Is there a strategy for buying major appliances?
May 24, 2013 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Looking for some advice for buying a refrigerator, washer, and dryer for the first time.

My boyfriend just purchased his first (town)home, and he is moving in the next 30 days.

We are going major appliance-shopping this weekend, hoping to score some deals.

This includes refrigerator, washer, and dryer. Off the top of my head, I know about Sears and Best Buy, and that's about it. I looked around on Best Buy's website, and they have a low price guarantee, so that's neat.

If anyone's got any tips about brands or models, things to consider, financing options, or know other stores to check out, I would really appreciate it.

I'm in San Jose, CA, but any of the surrounding cities are fine.
posted by massofintuition to Home & Garden (38 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Make sure you measure the spaces the appliances are going to go in. Leave allowances for things like the opening of the fridge door.
posted by bardophile at 2:27 PM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's worth it to get an online membership to Consumer Reports. They offer unbiased testing and reviews of just about anything you can imagine.
posted by Requiax at 2:36 PM on May 24, 2013 [7 favorites]

Measure the spaces. Read some reviews- things like: "makes 15 minutes of loud clanking every time the refrigerator cycles on" are useful information.

I am looking up fridges online myself and found this interesting page.

Personally, I buy everything off of craigslist. So far I haven't regretted it and I've saved $1000s.

If you decide to go the craigslist route, now's a good time because the students are leaving, and that's when landlords upgrade, sell their properties, and buy their properties. There are a lot of appliances out there.

However, google the contact number before you get any farther- if they're shysters, often someone will say something online. I don't like to buy from craigslist resellers- they have a reputation for picking up ruined things, touching up the paint, and fixing them just enough to work for a week. If you pick a fridge up straight from someone's kitchen/laundry room you get a better idea of its functionality. (Plus, you know where they live, eh?)
posted by small_ruminant at 2:37 PM on May 24, 2013

Not only measure your space, but measure your doorways to make sure you can get them into your house! I know a few people who had a real dilemma when they couldn't get appliances/furniture into their homes because they wouldn't fit through the front door!
posted by ohmy at 2:42 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Kenmore is the best brand.
posted by Kruger5 at 2:44 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I got mine at Lowe's. I picked up a 10% off coupon from the mover's kit at the local post office (you have to ask for it, they are no longer available on the counters), waited until the washer & dryer I wanted went on sale for a weekend, and was able to stack the discounts. It was not a problem to schedule the (free) delivery for a month later when we actually moved into our new place. I made sure to pay with an Amex charge card that doubles the manufacturer's warranty on any new product.

Also, I picked appliances that were on the list for energy efficient appliance rebates from our city (this link might apply to you) and I got a check for $150 from them.

As far as brands go, pretty much everything in my house was made by Samsung and I've been very happy with it so far.
posted by halogen at 2:47 PM on May 24, 2013

Bought our new washer & dryer (Front-loading LG, forget the model, it was highly rated in consumer reports) from Best Buy. Signed up for a 0% APR card for 18 Mo.

Only thing that sucks about it though is their credit card doesn't have "auto-pay". So I just scheduled all the payments (all 16 of them) until it's paid off.

Also had free delivery and installation.
posted by wcfields at 2:48 PM on May 24, 2013

We bought our last clothes washer, dryer and fridge from Lowes because they were the least expensive for the models we were looking for, they are well stocked and were able to deliver (free!) the items within the week* and they often offer a year or more interest deferred financing (be careful with this though, it's through their store credit card and if you don't pay the entire bill off in time, you'll owe interest back to the beginning of the term. Take the total you owe and divide it into 10 autopayments via your bank to be safe).

*avoid a regular Sears for this reason. Sears has no stock and will lie to you that they do. There's a Sears Ding and Dent outlet store at the Great Mall in Milpitas that is worth checking out because at least there what you see is what you get. Do not agree to let the outlet Sears deliver your purchase as they will screw that up too.
posted by jamaro at 2:48 PM on May 24, 2013

If used doesn't bother - Habitat for Humanity stores have a lot of donated/ excess appliances that are cheap and in great shape. We got a great dishwasher for $40 and haven't had a single complaint about it.

They're also great for construction do-dads too. We got 2 giant flush mounted sky lights for $50 that were never even opened out of the box.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 2:49 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Figure out ahead of time whether your dryer is going to be gas or electric.

Figure out where your dryer is going to vent, as well as if there is already a venting pipe installed. If not, you'll have to do that or buy a ventless dryer.

Use Consumer Reports. Their $6.95/month online subscription will be a lifesaver. You can cancel after a month if you like. It's absolutely worth the cost.
posted by yellowcandy at 2:50 PM on May 24, 2013

I have done the following to maximize savings on buying a stove:

• Get a 10%-off Lowe's coupon via moving coupon package available via USPS
• Get a 10%-off Home Depot coupon via same (where possible)
• Wait until Home Depot has a sale on Memorial Day (or similar holiday)

Home Depot takes Lowe's coupons. In my experience, on request, they have added that Lowe's discount to their own moving and holiday discounts. Given the cost of appliances, this can save a lot of money.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:51 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing Sears Outlet. I picked up a new $800 washer/dryer set for $400 because there were a couple superficial dents.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:53 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Good timing! Pretty much every appliance store will have a sale on for Memorial Day.
posted by GuyZero at 3:00 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, check with PG&E for any energy efficient appliance rebates before you shop. They don't offer them all the time but we got $300 off our washer which paid for a much nicer, more energy efficient model than we would have otherwise purchased.
posted by jamaro at 3:06 PM on May 24, 2013

In the Bay Area there's Western Appliance which is worth visiting this weekend what with the sales and all. Here's their newspaper ad. My approach to buying major appliances is to figure what I can afford, get an idea of roughly which feature set and brand I'm interested in and then comparison shop across the major retailers. I'm usually kind of picky though and tend to want a specific model which is honestly not a price-optimizing strategy.

Do a little research online to figure roughly what you get for your money and then pick a price point. Then just compare available models near that price. Consumers Reports will help, but bad units are a numbers game - you can get a dud appliance from any brand. So definitely check both store policies as well as manufacturer warranties.
posted by GuyZero at 3:14 PM on May 24, 2013

Nthing Sears Outlet. It took a few weeks of haunting the website because I wanted something very specific and I had a price limit of $800.

I ended up getting a Kenmore oven that was a brand new floor model, no scratches or dings at all. Regular price $1400; I got it for $500. And because it was the exact oven I wanted and $900 off, I happily paid a $200 delivery fee to get it from Missouri to California.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:14 PM on May 24, 2013

You can generally negotiate for a nice discount if you buy the appliances together (though usually it is the 3 kitchen appliances or all 5 standard ones, not 1 kitchen and 2 bathroom).
posted by jeather at 3:17 PM on May 24, 2013

Be careful about Lowe's and Home Depot. The reason their prices are lower, sometimes, is that the big box model is different (cheaper, flimsier) than the standard model. So if you buy there, ask them to guarantee or prove that what they are selling you is precisely the same item as what sells for a higher price elsewhere. What you are likely to find is that the big-box model number is sold ONLY at the big box. So buyer beware.
posted by beagle at 3:17 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another comment against Sears is that items you buy from them may have a different warranty than usual. We bought a Samsung washer from them that had problems in the first two months. The washer had been significantly cheaper at Sears than other places, but buying from Sears meant that I couldn't go directly to Samsung with warranty issues; I had to deal with Sears and it was not pleasant. Their customer service was rude from the start and they had no sympathy for the fact that a brand new appliance was not functioning so soon. We had to have three repairs in and it was never convenient and the service guy never had the part and the part was never in stock. Huge pain. Samsung would have just replaced it; I know because I called them first and they were about to arrange it when it came to light where we had purchased it.

We had much better experience purchasing from Lowe's. Our fridge needed a new part just before Xmas; at first they thought they didn't have the part so Lowe's arranged to deliver us a loaner fridge the next day. But then the part was there, the fridge fixed the same day. Happy happy.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 3:20 PM on May 24, 2013

Research front-loading washers before you buy one. Some people love them, but in my experience they are mold farms.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:22 PM on May 24, 2013

Best Buy has the best service. They sell all the name brands and they will order things for you. Lots of online reviews about appliances.
posted by JXBeach at 3:28 PM on May 24, 2013

We bought a mattress at the Macy's Outlet and it's defective and because it was from the outlet we can't return it. Now I'm afraid of large purchases from outlets.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:34 PM on May 24, 2013

Your library appears to have Consumer Reports online, so you should be able to login from home and not have to pay a subscription to use it. (The last time I bought appliances, that's what I used, via my library.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 3:49 PM on May 24, 2013

With Sears Outlet, a friend was surprised that they didn't install the unit on delivery like plain ole' Sears does. It was still a great deal, but just didn't want you to be surprised like she was (some extra time and cost to get things set up.)
posted by spbmp at 3:55 PM on May 24, 2013

I really recommend the Sears Outlet. I got a great deal on my treadmill.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:23 PM on May 24, 2013

My stackable washer and dryer came from Craigslist--Miele, and about 1/4 of the retail cost. Otherwise, I'd buy stuff at Costco. I'd vever buy from Best Buy, and Sears doesn't have the quality it used to.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:55 PM on May 24, 2013

Sears has been nothing but trouble, confusing buying procedure that wastes your time, and I've heard only bad things about their warranty service. Something about the whole thing seems as though it's meant to appeal to people who find the internet to be a confusing and scary place, they have "personalized service" which basically means you can't get any answers from them because you have to talk to a certain person, your person who knows YOUR name. No one else knows anything about you and you have to wait for this specific person to call you back, or see if they are willing to sell you the thing that's sitting right there at Sears.

Lowes was easy to pay, easy to schedule delivery, and they say you can reschedule if it needs to be changed, delivery people came early in the delivery window and called when on the way. The actual delivery was quick, including switching up something with my door to get a refigerator through, and putting it back how it was before.

I've also been very happy with a Costco fridge I picked up at their warehouse.

Some people like Habitat for Humanity, but I've found them to be very overpriced for used appliances.

With some time to look around, you can find brand new appliances from people who are moving into a new house and replacing the builder standard ones.
posted by yohko at 6:02 PM on May 24, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone! This is a great starting point for our research.
posted by massofintuition at 6:16 PM on May 24, 2013

Check out They summarize and combine reviews from Consumer Reports, trade publications,, and others into metareviews. A great resource for all sorts of products. Refrigerators are covered here, and here are the washers & dryers here.
posted by DrGail at 6:56 PM on May 24, 2013

Home Depot has given me some incredible credit deals ... 12 months or even 24 months same as cash. I completely refit my kitchen over a two-year period, borrowing at least $4,000 from Home Depot at 0% interest by just paying the things off within the specified time periods. Perhaps others offer the same deal, but that plus the low pressure sales force at Home Depot and the quality of the appliances sold me. I've had zero complaints with anything Home Depot sold me or with how they sold it to me or asked me to pay for it.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 6:56 PM on May 24, 2013

A friend bought her dishwasher from Airport Appliance a few years ago- she was really pleased at the time- felt she got a fair price and good service. Anyway, last month, she found some random part sitting in the bottom of the dishwasher. She wasn't sure if she was still under warranty and couldn't find the paperwork. She called Airport and they not only pulled her invoice, but called Bosch and helped her set up a free service call.
posted by dogmom at 6:58 PM on May 24, 2013

My mom gave me the best appliance wisdom: Don't spend a lot on a dryer. It has very few moving parts and they rarely need service. Don't be seduced by expensive matching washer/dryer sets - Spend on the best quality washer you can afford. Washers need service much more often and plumbers are expensive.

My own pearls? Vent the dryer if at all possible. You risk mold from the perpetual humidity which is the result of an unvented dryer. And clean the filter after EVERY SINGLE LOAD.
Your dryer will operate more efficiently, and lint build-up is a fire hazard.
posted by citygirl at 7:26 PM on May 24, 2013

Not Frigidaire...! Poorly made, overpriced, HORRIBLE company to deal with.

Sears in the US is the source of a lot of shaming Consumerist posts.
posted by kmennie at 7:08 AM on May 25, 2013

Beware of clearance models. I just got burned at Home Depot on a dishwasher. There is always a bad reason the unit is on clearance.
posted by Hoosier Prospector at 10:11 AM on May 25, 2013

When measuring (or, better yet, making a to-scale drawing) check that power outlets, water inlet, water discharge are within range. Local code may dictate a relatively short gas hose/tube for gas appliances. If a front loader washer, make sure that it will sit on a stable surface to minimize vibrations and noise.
posted by Kevin S at 8:59 PM on May 25, 2013

The better washers are front-loaders. Lots of folks aren't clear about that, as the American standard is top-loading. Front loaders are easier on your clothes and use less water. Also, you can stack the dryer on top of the washer. The only thing you can't do with a front-loader, is add that sock you missed, after you started up. Small matter.

Unless you're desperate, don't shop for price, shop for quality. These things are called "durable goods" because you're not supposed to replace them for years. So choose wisely. One thing to have in mind is whether parts are available and you can do self repair. Washing machines are fun to repair, IMO. But I like most machines that aren't coated in soot and grease.
posted by Goofyy at 12:37 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

My only complaint with buying our fridge from Sears Outlet is that I didn't feel like the delivery guys were very careful since they knew we were buying it as-is. Like, we picked out one with a very minor dent, but a couple more mysteriously showed up between the warehouse and our kitchen, and there was nothing we could really do about it except refuse the delivery. But OTOH, it really was 45% off of list, and other places really were charging list or 10% off.
posted by smackfu at 8:03 AM on May 28, 2013

Oh, I forgot to add this: Front-loading washers, at least the ones in Europe, _heat_ the water to the desired temperature. Not some hit-or-miss with the house hotwater, and they don't even use the household hotwater. So when you want a cook wash (German), or "boil your shirts" (British), you're set for a 194 F Degrees wash cycle (top setting is 90 degrees centigrade).
posted by Goofyy at 9:52 PM on June 4, 2013

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