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How long should your household appliances last?

We look at the lifespan of washers, fridges, TVs, phones and more, and when you should repair versus replace.

repairman looking at a washing machine
Last updated: 20 March 2024


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

We know what you're thinking – products don't seem to last as long as they used to. You may have fond memories of tuning in to The Simpsons on the same television for 15 years or more, but statistically speaking, we're buying a new TV every four years or so.

So how long should your fridge, camera or smartphone last? And if it breaks down, should you repair or replace it?

Below, we estimate how long an appliance should last, given reasonable use and some maintenance and minor repairs.

We've based these figures on the more than 3500 responses we received to our 2023 product lifespan survey, a 2018 manufacturer survey conducted by our sister organisation Consumer NZ, and the type of product – some appliances (like TVs) have an easier working life than others (like washing machines).

Cheaper to replace?

If your appliance is broken and out of warranty, you might want to consider whether you're better off replacing it than fixing it. We've estimated when it's likely to be cheaper to replace a product based on the expected lifespan of the appliance and average cost of a typical repair.

Repair vs replace: Which is best?

If your appliance breaks down out of warranty, you need to figure out whether it's better to replace rather than repair it. While a shiny new model may offer better efficiency, performance and features, getting your existing appliance up and running again means you're using fewer raw materials, and less waste is going into landfill. 

But while a repair can be cheaper than a replacement, this is only true up to a point: when an appliance is close to the end of its working life, a repair may cost more than the appliance is actually worth, or you may repair one component, only for another to wear out soon after.

How long will the repair last? If it's only a year or two, you may be throwing good money after bad

We've calculated a rough estimate of when your scales should tip from repair to replace – the point where a typical repair would cost more than what your old appliance is worth, based on typical life expectancy, purchase price and estimated cost of repairs. 

Of course, this is just a guide – your mileage may vary depending on your make and model, the type of repair required, cost of parts and even your location, so consider it a starting point for the decision and go from there.

Crunching the numbers: What we did

Large kitchen appliances

Small kitchen appliances

Laundry and cleaning

Electronic appliances

Heating and ventilation

What to consider before you repair an old appliance

While tossing out that temperamental toaster that cost less than $20 is a no-brainer, major repairs to a large appliance that might be nearing or at the end of its expected life take a bit more thought. Here are some things to consider.

  • How long will the repair last? If it's only a year or two, you may be throwing good money after bad.
  • What else could go wrong? You may replace one part only to have another one fail soon after.
  • How long will spare parts be available, and how long will operating systems be supported?
  • What are the logistical challenges? Can repairs be carried out in your home? Will retailers charge delivery fees? How long will you have to wait for parts?
  • You may be concerned about the environmental impact of disposing of an old appliance that isn't quite dead, but weigh that up against the environmental benefits of a modern, more efficient appliance.
  • New items are likely to have technological advancements you'll enjoy and make use of, and a new product warranty
  • Working out the residual value of your old appliance can give you an indication of what it's still worth and whether it makes economic sense to repair it. To calculate residual value (R), divide the purchase price (P) by life expectancy (L) to give a value per year. Now multiply this by the remaining years you expect the appliance to last (Y) [R= Y*(P/L)]. A residual value higher than the cost of repairs is a good economic argument to go ahead with repair work.

5 things to do before you call for a repair

Service calls for major appliances can be expensive, even before any repairs are carried out, so it's worth seeing if there's a simple solution before calling in the cavalry.

  1. Try turning it off and on again (it's a cliché for a reason).
  2. Check the troubleshooting section of your owner's manual.
  3. Search the "support" pages of the manufacturer's website.
  4. Google the fault (others might have encountered – and solved – the same problem).
  5. Contact the manufacturer's customer support service, either by phone, email or social media.
We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.