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What’s the best way to buy new appliances, especially with so many for sale online?

If you are shopping for new appliances, try to shop before the end of the year when many stores increase prices. (Aidan Design/Robert Radifera)
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When your out-of-date refrigerator fails you, there is not much you can do but replace it right away. But for homeowners planning to upgrade their appliances for a more modern kitchen or laundry room, experts have shopping tips about how to buy appliances and whether there is a better time of year to buy them.

“The kitchen and bath industry is currently exploding with business and we have seen multiple unprecedented price increases in cabinetry in the last three to six months,” wrote Nadia Subaran, co-owner of Aidan Design in Silver Spring, Md., in an email.

“We haven’t seen those same increases yet in appliances or in plumbing fixtures but lead times and back orders are at an all-time high. If customers need a replacement appliance quickly, I advise speaking to an appliance rep about what is in stock and readily available. Some of our clients have had to put in temporary appliances while they wait for their chosen appliance to come in this fall.”

We asked Subaran, Shannon Kadwell, lead kitchen and bath designer for Anthony Wilder Design/Build in Cabin John, Md., and Jessica Petrino, editor of AJ Madison Learning Center in Tysons Corner, Va., for advice about shopping for new appliances.

Q: When is the best time of year to buy appliances?

Kadwell: If you’re buying all new appliances, look for holiday sales at appliance stores. Appliance stores use these to get you in the door, so do your research early to know what you’re looking for and don’t get distracted by the new (usually not on sale) models on the floor. Another benefit to researching early — you may find they offer “bundle” programs. These can be a great way to save money on a single appliance when buying several appliances at the same time. For example: Get a free dishwasher when buying a refrigerator, range and range hood from the same manufacturer.

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Petrino: It’s wise to shop proactively, especially if you have your sights on a particular product. If you’re holding onto an ailing appliance or an appliance that’s 10 plus years old, research replacements early for the best prices and selection. Many brands offer seasonal promotions, and you can find great deals around holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Black Friday and Presidents’ Day.

Q: When is the worst time to buy appliances?

Petrino: The most challenging time to buy appliances is when your existing model is no longer working. Give yourself the gift of time and flexibility, and purchase new appliances before the old ones break down.

Subaran: Many appliance companies do price increases at the end of the year, so try to shop before then.

Q: When do new appliance models come out? Where can I learn more?

Kadwell: Like cars, new appliance models get introduced, and the “last year’s” model is priced to sell out. Dishwashers in the fall, refrigerators in the spring, and ranges and ovens in the beginning of the year are typical turnover times for manufacturers.

Subaran: Many companies will work to have new models introduced at the Kitchen and Bath Show (KBIS), which typically happens in January or February.

Q: Many stores seem to have only one or two models on display — even big box stores like Best Buy, Home Depot, Costco and Lowe’s — so customers are forced to shop online. But it can feel risky to buy such a large purchase without seeing it in person. Any advice about buying appliances online without seeing them first?

Kadwell: Kitchen and bath articles and magazines are a great way to learn about new and innovated products. Also, smaller appliance stores sometimes have working models on display and can walk you through a demonstration with the product.

Subaran: Visiting local showrooms is a wonderful resource and an important part of the decision-making process. While you can do a lot of online research, all our clients have to do at least one visit to see physical displays. Sometimes you have to go to multiple showrooms to see what you are looking for. Some companies have multiple showrooms and can advise you if others have the model you want.

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Petrino: Appliance experts in retail stores, online or over-the-phone can help you find new appliances. AJ Madison has showrooms in Tysons Corner, Va., and Brooklyn for in-person shopping, or you can reach them via an online chat or phone call.

Kadwell: Be aware of all the costs. Be sure delivery is included in the final cost. These are usually listed online after you add the item to the cart.

Check what the return policy is for the online store you purchase from. If the appliance comes damaged, who is responsible? How do you get this resolved? Always be there to check over the appliance while the driver is there. Take a photo and note on the bill you sign for the driver if damage has occurred. This way there is a record you can refer to.

Having to pay an independent pro to install the appliance is an added cost you may not have thought about. Some of these appliances need a bit more work than just plugging them in. Many appliance stores offer installation with the purchase as well as removal of the old appliance. You should double check to be sure you have what you need to have the appliance installed, because many require extra parts or install kits. If unsure when buying online, call to talk to someone in person or ask your installer what will be needed.

Q: What features should you look for when shopping for appliances?

Petrino: When appliance shopping, consider how you cook, shop for food, host guests and do laundry. Trending cooking features include air fry, sous vide and smart stoves with downloadable recipes. Consider oven capacity and burner power and make sure your new cooking appliances have all your favorite modes. For refrigerators, look for models with adjustable shelves, temperature-controlled drawers and cooling technologies designed to keep ingredients fresh for longer. Third-rack dishwashers are trending, offering up to 30 percent more capacity. Explore new self-dispensing models or dishwashers with adjustable racks to fit every size load.

Replacing your washer and dryer set can deliver exceptional fabric care, and Energy Star-rated models will lower your utility bills. You can also look for innovations like garment steamers and self-dispensing washers.

Kadwell: If you’re buying only a single appliance and are okay with a “less than perfect” model, see if the floor model can be sold or look at the scratched and dent area of a store. Sometimes these scratches and dents are very small imperfections and will not be seen once installed.

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