Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Economics of Appliances

My previous post on fruit tools got me thinking about the economic of household appliances. When I was shopping for a toaster ten years ago, I found a $10 Toastmaster.

The Toastmaster 2 Slice Toaster now costs $20, but it's still one of the cheapest models on the market.

My shopping companions squawked that I should buy something more expensive, that the cheap one would break. I replied that if it broke, I would be out only $10.

Ten years later, it's still making toast.

Similarly, a friend buying a vacuum cleaner wanted to buy the most reliable model. I said that was an old-fashioned way to think about buying an appliance. Look for the least expensive model, I advised. Appliances are so cheap, it's more expensive to repair them than replace them.

I recommended the cheapest vacuum cleaner I'd found years earlier, a Eureka upright model. It was $50 when I bought it (it's $70 now). Mine still works over five years later. If it breaks, I'll buy a new one.

I suppose a more expensive vacuum is important for cleaning huge areas, but most apartments and small houses take about the same time to vacuum regardless of price of the appliance.

I like making pesto, so I recently decided to purchase a food processor. Did I buy one with all the bells and whistles?

Not when Black & Decker makes a food processor for $30. After tonight's pesto linguini, it looks like another great appliance purchase.

My friends who wanted me to buy a more expensive toaster will roll their eyes when they see my latest kitchen appliance purchase. Let's see what they say ten years from now.

Bought a cheap appliance or gadget that you like? Leave a comment!


  1. Around the time I bought my first house in Cincinnati (1986), I also bought my first lawnmower. A psychiatrist friend had bought a top-of-the-line Honda for his little yard--it cost $650. I went with the cheapest Murray I could find, figuring I could by a new one every several years and still come out ahead. Man did I hate mowing that yard!

  2. I have a Toastess brand electric kettle (like in the UK for boiling water). http://www.gizmodia.com/toastesskettleelectric15litertjk100.aspx - $25 (I think I paid less) bought in 2006. This is the little kettle that could, still going strong.

    As for toasters, I swear by Dualit . I have a classic, 2 slot plus a 3rd slot with a sandwich cage - they don't make it any more. The toaster just produces the most consistent and even toast. http://www.dualit.com/products/classic. It was quite expensive, but worth it.

    Blender, is Oster Classic Beehive - around $60 from Costco. Another kitchen workhorse - good solid performer.

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