Home Depot may be the largest home improvement retailer but when it comes to selling major appliances it trails behind Sears, the leader, and Lowe's. In a seeming effort to change that, Home Depot has added three new appliance lines, Whirlpool, Electrolux and Frigidaire, brands that are already sold by its competitors. All three have fared pretty well in Consumer Reports appliance tests.
According to the Top 100 Major Appliance Retailers Report from Twice, Sears' appliance sales slipped three percent in 2010 to $7.3 billion, while sales declined nearly two percent at Lowe's, to $5.5 billion. In contrast, Home Depot saw a one percent increase, to $3.4 billion.
Home Depot already sells Whirlpool's brandmates Maytag and Amana. Frigidaire is in the Electrolux family. The big box store will be adding ranges, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers and washer-dryer pairs. Starting this summer, the retailer will expand the appliance sections of a limited number of stores and make the new products available through the company's Depot Direct delivery network in all U.S. stores, according to a company press statement.
Overall, Whirlpool, Frigidaire and Electrolux are well represented in Consumer Reports top appliance picks although they do better in some product categories than others. Kenmore, the house brand of Sears, is also very well represented. Thirty models from Home Depot's three new brands appear on our recommended list of refrigerators including two bottom-freezer models, nine side-by-sides and 19 top freezers. They also fare well in our brand reliability for refrigerators, especially Whirlpool.
One-third of the models on our list of recommended freezers come from Whirlpool or Frigidaire including the self-defrost uprights Whirlpool EV161NZT, $700, and Frigidaire FFU21F5H[W], $650, which are both CR Best Buys. The brands' representation isn't quite as robust in the other categories and there are no models from those three brands on our list of recommended dishwashers.
No matter where you shop it's good to have a number of choices. Before you go, check the performance of the models you're considering and the reliability of the brand on this website. To get started, check the appliance section.
—Mary H.J. Farrell