Smart appliances from dishwashers to ovens can be linked to Wi-Fi by downloading their manufacturer’s app on your mobile device. But are they worth the investment? We hear it all the time: I don’t need to turn on my range, dishwasher, washing machine, you name it, from my car or the office. That being said, we wouldn’t be surprised if there was once a time when you didn’t think you needed to text or order books online. It’s tough to imagine life without these capabilities now. Smart appliances can give you a lot of truly helpful features, and they’re only getting smarter.
What smart appliances can offer does vary depending on the brand and the product. Once you have the manufacturer’s app on your phone, you’ll be able to access new features as they become available. More and more capabilities are constantly being added. Here, six ways we think smart appliances can make your life easier.
1. You’ll receive helpful phone alerts that can prevent problems.
Most manufacturers will send you notifications to let you know when your smart appliance needs your immediate attention. One of the most helpful is a warning that you’ve left the refrigerator or freezer door open. You can then go back home or call someone who’s in the house and ask them to close the door. If you’ll be away for a whole day or longer, you won’t return to a fridge full of spoiled food. And even if you won’t be out for more than a couple of hours, you’ll help your food stay fresher by keeping it a consistently cold temperature.
Other alerts can help prevent service calls or serious problems down the road. A notification that you’re using too much detergent can prevent your washing machine from working harder than it has to and therefore becoming more likely to malfunction. Some of the best dishwashers are smart dishwashers. If you get a prompt that the water in your dishwasher isn’t hot enough, you can check your water heater rather than assume your dishwasher isn’t cleaning well enough and arrange for a service visit.
You’ll also get pinged when it’s time for housekeeping tasks like cleaning the water and air filters and in some cases clearing your dryer vent or running a self cleaning cycle in your oven. Taking care of these things is preventive maintenance that we can all use a nudge to take care of.
Refrigerator, dishwasher and range on display in our showroom2. You’ll get a remote control for your appliances.
Consider these scenarios and you’ll realize you really do want to be able to operate your appliances while you’re away from home.
The kids are starving and asking when supper will be ready before you even get home. Some of the best ranges have Wi-Fi connectivity. By preheating the oven from the car you’re that much closer to serving the pizza, casserole, or sheet pan chicken that you prepped last night. (Just be sure not to store anything in your oven if you’re going to use this feature.)
During the day, your kids or your partner call to say they’ve invited friends over for dinner and you realize you didn’t wash those dirty glasses and plates before you left home in the morning. You can start the dishwasher from the office or the grocery store and come home to clean dishes and a machine that’s ready to tackle a full load again.
It’s hot and you’re tired and you want to come home to a cool house. Using your phone, you can turn down your air conditioner ahead of time.
3. You’ll have peace of mind.
You’re halfway to an appointment when you wonder, “Did I turn off the oven after I took out the cookies?” With a smart wall oven and an app installed on your phone, not only can you find out, but you can turn the oven off from the car so there’s no need to turn around to check and risk being late.
4. You can set your appliances more easily.
You probably never had to read the manual to figure out how to set up your mobile phone. That’s because the screen is relatively big and it’s very intuitive to program. When you use your phone rather than the appliance to select a setting or an oven temperature, you’ll find yourself working with an easier to read interface. Plus your phone may be more convenient to access than the controls at the top of the fridge or the back of the range.
Your phone can also take out some of the guesswork. If you’re often stumped as to which cycle to use on your washer and dryer, you can select what you’re washing on the app. It will then program the machine for the very best results, in some cases more precisely than the controls on the machine.
Do you already depend on Alexa to turn on timers, play music, or convert recipes? You’ll love being able to ask her to Start the Dishwasher or Preheat the Oven.
5. You get access to great free upgrades.
If you have a smart GE oven, you can download an Air Fry mode. How cool is that? You don’t have to buy another large, not so good looking small appliance that’ll clutter up your countertop. GE promises more cooking programs will be coming soon. Many other ovens, washers, dryers, and dishwashers have bonus cycles and settings that you can download via an app and add to your repertoire as well.
6. You’ll spend less on service calls.
Hands down, we think this is the best reason to consider a smart appliance and download its app. Right now, this feature is limited to just a few brands. If you’re hooked up to Wi-Fi, the customer service centers for Bosch, Thermador, Jenn-Air, Whirlpool, and for some products GE may be able to connect to your appliances remotely and troubleshoot your appliance’s problem to determine if you need a technician to come out to your house or if they can suggest a quick fix you can do yourself.
Smart appliances have practical benefits, from remote diagnostics to door-open alerts. Wi-Fi connectivity is one of many innovative new appliance features that companies have introduced in the past 10 years. They do have a ways to go before they reach their full potential in terms of convenience. For instance, we’ve also noticed lag times when connecting the app to your appliance and when pairing your appliance with the app. Some apps could also be more user friendly in terms of their design. We’ll be updating this article regularly as we review specific smart appliances and their apps.