Where to Buy Appliances
Last updated May 2023
There are often good arguments for repairing rather than replacing older appliances, which we cover in our appliance repair section. But if you decide it’s a new six-burner stove or fresh fridge or bust, we’ve got you covered with ratings of local suppliers. Unfortunately, many buyers find selecting the right appliance—and then getting it delivered and installed—as time-consuming and annoying as cooking a 12-course dinner. Even worse, many stores use misleading pricing and marketing tactics.
Our ratings and advice should get you cooking on new appliances from a helpful, well-priced store.
Selecting the Right Appliances
While shopping, you’ll encounter a nearly endless array of models with a gazillion features.
Click here for info on the latest kitchen appliance trends. These include “smart” features, ovens with built-in air fryers, and more. These extras usually drive up appliance price tags by hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars, so consider what you will and won’t use to avoid overspending.
Consumer Reports excels at appliance-buying advice. It regularly evaluates appliances for quality and reliability, and offers great advice on the pros and cons of configurations, designs, features, and options.
Salespeople can also be fantastic sources of advice—but only at stores that employ knowledgeable, helpful ones. Unfortunately, as our Ratings Tables report, many stores—particularly large chains—get low ratings for sales quality. (We primarily survey Checkbook members but also invite other randomly selected consumers in the area to participate; click here for more information on our survey and other research methods.)
Stick with Stores that Offer Great Service
Purchasing a major appliance can go disastrously wrong. If your fancy new phone doesn’t work, you can easily trade it in; but you can’t easily tote your defective new refrigerator back to the store. Plus, most consumers need help with delivery and installation. Unfortunately, the customer reviews we receive from surveyed appliance purchasers indicate delivery and installation are the most problematic parts of many transactions. Delivery crews too often damage floors and doorways, and workers frequently cause water damage and even floods by improperly installing dishwashers and clothes washers. Screw-ups installing gas appliances are common and nerve-wracking.
Fortunately, some area stores do have competent installers. And aside from relying on a store’s employees—or, more commonly, its subcontractors—for installation, you have other options for getting the work done.
If you need to buy appliances as part of a larger remodeling job, your contractor can (and probably should) arrange for delivery and installation. This makes a single company accountable for making sure appliances arrive on time, get delivered without damaging your home, fit the allotted space, are installed correctly, and operate properly. This frees you up to focus on getting the best price (see below). Keep in mind, however, that asking a remodeling company to manage delivery and installation is different from letting it buy the appliance, too. Nearly all remodelers will provide that service, but they won’t necessarily look for and find the best price.
Another option is to install the appliance yourself. While some stores fold installation costs into appliance prices or delivery fees, most charge extra. And even stores that charge a single package price normally offer a discount if someone else handles the installation.
Know that not all appliances are easy to install. For some, there’s very little to do. After you’ve wrestled in a several-hundred-pound refrigerator, it’s easy enough to plug it in and hook up the water line for the icemaker. Ditto for an electric clothes dryer hitched to a functioning circuit; connect the cord and it’s ready to tumble. But installing a dishwasher or a clothes washer can be fairly complicated.
Most consumers pay appliance stores for delivery and installation. But if you do this, make sure you understand exactly what stores will and won’t do. Some won’t touch gas lines; others won’t hook up water supply or discharge lines, meaning you’ll have to hire a plumber .
If you aren’t relying on a remodeling contractor to manage delivery and install the appliance, find a store with reliable installers rather than separately hiring a plumber. This means a single company provides the appliance, delivers and installs it, and hauls away your old unit. You save time, and if something goes wrong you won’t have to referee a store-vs-plumber dispute over who screwed up.
Our Ratings Tables report scores from our survey questions on promptness, reliability, and overall quality will help you identify stores that deliver on time and make things right when there’s a problem.