DIY Retail Review: The Home Depot vs. Lowe’s Home Improvement

Introduction

There are two dominant home improvement and hardware retailers in most states across the US: The Home Depot and Lowe’s. Both superstores support a number of warehouse-style locations as well as an intuitive web storefront. We offer an objective, head-to-head comparison of the two outlets, and indicate what products might be best to get from each supplier.

Price Comparisons

Tallying up the comparison chart below, the 20-product sample order would cost $265.44 more at Lowe’s than at The Home Depot. The difference in per item cost averages out to $13.27 more at Lowe’s, although that number is a bit skewed by a few large-ticket items.

Pricing across all departments indicates a few noteworthy consistencies: depending on the product, you can find nearly the same number of deals at both stores, though the relative savings you’ll find at The Home Depot are more likely to result in a significant discount.

price comparison of lowes or home depot

Energy Star Products

Energy Star designations indicate products that are energy efficient, cost effective, and environmentally aware.

Lowe’s and The Home Depot supply roughly the same number of Energy Star compliant products (each exceeding 1,300 total) across all categories; however, The Home Depot does a better job of bringing that information to the forefront for consumers.

The Home Depot website integrates an “Energy Star” search tag into a high-level of its website navigation for all relevant categories, while Lowe’s does not. Energy Star products are searchable on the Lowe’s site, but identifying solely eco-qualified products takes a few more steps.

Delivery & Shipping

Lowe’s Home Improvement and The Home Depot similarly offer delivery and hook-up/installation options. At Lowe’s the price of the delivery varies based on the distance from the store location and the weight of the receivables. The Home Depot offers free shipping for standard ground delivery (3-5 business days). The difference here could be as much as an additional 10-15% of the cost of the item when shipped through Lowe’s, assuming you do not need the goods shipped expressly (overnight or 2-day).

Rental Truck Program
Alternatively, both stores stock rental trucks for you to drop off your goods yourself. Lowe’s and The Home Depot rent out vehicles for 75-minute periods (1 hour with a 15 minute grace period); Lowe’s rental rate is slightly cheaper, costing $19.00 for the hour-plus, while The Home Depot rate is $20.00.

Returns & Refund Policy

Lowe’s Home Improvement has the edge over The Home Depot in terms of its return and refund policy.

The Home Depot accepts returns for unopened products for up to 90-days after purchase. Products that have been opened, and deemed damaged, can be sent back or returned to a retail store location within 30-days of purchase if accompanied by a copy of the packing slip or the original sales receipt. The Home Depot will refund the payment source within 5-7 business days of receiving the returned item.

Lowe’s accepts returns on the majority of its products – including damaged goods – for up to 90-days, rather than the 30-day policy employed by The Home Depot. The exception to this at Lowe’s is outdoor equipment, which is refundable for up to 30-days after purchase, and appliance returns, which can be redeemed for up to 7-days.

Lowe’s will also accept returned products without a receipt if the original credit card used to purchase the product is provided.

Key Advantages

HOME DEPOT
LOWES
  • Free ground shipping (3-5 business days)
  • Collectively offers a slightly better price across all products
  • Significantly less expensive across sample order ($13.27 per item)
  • Easier to shop for “Energy Star” compliant products
  • “No Hassle Returns, Refunds, & exchanges” policy (accepts defective products for up to 90-days, rather than 30, and does not require receipt for some returns applied to original credit card

Conclusion

In the battle of home supply and hardware superstores, The Home Depot edges out Lowe’s Home Improvement in most critical areas – relative pricing, delivery, and Energy-Star compliance — with the exception of open-box product returns.

Lowe’s favorably honors returns for 90-days following a purchase, but free ground shipping significantly tips the scale in favor of The Home Depot.

There is a lot of product overlap between the two retailers. You can find close to the same number of bargains at Lowe’s and The Home Depot; however, significant deals are frequently found at The Home Depot. Across all product areas — particularly over a growing period of time, and multiple orders — The Home Depot is going to save you money in base cost and delivery.