are basic models available as well. By considering your usage preferences ahead of time, you’ll be able to find an appliance model that best suits your needs.
2. Look beyond brand.
Some home appliance brands may seem better than others, but it’s not always so cut-and-dry. “It really depends on the actual appliance,” says Mr. Marcy. “In general, I like Whirlpool products, but there are certain LG and Samsung products I recommend as well, especially if the price is better. You also have to consider functionality. For example, I bought a General Electric oven because it had specific features that Whirlpool didn’t offer.” Overall, rather than choosing based on brand alone, it’s better to do some research and weigh your brand preference against other factors.
3. Have realistic expectations for longevity.
“They don’t make them like they used to.” It may be a cliché, but this saying rings true when it comes to home appliances. The fact is, appliances aren’t built to last the way they were in the 1960s, so if you’re looking for a washer with a 30-year warranty, you’ll need to temper your expectations.
According to Mr. Marcy, this diminished durability is due in large part to design changes prompted by modern energy efficiency requirements. “Back in the day, appliances had these huge motors that sucked up a ton of energy but enabled them to go for decades,” he explains. “To meet modern energy requirements, manufacturers now install much smaller motors that don’t last as long. It’s kind of like putting a four-cylinder engine in a full-sized pickup truck—it’ll run, but it’s going to wear out way faster than if you had a V-8 in there. So, even though you’re saving on energy costs, you’re paying more in the long run for your appliances.”
4. Consider the source.
Another consideration for buying a home appliance is where it was manufactured, which can have both ethical and practical ramifications. “Personally, I’m a big supporter of buying domestically made products, which is another reason I like Whirlpool,” says Mr. Marcy. “I think it’s important to support American jobs and reinvest in our economy. Also, most people don’t think about the manufacturing processes in other parts of the world, where the working conditions can be terrible.”
Besides ethical concerns, Mr. Marcy points out the way in which cheap labor can negatively affect product quality. “In these kinds of manufacturing environments, quality control isn’t the top priority—it’s all about quantity. Plus, considering the meager wages these workers are being paid, it’s not likely they’re concerned about the quality of their work. In contrast, workers in the U.S. are paid a better wage, which makes them more likely to care about the quality they produce. I feel this definitely shows in the general quality of domestic appliances.”
5. Get the right professional insight.
Given the complexity of buying a home appliance, a professional’s advice can be an invaluable resource. However, this isn’t always easy to come by, so you need to know where to look. Mr. Marcy recommends looking local. “When you’re shopping at a big-box store and need information, you’ll often get someone with minimal knowledge or experience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in Lowe’s or Home Depot and overheard a salesperson giving a customer the wrong advice about an appliance. In contrast, the salespeople at local appliance stores tend to be more knowledgeable and familiar with the products, so they’re able to give you accurate advice and help you make the right decision.”
Read our follow-up article on specific considerations for choosing home appliances.