Need a new appliance? Learn, compare – then ask for a deal

Unless you’re an expert in spin cycles, buying an appliance could leave you dizzy.

To make the process easier, here are answers to the appliance-buying questions you’ll probably ponder, from “When should I buy?” to “Do I really need a warranty?”

REPAIR OR REPLACE?

People with existing appliances have two options: repair or replace.

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You can count on major appliances to last about a year for every $100 spent, says Doug Rogers, president of Mr. Appliance, a national appliance-repair company.

“If I bought a $100 microwave, I’m probably not going to call anyone to fix it if it’s over a year old,” Rogers says. “I’m probably just going to go buy a new one. But if I buy a $1,000 refrigerator, it’s probably worth fixing up to 10 years.”

Also consider your existing appliance’s energy efficiency — you could get an Energy Star rebate for a more efficient model — and its appearance, because replacing one appliance may leave you with others that no longer match.

Refurbished or reconditioned appliances offer a cost-effective alternative to buying new, but look into the warranty and the return policy in case something goes wrong.

WHICH ONE TO BUY?

Once you’re in the market for something new, don’t fixate on brands, unless you care about top-of-the-line prestige.

“It can matter when you’re looking to buy a luxury appliance, but if you’re buying a low- to midrange appliance, I wouldn’t get caught up too much in the brand name,” Rogers says, noting that he uses some of the same parts to fix appliances from different brands.

No one appliance brand masters everything all the time, says Paul Hope, a senior home and appliance editor at Consumer Reports, a nonprofit that tests and rates products. And contrary to popular belief, a more expensive model isn’t inherently better. Hope says professional-style appliances are pricey but frequently lack features of their less expensive counterparts.

To educate yourself, consult a salesperson and check reviews from sites like CNET and Consumer Reports. Then weigh your options.

A “smart” appliance that works with voice-activated services like Alexa is convenient but likely costly. A counter-depth refrigerator won’t stick out as far past your countertop, but it’s shallower than a standard-depth fridge. Cross-check features to see why one appliance is more expensive than the other…

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