How to Evaluate the Lifespan of Any Device or Appliance

Electrical devices

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Electrical devices and appliances come in many forms, but all of them have a finite lifespan. Better understanding this lifespan can help you make smarter purchases, save money, and plan things more effectively.

So how can you get more accurate estimates of how long you can expect your devices to last? And what steps can you take to make sure your devices last longer?

Starting With a Baseline

If you want to make an accurate estimate, or make sure your device lifespan extension methods are measurably useful, it’s a good idea to start with a baseline. Different types of devices and appliances naturally come with different lifespans.

It’s hard to accurately pinpoint the number of years a device or appliance is likely to last. But we can forecast a kind of life expectancy curve for most types of products.

For example, under ideal conditions an electrical transformer should be able to last 25 years or longer. At the 25-year mark, electrical transformers start to experience problems from normal wear and tear. But during the first 5 years of operation, there’s also a risk of “infant mortality” – premature failure, usually due to errors or shortcuts taken in the manufacturing process. If and when transformers fail between 5 and 25 years old, it’s usually attributable to a random failure or a specific instance of damage.

You can find similar forecasts for almost any conceivable device or appliance.

Variables That Affect Lifespan

From there, you’ll need to modify the lifespan based on the following variables:

  •       Manufacturer quality/reliability. Some manufacturers simply have a higher commitment to quality than others. These more reliable manufacturers use the best raw materials they can find, they employ reliable processes, and they stand by their work. In many cases, you get what you pay for; if you’re willing to shop around and spend a little extra, you can usually end up with a better product that lasts longer.
  •       Quality control standards. The performance of a given device also depends on the quality control standards in place at a given manufacturer. The manufacturer itself may have an excellent reputation, but if the quality standards are lax, a lemon might make its way off the assembly line and into your home. It’s yet another reason why it’s important to do your research before making any major purchase.
  •       Usage. As you might imagine, device lifespan also depends on usage. It’s very hard to estimate that two otherwise identical washing machine will each last 15 years if one family uses the washing machine 700 times during those years and another family uses it 2,000 times. The less a device is used and the more it’s cared for, the longer it’s going to last.
  •       Maintenance and service. Lifespan depends heavily on how a device or appliance is maintained and serviced. If you take care of the device properly, replacing parts when necessary, conducting regular cleaning, and generally complying with best practices, you can expect that device to last much longer than its counterparts.
  •       Repair potential. It’s not your imagination; modern appliances are generally harder to repair, and for several reasons. Devices are much more complex than they used to be, and some of them are literally engineered to fail at predefined intervals. If it’s hard or practically impossible to make repairs, an appliance has a natural, finite lifespan.
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Quick Tips to Extend the Lifespan of Your Devices

If you’re interested in maximizing the lifespan of your devices and appliances, follow these tips:

  •       Shop around. When shopping for a new device or appliance, don’t settle for the first thing you find. Instead, compare and contrast many different manufacturers so you can find higher quality appliances for a reasonable price.
  •       Read the user manual. When purchasing something new, always read the user manual, even if it’s a somewhat tedious affair. User manuals contain valuable information about proper usage, maintenance, and more, which you can use to keep your device running for longer.
  •       Use appropriately. Comply with the recommendations. Using your device or appliance in an irresponsible way, or in a way that’s not approved by the manufacturer, could shorten its lifespan.
  •       Practice proactive maintenance. Put into practice a proactive maintenance schedule. It’s much easier and cheaper to fix small issues as they arise than to allow them to spiral into bigger, more threatening issues.
  •       Get a warranty. Finally, get a written warranty showing the devices you purchase whenever possible. This is a legally binding promise that can provide you with recourse if your product prematurely fails.

It’s impossible to predict exactly how long your devices are going to last. But with a bit of research and a bit of preparation, you can generate a much more reliable estimate – and follow practices that lead you to a much longer useful life.

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