Sorry, no cooking and cleaning robots yet
A quick Google search will reveal dozens upon dozens of articles on “how to build the ultimate smart home.” Most all of these articles talk about smart lighting, smart locks, and sometimes even smart blinds—but few touch on the heart of the home: the kitchen! “Smart” kitchen appliances are everywhere, but most tend to come from smaller, lesser-known companies. And this also means that not all of them play well together.
While there are sadly no robots that will cook and clean for you, this article will walk you through the process of building a truly connected, truly “smart” kitchen that makes the day-to-day tasks of cooking and cleaning more convenient.
Bring in a Smart Fridge (Samsung)
If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the refrigerator is the heart of the kitchen. Smart refrigerators are more than just connected devices; some, like the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator, has a built-in voice assistant that can play music, order food from Grub Hub, and much more. The most convenient feature are the three built-in cameras that let you check the contents of your fridge no matter where you are.
Nothing is worse than getting to the grocery store and forgetting whether you need a specific food item—except getting back home and realizing you have to make another trip to the store. The ability to look inside your fridge completely eliminates that problem.
In addition to an insider look at the contents of your fridge, the Samsung Family Hub lets you create a personalized “home screen” with custom pictures and notes. The built-in SmartThings app gives you the ability to control all of the other devices in your kitchen—and your home—from one place.
Cook Smart With a Smart Oven
If you do a search for smart ovens, the vast majority of results you turn up will be about smart toaster ovens. There aren’t as many options on the market for a true oven unit. The Hoover Vision is the exception to that.
This 80-liter electric smart oven has a few interesting features that make it stand out from the competition. One of these is a built-in camera that lets you check the status of what you’re cooking without opening the door and risking the dish.
The screen door can display recipes, instructions, and gives you the ability to enter specific instructions depending on the dish you make. You can also get at-a-glance information on how much time is left before a dish is finished.
Of all of the available smart ovens on the market, the Hoover Vision is one of the strongest offerings out there. The major downside is that it doesn’t exactly work well with other smart home tech and isn’t compatible with voice assistants.
Pop Better With a Smart Microwave (Amazon)
A smart microwave? What?
That’s the reaction most people have to the idea of a smart microwave, but there are quite a few benefits to the device that most people overlook. One of the most affordable and accessible examples of a smart microwave is the Amazon Basics Smart Microwave. At just $60, it’s well within most people’s budgets.
Preset voice commands make it easy to pop in a food item and defrost it, make popcorn, cook rice and much more. The Amazon Basics Smart Microwave connects to an Alexa unit (although it doesn’t come with one by default) to make entering commands easy. And if you reorder popcorn through the microwave, you can save up to 10%. It’s a win-win, right?
In addition to the smart features, the Amazon Basics Smart Microwave has ten power levels, a built-in timer, child lock, and revolving turntable. Even if you’re just looking for an inexpensive microwave, this one gets the job done.
Bake Better With Drop (Amazon)
Drop really is a unique tool for the kitchen, but it also shows just how ingenious smart home tech has become. If you’ve ever tried to bake anything, then you know how precise the measurements for each ingredient have to be to ensure the success of the dish. It’s one of the reasons why baking and cooking are considered two totally separate arts—there is a level of experience required to bake a good cake.
The Drop is a kitchen scale with a companion app. Just select the recipe you want to make, and Drop will help you make sure you have the necessary ingredients in the right order. The app even suggests alternatives to certain ingredients if you are cooking for someone with food sensitivities.
Wash Smarter With a Smart Dishwasher (Best Buy)
This one requires a bit of explanation. A smart dishwasher has interesting features, but since it doesn’t actually load the dishes for you and you aren’t likely to walk away without starting the wash, it can be a stretch to see why one of these is necessary. I mention it here for the sake of including all the major kitchen appliances.
One of the best options on the market is Samsung Linear Wash 24″ Dishwasher. It’s main strength? Silence. At just 38 decibels, this dishwasher won’t cause a racket every time you need to clean up after a meal. The door automatically opens when the dishes are done to let air circulate throughout the tub, and you can monitor the time until completion via your smartphone.
But Wait, There’s More
A smart kitchen isn’t composed only of “kitchen” gadgets. The room needs to be functional, and that means you have to be able to see. When is the last time you had to awkwardly flip a switch with your elbow because your hands were dirty?
Install a set of smart lights, and that won’t be a problem. While the Philips Hue are a great option (especially now that some of their bulbs no longer require the Hue Bridge to operate), there are also more cost-effective options on the market. IKEA produces a line of smart bulbs, as well as GE.
Pair those smart lights with a smart assistant like the Google Home or the Amazon Alexa and you’re in business. You can give a quick voice command to brighten or dim the lights. Perhaps even more important is the ability to quickly set a timer. Smart assistants can have multiple timers set at once—perfect for those days when you’re cooking four different things at once.
There are a host of tools and devices that can improve your kitchen experience, but they aren’t for everyone. On the other hand, smart appliances like the fridge, dishwasher, oven, and microwave mentioned above can change the way you approach cooking on a day-to-day basis. Other devices like a smart coffee pot can improve your coffee game and make you excited to roll out of bed for that first cup of joe every morning. The possibilities are limitless.
Smart home technology will only continue to improve. If some of these devices seem out of reach right now (or just too expensive, like the $4,000+ smart fridge), just wait. As the field advances, so too will the options available to consumers. In time, more devices will be able to work together and create a kitchen like the one you remember from The Jetsons.