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10 questions to ask before you buy an appliance



10 questions to ask before you buy an appliance


It’s a sad day when your washer, oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, or any other household appliance gives up the ghost. Those machines do so much to improve quality of life, but at some point—hopefully, after years of good service—your broken appliance is just not worth fixing. That’s when you need to replace it—fast. But there are so many brands, models, and styles. We wouldn’t blame you for questioning whether you even have the savvy to shop for a new appliance.

Fortunately, Reviewed is here to assist you. For close to a decade, we’ve been testing appliances in our labs, so when you need to buy one, you can count on us to help you make the best choice. We understand that you want to get the best quality for your money. But we also know that the appliance you’ll select is a very personal choice based on your finances, lifestyle, family needs, taste, and availability.

So, before you click the Buy button, here are the best questions to ask.

Credit: Getty Images / Zephyr18

Decide your budget before trying to shop for the appliance you need. There are good appliances available at many different price points.

1. What’s my budget?

Your budget might be your biggest concern when you’re buying a new appliance. Decide what you want to spend on a new appliance before you shop. Depending on the appliance, prices can be separated by hundreds or thousands of dollars. Dishwashers, for example, can range in price from $300 to $2,000 or more. Fortunately, there are very good appliances at a variety of price points. If your budget is generous, you can go for the top of the line, but a high price isn’t always a guarantee of quality.

Pro tip: You can often get a better deal by buying appliances in suites. Also, check for brand rebates before you purchase.

Applies to: Any appliance


Credit: Getty Images / Zephyr18

Measure your space and the appliance before you make a purchase, and be sure to research the dimensions of models you like. For example, the compact washers we’ve tested at Reviewed are 24 inches wide and about 33 inches in height.

2. How much room do I need for a new appliance?

Before you buy, measure carefully to find out how much room you have for the new machine. Appliances come in a variety of widths, so it’s essential to match the size of the appliance with the dimensions of the space. Even if you’re doing a new build or total kitchen renovation, you may have constraints—for example, if the side of the room that has the water or gas hookup is narrower than the rest of the kitchen. And remember, that new appliance is going to have to pass through your hallways and doorways before it arrives in its new location. To avoid damage during delivery, make sure you measure those spaces, too.

Pro tip: When measuring the space where the appliance will stand, don’t forget to measure the depth as well as the width of the space. This can tell whether you need to buy a counter depth refrigerator to fit a shallow cut-out or a slide-in instead of a freestanding range.

Applies to: Refrigerators, ranges


Credit: Getty Images / Juanmonino

Ensure that the refrigerator you want to buy has enough storage capacity for your family’s groceries.

3. What’s the total capacity?

You want to be able to pack as much food into your fridge as is reasonable, but looking at an image of the outside doesn’t tell you much about the amount of space inside. You can look up capacity on brand sites, but the information you see there may not be completely accurate. We know that because when we test refrigerators at Reviewed, we measure the usable space inside and compare it with the manufacturer’s capacity claims. They’re rarely the same.

Pro tip: Look up capacity online and check Reviewed for info on the internal space as we measured it. Try to visit the fridge at a local retailer to ensure it’s the right size for your family.

Applies to: Refrigerators


Credit: Reviewed / Dave Kender

The four most popular types of refrigerators. There are lots of add-ons, features, and variations from here.

4. What style should I buy?

That depends on the style of your kitchen. Your new appliance needs to suit it in design and scale. If you have rustic farmhouse decor, a modern column fridge might look weird in your kitchen, but a classic stainless French door refrigerator might be perfect.

And take a look at your laundry room. Your washer and dryer can be gorgeous or utilitarian, depending on whether they’ll live in the basement or an Insta-worthy laundry area. But the bigger decision is whether you want to buy a front load or top load washer. We’ve written about the science—front loaders are more efficient, but modern top loaders can do a great job, too. Choose the one you’re most comfortable with.

Pro tip: If you’re artistic, create a mood board to help you decide whether an appliance suits the look of your kitchen or laundry area.

Applies to: Any appliance


Credit: Appliances Connection

Luxury brands like La Cornue and others make beautifully colored appliances that can add pop to a plain white kitchen.

5. What is the best appliance finish?

There are more appliance finishes on the market than ever. Classic black and white will never go out of style, but there’s a world of other finishes out there in 2019. Stainless steel has a sleek, professional look that has dominated kitchen design for the past several years. (If you’re going with stainless, make sure it’s smudge-proof so it resists fingerprints.)


Credit: Whirlpool

A suite of black stainless appliances from Whirlpool complements the blue-gray lower cabinetry in this kitchen. A micro-vent, range, four-door French door fridge, and dishwasher all sport the black stainless finish.

If you want a fashion-forward finish and you’re willing to pay more to get it (usually about $100), black stainless steel can be your go-to. Slate, a finish unique to GE Appliances, is another alternative. These days, finishes are trending warmer: Tuscan Stainless is Samsung’s latest take on stainless steel, with a brown undertone. Companies like Smeg, Bluestar, and the venerable La Cornue make luxurious appliances in brilliant colors that add pop to a kitchen.

Pro tip: Every brand has a different take on black stainless steel, which can make it hard to match appliances made by different companies.

Applies to: Refrigerators, dishwashers, ranges


Credit: Samsung

Modern appliances offer features you may be dreaming about. Make a list of desired features before you shop, keeping your budget in mind. This Samsung Family Hub is a smart refrigerator with a touch screen and features an app that allows you to control it from your phone.

6. What are the new appliance features I want?

If you’re a serious cook, you might want a range that offers an induction cooktop or built-in sous vide. Higher-end washers and dryers often include steam cycles. In homes with open kitchens quiet dishwashers are a must. And who could resist a door-in-door refrigerator with a tablet built into the front?

Pro tip: Make a list of the features you want before you start shopping. Be flexible—you may have to compromise.

Applies to: Refrigerators, dishwashers, ranges, washers, dryers

7. Have I checked the look and feel?

Again, do your best to get hands-on with an appliance before you order it. What you discover can prevent you from making a mistake. If you can’t reach the bottom of a top load washer’s tub, you might be happier with a front loader. If a dishwasher’s door is hard to pull open, or an oven door slams shut, it could drive you crazy for years. It’s best to avoid those kinds of issues.

Pro tip: Read user reviews (See #8) for comments on trouble spots.

Applies to: Refrigerators, dishwashers, ranges, washers, dryers

8. Have I read the reviews?

Visit Reviewed and other sites to read what experts have to say, and take a look at what owners think, too. We test each appliance for a week. Users live with them for long periods of time and sometimes, issues can emerge months or years into the appliance’s lifecycle. Be aware that user reviews won’t give you the full picture. People who write them are often those who had either a very positive or very negative experience.

Pro tip: If you can get a personal recommendation from friends or family, start there. That can be the most useful and personal review of all.


Credit: Getty Images / JodiJacobson

Choose delivery options carefully. Make sure to measure every door and hallway to ensure that it’s wide enough for your new appliance to pass through.

9. What are the delivery options?

Don’t expect delivery to be free with every purchase, and do your research to get the best deal. Delivery may not mean the same thing to you as it does to the retailer. Some stores consider delivery to be a drop-off in your driveway. Other retailers will bring your appliance into the home but may charge extra for every stairway on the way to the kitchen or laundry room. Since most damage occurs between your driveway and your home, you might prefer paying for delivery instead of taking on the responsibility yourself. If you do take delivery, make sure you inspect the appliance for damage before you sign off.

Pro tip: Measure every stairway, hallway, and doorway your appliance will need to pass through prior to delivery. And don’t forget to protect your walls and floors.


Credit: Getty Images / BardoczPeter

Is there enough room for the new appliance to go through every door, stairway, and hallway in your home? Make sure way before the truck gets there.

10. How do I dispose of an old appliance?

I know what you’re thinking—I haven’t even bought the new appliance yet, and I need to think about how to rid of the old one. Well, yes. You’ll probably have a few choices but you’ll need to decide in advance. The retailer might offer a haul-away option, usually for extra cash. Some municipalities let you leave an appliance by the curb for pickup, but you still have to get it to the sidewalk. If your appliance is in good working order, you can find a charity that will accept appliance donations. That’s a good way to update your home and someone else’s at the same time.

Pro tip: Plan ahead. Your kitchen or laundry room probably doesn’t have room for both the old appliance and the new one.


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