Do you have a Kenmore appliance? Or maybe a whole house full of them? If you do, you might wonder who makes Kenmore appliances. If you’re like me, you like knowing who makes certain brand name things in my house. Especially when you need parts or an owner’s manual.
Unfortunately, in this day and age of convoluted corporate divisions, subsidiaries, and partnerships, I’ve always found it difficult to see exactly who makes what.
And when it comes to Kenmore, there’s quite a bit of interesting information in answer to that question.
Who Makes Kenmore Appliances?
Sears was once the exclusive purveyor of Kenmore products. That might make it easy to assume that Sears makes, or used to make, all Kenmore appliances.
However, the truth is that it’s a group of companies who makes Kenmore appliances. The group of companies who makes Kenmore appliances includes Whirlpool, LG, Electrolux, and Frigidaire.
There’s a Story Here
Sears is a staple of America’s retail world, or they were for over 100 years. Their history includes Kenmore, which is likewise over 100 years old. Kenmore has won multiple awards over the years, including the Consumers Digest Best Buy Award and eight Women’s Choice awards.
Would you have guessed that the Kenmore name first appeared on a sewing machine? Most of us associate brands like Singer with sewing machines, not Kenmore. Yet, here they are, with their first sewing machine in 1913.
In the decades that followed, they branched out into the laundry market, manufacturing wringer-washers that promised to clean clothes in three to seven minutes. Soon they made vacuum cleaners, dryers, ovens and cooktops, dishwashers, microwaves, and even grills.
All of this innovation took place between the 1920s and the 1970s. By 1994, Kenmore made up 25 percent of the appliance market in the United States.S.
For a long time, Kenmore was a dominant name in the U.S. Companies like Whirlpool, who makes Kenmore appliances themselves, would debut their own products under the Kenmore name first. Then they would release the same appliance under the Whirlpool name. They’d sell both at Sears.
Modern times and modern troubles
During the last couple of decades, though, Sears has had increasing problems competing with other retailers, including big box home improvement stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Best Buy. In October of 2018, they finally had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. At that point, they had to begin reorganizing the company. That meant trying to sell off many of their brands.
Although they had exclusive rights to sell Kenmore appliances, Sears never actually made any of the appliances they sold. Instead, companies like the Whirlpool Corporation, Electrolux, and LG have always made Kenmore appliances for Sears.
Sears had some of these partnerships for quite a long time. However, with Sears looking like it would ultimately go under, some companies like Whirlpool pulled all their products entirely.
What happened to Kenmore in the aftermath?
These companies don’t need Kenmore anymore, either. In the early 2000s, Sears valued Kenmore at about $2 billion. As recently as late 2018, they were struggling to find someone to buy the Kenmore brand. By that point, Sears Holdings was only worth $150 million.
Even so, they continue to make Kenmore appliances. Things have changed, but Kenmore is still around.
Who Makes Kenmore Appliances?
So who makes Kenmore appliances now? It turns out that we now don’t have several companies who all make all Kenmore appliances.
Instead, we have several companies who each make a few different Kenmore products.
Whirlpool makes Kenmore washing machines and dishwashers, as well as some of Kenmore’s French-door, side-by-side refrigerators. This partnership was one of Sears’ longest, and the split was shattering for Sears. However, at the time Whirlpool made that decision, less than 3 percent of its worldwide sales came from Sears.
Nevertheless, Whirlpool is one of the leading appliance makers in the U.S. Their website doesn’t list Kenmore as one of their brands, though, likely because they’ve cut ties with Sears insofar as their sales partnership goes. The fact that Sears managed to hold onto Kenmore through its bankruptcy may also play a role there.
As a parent company, Electrolux makes Frigidaire and many other appliance brands, including Kenmore. You might be asking how they can make something with Kenmore’s name on it other than what Frigidaire makes if they own Frigidaire.
However, there is a difference here. Electrolux makes Kenmore’s top-freezer refrigerator-freezers, while Frigidaire makes most of the side-by-side and French-door units.
Frigidaire, a brand known for its quality kitchen appliances, makes many kitchen appliances under the Kenmore brand. Along with Whirlpool, they make some of Kenmore’s refrigerators and freezers. They also make most of Kenmore’s ovens and cooktops.
LG makes pretty much the entire Kenmore Elite line, which is Kenmore’s high-end line of appliances. These include their high-end refrigerator-freezers, washing machines, and dryers.
However, as mentioned above, Whirlpool, Electrolux, and Frigidaire make most of the standard and lower-end appliances in these lines. That includes kitchen appliances like refrigerators and freezers, ovens and cooktops, and washers and dryers.
LG doesn’t make nearly the same number of Kenmore appliances as other companies like Whirlpool and Frigidaire. Oddly enough, they make Kenmore’s air-conditioning units alongside Frigidaire, though.
Who makes Kenmore appliances besides these four? Isn’t four enough? Well, apparently not.
General Electric also manufactures Kenmore appliances. Mostly, they make some of Kenmore’s cooktops and ranges. They don’t make anything like washers and dryers under the Kenmore name, however.
Cleva makes Kenmore vacuum cleaners, which Panasonic previously made. However, Panasonic has been winding down their American operations for some time, and someone had to take over Kenmore’s vacuum cleaners. Sears and Cleva entered into an agreement regarding their vacuum cleaners in early 2019, and Cleva will make both Kenmore and Kenmore Elite vacuum cleaners.
How to Tell Who Makes the Kenmore Appliances in Your Home
So, is there a way to tell which companies made which appliances in your house? Sometimes, the ins and outs of who makes Kenmore appliances can be very confusing. And trying to compare designs in the hope of getting it right is irritating at best.
Fortunately, it’s not that hard to determine who made your specific Kenmore appliances. Here’s how to do it:
- Find the appliance’s model number (usually a tag or plate on a kickplate, in a drawer, in the corner of a cabinet frame, or on a door)
- Look for the first three or four numbers (followed by a space, a dot, or occasionally, the letter C). Those are the prefix numbers.
- Compare the prefix numbers with this chart
- That will tell you who made your Kenmore appliance
For instance, if you find a model number with the prefix “109,” then Whirlpool is the company that made it. And “790” is Frigidaire.
If you don’t know what exactly you should look for, you aren’t alone. Luckily, you can use this handy example of what the prefix may look like on your appliance’s tag.
You’ll probably find that most companies have more than one prefix associated with them. Frigidaire has several, as do Whirlpool and LG. General Electric likewise has several, and many others do, too.
Kenmore Is Still a Good Brand
Even though Sears itself is in trouble, and never made any Kenmore appliances, Kenmore is still a decent brand. If you do side-by-side comparisons, you may find Kenmore appliances to be starker, more basic versions of their manufacturers’ own name-brand counterparts.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you just don’t want all the bells and whistles you find on fancier versions.
What’s really nice, though, is that since Sears retained ownership of the Kenmore brand, you shouldn’t have to worry about your warranty like you would if Sears had sold Kenmore off. Furthermore, many of these companies’ parts are interchangeable with Kenmore parts because they’re the ones who actually make Kenmore appliances.
Now that you know who makes Kenmore appliances, not only is your curiosity satisfied like mine, but you’re better informed about the entire Kenmore brand.
Still have questions? Leave them in the comments below!
Featured photo via Flickr