What Are Floor Model Appliances and Should You Buy One?

by Michael Franco
washing mashines in appliance store

When it comes time to replace a major appliance in your home, it can feel like ... a lot. After all, you might have inherited the last unit when you bought your house. Or maybe it’s been years since you’ve even looked at a new refrigerator. Either way, the market can be overwhelming. For one, these larger appliances can be expensive — especially if you want one with a popular brand name. If you’re on a budget, you may be scouring, looking for safe ways to save money on this big purchase.

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That’s where floor models come in. You can get a great deal on a quality appliance — that is, if you know when and how to look for them.

Here’s the “what-you-need-to know” about floor model appliances.

What’s a Floor Model Appliance?

Put simply, floor model appliances are appliances that are or have recently been on display in a retail location. Because major electronics and appliances typically come in extensive packaging (to protect them during the shipping process), display model appliances provide customers with the opportunity to interact with them before making a purchasing decision. Larger appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines, are typically on display, but not plugged in. A customer may want to examine the size of the unit or to see what it looks like inside. Electronics like TVs are usually plugged in so the customer can get a sense of the image quality and user interface. Floor models attract customer attention, providing a crucial service to both stores and customers alike.

shopping for a new kitchen stove

Can You Buy Floor Model Appliances?

Floor models are great for giving you an idea of how an item looks and works before you buy it, but if you’re shopping at the right time, they might also provide you with a great discount on a top-of-the-line appliance.

Usually, when an appliance is replaced with a newer model, stores are typically left with the floor model. And since the model is out of the box and slightly used, it can’t be sent back to the factory. That’s where the discount comes in.

While there’s no “standard” discount for floor models, most are discounted anywhere between 10% and 15%. However, if the item has any cosmetic damage, or it has sat out on the floor for an extended period of time, a floor model might be up to 40% off the list price.

What’s the Difference Between ‘Floor Model’ and ‘Scratch and Dent?’

If you’re on a budget, purchasing floor model appliances can be a great way to get a quality appliance in your home for less. In your search for a discount appliance, you may have heard the words “floor model,” “scratch-and-dent” and “open-box appliances” thrown around. While the terms aren’t mutually exclusive, understanding the differences can help you make a more informed decision as you shop.

Generally speaking, “scratch-and-dent” is an umbrella term that refers to a host of different types of products. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with the performance of these appliances. However, at some point, the product may have incurred some form of cosmetic damage. Usually, the cosmetic damage on “scratch-and-dent” appliances is small and virtually unnoticeable, but it can also include any degree of scratches, scraped paint, warped metal or dents. “Open-box” just means the item was opened and returned; it may or may not have cosmetic issues.

While some floor models have no cosmetic damage at all, some might have experienced some small dings or dents while on the floor. Either way, “scratch-and-dent” appliances and floor models are both great alternatives to full-price appliances.

customer choosing large fridges in domestic appliances section

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How Do You Find Floor Model Appliances Available for Purchase?

Buying a display model appliance can be a great way to save big on a major appliance, provided you know how to look for them. One way to find floor models available for purchase is to keep an eye out for any stores advertising clearance sales on appliances. Often, stores offering a clearance might be making room for new products and will have display models for sale.

Another way to find floor models for sale is to shop at the right time. Most any major, big-box retailer will sell display models, but only at specific times. For example, knowing when new models of specific appliances roll out can come in handy if you’re looking for a good deal.

Generally speaking, washers, dryers and dishwashers roll out new models in September and October. Fridges arrive in May, and stoves and ovens come out in January. During this time, prices are reduced on existing models, and floor models are offered at clearance rates. Some retailers will only sell a floor model when they run out of boxed appliances, but it’s always worth checking with the store while you’re there.

Do Floor Models Come With a Warranty?

By and large, display model appliances come with the same manufacturer's warranty that would apply to any new appliance. However, this may only be the case if you are purchasing from an authorized dealer or major retailer. In some instances, display models are shipped to third-party retailers, and, in that case, you should be sure to double-check on the warranty before you purchase.

In any event, it’s always a good idea to do a bit of investigating before you purchase a display appliance. Make sure you take a good look at any visible surface to check for cosmetic damage. Sometimes, if you find an imperfection somewhere on the unit, you might be able to get an additional discount.

Finally, plug in the unit to make sure it works. Again, purchasing from a major retailer will ensure the manufacturer’s warranty is still intact, but getting your appliance at a third-party store might mean that it doesn’t come with one. In that case, you’ll want to make sure everything works on the unit before buying. If you can’t plug it in at the store, ask about any guarantee that the store offers. The last thing you want is to end up with an appliance that doesn’t work.

If you know what you’re looking for, purchasing a floor model is a great way to save on otherwise expensive appliances. With a discerning eye-and shopping at the right time — you can find great deals anywhere appliances are sold.