Another Can of Worms 11-1-13

Appliances Not Built to Last

When we built a new home about 10 years ago, we moved our old appliacnes into our home rather than purchase new ones.  At the time our refridgerator and electric range were both around 15 years old.  A couple months ago we started having problems with things not baking right in the oven and the refridgerator starting to make noises. We thought maybe we should consider replacing both the range and refridgerator now rather than getting them repaired.  In doing our normal research on the best brands to buy and checking with various appliance dealers we found something that we already suspected. Appliances are not build to last like they used to!


A few years ago my wife’s mother who was in her late 80’s at the time had to replace her old electric range because it wasn’t working right and nobody could find parts for it.  She was really upset when she had to purchase a new electric range because she liked her old one and thought it was built better than the new ones.  She was right, because her electric range was 50 years old.  She still had the instruction manual and invoice for the purchase of it.

I researched todays average life expenctancy for electric ranges and refridgerators and found that depending on the source they ranged from 12 to 17 years for electric ranges and 13 to 18 years for refridgerators.  While the price is going up, the life expectancy of appliances is going down.  The life expectancy stated above is based on purchasing good quality appliances and the life expectancy is even less for most lower prices units. 

Some of the reasons that were given for appliances not lasting as long is the globalization of manufacturing and using lower quality materials to keep prices down.  Like most other things the appliances or most of the components are now made in other countries sourcing the lowest priced components they can buy.  There are also a lot more features on the appliances that can go wrong and need more frequent repairs.  Many of these features are seldom used, but add to the cost and lower life expectancy of the unit.

When you look at new appliances you will notice a sticker indicating the annual cost of operating the appliance, and the dealers will tell you how much you can save in electricity over the cost of your older appliance.  This savings in electricity usually comes at price however.  In order to achieve that effiency, appliances such as refridgerators now come with smaller compressors that have to work harder and don’t last as long.  When you take your savings in electricity and add the lower life expectancy of the appliance you may not really be saving as much as you think over time.

When purchasing you need to look at cost over time.  The cost of an item does not always determine how long it will last, but usually purchasing mid range will give you the best value.  Many times that additional cost is for features that are seldom used.  Your best value is achieved when you determine what the appliance cost for the life of the unit.  As an example if an appliance cost $500 and it last 10 years it would cost you $4.17 per month.  If you spent $700 and it last 17 years it would cost you $3.43 per month.  You also have to add in the cost of repairs during that time period and operational costs.

New appliances look nice and come with new features that the old ones may not have, but sure lack the quality and life expectancy of the old ones.  The life expectancy of my wife’s mother’s range 50 years, our old electric range 25 years, and our new electric range 12 to 17 years.  I wonder what it will be when we upgrade our appliance the next time?

Besides doing the normal price comparisons and reviews on appliances, you may want to consider talking to someone that does appliance repair and ask which brands and models seem to hold up the best and have the least amount of repairs.  At todays cost for replacement parts and labor, this can really add to the operational cost of your appliance over time.

One last consideration is testing the new electric range by baking a fresh apple pie in it.  I bet I won’t be able to tell the difference and based on life expectancy it probably won’t bake as many pies as the old one.  

-Bob Haase hosts Outdoors Thursday, every Thursday at 9:10am on News-Talk 1450 KFIZ