By Clair Urbain
Just as electricity revolutionized how we cook and preserve food and clean our kitchens, the advance of the Internet of Things (IoT) is taking kitchen appliances to levels only dreamed about in the Jetson’s home a generation ago.
The Internet of Things consists of appliances and systems that use wired or wireless communication via the internet to control appliances, HVAC systems, lights, blinds–anything that in the past was controlled manually or by a self-standing control device. And internet-enabled technology is increasingly found on high-end home appliances, allowing users to control almost any aspect of their home from a desktop computer or mobile device.
Madison-based appliance manufacturer SubZero and Wolf offers appliances that can sync with home-automated control systems like Control4, Crestron and Savant, which are highlevel, leading-edge home information systems. In Wolf ranges, these systems enhance user control—the technology allows users to view the oven’s current temperature, receive preheat notifications, deliver timer alerts and access internal meat temperature.
Similarly, Sub-Zero refrigerators are also compatible with smart technology. The appliance can notify the owner if the refrigerator door has been left open and allow users to change the interior setting to an energy-saving vacation mode if they will be out of the house for an extended period.
New-age appliances may also be tremendously more energy efficient than previous models, says Megan Turner, Alliant Energy’s “Power House TV” host. “The new models have variable-rate compressors, better insulation and improved defrost cycles. A 10-year old refrigerator may cost $200 a year to operate; a new model with these features may cost only $50 a year to run.”
Similarly, new-tech dishwashers require less energy and water to clean even heavily soiled dishes. “Energy Star dishwashers available now may cost as little as $26 per year to operate when compared with older dishwashers that could cost up to $150 per year to operate,” Turner says.
Finding the latest technology in appliances can be as easy as opening a search window in your web browser. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find:
Samsung offers several models with smart features. For example, the Samsung Family Hub refrigerator has three built-in cameras that provide a remote view of what’s inside of it, accessed on your smartphone. The 21.5-inch LCD screen syncs with most smartphones and users can stream music through the refrigerator’s built-in speaker or through Bluetooth wireless speakers. It can even mirror a show playing on select Samsung Smart TVs.
The Miele 48-inch Dual Fuel Range is sleek and high tech. The control panel is the centerpiece, which tilts to a 45-degree angle so it’s more visible to the user. It has presets for recipes as well as two touch screens: one for the speed oven/microwave and the other for the steam and convection oven. The handle-less warming drawer is easy to open and the stovetop has a built-in infrared griddle.
Viking cooktops and ovens feature a Bluetooth temperature probe that allow wireless monitoring of internal temperature of what’s being roasted.
GE has developed the GE Kitchen app that allows users to control their WiFi Connect appliances. The app can turn on an oven remotely; set timer alerts for baking or roasting; and adjust oven temperature from anywhere. The GE Brillion mobile app syncs with select oven models and posts updates as cooking or baking progresses. Some models will even work with Nest Protect smoke detectors, shutting off the oven or stove if the smoke alarm goes off.
New-tech dishwashers have come a long way from previous-generation models. They are quieter, more energy efficient and do a better job of cleaning. Today’s high-tech dishwashers are whisper-quiet. In fact, new Bosch models are nearly silent while washing, with a noise level of just 44 decibels, which is almost inaudible. (It’s not uncommon for dishwashers to be more than 50 decibels, louder than normal conversation.) The Bosch 500 series dishwasher can hold up to 16 place settings and features an LED remaining time display plus a red light that lets you know dishwashing is in progress.
The Smarter Coffee Machine is a grind-and-brew coffee maker that can be controlled via smartphone app. It allows users to remotely grind beans, choose coffee strength and start the coffee maker. It will also send you a notification when it needs to be topped off with water and when it’s finished brewing.
The Escali SmartConnect kitchen scale can measure weight up to 11 pounds, has a built-in kitchen timer and features Bluetooth connectivity to most iOS and Android devices. The scale syncs to your smart phone, which allows you to analyze calories, fat, sodium and other nutritional information from a database of more than 8,000 food items.
If you’re thinking about upgrading to smarter appliances, spend some time checking out user comments on app sites or chat rooms. The insight posted there will help you make the best choice.
Trying to keep up with that ongoing pile of laundry? Smart washers and dryers can help take the guesswork out of load progress and can even save valuable time.
Samsung’s FlexWash + FlexDry laundry system is a side-by-side front-load washer and dryer pair, but both units have a smaller washer or dryer incorporated into the top of the machine, top-load-style. Other Samsung models feature sinks built-into top-load washing machines or front-load trap doors so missed clothing items can be added to a load in progress.
Another innovation is LG’s SideKick washer that looks like a washer pedestal. The full-size front-load washer sits on top of it and the unit provides added wash capacity for smaller loads.
Whirlpool’s Cabrio Washer is a top loader with Adaptive Wash Technology that matches water level and agitation to that specific laundry load. It sprays water and detergent in a cone-shaped pattern for a more even and thorough wash.
GE’s Laundry app is available with select GE models. Users can monitor cycle status and time remaining; allow users to remotely extend the dryer cycle, alert users when the cycle has finished but the door has not been opened; and allows downloading custom specialty cycles. It will even keep an eye on detergent and softener levels in models that have SmartDispense technology.
This article was featured in the Madison Spring 2017 issue.
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