You're ready to upgrade the furnishings that make your home or office more accommodating. Before setting out with your credit card in hand, however, you should ask yourself: Is this the best time of year to buy appliances?
When you want a new refrigerator, dishwasher or microwave, you need to consider more than just where you'll buy it. Unless you're replacing something for emergency reasons, you should step back and evaluate whether this is the best time of year to buy appliances. Like many other consumer purchases, buying household goods is actually time dependent.
This doesn't mean your new laundry machine absolutely has to match your spring or winter decor, although there's nothing wrong with flexing your interior design muscles. What you really need to consider is that factors like availability, cost, features and service all depend on when you make your purchase.
Luckily, you can figure out the best time of year to buy appliances without resorting to random chance, so put away your horoscope and tarot cards. Just follow these basic guidelines to determine whether or not to shop around or jump on a deal.
How Does Seasonality Impact Pricing?
Manufacturers and retailers want to make money at any cost. To do so, they commonly change the price of their stock items to make them more marketable and still turn a profit.
Keeping Cool: A Simple Example
Consider the humble window-mounted air conditioning unit. As you might expect, these items are likely to be in higher demand when the weather starts warming up, meaning you're less likely to find a good selection when it's already sweltering outside. Retailers also know they can squeeze more money out of you when you're sweating so much you can barely read a price tag, so summer probably isn't the best time to grab an AC unit.
Similarly, the fact that consumers don't really think about cooling off in fall or winter makes these great times to pick up an AC for next year. Manufacturers also want to get rid of their remaining stock from last season so that they'll have room to fill their stores with newer models that boast attractive features and cool designs.
Some Consumer Reports research indicates that August is the best time to find discounts on AC units. The same same data suggests that September and October are also great times to pick up lawnmowers and tractors, which makes sense considering what we've already covered. On the other hand, competing sources like Kiplinger say that lawnmower deals tend to be most prevalent in April and around Black Friday in November. This just goes to show that there are no universal rules, so it's critical to research your area trends as much as possible.
Breaking Things Down by Appliance
Of course, these trends could vary depending on numerous factors. For instance, if you live next to a GE factory or LG outlet, the seasonal prices you pay might be a bit more stable. Nonetheless, most appliances large and small are associated with specific times of year when discounts are more frequent. Here are a few more trendy deals to think about:
- Look out for winter deals on last year's washers and dryers. Readers Digest says this is when manufacturers ship new models. Play your cards right, and you may even be able to bargain on combo deals.
- Get a vacuum in April or May when winter prices start to fall in preparation for the release of new models in June.
- Wait until temperatures get warm to pick your new fridge. According to HouseLogic, unlike many other major appliances that come out in September, October and January, new refrigerators are typically revealed in spring.
- Portable and standby generators are emergency equipment, and as many manufacturers and experts note, you're best off buying them before you actually need them. The best time of year to buy appliances like these might depend largely on where you live. For instance, if you're situated in a remote rural area where winter blizzards are a common occurrence, making your purchase prior to the worst storm season is both practical and a sound financial move. The same goes for city neighborhoods that are subject to summer brownouts. Buying before most people go searching for emergency backup power could give you more bargaining leverage.
Mother Nature Isn't the Only Time Factor
Not every appliance deal you'll find out there will correspond to the seasons. Others have longer lifespans that may make their purchase cycles a bit more difficult to predict.
Keeping Your Home Running
Gas-fired water heaters, for instance, are known for sticking around for about a decade, while their electric-powered counterparts may last 15 years or so. Experts say that if your device is nearing the end of its useful existence based on typical figures or its warranty terms, you should consider a new purchase. One way to protect your investment is to buy the extended warranty. Some people are against extended warranties and others swear by them. If your looking for a good warranty option check out total home warranty plans.
Local and national laws can impose major restrictions that have a huge effect on what you pay for installation and permitting. For instance, if your county is considering a new ordinance that doubles the cost of obtaining a building permit, you may want to purchase your new outdoor HVAC air handler sooner rather than later.
Are You Shopping Around a Big Event?
Don't assume the same rules apply to every major appliance on your wishlist. In addition to changing their prices to suit seasonal demand, retailers also do so to keep up with holidays and other big events.
Choose Your Window of Opportunity Wisely
Many experts recommend buying your appliances on any holiday weekend, but others caution that big sales don't necessarily equate to biggest discounts. Always shop around before making a final decision, and remember that some items may not be quite as widespread during certain periods.
For instance, Kiplinger notes that you're more likely to find a top-tier gas grill on sale when retailers cut their prices right after the Labor Day rush. Although these discounts continue into the next month, the selection also begins dwindling. In short, you have to walk a fine line between finding the best price and not getting your item at all because it's out of stock.
Hunting for Sales
Also bear in mind that discounts don't necessarily have to relate to the particular holiday in question. For instance, consumers have been known to find huge refrigerator markdowns during Memorial Day and Mother's Day. This is simply because spring stock acquisitions make these convenient times for retailers to offer sales. It doesn't really have anything to do with the armed forces or your mom, although she might appreciate a cheap new fridge.
Take advantage of retailers' addiction to marketing to consumers. One CNET writer says that because stoves and ovens are commonly marked down during holiday weekends, it's smart to subscribe to emails from big appliance sellers. In addition to helping you get a general feel for how much you might save on certain items, this can help you calculate your budget and snag exclusive coupons that make your purchases even more economical.
Pricing Nonessential Items
Many small appliances follow yearly cycles, but be aware that they may not be as universal or seasonally dependent. For instance, TV prices are commonly jacked up before big viewing events, like the Superbowl, yet the prices you pay for toasters could remain pretty constant year round simply because they're not associated with specific holidays. Things like clothes irons, desk lamps and similar tools may also stay consistent because they're not exactly big-ticket items.
One exception to this rule is specialty appliances, like Keurig coffee makers or professional-grade Breville mixers. Because these popular devices are commonly sold at high markups to begin with, retailers may be a bit more willing to apply discounts and cater to buyers.
Does Your Purchase Include a Big Installation?
While your dishwasher or refrigerator can usually be installed in under an hour, other items may require complicated construction. Always take installation into consideration when choosing the best time of year to buy appliances. For instance, backup generators have to be wired, supported and fueled properly. These requirements may necessitate an upgrade to your home's connections, the installation of an electrical slab or the addition of an underground propane tank.
The cost of installation typically varies to match the difficulty of the job. If your contractor has to break through tough permafrost to situate your generator's propane tank, you'll probably pay way more for labor.
It's also important to consider that you may have to wait for appropriate weather conditions to install things like concrete slabs for generators or new rooftop solar panels and air handlers. You should plan your purchase to account for these events so that you're not caught without an essential appliance when you need it most.
Will You Need More Than One Appliance?
You don't have to let your budget be ruled by the seasons, holidays or other outside factors. In some cases, you'll find it better to hold off on a major purchase due to circumstances in your personal life. Ask yourself these questions:
Are You About to Remodel?
If you're planning a major renovation or you know your refrigerator isn't the only one of your kitchen appliances on its last legs, take a step back. Waiting until you can afford a package deal on multiple appliances may be healthier for your wallet and your schedule than making many separate purchases.
If you're picking up an entire kitchen instead of just a new microwave, your retailer may be willing to cut you a break on pricing. These deals may not be widely advertised, so ask to speak to a sales department head or manager if necessary. High-level employees also have more power to haggle with you.
Are You Planning on Selling Your Home?
Unless you've got money to burn or your current appliances are in an utter state of disrepair, you probably won't replace everything just to impress a potential buyer. Nonetheless, it's important to consider upgrading your appliances before you list your property.
Most people like moving into buildings with fresh furnishings. If it's in the budget, consider replacing vital appliances, like your water heater or HVAC system, along with your roof, siding and other external renovations that increase curb appeal.
Are You Buying Online?
Shopping in the digital marketplace is vastly different from visiting traditional brick-and-mortar sellers. Because these sellers' stock may be warehoused geographically further away, they might offer unique discounts or focus more on specific holidays. For instance, the Black Friday deals you find online will probably pale in comparison to the discounts available a few days later on Cyber Monday.
Regardless what you're in the market for, remember that the best time of year to buy appliances varies by item, and each retailer is unique. Smart shoppers keep track of individual prices as well as specific seller discounts to find the best value. To learn more about living frugally and still having fun, check out our other blogs.
 "Best Time to Buy Things," Consumer Reports, Accessed on April 6, 2016.
 "Best Times To Buy Big-Ticket Items," Kiplinger, Accessed on April 6, 2016.
 Alyssa Jung, "The Best Time to Buy: 43 Cheap Finds Throughout the Year," Readers Digest, Accessed on April 6, 2016.
 Sheyna Steiner, "The best time to buy anything," Bankrate, Jan. 28, 2007.
 Lisa Kaplan Gordon, "When is the Best Time to Buy Appliances?" HouseLogic, Accessed on April 6, 2016.
 "How does a portable generator work?" Briggs & Stratton, Accessed on April 6, 2016.
 NC Cooperative Extension, "Buying A Portable Generator," NC State University A&T State University Cooperative Extension, Sep. 24, 2015.
 Teresa Mears, "How to Save When You Buy Your Next Water Heater," U.S. News and World Report, Oct. 14, 2015.
 Casey Slide, "When Is the Best Time of Year to Buy Large Appliances?" Money Crashers, Accessed on April 6, 2016.
 Katie Pilkington, "Stove and oven buying guide," CNET, Sept. 12, 2013.
 Bob Tedeschi, "Ready to Talk Amps and Ohms?", The New York Times, March 27, 2013