Ben Schlichter, owner of Ben’s Appliances, Circleville, Ohio. He is an appliance repairman and founder of the YouTube channel Ben’s Appliances and Junk, which offers appliance reviews and repair advice. Bens-Appliances.com
If you think today’s appliances aren’t built to last like the ones you grew up with…you’re right. Not only has quality declined, but modern appliances are increasingly packed with failure-prone features. Plus, government-imposed energy- and water-efficiency goals sometimes increase device complexity at the cost of longevity. Result: It is common for appliances today to last less than a decade.
Consumers can’t just choose by brand reputation these days—which brand is best varies by appliance and sometimes even from model to model…and some long-respected brands have endured huge quality declines in recent years. But the people who repair those appliances know which ones break most often…and how much it costs to repair them when they fail.
Bottom Line Personal asked Ben Schlichter, a repairman and owner of a used appliance store, for his insider’s advice. His recommendations are based on his own experience working with these brands and products and, in some cases, on informal surveys he has conducted with other repair pros. Reminder: Ongoing changes in the appliance sector mean that the quality of brands and products can vary.
Refrigerators. The best way to reduce the odds that your next refrigerator will fail fast is to avoid any model that has an ice dispenser in the fridge door. Ice makers have a high failure rate and typically cost hundreds of dollars to repair.
If having an ice maker is important to you, choose a model with the ice maker inside the freezer or in the freezer door, not in the fridge door. Reason: Making ice requires colder temps than those of the refrigerator, so fridge-door ice makers face issues that freezer ice makers don’t. Side-by-side refrigerators are most likely to have freezer-door ice dispensers. Alternative: Get a stand-alone countertop ice maker, such a GE Opal 2.0 ($579*).
Best refrigerator brands: Frigidaire and GE tend to make the most reliable fridges, though quality varies from model to model, as it does with all fridge brands. If your priority is reliability, choose a Frigidaire or GE that has few fancy features that can break, as well as simpler electronics.
One simple reliable French door model is GE PWE23K ($3,299).
A side-by-side worth considering is the GE GSS25GMHPCES ($1,599).
For a freezer-top model, consider Frigidaire FFTR1835WV ($999), GE GTS19K ($1,049) and GE GTS22K ($1,099).
High-end brand Sub-Zero tends to be well-made, too, though expensive.
Washing machines. The question that comes up with washers is whether to buy a top-loader or a front-loader. Many American consumers are convinced that top-loading washers are more reliable, and there are plenty of statistics and articles online that back that up.
But: Based on repair rates for appliances under warranty and the general consensus of appliance repair pros, the latest generation of front-loaders seems to be neck and neck with top-loaders in terms of reliability. Front-loaders also consume less electricity and water and are easier on clothing…plus they provide better spin drying than top-loaders, reducing dryer electricity use. Top loaders, on the other hand, cost less up front, and some people simply consider them more convenient.
Avoid washers that include both top- and front-load capabilities—these can fail frequently and are very expensive to repair.
Best washer brands: Speed Queen is the virtually unanimous reply when appliance repair people are asked to name the most reliable washer brand. Speed Queen’s quality isn’t quite what it once was, but the company remains far ahead of the competition.
If you want a top-loader, opt for the TC ($1,479)—the TR series is less reliable.
If you want a front-loader, go for the FF7 ($2,449).
Despite their reliability, Speed Queen washers are relatively expensive and inefficient with water and electricity use.
The second most reliable washer brand is LG—the LG WN3670 ($949) front-loader is a good choice. German brands Miele and Bosch also are well-made, though somewhat expensive—Bosch’s WAT28400UC ($1,149) is a strong choice, but before buying, confirm that there’s a repair tech in your area who can fix these German appliances.
If budget is your primary concern, Amana’s NTW4516FW3 top-loader provides reasonable quality at a low price ($566). Amanas are made by Whirlpool, a reliable brand, and while they often lack the latest features, they do offer Whirlpool’s solid build quality.
If you do lots of laundry and want elite dependability, consider a washer made for the commercial market. These are pricey—at least $2,000—but they are constructed to be much more durable than residential washers. Speed Queen and Dexter are the most reliable brands.
About dryers: Consumers inevitably buy whichever dryer matches the washer they selected, but there’s often little difference in build quality between an appliance maker’s high-end dryer and other far-less-expensive ones in its lineup. Consider saving money and reducing the odds of problems by choosing the simpler, lower-end unit instead.
Dishwashers. The number-one tip with dishwashers isn’t which washer to buy…it’s just to do basic maintenance. Simply clearing out your dishwasher’s filter regularly will greatly improve the odds that the unit will have a relatively long problem-free life—a clogged filter puts excessive strain on the pump.
Best dishwasher brands: Bosch is the obvious choice here. It is the brand most appliance repair pros recommend and what they tend to buy for their own homes. Bosch 500 ($1,099) and 800 ($1,299) series dishwashers are the best bets—they’re quiet and reliable…but expensive. Avoid entry-level Bosch dishwashers that have plastic rather than stainless-steel tubs—those are not built in the same factories as higher-end Bosch models, and the quality differences are substantial. As noted above, before buying, confirm that there’s a repair pro in your area who works with Bosch.
The brands that I think come closest to Bosch in terms of reliability are Whirlpool/Kitchenaid, followed by Frigidaire. Avoid the low-end plastic tub models with these brands as well.
Stoves. Before you buy any stove, take a look at the controls. Avoid models where the burners are controlled via a centralized digital control panel rather than knobs—this dramatically increases the odds that the pricey control board will one day have to be replaced.
Also: Spin the knobs of models that do have knobs—if these turn with a smooth glide, they are going to be expensive to replace if they fail. If the knobs give a small amount of resistance when turned, they’re made with time-tested technology that is likely to last and will be inexpensive to replace if it does fail. These simple, reliable knobs could be a clue that the stove is constructed from simple, reliable parts throughout.
If you’re tempted by a stove that offers “air frying,” consider choosing one that offers a “convection” feature instead. These two technologies are very similar, but air frying is trendier now, so models that offer it often cost hundreds of dollars more.
If you want an induction cooktop, strongly consider buying a standalone unit rather than a stove that includes this feature. Stoves tend to be the longest-lasting appliance in the home, but induction cooktops are failure-prone and often extremely expensive to repair. People who purchase stoves that have built-in induction cooktops often end up replacing those appliances before their time because of failed induction burners.
Best stove brands: GE, Bosch, LG and Frigidaire are the most reliable stove brands. Repair pros differ about the ranking within those four, but when it comes to electric stoves, GE often is placed at the very top of the list, while LG often takes the top spot with gas.
Electric stoves offering a strong combination of quality and affordability include GE’s JBS60RKSS ($899)…or GE’s JB73SPSS ($1,099) for those who want convection. Frigidaire’s GCRE3060AF ($1,449) is a good choice if you absolutely must have air fry…while LG’s LDE4413ST ($1,699) is a great double oven.
For gas stoves, consider LG’s LRGL5825 ($1,349), Frigidaire’s FFGF3054 ($1,149) or GE’s JGB566 ($949).
High-end brands Viking, Thermador and Wolf all are well-regarded by repair pros and can last for many decades, but they are extremely expensive and replacement parts are pricey.
If your priority is a stove that’s relatively reliable for the lowest up-front price, buy a Hotpoint. They are economy-minded and tend to have very few features, but the brand is owned by GE and provides GE’s high build quality.
Empava’s IDC12B2 is a very affordable induction cooktop—it recently retailed for around $200.