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grainger vs. mcmaster

rl36's picture

Grainger vs. McMaster, how do these two stack up against each other. Prices, quality, service, shipping  ??  Specifically pertaining to electrical equipment and supplies for wiring a shop ??  Any experience in this area would be greatlly appreciated. Hopefully saving me some time in the school of hard knocks. Thank you rl36

(post #62156, reply #1 of 11)

I guess it depends on what you need specifically.  There is a Grainger store near here and I've never been happy with them.  Never seem to have what I need and special orders have always been a horror show.  I personally have been much happier ordering from McMaster online but my needs (mostly industrial spare parts, motors, pumps, heating elements, etc) are probably more esoteric.

(post #62156, reply #2 of 11)

When I was a maintenance super I used both extensively.  Grainger is on time, on line, on the phone and great service.  Mc Master is similar with a little more specialty items such as metals, all thread rod, machining type tooling etc. 

Both are about 10-15% higher than you can get the electrical items you are talking about at an electrical supply house.  I wouldn't use them for that but they are great when you are in an enviroment where service is key and you want to keep your vendor count down as both carry a huge variety.  DanT

(post #62156, reply #3 of 11)

Since you mentioned mostly electrical, try Graybar. 

(post #62156, reply #4 of 11)

The other one to consider is Fastenal.  None of them are cheap, but when you need something out of the ordinary, they can get it.


-- J.S.




-- J.S.


(post #62156, reply #5 of 11)

Broadly, I use Grainger's a lot more for reasons of price and selection.  I go to McMaster's for speciality nuts and bolts.  And to double-check if I missed an alternative.

In CA, WA, and AK, I've been impressed by Grainger's responsiveness.  They don't stock everything everywhere, but they know where it can be shipped from.

Conduit, wire, disribution panels, and such?  I'd shop locally for most all of it for price and speed reasons.  Then get the odd-ball stuff from Graingers.  Last month, it was a 4-pole 60-amp receptacle.

And someone mentioned keeping your vendor count down.  Yeah.  Spot check a few prices and then don't waste time trying to save nickels and dimes on every item.  One PO instead of 5?  There's a morning saved right there.

David Thomas   Overlooking Cook Inlet in Kenai, Alaska
David Thomas   Overlooking Cook Inlet in Kenai, Alaska

(post #62156, reply #6 of 11)

I like using McMaster Carr, I find a better selection of drill bits and electrical devices(mag locks, intercom stuff) from them. Next day arrival from both of them for me usually.



(post #62156, reply #7 of 11)

The 3 or 4 times we(the co. I work for)  have ordered from them(Mcmaster), they

have delivered the next day, and we have a Grainger 1 mile from the shop.  I believe

they don't charge for shipping either. Mcmaster's prices seem to be a little better

than Grainger. But the most I've been impressed about Mcmaster is their promptness

with shipping. I hope this helps.

(post #62156, reply #8 of 11)

Grainger in Charleston SC is great. I have never used McMaster.

Grainger here will be nice on a small order and they usually have it

(post #62156, reply #9 of 11)

Everybody has to have a gimmick to distinguish them from the competetition. These two used to have outstandingly stupid gimmicks. Grainger wouldn't sell to anybody without a tax number, and McMaster-Carr wouldn't give out catalogs to new customers, you had to prove you were going to actually buy stuff before they'd give you a catalog. I've heard that McMaster-Carr pulled their head out and started giving out catalogs. Haven't heard whether Grainger ever got over their problem.

(post #62156, reply #10 of 11)

Yep, I remember in Denver when Grainger was so picky.  Used to be a sign on the door saying posession of a catalog wasn't enough to get you in.

Now, here anyway, you only have to convince them you're a business with a business phone number.   Any ol' business will do.  Grainger will only send me a new catalog with an order.  That way I pay the shipping.

PAHS Designer/Builder- Bury it!

PAHS works.  Bury it.

(post #62156, reply #11 of 11)

I've been working for 19 years in a manufacturing plant in New York.  I often have to buy miscellaneous items to keep the plant running or for projects.  Especially fasteners, metals and plastics, fittings, miscellaneous components.  McMaster-Carr is a dream.  Their catalog is clear and thorough, all the prices are there, everything has a picture, service is available 24/7, they take purchase orders and credit cards, and are almost never ever out of stock.  If I order by 5 pm I have the order by 9:30 am the next morning for the price of regular ground shipping.  When I order from home, it's usually two days.

McMaster-Carr has the very best online catalog and ordering system I've ever seen for any company.

I tried Grainger a half a dozen times.  They messed up most of the orders and took several days at a minimum for anything.  The customer service people were not able to straighten out all the messed up orders.  The catalog is not as good.

But, neither will give you the best price.  If you are, for example, wiring a shop, you are better off making a fairly complete list, and buying from a local electrical supply house.  Ask for some kind of discount for the size of your order.  Even if your order is not really all that big, they are likely to give you something.  The more you can put in that first "big" order the more likely it is to appear larger to them.

Also, shipping is not cheap for items like wire because they are so heavy, so buying locally will save quite a bit on shipping.

Some items, like switch boxes, are commodity items, and you'll probably find them cheaper at the big box stores.  But, you're better off including them in your purchase from the supply house so you have a larger order.  If you need a few later you can make a quick run to the local hardware store.