Are high-tech appliances worth the extra expense? - AmericaNowNews.com

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Are high-tech appliances worth the extra expense?

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From timer-controlled coffee makers and refrigerators to microwaves and dishwashers, Americans use dozens of appliances each day to accomplish basic to complicated chores.

The gadgets in our homes are more sophisticated than ever before and, at times, it seems like they break down more often than the older models of yesteryear. If you're torn between repairing or replacing an appliance, we've got some answers.

If your grandmother's washing machine is as old as you and still spinning strong, but your brand new appliance is already giving you problems, you may be scratching your head wondering--why?

"When they did break--the old machines--they could kind of limp along because they were mechanical, but the new ones when they break, they break and they're just gone," said Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy editor of Consumer Reports.

All of the bells and whistles on newer appliances, including those digital screens and moisture controls, don't cause machines to break down faster, but they do cause them to break down more frequently, Lehrman said.

The more gadgets you have at your fingertips, the more opportunities there are for something to go very wrong since computer controls simply can't be fixed with a pair of pliers.

"It's sort of this dramatic failure because they control everything if they stop working, then the thing doesn't work anymore," said Lehrman.

You may be wondering if you should run out and search for an old-fashioned model like your grandmother's clunker.

According to Consumer Reports, the answer is no.

That's because going back to the basics means sacrificing energy efficiency and overall quality.

Instead, Consumer Reports recommends consumers determine which luxury or feature on an appliance is truly worth the risk of repair.

For instance, the odds of a refrigerator with an ice maker breaking down in three to four years is about 36 percent.

"We test, literally, hundreds of appliances every year and we don't necessarily see a correlation between price and quality," Lehrman said.

The only exception would be on the lowest-priced models and, there, you get exactly what you pay for.

On the flip side, not all pricey features have proven value either.

For example, is it truly worth spending hundreds of dollars for 'smart' appliances you can turn on and off remotely from a computer?

"Or do you just say, you know, for $500, I'll go check on the laundry myself," Lehrman asked.

If your fancy household gizmo breaks, Consumer Reports uses the 50-percent rule. If a repair would cost half or more of what it costs to buy a new appliance, then replace it.

If it's covered under a warranty--or even if it's not--Lehrman recommends calling the company and stating your case. They may help out just to keep you as a satisfied customer.

This also raises the question of whether you should buy an extended or store warranty on the appliances you purchase.

"You should just say ‘no' because most appliances don't break within that extended warranty time," Lehrman advised.

The cost of repair is usually the same as the cost of the warranty.

Consumer Reports has reviewed hundreds of appliances and can give you detailed information before you buy or replace an appliance.

The key bit of advise is to pay attention to brands. Some break down more often than others on certain gadgets, and the quality of the manufacturer can say a lot.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.

Additional Information:
Read more about Consumer Reports (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/index.htm).

Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman edits articles on a wide range of home products, services, and projects from refrigerators to roofing. These articles help consumers decide which products to buy, what features to look for and which to skip and where to buy the products. She also edits sections on kitchen and bath remodeling, energy efficient home renovations, and outdoor products and projects. These sections offer advice on installation, working with contractors, and home maintenance, including how to avoid common home scams. Ms. Kuperszmid Lehrman has been with CU since 2004. She has extensive experience editing and writing about home remodeling and design. Ms. Kuperszmid Lehrman has more than 20 years of experience which includes editing special-interest publications such as Woman's Day Kitchens & Baths and HomeStyle's Kitchens & Baths, as well as editing for This Old House. Her work has also appeared in Home, Metropolitan Home, Family Circle, Building Products, Newsday, and Old House Journal. She is a winner of the National Press Club Journalism Awards for consumer journalism in periodicals, and a graduate of Queens College in New York City.

The following information is from MSN.com (Source: http://money.msn.com/saving-money-tips/post.aspx?post=eb71b3bc-12f5-4427-9909-57e4fe615eda).

  • According to Consumer Reports statistics, in 3-4 years the odds of a side-by-side fridge with ice maker breaking down is 36%, 20% of dishwashers and 25% of front load washing machines.
  • That means you have a 1 in 4 chance of needing a repair in the next few years.
  • Digital features with electronic motherboards and LED screens, as well as features like moisture sensors and energy-efficient cycles mean that there are more opportunities for failure on your appliance.
  • Offshore manufacturing, outsourcing of engineering, cost cutting, etc can all have negative impacts on appliance quality.
  • According to the website "Homewyse," the average cost to repair an appliance ranges from $254 to $275.

The following sites offer "How To Repair" instructions:

Click to read this article from Daily Finance entitled, "How Long Appliances Should Last: More Than 4 Years" (Source: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/01/11/how-long-appliances-should-last-more-than-4-years).

Click to read this article from KTRK (ABC 13) entitled, "When is it time for a new appliance?" (Source: http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/consumer&id=8233265). 

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