10 brilliant questions smart shoppers ask before buying an appliance
Don't buy an appliance before you read this
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If you're looking for advice about buying any appliance, you've come to the right place. Here at Reviewed, we've tested hundreds and hundreds of fridges, dishwashers, washing machines, ovens—virtually every kind of appliance you can think of—over the years. We're here for you, helping you make the right choices.
But when you're standing at the home center with your head in a refrigerator or washing machine, or staring at a retailer's page online, you're in a uniquely vulnerable position. Should you buy it or not? We've prepared a list of questions to ask yourself and the retailer, to make sure you get just what you need.
This list of questions will help you prepare to buy an appliance:
- Do I have enough room?
- Which style do I want?
- What's available in my price range?
- What capacity do I need?
- Does it come in the finish I'm looking for?
- What features does it have?
- Have I comparison shopped to make sure I'm getting the best price?
- Did I read reviews to learn about the model's performance and reliability?
- What delivery and installation options are available?
- How will I get rid of the old one?
1. Do I have enough room?
Measure your space carefully to figure out how much room you have for an appliance, then find out the dimensions of appliances you may be considering. What you learn may limit your search. An example: If your kitchen cabinetry has a cut-out 25 inches deep, your research will probably point you to a counter-depth fridge.
In addition to measuring the space in the room, measure the width of your doors, halls, and stairways. You have to determine in advance whether the appliance can fit through. See our Best Tape Measurers.
2. Which style do I want?
Washing machines come in top-load and front-load models. Refrigerators are available in French door, side-by-side, top-freezer, bottom-freezer, and built-in. Dishwashers can have two racks or three racks. Oven ranges come in electric, gas, induction, and mixed-fuel models. Prepare yourself by looking at images of appliances online, and select your favorite style before you think of purchasing.
3. What's available in my price range?
Appliances are available in a broad range of prices. You can get a basic model, or one with all the bells and whistles you can imagine. All those features cost you. Decide on a budget and stick to it. That way, you won't get your heart broken when that amazing door-in-door refrigerator you're admiring turns out to cost as much as your first car.
4. How much capacity do I need?
The size of your family, and your habits will help to determine the capacity of the appliance you need. If you cook for a crowd, you may want a larger fridge. If it's just you and your partner, a compact washer and dryer might be adequate to get the laundry done.
5. Does it come in the finish I'm looking for?
Almost every appliance comes in white, but if you dream of stainless steel or on-trend black stainless, find out whether you can have it in that color (and check point 3—how much extra will it cost you?) By the way, also ask if a stainless appliance you want has a smudge-resistant finish. If it doesn't, be aware that polishing off fingerprints will take lots of time and energy.
6. What features does it have?
High-end models offer more sophisticated features, but do some investigation around what's available. Does the model have smart features, and will anything bad happen if you don't use them? Is a fridge with a wine rack on your wish list, or are you satisfied as long as it has an icemaker? Ask about features in advance. And while you're asking about that, ask about the warranty. Most brands offer a year, and some offer much more.
7. Have I comparison shopped to make sure I'm getting the best price?
Just because different stores carry the same model, doesn't mean they charge the same amount of money for it. Sometimes, a local retailer will offer a model for less than you can buy it online, though the reverse can also be true. Find out.
8. Did I read reviews to learn about the model's performance and reliability?
Check our site and others to see what experts and owners say. You might have to take owner reviews with a grain of salt. Not every buyer will write them—often, the only ones who take the time either love or hate the product.
If you're lucky enough to have a friend or family member who can give you a personal recommendation, that can be the most valuable info, especially if you can visit the appliance before you buy.
9. What delivery and installation options are available?
Delivery day can be a dream come true or a nightmare. First, ask whether delivery and installation is included in the price you pay for the appliance. Some retailers offer that, but many charge extra, so find out beforehand. If you don't, your appliance might end up sitting at the foot of your driveway, waiting for you to carry it in and hook it up yourself.
Also determine how your appliance will be delivered. If the delivery service uses a two-wheeler, protect your stairs, halls, and doorways, or they might get harmed.
And inspect the appliance carefully before you sign for it. Ideally, before you buy, you'll research what happens if the machine is delivered with scratches or dents.
10. How will I get rid of the old one?
Most retailers will take an old appliance away for a nominal charge, but determine that in advance. A case of beer might not be enough to motivate your friends to help you carry that heavy refrigerator to the curb.