Smart Kitchens: Time To Get Connected?
Everywhere you turn these days are ads for refrigerators so smart they can tell you when you’re low on eggs (and some even allow you to order more). Understandably, such high-end appliances aren’t within everyone’s reach. Smart kitchen technology isn’t just for the rich, however. There are gadgets for every price point. Smart kitchen tools offer convenience, increased safety, and let’s face it… they’re kinda fun!
Getting Started With Smart Technology
Smart devices are defined as electronic gadgets that have the ability to connect to a network, share, and interact remotely. To connect, they use technology like WiFi or Bluetooth. More broadly, “smart” also applies to devices that aren’t on a network but that still provide some automation. This includes devices like hands-free faucets and trash cans. Some devices mix true smart technology and automation (through use of sensors), such as robot vacuum cleaners.
Once networked devices have been set up, you can control them using your smart phone, tablet, or voice assistant. Imagine preheating your oven from your car by telling Alexa or Siri to do it. Depending on how many devices you have networked, you may have several control panels, one for each devices. For example, you may have one app on your phone that controls your thermostat and another that controls your coffee maker. There are also smart home systems that give you universal control of your devices in one interface. You’ll have to experiment to see which works best for you. Some devices play better together than others.
Why Add Smart Technology To My Kitchen?
The #1 reason people give for adopting smart technology is convenience. With our crazy schedules, we welcome any task we can make easier through automation. Program your coffee maker to start brewing at a certain time in the morning. Turn on your dishwasher remotely while at work. Monitor the temperature probe in your roast while you’re in the backyard with the kids. Turn on a light with your voice, or the faucet with the wave of a hand. But offering convenience isn’t just about helping busy folks. There are products like smart food scales that provide nutritional information and recipe apps.
Smart technology can increase safety in your kitchen. How many times have you gone out and wondered whether you’d left something on? Not only can you shut off smart appliances remotely, but some will send you an alert if a burner is left on too long. These kinds of technologies are especially handy in households with children or the elderly.
Smart kitchen technology can aid health in a few ways. It increases the likelihood that you’re cooking food to the proper temperature. From ovens that can read bar codes and cook the food accordingly to smart thermometers, there’s something for everyone. Refrigerator cameras can help you keep better track of your groceries, reducing food waste. Some have the ability to tell you when food is going bad. There are gadgets specifically meant to improve your health, like SmartPlate, which helps you track food intake. Even if you don’t use specialized products, smart devices may lead to healthier eating habits simply because they take some of the work out of your kitchen.
And let’s not forget energy savings! Smart technology gives you more control over your electronics, and if used wisely, can lead to substantial savings.
Kitchen Tech for Every Budget
Brand new homes can have smart technology installed as part of the build phase. For existing homes or remodels, you have to approach smart technology a bit differently. But there are sensors, devices, and gadgets to suit any kitchen.
For those who are budget-conscious or simply like gadgets, there are plenty to choose from. The Egg Minder can tell you how many eggs you have and if any are about to go bad. There are several smart meat thermometers that allow you to track the progress of your food. Hands-free soap dispensers can help prevent the spread of germs. Time-locking food containers can stop you from cheating on your diet or the kids from stealing a cookie before dinner. They’re programmable and tamper-proof – you can only get in by waiting, or breaking the container. Do you like fresh herbs but don’t have a green thumb? Try a smart herb garden, which does most of the work for you. For those who love to cook (and those with messy kids), touchless faucets are a life saver. They range greatly in price, with a model fit for every kitchen.
For those who don’t like to wait or don’t have time to wait, there are a number of programmable counter-top appliances on the market: crock pots, instant pots, coffee makers, microwaves, toaster ovens, sous vide devices. You can buy smart blenders that let you track nutrition, and smart wine decanters that reduce decanting from an hour to a minute. As mentioned previously, there are smart food scales, some with very basic measurement and nutritional information, others with more extensive recipe apps.
We’ve already covered a bit about smart refrigerators, ovens, and dishwashers, but each appliance type comes in a wide variety. For example, some smart fridges only offer remote temperature control, while others have displays on their doors, through which you can communicate, play music, and control other smart devices. If you really like to entertain, look into smart wine chillers and ice makers.
Smart Tech For the Bathroom
For many, the bathroom has ceased being solely about function – it can also be an oasis, a place to shed the stresses of the day. Even if you don’t have a spa-level budget, smart technology can make your bathroom feel more luxurious. Faucets range from simple hands-free on/off functionality to sensors that detect when the bathtub is full. Shower heads come with a plethora of options, from voice activation to programs for setting temperature and shower length. If you’d like music in your shower, you can have that too!
For those without budget constraints, the market contains no shortage of smart tech for the bathroom. Achieve that spa-like effect with programmable mood lighting. Go beyond an auto-flush toilet – now you can have one with a seat warmer. Try out a smart mirror, which includes a computer interface so you can surf the web while shaving or applying your makeup. Do you like to watch TV in the bathtub but don’t want anyone to know it? Consider a smart TV that turns into artwork with a simple voice command.
The Rest Of the House… And Outside
As shown with kitchens and bathrooms, smart tech can range from simple gadgets to sophisticated high-end products. Most of us already use smart technology somewhere in our homes – streaming networks, smart speakers, video doorbells, alarm systems. The options are seemingly endless. Here are a few more examples of home automation:
- Programmable thermostats
- Programmable window treatments
- Smart washers and dryers
- WiFi-connected smoke/carbon monoxide monitors
- Smart locks
- Smart light bulbs
- Programmable irrigation systems or sprinkler controls
- Smart lawn mowers
Still Not Sure If It’s Right For You?
The more advanced your home automation system ideas, the more likely they will require an installation specialist. Our advice? Start small. If you already have a smart speaker, try connecting to different devices. If you have an appliance you’ve been meaning to replace, consider getting a new one with smart features. Upgrade some of your lighting to smart bulbs. Give smart outlets/plugs a try – they allow you to remotely control, automate, and monitor the power of non-smart devices. (Research this before you buy, however, as not every device is compatible.) Replace your old faucet with a hands-free unit.
If you’re planning a remodel, talk to us about incorporating some new technologies into your kitchen or bath.