As homeowners search for products that make their lives more convenient, it seems homes have become dominated by one rapidly growing trend: technology. The industry has seen an increase in Wi-Fi–connected appliances with the introduction of ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, stove tops, and washers and dryers that can be controlled through smartphones and voice commands, whether connected to virtual assistant devices like the Amazon Echo—which received a Hive 100 Top Innovator Award in 2016 from Hanley Wood, BUILDER’s parent company—and Google Home or a manufacturer’s proprietary system. Even a product as simple as a door knob now provides homeowners with increased home security and the ability to remotely interact with a person at the door and allow access into the home.

As technology advances and homes become “smarter”—from simple hardware to high-tech appliances and whole-home systems—the individual components of a house become integrated in a way that gives homeowners the convenient, safe, and carefree lifestyle they crave without a second thought. Here are some of our favorite products that do just that.

Bosch’s redesigned dishwashers feature a third rack for extra loading capacity, EasyGlide wheels for smooth operation of the racks, tines that can fold or stand up depending on what’s being loaded into the dishwasher, an ExtraDry setting with higher water temperatures, and a Speed60 cycle for a quick wash. The dishwasher, along with other kitchen appliances from the brand, will be equipped with the company’s Home Connect system, which will allow homeowners to remotely control appliances through a smartphone app.

Home security system manufacturer Blink’s outdoor security camera, the XT, is a wire-free, battery operated, and weather-proof security camera with 1080p full HD video. The camera features infrared night vision for round-the-clock surveillance, auto arming and disarming, a built-in motion sensor and a temperature sensor, and two-year battery life with AA batteries. It also can be integrated with Amazon Echo. Homeowners can monitor the camera through the Blink Home Monitor app, and each system comes with free cloud storage.

The Kevo lock operates with just the tap of a homeowner’s finger. The lock connects with Bluetooth technology on a smartphone and, when connected, it can sense when the phone is within range to activate, even while inside the pocket or purse of the user. With a touch of the user’s finger, the door opens when entering or locks when leaving. The accompanying Kevo app shows homeowners who has locked or unlocked the door with real-time notifications, and it allows users to activate virtual eKeys for neighbors, visiting family members, one-time deliveries, or recurring visitors such as dog walkers or a cleaning service. The lock features Kwikset’s SmartKey technology for increased protection and security, an auto-lock feature, and the ability to disable eKeys and phone access if a connected phone is lost or stolen. The lock includes a manual key entry option as well.

The NuTone Smart Home series hub allows control of up to 200 connected devices in the home through a smartphone, tablet, or Amazon Echo voice command, letting homeowners do things such as turn lights on and off or lock and unlock doors while at home or remotely while away. The NuTone technology is compatible with Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Bluetooth, Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service, and Z-Wave devices, and has its own line of smart products including a garage door controller, thermostat, fixture control for electrical devices such as ceiling fans, and a collection of light bulbs, wall outlets, and dimmers. The system is also capable of tapping into external events like current weather conditions or pollen counts to automatically trigger reactions in the home to save energy. The system is easily set up with voice installation.

Jenn-air connected wall ovens are equipped with Wi-Fi and integrated with the Nest Learning Thermostat to provide both remote and automatic control of the oven. If the oven is left on when Nest senses that homeowners are away, the thermostat sends a notification via the oven’s app, enabling owners to turn off the oven remotely. Users can create rules to automatically modify the thermostat when the oven reaches a certain temperature, keeping the kitchen cool while cooking.

The TWINWash with SideKick pedestal machines allow users to multitask when it comes to laundry. The front-loading washer—available in a 4.5-cubic-foot, 27-inch width or 5.2-cubic-foot, 29-inch width model—cuts wash times by up to 30 minutes and has a large tub for big loads. The addition of the 1-­cubic-foot SideKick pedestal washer, which can hold 3 to 4 pounds of laundry, means two loads can run simultaneously. The appliance is Wi-Fi enabled for remote control from a smartphone.

The Nubryte smart home system replaces a traditional light switch with Touchpoint, an all-in-one smart hub for built-in home security. The system is equipped with motion sensors, a camera that sends clips to users’ phones, lighting control, an intercom, weather reports, energy monitoring of utilities, and family calendars that are compatible with Google. Owners can control the system via the touch pad, the NuBryte App, or Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service.

Modern Flames
FusionFire Steam Fireplace uses a steam flame technology to create the three-dimensional flame appearance of a gas fireplace without the safety or energy concerns. The fireplace uses small amounts of water and only requires a 120-volt household circuit to operate. The fireplace is safe to the touch and doesn’t require clearances or restrictions for installation, making it possible to install almost anywhere in the home, according to the company. The system includes an internal computer that controls flame height, lighting intensity, a fully integrated user display for settings, status and user guidance, a built-in water filtration system, optional 5,000-BTU heater, and customizable media options.

The 36-inch-wide French Door Refrigerator with the manufacturer’s infinity slide shelves is a smart, connected appliance. The unit connects with Wi-Fi and smart home systems for control remotely via a smartphone app or through voice commands. The refrigerator has a “party mode” setting and can be activated using voice control when connected with Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service, and also connects with the Nest thermostat for energy-saving benefits. When party mode is activated, the freezer will trigger faster ice production and lower the temperatures to anticipate loss of coolness with frequent opening and closing of the doors.

The Decora Digital Controls line taps into Bluetooth to allow homeowners to control their lighting system through an app within a 30-foot range without a hub, gateway or internet connection. The line of dimmers and switches can be timed and controlled through the Leviton Decora Digital Dimmer & Timer App, with different fade and optimal energy-saving options. The Electronic Low Voltage Dimmer is compatible with Electronic Low Voltage, dimmable LED, dimmable CFL, Incandescent, or Halogen loads. The system also includes a fan speed control and timer.

BA Technologies
BA Technologies’ under-counter wireless charging device, DekTek, integrates a wireless charging surface into any countertop. The small transmitter device installs underneath any non-metal surface and creates a charging area that can charge up to three devices at once. Homeowners can set a device down in the space, where it will charge without a power cord. The product is available in either a 10-watt or 16-watt transmitter with over an inch of vertical range through the surface.

Thermador’s liberty induction cooktop features 11 inductors divided into 3 cooking zones, each able to accommodate large pots and pans. The HeatShift and MoveMode technologies control the power level of the cooktop and transfer cooking settings to a new location within the surface’s vertical rows as pans move around. The cooktop can be heated to five pre-set temperature levels, and once the pan reaches the target temperature, a sensor can automatically control the pan’s temperature.

GE Appliances
GE Appliances recently partnered with Amazon to add the Alexa Voice Service to its expansive line of Wi-Fi connected appliances including ovens, refrigerators, and dishwashers, giving homeowners the ability to control their kitchen appliances through a simple hands-free voice command. GE created Geneva, the company’s unique Alexa counterpart, in September 2016. Through Geneva, homeowners using Amazon’s Alexa service can interact with their appliances by saying things like, “Alexa, tell Geneva check the oven timer.” GE Appliances has over 70 models of appliances including ovens, refrigerators, and laundry machines that are Wi-Fi-enabled and are compatible with the Alexa platform and its devices, including Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap, and the Echo Dot.

First Alert
The Onelink by First Alert Wi-Fi Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm is a two-in-one alarm system equipped with both photoelectric and electrochemical sensors to detect smoke and carbon monoxide. The smart system alerts homeowners to smoke or carbon monoxide via an app and audible voice alarm, pinpoints the location of the danger, and contacts help directly through the app when an alarm goes off. It’s also compatible with non-Wi-Fi interconnected hardwired alarms.

Legrand's adorne under-cabinet lighting system
Legrand Legrand's adorne under-cabinet lighting system

The adorne under-cabinet lighting and power system combines the aesthetic value of subtle lighting with the growing consumer demand for more technology. The modular track features an LED lighting strip with power outlets, USB ports, a Bluetooth music system, and mobile charging cradles that can be customized in a variety of configurations and updated at any time. The system can be installed with in-wall wiring or be plugged into an existing outlet.

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