Most of us spend a lot of time in the kitchen at home. It is a natural gathering place and brings a lot of families together. So shouldn’t it be one of the smartest places in our home?
I would say so! The only problem is the kitchen is home to some of the more expensive appliances in your home and anything smart usually adds to that already higher price tag. Before you jump in and remodel your entire kitchen, lets take a step back and analyze some of these bigger priced smart kitchen appliances.
So what is a smart appliance exactly? Smart appliances are connected to the internet and are able to be controlled, usually through an app. They can monitor electricity consumption, automate certain tasks and sometimes even speak to other smart appliances.
Technology moves quick. Just a few years ago, Alexa was a real person and Google was a search engine. Today, they are our voice assistants across millions of homes worldwide. With that being said, it is no longer weird to talk to your microwave, oven or coffee maker.
We spend so much time in the kitchen that it should be included in your smart home conversion or upgrade. If major appliances are not an option, start small and work your way up to the bigger purchases.
If you are worried about the computer going bad on your new shiny smart appliance, put up the extra bucks to get that extended warranty. Add to your peace of mind and protect yourself if anything might happen later down the road.
This post was meant to give you an idea of how some major components function and what may or may not be a good fit for your home. With that being said, let’s get into it.
This post gives an overview of smart appliances. The capabilities listed are of those available across a wide range of appliances and devices. Be sure to do your own due diligence when pulling the trigger on any smart appliance to be sure it is exactly what you are looking for!
We all have ovens in our home. They all cook a lot of meals for us. The difference between the oven you have in your home now and the smart oven you hope to get one day is how much physical interaction is needed from us.
The oven can include the stove top or be its own standalone unit detached from the stove top. We will get more into smart stove tops below.
Smart ovens have really advanced. Some are compatible with your favorite voice assistants like Alexa and Google, but they also offer integration into other ecosystems like Nest and other apps.
Imagine just asking for the oven to be preheated. “Alexa, preheat the oven to 350 degrees” has a nice ring to it.
Voice controls are just the beginning. Smart ovens have the ability to monitor the food you are cooking in real time. If you have ever burnt anything in the oven (I’m raising all of my hands) this might be a big deal for you (and by you I mean me).
Some smart ovens have built-in HD cameras so you can check in on your food without having to open the door. Check in on that roast or that pizza from the comfort of your couch.
Smart ovens will offer more cooking presets and a more efficient and effective way of heating. Each that I have looked at offer some way to circulate hot air evenly throughout the oven across all shelves. Some use a fan of some sorts and other have proprietary methods.
All that really means is the oven stays hot, it stays within a few degrees of the exact temperature and it cooks food evenly.
There are some that have apps that offer different recipes. You can send a recipe from the app to the oven and it will preheat automatically. Once the food is in, the sensors will make sure the food is cooked evenly and alert you when it is done.
Then you have those smart ovens that really take it to the next level. The Hoover Vision offers a touch screen on the front door!
There will be the models with two bins or other models that allow for dual temperature cooking. These come in handy for bigger families or avid cookers. They look cool too!
Smart ovens will also offer a more effective and useful self-cleaning method. Some even have built-in anti-grease technology. They will all still need to be wiped out after running the self-cleaning, they just clean better.
The companion apps will all function slightly differently but will give you access to your oven from anywhere. Preheating, cleaning or turning off the oven can all be done from these apps. Some apps will also have recipes you can browse and if the oven has the HD camera , you can check out the live stream there.
Smart ovens come with a wide range of functionality. Some that may actually improve your lives and some that will never be used. I know app control, cameras and sensors in place to help me not burn dinner again will be game changers for me.
We all have refrigerators in our kitchen, some of us might even have one in our garage. For the latter, a smart option may not be the best bet. But in the kitchen, smart refrigerators can add some real value.
Some common features include:
- Functional shopping list management. Add items to your shopping list through voice control.
- Built-in cameras that allow you to check what’s inside. There are usually multiple cameras at different angles that allow for a full view.
- These same cameras can be used while at the screen to see what’s inside without opening the door.
- Expiration notifications that let you know when something is close to going bad or has gone bad.
- Meal prep recommendations based off of the contents in the refrigerator.
- Access to apps like Grubhub or Uber. Order a meal or a ride directly from your fridge.
- Send text messages or drawings from the touch screen.
- Games like trivia.
- Access to calendars.
- Play music from your favorite music streaming app like Spotify or iHeart Radio.
- Connect it to your video doorbell to see who is at the door while in the kitchen.
- Play video from your phone or cast other media on the screen.
- Notifications for changing water filters.
- Search for recipes with Yumly or Tasty.
Some of the smart refrigerators even let you independently set temperatures for different compartments. Maybe you want the produce drawer a few degrees warmer than the rest of the fridge.
Amazon is an option as well. Order stuff directly from your refrigerator touch screen. I did hear its best to put a pin on the actual ordering as it is possible to make some accidental purchases.
The great thing about smart refrigerators is the cost. Yes, I higher brand name like Samsung or LG will come with that premium price tag but some are very comparable to “dumb” refrigerators. If you do your due diligence, wait for sales or are ok with a refurbished unit you might end up spending the same amount.
Now there are some issues with these but they are not that bad at all. I have read of ice maker issues where the ice maker is letting out a little water too. Not the end of the world in my opinion.
To be safe, get that extended warranty!
We talked about ovens above, and as I said, these can come together as one unit. They can also be separated into two different appliances. Who is to say which one is better. If my home allowed, I would love to have an in-wall oven and stand-alone stove top.
Most of the new smart features will be found in the electric cooktops. These cooktops are usually ceramic glass that allow for easy cleanup. Wipe it down and it is good to go.
For those of you who prefer gas stove tops, your options will be much more limited.
These cook tops allow for various heating methods, including:
- Induction burners that use electromagnetic energy to cook faster
- Power burners when high heat is needed
- Simmer burners when lower heat is needed
- And more
Unfortunately, these can get pretty pricey. If you are getting the standalone cooktop, you could be looking at $1,000+, but they sure look cool!
We all have microwaves. In my house, it is used almost daily. It seems to work good enough though so what can a smart microwave add? It really comes down to how the microwave heats the food up.
Some smart microwaves are basically mini ovens on top of your bigger oven. These are being built with convection technology where you can toast or even air-fry your food.
These can be built with sensors that monitor moisture, and add when necessary, as to not dry out the food it is cooking or reheating. I know I will routinely add a wet paper towel to my current microwave to keep the food from drying out. This would be a huge help to me.
If you are big on Alexa or Google Home, make sure the microwave you choose has compatibility. I know Amazon has put out a basic smart microwave that costs less than $60 and it pairs to an external Echo device.
When you activate Alexa from the microwaves Alexa button, you can use voice commands to heat certain items. For example, ask Alexa to heat one potato and just like that, the microwaves turns on to the preset time.
LED touchscreens have expanded reheat options that give you more control in what and how your food is warmed up.
You can also control it from your smart phone. In all honesty, I haven’t thought of a great need for why I would want to turn on a microwave remotely. But getting notifications when it is done is different, especially if your kitchen is out of ear range from your living space.
That feature would be great to have it work. I don’t know how many times I have to walk into our shared kitchen to open the door to stop the beeping.
Smart microwaves will set you back a bit more than a standard microwave. You can expect to pay about $400 on the low end and I have seen them as high as $2,000. Price will vary by brand and features offered.
Is that worth it to you? It could be. If it is, make sure you are aware of the warranties offered and if there is an extended warranty.
Again, that can only add to your peace of mind!
Voice Assistants With Screens
You may already have Alexa or Google Home in the kitchen, these screen assistants just take it to the next level. Ask for recipes, get tutorial videos or watch some of your favorite Netflix or Hulu shows while prepping in the kitchen.
These will also work with video doorbells. Know who just rang the doorbell by checking the screen to see who is there and talk to them through two way audio.
Here are some of the top features of smart speakers with screens:
- Video calls
- Streaming music through premium speakers
- Weather forecasts
- Update and manage calendars
- To-do lists
- Recipe videos
- Timers and alarms
The Echo Show even comes with a built-in Zigbee hub, allowing you to connect Zigbee compatible devices to the hub instead of directly to your wi-fi. This helps reduce strain and keep speeds constant instead of being dragged down by multiple devices.
The screens add more functionality but after the screen, it doesn’t offer much more. Yes, it is very handy when it comes to finding recipes while cooking, making phone calls or watching videos but the functionality, in my opinion, stops right there.
Don’t get me wrong, I still see value in these, I just understand they have room for improvement. You can find models with a price tag between $150-$250.
I just learned these were even a thing and had to dive in to really understand what they are all about. At first I was pretty skeptical, do we really need an internet connected dishwasher? The answer in my house would be a yes.
A lot of the upgrades that smart dishwashers offer are in the way they clean. They are water efficient with more jets and a better more thorough way of cleaning your dishes. There are even some models with water reservoirs that keep water from previous rinses to use on the next wash.
Smart dishwashers also voice control through your voice assistant and usually through a companion app. Check on the status of a wash or start a new load from anywhere, You can also download new cycles for different cleaning scenarios.
My favorite feature that I have found with smart dishwashers is the ability to order detergent when it is low. If the unit has a built-in detergent dispenser, you can set it to either notify you or have it order more detergent directly from Amazon.
Again, with most appliances in the kitchen, these things can get pretty expensive. I have seen them with price tags close to $2,000. If you are planning on dropping that much, get the warranty. You’re already spending an arm and a leg, you might as well throw in the fingers and toes.
Smart Coffee Makers
Coffee makers do one thing and that is make coffee. How they make coffee is fairly consistent across the board. Smart coffee makers add more options on how and when they start making coffee.
These will usually come with companion apps and compatibility with Alexa and Google Home. “Alexa, “turn on the coffee maker”.
The biggest benefit of a smart coffee maker is the ability to time when your coffee is ready and/or get notifications. This might be helpful to anyone that is not a morning person. Mornings can be rough, why not automate some of it.
Coffee makers can also be added to routines. If you have a morning routine with your smart home, why not add coffee into the mix. IFTTT for the win.
Pricing will vary by the amount of features the coffee maker comes with. If you are looking for that espresso, grinder super coffee maker combo, expect to spend a lot more.
Other ways to add some Smarts to Your Kitchen
These are just functional all around. We stick them under the cupboards and have motion detectors that sense movement. Whenever we walk into the kitchen at night, they strips turn on under the cupboards and gives off just enough light.
You can also place them above your cupboard or under your bottom cupboards. You will just use the light directly to the counter tops.
These strips don’t even have to be internet connected. There are battery powered options that work just as well but you are limited to the white light and cannot control them through an app or with your phone.
If you go with some strips a bit more advanced like the Phillips Hue Light Strips, you get more colors and more ways to control them. Light strips can really change the mood in any room and look really good! My goal is to have my whole house outfitted with light strips eventually.
Smart Trash Cans
I have learned there are different levels to smart trash cans. You have the basic trash can that is touchless (does that count as being smart) and then trash cans that track what is thrown out and can put together shopping lists for you.
Trash cans are a tough sell for me. Do we really need something smart to dispose of our Cheerio boxes? Or will the simple human pedal opener type of trash can be sufficient?
I will say the premise is interesting. Tracking what leaves the home sounds like a great way to stay on top of what you need. How accurate is it though?
Garbi in particular is still in Beta at the time of writing and I have no idea how reliable of a product it will be. The concept is interesting though.
Having voice activation does sound appealing, but I feel like a motion sensor might accomplish the same goal, maybe easier? At the very least, a few seconds quicker than asking Alexa to do it.
I say touchless is the way to go. Until these start-up trash company really hammer out the problem they are solving and how they are solving that problem, I don’t see the need to complicate an already simple task.
Smart Meat Thermometers
These are one of those gadgets I never knew I needed. We use thermostats almost every meal to make sure that the meat is cooked thoroughly.
Check out this introduction to how the Meater thermometer works.
Smart meat thermometers are inserted into the meat before it is cooked. The app will let you select the type of meat you are cooking beforehand and allow you to choose how you want it cooked. It will then notify you when the might reaches the specified temperature for the type of meat you selected.
For example, lets say you have a nice steak you want to cook up. Insert the thermometer into the meat and go to the app and select how you want that steak cooked. I like mine medium rare so it would drop the temperature required.
Once the temperature is met for the type of meat, you are alerted through your phone. It does work through Bluetooth and the most basic version allows for 30 ft of connectivity. you can also upgrade to the plus that offers 165 feet of connectivity through an included repeater.
Kitchen floors get dirty, it’s inevitable when whipping up some dinner. Why not automate the cleaning of those floors? Smart vacuums are not solely a kitchen thing, they will clean your entire house. I just feel since we are talking about adding smarts to the kitchen, these definitely deserve a shout out.
You can find more about automated cleaning here.
Smart vacuums offer a lot of really useful features including:
- Voice control
- Mapping sensors
- Cliff sensors (they won’t fall down the stairs)
- Zone Cleaning
- Cleaning history
- And many, many more
There are even mopping attachments or other devices that can tackle the mopping of the floors for you.
Just like just about any smart device, you will be able to control a smart vacuum with your phone or with a voice assistant. If you have zones set up in your house, it would be very simple to direct your smart vacuum directly to the kitchen to clean u after a night of cooking.
Sous Vide Cookers
The first time i saw this I completely butchered the name. It is pronounced “sue veed”. This isn’t necessarily an appliance but a cool gadget that does the job of say your oven or stove top in a better way.
Basically, they boil water to a preset temperature to get just the right cook without the concern of overcooking. You put your food in bags that a dropped in the water and whatever inside is cooked by the warmed or boiled water.
The Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker also has an app that will alert you when the food is ready. Since you do not have to worry about overcooking, you can get it then or keep the food in the water. They are really interesting tools.
Sous vide is not a new way of cooking. It has been used in restaurants for decades and it makes total sense. As you don’t have to worry about overcooking, it takes away the stress of getting that steak just right
If all else fails, just add some smart plugs to your more used mini appliances. With smart plugs, each device plugged in will be able to be controlled through an app or by voice. You are limited to turning devices on and off, but something is better than nothing, right?
The good thing with smart plugs is they are inexpensive. If you are not happy with how it is working in the kitchen, rename it and move it somewhere else. They are really easy to set up and are so versatile.
There are a lot of smart appliances out there with a lot of great features. Be sure to understand what you are buying and how it fits into your home. Some of this stuff is very expensive. Don’t go overboard if you won’t use half of the features.
Again, always check out those extended warranties. Better to have it than not just in case.