Cordless Drills. The $160 Kobalt KT200A, a Lowe’s exclusive, packs plenty of power and speed, and the battery can be charged in less than an hour. We also like the easy handling of its rubberized grip. Lowe’s also carries the top-ranked model in our cordless drill Ratings, the Hitachi DS18DSAL, for $170.
Generators. A portable generator is your best friend during a blackout, and the top-rated model in our generator Ratings is a big seller at Lowe’s, as well as a CR Best Buy. The 7,000-watt Troy-Bilt XP7000 30477, $900, delivered more than enough wattage to power our test appliances and it handled surges very well. Its 9-gallon tank should give you about 15 hours of run time, plus it features a fuel gauge and battery-powered electric start.
Interior paint. Valspar, Lowe’s house brand, has many models on our winners’ list of interior paints. Valspar Signature Matte and Valspar Signature Semi-Gloss are both top scorers, thanks to their superior hiding. They’re also self-priming, which saves you time and money. The Valspar Signature Satin was less impressive, due to its gloss change. For a satin/eggshell finish, you’re better off with Home Depot’s Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin Enamel.
Lightbulbs. Especially if you’re replacing exterior flood lights, go to Lowe's. The Utilitech 13-Watt (75W) BR30 Soft White Outdoor Flood LED, $20, was practically perfect in our tests, with an overall score of 98 boosted by its exceptional brightness. Another top pick for your outdoor fixtures is the Utilitech Soft White PAR38 90W 75232. It’s a CR Best Buy at just $7.50, though the trade-off for top value is very slow warm-up time. For indoor lighting, we like the Utilitech 100W Soft White CFL.
Snow blowers. Last year’s heavy snowfall caused a run on snow blowers in many parts of the country, so if you’re in the market, you should shop early. Lowe’s is as good a place as any, especially if you want a two-stage gas blower. The Troy-Bilt Storm 3090XP 31AH55Q, $1,100, is a CR Best Buy, offering superb removal speed, even when it comes to the tough pile deposited at the end of the driveway. Paying $100 more for the Troy-Bilt Storm 3090XP 31AH55R gets you slightly better handling.
ZTR Tractors. Lowe’s Troy-Bilt standard lawn tractors tend to struggle in our tests (see below), but the brand excels in the zero-turn-radius, or ZTR, category. The Troy-Bilt Mustang 42" 17WFCACS is our top-rated model, and at $2,300 it’s a CR Best Buy. Notable features include hydrostatic transmission, a comfortable high-back seat, and a visible fuel gauge.