Non-Radio – Supply and Demand issues in Replacing Household Appliances

These weeks household repairs have overtaken Amateur Radio as equipment failures have led to replacing our entire HVAC system AND replacing our Refrigerator.  So my QSO count is way down, matching the decline in my checkbook balance!

One thing that came through crystal clear while sorting the replacements out was Equipment Availability is the #1 critical factor – Supply has fallen way behind the high level of demand.

Our HVAC contractor was very good about securing the equipment we needed, as rather than another expensive repair we decided to do a full system replacement.  Still they had to wait until all the components were available which threw off their scheduling and left us nursemaid to a failing system that had to be manually reset daily to function.  Of course the failure timed itself to fall when temperatures were at the 90-95F peak (32-35c if you do metric) – it wouldn’t be a fun failure if it didn’t wait until things were heavily needed.

Where we really hit the Supply-side problems is with the refrigerator.  Our old Kenmore Elite was 8 years old, but depended on a sealed system (meaning field replaceable rather than repairable) cooling system that sprung a leak.  Basically it was done for, uneconomic to overhaul, and as we found out after hours of on-line chat and phones calls would take 2-3 months to be repaired. That is IF repair parts would be available on time.

Not waiting for months while living out of a cooler chest on our kitchen floor with main food storage on another level of the house in our backup refrigerator.

So in shopping for a replacement we hit the next Supply-side brick wall.  Despite appearing on websites, or being lauded in internet articles and reviews, the majority of models marketed are unobtainium – simply not available without a 2-4 month wait.

Not only didn’t area vendors have most of the models in ready inventory but they couldn’t get them from their distributors.

So we needed to shop from actual physical inventory.

Our nearest supplier who we’ve bought from in the recent past bowed out early, as they had been cleaned out of every possible model that would work for us.

So after an online chat to establish they had product, we headed off 40 miles (75km for those metric minded) where is took about an hour for the reality that unless they physically had inventory we would have a refrigerator-less kitchen for many months.
The reality was hard on the XYL as she really wanted just the right unit.

I’m more pragmatic and had the unit we bought picked out in a few minutes, but knew the XYL needed to process the reality to come to the same conclusion, or it just wouldn’t be “our decision.”

A joint decision, especially when there are serious trade offs being made, avoids the disappointment becoming personal by keeping it external.

Once “she decided” we could bite the bullet, spending more than we wanted for features we really do not want, but we will have an operating kitchen in a few days.

Oh, we did check all the usual big box stores, and did find a smattering of possible options, but would have needed to order without seeing the the unit, and most have a 7-10 day transfer time to get to the local store which then would be installed after that.

In terms of Amateur Radio the same supply & demand issues are reported to be in play. As is the delays in bench repairs because of anti-virus precautions.



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