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At Consumer Reports, we run thousands of products through thousands of tests each year to find the ones that provide the best performance and value. And while we typically highlight top models, we realize you might also like to know which ones are not so hot.
“For every category, we test each model that comes into our labs with the same rigor,” says John Galeotafiore, an associate testing director at CR. “Even from the same company, you might have some of the best models and some of the worst.”
Just how bad does a product have to be to make our not-so-hot list? All the products here earn the lowest Overall Score in their respective categories, with ratings of Fair or Poor in tests of their primary functions. (None are here for safety reasons or otherwise qualify for a Do Not Buy recommendation.)
Not every product category has a dud. In some, the worst score is still Good, which by definition is . . . not bad.
Still, our list does span quite a wide array of products. From snow blowers and refrigerators to ranges and coffee makers, here are the home products from CR’s tests to avoid. We’ve included the ratings free of charge, because at Consumer Reports, we believe nobody should get stuck with a dud.
Refrigerator: Viking Professional 7 Series VBI7360WRSS
Overall Score: 34
CR’s take: This Viking refrigerator costs more than $10,000, but in our tests, its internal temperature does not always match the thermostat setting, earning it a Fair rating for thermostat control. It earns a Poor rating for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction—people who buy Viking refrigerators are more likely to have them break within the first few years than with other brands, and they’re also not likely to recommend Viking fridges to others.
Range: Fisher & Paykel OR30SCG4X1
Overall Score: 28
CR’s take: This $3,900 range earns a Poor rating in our cooktop low temperature tests because its burners weren’t able to maintain low-heat settings for tasks that require simmering and melting. It also earns a Poor rating for baking: Cookies and cakes we baked on different racks had uneven browning. Ranges that cost $2,000 less do better in our tests. Its only high point is that it can heat a large pot of water quickly.
Washing machine: Amana NTW4516FW
Overall Score: 32
CR’s take: If you’re looking for a washing machine that can get stains out of your clothing, this Amana top-load agitator isn’t it. It earns just a Fair rating for washing performance, which means there were plenty of red wine, blood, and carbon stains left on the swatches we washed on a normal cycle. This washer earns an even worse Poor rating for water efficiency, using 25.5 gallons to wash a load; washers that earn an Excellent rating use less than half that volume.
Blender: 3 Squares Soup3rb 7-Cup Cook & Blend
Overall Score: 26
CR’s take: This blender is okay at making smoothies, but it earns a Poor rating in our purée tests—it was unable to blend raw vegetables for making soup. The 3 Squares Soup3rb 7-Cup Cook & Blend blender also earns a Poor rating for durability because it broke before completing the 45 sessions of crushing ice in our test.
Coffee maker: Hamilton Beach Flex Brew Generation 2 49997
Overall Score: 34
CR’s take: This Hamilton Beach makes not-so-great-tasting coffee—it receives the same rating of Fair for this criteria as the other models in our ratings. Our testers also noticed some plastic off-tastes in hot water cycled through the machine, though you might not detect it in coffee you brew. If you were considering this model for use with coffee pods, there are superior one- or two-mug drip coffee makers.
Around the House
Air purifier: Hamilton Beach TrueAir 04383
Overall Score: 18
CR’s take: If you want cleaner air in your home, the Hamilton Beach TrueAir 04383 won’t be much help. It gets a Poor rating for smoke and dust removal at both high and low speeds in our tests. The manufacturer says this Hamilton Beach model is sized for rooms up to 160 square feet, but based on our test results, it wouldn’t be able to handle a room larger than 75 square feet, even at its mediocre cleaning rate.
Flooring: Heritage Mill Red Oak Natural Click PF9356 (Home Depot)
Overall Score: 28
CR’s take: The Heritage Mill Red Oak Natural Click flooring at Home Depot earns only Fair ratings for resisting foot traffic and scratches, meaning it’s more likely to show wear, especially if you have pets or a lot of people in your household. It also doesn’t resist dents, earning a Poor rating for the visible marks left when we dropped objects on it to simulate a pot or utensils falling onto the floor. And it gets a Poor score for resisting sunlight; after we subjected samples of the flooring to intense ultraviolet light for about two weeks, they looked much lighter. Not great for anyone who likes to let the sun shine in.
Sheets: Pinzon by Amazon
Overall Score: 25
CR’s take: Sometimes, you do get what you pay for. These are the cheapest sheets in our ratings, and they’re also the lowest-rated. Our testers note that these queen-size sheets do not fit on a queen mattress after less than a year’s worth of washing. (CR tests queen sheets because they are the most common size.)
For better options, read about the best sheets in our tests. And for more information on sheets, see our sheet buying guide.
Space heater: Comfort Zone CZ410WT
Overall Score: 20
CR’s take: You may save a few bucks buying the Comfort Zone CZ410WT space heater, which retails for around $20, but in our tests, this small, personal heater has trouble heating a family room within 15 minutes. Even when it comes to warming just a small room within 15 minutes, a test in which we wire a mannequin with sensors to see how warm the space heater can make the surface, this not-so-hottie failed to do the job. The machine’s heat exhaust outlet gets so hot it could cause a burn if you touch it. Ouch!
Steam mop: Shark Steam Pocket S3501
Overall Score: 9
CR’s take: This Shark model is the only one in our ratings that lacks a motorized pump, which means you have to pump this mop yourself to get the steam going. Because of the do-it-yourself pump, the Shark earns a rating of Poor for its ability to clean in our tests. It also earns a Poor score for its steam rate because the steam level varies depending on how much you pump. One other low point: It has the shortest cord in our ratings—just 20 feet—limiting how far you can range from an outlet.
Wood stain: Olympic WaterGuard for Wood
Overall Score: 5
CR’s take: The Olympic WaterGuard for Wood stain earns the lowest Overall Score in CR’s stain tests, a mere 5 out of 100. One of its biggest flaws: It earns a Poor rating for its appearance after one year in our accelerated weathering test for decks, meaning this stain didn’t take to the wood at all.
Door lock: Weslock 671
Overall Score: 17
CR’s take: A door lock should provide security, but the Weslock 671 door lock doesn’t. It earns a Poor rating in our tests for withstanding kick-ins—we use a custom 100-pound steel battering ram that hits the door eight times at increasing heights until the lock fails. Plus, it’s easy to pick or drill through.
Smart lock: MiLocks ZWF-02BN
Overall Score: 16
CR’s take: The MiLocks earns Poor ratings in all three of our security tests: It didn’t hold up to being kicked-in, drilled through, or picked. Even when this lock was reinforced with an aftermarket product as a part of our reinforced kick-in test, it broke, earning a Fair rating in that test.
Video doorbell: Netvue Belle AI
Overall Score: 16
CR’s take: The Netvue Belle AI video doorbell is definitely not the “extra pair of eyes” you want to help keep your home safe. It earns a Poor rating for its video quality, meaning you won’t be able to see much from video taken in regular light, much less low light. It also earns a Poor rating in our response-time tests because it takes almost 13 seconds from the time someone presses the doorbell for you to get an alert on the smartphone app—at which point the UPS driver with your package requiring a signature will be long gone. The best models respond in about half the time.
Chainsaw: Kobalt (Lowe’s) KCS 120-07
Overall Score: 24
CR’s take: Cutting wood with a chainsaw should be relatively quick. But it isn’t with this Kobalt. In our test that involves timing how long it takes for each saw to work its way through a 10x10-inch thick oak beam, the best models take 10 to 16 seconds; this chainsaw takes more than a minute, on average. That’s why it earns a Poor rating in our cutting tests. In our safety tests, this model earns a Fair score—it lacks a chain brake and was difficult to hold and operate comfortably, which our testers found to be dangerous because it caused them to shift their grip and lean over the chainsaw for more power.
Leaf blower: Craftsman 74936
Overall Score: 23
CR’s take: The Craftsman 74936 is an underwhelming battery-powered handheld that struggles with its critical functions: It earns ratings of Poor for both sweeping and loosening embedded leaves, and just a Fair rating overall.
Snow blower: Greenworks 26022
Overall Score: 20
CR’s take: The Greenworks 26022 stands out for being the worst-scoring snow blower in our ratings. It lacks the power to plow snow quickly, remove a pile of snow, or even disperse snow very far from where you plow, earning a Poor rating in these three core tests. On top of that, it’s not easy to handle: It earns a rating of Fair in this test because it lacks freewheel steering, making the machine hard to turn.
String trimmer: Stihl FSA 45
Overall Score: 35
CR’s take: The Stihl FSA 45 string trimmer doesn’t exactly make yardwork easy. It had difficulty cutting grass around walls and trees, and it earns a Fair rating for trimming—our testers had to do a second pass to cut 4 to 6 inches of grass. And forget tall grass and weeds: This trimmer struggles to trim both, leaving a messy, uneven patch that looks worse than when you started. Overall, it earns a Fair score, saved by decent ease-of-use and handling ratings.