Sure, smart home security systems and smart thermostats are cool, but robots that will clean your house? Now we’re talking! Which is why, in this latest installment of The Connected Home highlighting just how smart your home can be, we’re telling you all about the most cutting-edge cleaning gadgets at your disposal.
Although we’re still a ways off from “Jetsons”-esque robot maids, cool tech abounds to clean your home—and the benefits go beyond the mere fact that you can spend less time and energy purging dirt and grime from your abode.
“Smart appliances can reduce friction in the life of a family,” says Eric Murrell from A Home in the Future. After all, who hasn’t bickered with a family member over whose turn it is to do the laundry or scoop the litter box? Plus, “smart appliances can actually save money in the long run, both in efficiency and safety features.”
For instance, all that time you once spent vacuuming could go toward a side job or scoring that promotion at work, or a push alert from a malfunctioning washing machine can save you from an expensive floor repair.
And so, say hello to your new house help—as well as some honest answers about their strengths and limitations. You pay for those additional IQ points, so it’s worth knowing how helpful these things really are so you can decide whether they’re right for you.
Robot vacuums are the elders of the home automated cleaning world—the first Roomba came out in 2002. But recent upgrades have made this category much smarter. Both the iRobot Roomba 980 ($900) and the neato Botvac Connected ($700), for instance, have the wherewithal to head back to the charger when they need juice, then resume cleaning, record a history of what they’ve cleaned, and be steered by their smartphone apps to clean certain areas.
While the Roomba rules as a household name, neato has a few distinguishing features, including its square shape, which helps scour corners. It also has a slightly larger dust-holding capacity and is $200 cheaper, which is nothing to sneeze at.
Do you really need a smart trash can? Well, if you’re a germaphobe, it sure can’t hurt that this can’s infrared sensors can sense when you’re approaching and will automatically open and close—all the better for you to toss your rubbish with minimal germ spreading. The simplehuman 45-liter semiround sensor can ($150) also sports an antibacterial surface and, in the near future, plans to incorporate open/close voice commands, too.
If you’re willing to wait, the bruno smartcan ($199 with preorder) has all these features and more. For one, a built-in vacuum at the bottom sucks up any nearby crumbs you drop. Plus, the can’s app reminds you of when your trash is full and needs to be taken out, and when you’re running low on bags.
While they haven’t figured out how to get a home device to fold your clothes, today’s smart washing machines and dryers do have some nifty features that iron out a lot of laundry’s more annoying problems. For instance, if you hate being tethered to home on laundry day, both the Whirlpool Cabrio Smart Washer and Dryer ($1,399 each) and Samsung FlexWash and FlexDry ($1,350 to $1,800 each) have smartphone apps that allow you to start and stop the machines remotely; plus, they send alerts the instant a load is done.
The Whirlpool machines have the added ability to “talk” to other smart home products like a Nest security camera, so if this device senses that you’re away, it will automatically turn on the “wrinkle shield” function to tumble your clothes every few minutes to prevent creases. Or, if it sees that you’re home, it will run the machines on a slower “quiet” mode.
Also, if your clothes require more careful handling, the FlexWash offers two different loads: a 5-cubic-foot washer on the bottom and a 1-cubic-foot washer on top. In a similar vein, the FlexDry has a 7-cubic-foot dryer on the bottom and a 1-cubic-foot drying rack on top that can be set to different air temperatures. So you can essentially do four different loads of laundry simultaneously: delicates, white sheets and towels, extra-dirty kid’s clothes, and the whole family’s brights.
Smart air purifier
Although the air we breathe might not look dirty, it is rife with dust, pollen, pet fur, and other particulates that can cause odors and trigger allergies and other ailments. All of this can be alleviated with a smart air cleaner, which runs air through various filters, analyzes what is collected, then sends personalized air analysis readings to your smartphone. It even adjusts the speed at which it sucks in particles (faster on days with a high pollen count, for instance).
One popular budget-friendly option is the GermGuardian 4-in-1 Wifi Smart Air Filter ($200), which runs air through three filters (HEPA, charcoal for odors, and ultraviolet light to kill germs). It’s best for small spaces, cleaning a 155-square-foot room max, so if you have a larger area consider upgrading to the Airmega 400S ($750), which boasts two carbon filters and two HEPA that can cover 1,650 square feet.
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