What to look for in new home appliances

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In the market for new home appliances? Know someone who is? Here’s our best advice about things to keep in mind while you’re shopping:

Modern new refrigerator


  • Non-drip, removable and repositionable shelves enable you to fit more items and make it easier to add and remove items
  • Separated fruits and vegetables compartments with temperature and humidity adjustments will keep these foods fresher longer
  • Units with bottom freezers are more efficient
  • Unnecessary bells and whistles are cool but the more features it offers, the more things there are that will break and require repair
  • Check the water dispenser speed; some are faster than others
  • Study your current refrigerator. What works well for you? What doesn’t work well for your needs?
  • Avoid trendy colors, as they go out of style quickly
  • Stainless steel models show fingerprints and you can’t hang your child’s drawings on them. As an alternative, consider a stainless look instead.

Baked chicken in oven


  • Commercial ranges don’t offer many benefits over conventional models. They can be much more expensive to repair and often are more difficult to clean
  • For safety reasons, avoid models with knobs located in the front if you have small children living in your home
  • Be sure the oven is large enough for your cooking needs; oven sizes do vary greatly
  • Pros and cons associated with gas and electric models: Speed: Gas ranges are faster to turn on and immediately off. All things being equal, gas burners with a higher BTU rating will heat faster. Electric is slower to turn on and very slow to cool down. – Cleaning: Electric smooth-top ranges are easier to keep clean. When off, they can also serve as extended counter space
  • Heavy, cast-iron gas range grates are more durable than the steel variety
  • In the event of a power outage, a gas range burner can be lit with a match. With an electric range, you’re out of luck!
  • Large windows on oven doors are helpful for easier monitoring of baked goods
  • A convection oven can speed cooking times. It also enables you to fill the oven full because the heat is distributed evenly throughout the oven

Post-purchase tip: Always install the anti-tip device that accompanies your new range; it can help prevent a dangerous range tip-over if a child sits or stands on the oven door.

You might also be interested in this post: Range cleaning 101

Microwave oven

Microwave Ovens

  • Many microwave ovens feature sensor cooking, which enables the oven to more accurately determine the necessary cooking times
  • Fancy features add unnecessary complexity and cause more things to break. Most people find that they rarely use these features at all

Open Washing Machine

Washing Machines

  • Most front loaders have longer wash cycles than traditional top loaders
  • Most front loaders need to be emptied soon after a load is finished to avoid the development of a moldy odor on the clothes and inside of the machine
  • Front loaders can utilize normal washing machine detergent but they work better with specialized “HE” (high efficiency) detergent
  • If you buy a front loader, get the pedestal option to avoid having to unload while kneeling

Post-purchase tip: Most suburban homes with first or second-floor laundry rooms are not designed with enough strength in the floor for a fully-loaded washing machine. We strongly recommend that you install ¾-inch plywood under both washer and dryer and fasten to the floor with screws.

You might also be interested in these posts:

Four things that hurt your dryer

Nine tips for washing machine care

Five fast appliance fixes

Dishwasher toprack


  • If you expect the dishes to be bone dry at the end of the cycle, look for a heated, forced-air dry feature. Not all units have this
  • Study the rack sizes and layouts as well as the silverware basket location. This varies greatly model to model to serve different needs
  • A separate wash arm beneath the upper rack is more effective than a center tower
  • Some units have a timed fill cycle for the wash water rather than a depth fill. Depth fill is better because it eliminates the problem of low pressure and old water fill valves

You might also be interested in this post: The right way to load a dishwasher

Before you make buying decisions, we also recommend that you read testing results conducted and published by Consumer Reports.

When you ask your family and friends about their experiences with recent appliance purchases, be mindful that not everyone will have the same needs as you.

Any other advice to share? Please leave your comments below.

Good luck!

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