5 Mistakes to Avoid When Shopping for Kitchen Appliances, According to the Pros

published Mar 6, 2017
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(Image credit: Brittany Keats Cerullo)

Making a $1,000 mistake is no fun, especially if it’s in the form of a refrigerator, stove, or dishwasher that you use on the regular. To help you make the best-for-you decisions at the appliance store, we talked to pros from Sears, Best Buy, and Lowe’s. Here, they share the top five appliance shopping mistakes to avoid.

Mistake #1: Not measuring your space.

The biggest snafu that all of our experts kept coming back to? Not measuring your space. “It could end up simply not fitting or sticking out if you choose the wrong one,” explains Lori Wood, senior director of product management for Sears’ Kenmore Appliances.

You need to know exactly how much room you have to accommodate a new appliance, including how much room you need for the door to actually open. You also need to be sure there’s a way to get your new appliance into your house. Take careful measurements in all directions of both where the unit will live as well as any door frames, hallways, or staircases it must travel through to get there — and don’t round up.

Mistake #2: Not knowing your home’s hookups.

We’re sure you know if your stove is gas or electric, but does your fridge have a water dispenser or ice maker — and if it doesn’t, would you like one?

If there is a water line already in place, it might not be up to code — it’s typically required by law that there be a water shutoff valve installed, to protect against leaks. “If there isn’t a water line, we can install one up to 30 feet from the existing water source,” says Dustin Williams of Best Buy’s Geek Squad. (Sears and Lowe’s offer the same service.)

Mistake #3: Not doing your research.

With this whole internet thing, it can be both extremely easy and totally overwhelming to start digging into product reviews and buying guides. But it’s pretty important to at least have a general idea of what you want.

“We have sales associates with tons of training dedicated to explaining what specific features do and helping you make the right purchase decision for you,” Woods says. “But it helps if consumers come in with an idea of what they want.” You don’t necessarily need to know that a 20K BTU burner is an option available on gas ranges, but you should be able to describe to the salesperson your cooking habits — and complaints about your current appliance — so she can steer you in the right direction.

At minimum, the pros suggest getting a handle on what’s out there and what your budget will (and won’t) get you. For example, the most common styles of fridge are top freezer (which is probably the image you conjure when someone says “refrigerator”), bottom freezer (which means you’ll stoop less to reach fresh foods but not frozen), side-by-side, and French door. If you don’t know what these are, get thee to the interwebs.

Mistake #4: Not keeping an open mind.

You grew up with an electric stove; you’ve always had an electric stove; you want an electric stove, gosh darn it! Or maybe you’ve heard that microwave drawers are totally inconvenient and you aren’t even willing to consider one.

That’s some flawed thinking, our experts say. There are so many great advances that may suit your lifestyle and habits, and make doing your chores easier than ever! “Induction cooktops are becoming more mainstream as the price points go down,” notes Lowe’s Tara Gudger. (Don’t know what induction is? See point three above.)

Mistake #5: Being too trendy.

Cool new features are just that — totally cool, especially when they’re new. But rather than letting yourself be wowed by the fridge with the wifi-connected camera inside that can show you how low you are on milk, consider: Will you really use it for the money it costs?

Also, is it really worth it to you to spend the money to get appliances with faces to blend in with the rest of your cabinets? While today’s color trends are far less dramatic than the avocado of the ’70s, it’s still worth a pause to consider if you’ll still love that currently super-popular black stainless as much in 10 years when your fridge is still humming along.

What was the biggest mistake you made when buying an appliance?