Ecobee Smart Thermostat
The Ecobee smart thermostat does everything but the dishes around the house it seems. It works well with Amazon’s Alexa and claims to save homeowners an average of 23 percent annually. It can tell when someone’s home and which rooms are occupied.Find out if a WiFi thermostat is right for you.
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Nest has got it right with the second-generation model of its Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector. It integrates with Nest’s Learning Thermostat and Nest Cam. It will test for low batteries and communicate with other Nest devices in a home. It can tell you where the problem is and uses two wavelengths of light to look for both fast and slow burning fires.Find out how to maintain smoke alarms in your home.
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Lutron Serena Remote Controlled Shades
Let Lutron handle the hassle of opening and closing shades with its remote-controlled shades. The insulated honeycomb model has a R rating for insulation of 4.3 whereas a typical double-pane window has an R-value of 2. The shades can be controlled anywhere through the Luton App and Smart Bridge.It can even compensate for battery voltage like if one shade has new batteries and the shade next to it has older batteries they will still move at the same speed.
Photo: Courtesy of Lutron
Sonos Wireless Speaker System
Sonos wireless speakers allow you to stream music in any room with these speakers and works great with Amazon’s Alexa. The set is fairly simple: just plug it in, download the free app and connect it to your WiFi network. It makes entertaining easier and doesn’t require a bunch of wiring work in your ceiling.If you like the challenge of a DIY project like installing audio in every room, learn how to do it.
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Electrolux IQ Touch Electric Range
Those in search of that modern house feel will want to upgrade to the Electrolux IQ Touch Electric Range. The front control design, Flex-2-Fit heating elements and Perfect Taste Dual Convection will make cooking everything from the weeknight meal to holiday dinners easier. The easy-to-clean cooktop surface and seven cooking modes will help even the most novice chefs prepare marvelous meals.
Photo: Courtesy of Electrolux
Crock-Pot WeMo Enabled Smart Slow Cooker
The HAPIfork is an electric fork that helps you monitor and track your eating habits. It alerts you with the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations when you’re eating that grilled steak too fast. The information is then uploaded via USB or Bluetooth to your online dashboard on HAPI.com to track your progress.
Photo: Courtesy of HAPIfork
Perfect Drink Pro
You’ll make the perfect drink every time with the Perfect Drink Pro. Great for your home bar, tell the Perfect Drink Pro via the app what you have in your liquor cabinet. Choose a recipe and this bar-top appliance will help you measure out just the right proportions for your drink. Then shake or stir.Photo: Courtesy of Perfect Company
June Intelligent Oven
Behmor Brazen Plus Coffee Maker
The Brazen Plus Coffee Maker features adjustable settings for water brewing temperature and pre-soak, and guarantees brewing temperature to within 1 degree of your setting. The oversize shower head and pulsed water flow ensures complete coffee bed saturation for the perfect cup every time. And use a permanent filter or paper filters, and don’t forget to use those leftover grounds for pest control.
Photo: Courtesy of Behmor
Pantelligent Frying Pan
Want perfectly cooked burgers, fish fillets and steaks every time? The Pantelligent Frying Pan has a temperature sensor inside and connects to an app which will tell you when to flip the food, stir the ingredients or adjust the heat on your stove. And when you’re not cooking, just store it with the rest of your pots and pans.
Photo: Courtesy of Pantelligent
Neato Botvac Vacuum
Tired of vacuum repair? The Botvac Wi-Fi connected robot vacuum from neato lets you control the vacuum from wherever you are. Have last-minute company coming over for dinner? Start the robot vacuum before you leave work. And, it has two cleaning modes and includes an ultra-performance filter which makes it easy-to-clean.
Photo: Courtesy of Neato Robotics
Faber Hood T-Light
Anova Sous Vide with Bluetooth
If it’s too cool outside to grill, try cooking in the Anova Sous Vide with Bluetooth. And this sous vide (a method of cooking food slowly in a vacuum-sealed pouch at a low temperature so as to retain most of the juice and aroma) precision cooking device will cook that roast or steak to the perfect temperature every time, and you can keep track of the cooking process via its Bluetooth system.
Photo: Courtesy Anova Culinary
Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator
According to Samsung, the company’s new Family Hub Refrigerator lets you “find what you need, faster.” If your kitchen needs a makeover, this fridge will certainly make it smarter. It features a touchscreen system and apps that are easy-to-use, and has a camera feed to help you track contents. The refrigerator comes in three unique designs.
Photo: Courtesy of Samsung
Protective headphones equipped with a radio have been around for a while. Some models offer an auxiliary jack so you can plug in your phone or MP3 player, but good luck keeping that irritating cord plugged in for more than five minutes at a time.ION has solved that little problem with its Tough Sounds Hearing Protection Headphones with Bluetooth & Radio. Now, while mowing the lawn or running a chain saw, you can tap into your Bluetooth-equipped device and listen to your own tunes or a podcast. These headphones have a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 20 hours per charge.
Surge Protection is Cheap Insurance
There’s a bunch of surge protectors to choose from at home centers these days, and they’re more affordable than ever. The six-outlet model shown here, made by Defiant, is available at The Home Depot. It’s so inexpensive, there’s no reason not to install them throughout the whole house. And don’t forget about your larger appliances. Today’s washers, dryers and refrigerators have electronic circuit boards that can be destroyed by surges.
Wixey Digital Angle Gauge
This Wixey Digital Angle Gauge is 21st-century fun! Yeah, you could adjust your saw’s angle using other methods and eventually get it perfect, but this gizmo saves lots of time, and did we mention it was fun? Just crank the blade up, set the magnetic base on the blade and square up the blade to the table (the body of the tool is absolutely square). Then push the zero button to calibrate the tool.Once it’s calibrated, you can adjust the blade to the desired angle, all the while getting an accurate digital readout. When you get the desired angle, whether it’s 22-1/2 or 45 degrees, you know it’s right on, and you can proceed with your project instead of spinning your wheels micro-adjusting.
Power, Cubed: E-More Cube
Long power strips are a great invention, but some electrical plugs are such space hogs that you can’t use all the available outlets. And what about your phone, tablet and other USB devices?The E-More Cube has four three-prong power outlets as well as two USB charging ports. The outlets are configured so there’s no competition for charging space. The Cube is power-surge protected and takes up less space than a strip on a workshop or countertop. Plus, it looks cool!
Marcia Roepke, Art Director
Best Night-Light in History: SnapRays Guidelight
About once a year here at the office, we encounter ‘The Perfect Product.’ This year the title winner has to be the SnapRays Guidelight. Even though it’s just a lowly night-light, it’s practically perfect in every way. Here’s why:
- Everyone needs it: If the sun goes down where you live, you need a few night-lights, right?
- Anyone can install it: It takes all of 60 seconds. Remove the single screw on the old cover plate, snap in the Guidelight and reinstall the screw. That’s it.
- It’s inexpensive to operate: The three tiny LEDs come on only when it’s dark, thanks to the light sensor built into the cover.
- It’s not an ugly plug-in. It looks exactly like an ordinary cover plate. The LEDs at the bottom light up the floor right where you need it.
- The price is reasonable and they cost even less per light if you buy a bunch.
The Guidelight is powered by two little prongs that snap over the terminal screws on the receptacle. Brilliant! No batteries, no wiring, no nuthin! You have a choice of two outlet cover types in ivory, almond or white.
Hands-Free Tablets and Phones: GoGear Automotive Universal Tablet Holder
World’s Coolest Hose Reel: RoboReel Water Hose Reel
It’s crazy-expensive, but if you’re a serious gardener, it’s crazy-cool, too. Frankly, there’s nothing like the RoboReel Water Hose Reel. Its looks may be otherworldly, but its function is totally down to earth.Here are the neatest features. One hundred feet of high-quality 5/8-in. hose (or 150 ft. of 1/2-in. hose) retracts with the push of a button either on the top of the cover or on the remote. So, no cranking?a big onboard rechargeable battery does the heavy lifting. The remote switch snaps onto the end of the hose (it features quick-disconnects on all the accessories), and that allows you to turn the water off or on from wherever you are. Attach it to a handheld sprinkler for hand watering, or use it separately to control the lawn sprinkler. No more running back and forth to the spigot.
The water shuts off automatically after one hour, so you never have to worry about it running all night if you forget to shut it off. The RoboReel system has lots more features that are worth checking out if you think this awesome hose reel might be for you. Believe it?if you’re a hard-core gardener with money to spend on your passion, you’ll absolutely love this thing. Learn more, find a dealer and watch the videos at the manufacturer’s website.
Soil Testing Made Easy: General 4-in-1 Soil Condition Meter
Prevent Port Damage to Your Smartphone or Laptop
My 3-year-old granddaughter thought the USB ports on my son’s laptop would be a great place to hide her hairclips. It was powered up at the time, and the clips shorted out the $800 main board (he had to remind himself how precious she is).
The service guy said port damage is common, and not just from little gremlins jamming hairclips in them. Dust, dirt and metal fragments can accumulate in the ports and cause damage when you jam the plug in. So my son sealed his smartphone and laptop ports with silicone anti-dust stoppers. It’s really cheap insurance against costly repairs.
Rick Muscoplat, Contributing Editor
See Inside your Walls with General iBorescope
Unless you have X-ray vision, it can be tough to figure out what’s inside a wall. That’s where a ‘borescope’ comes in handy. It’s basically a small camera on the end of a snake. You just fish it through a hole or tight space to view what’s inside on a video monitor.Several companies make borescopes, but the General iBorescope line is a little different in that it lets you use the display on your smartphone or tablet as a wireless video monitor. The borescope acts as a Wi-Fi hot spot, letting you connect your mobile device to it without a Wi-Fi router or Internet access. A free app lets you snap photos and record video, and the camera is waterproof so you can safely use it in areas that may be wet.
More Than A Garage Door Opener: Ryobi GD200
This game-changing garage hub is called the Ryobi GD200. It has a powerful 2-hp motor under the hood, instead of a 1/2-hp like most other openers. It features a super-quiet, steel-reinforced belt drive rather than a noisy chain or screw drive. It also has an LED light, which should last as long as the opener itself. The light is activated by a motion detector and turns on whenever you enter the garage.But what really sets this unit apart are the seven ports. Each port receives a module of your choosing, including a fan, a CO and temperature sensor, a Bluetooth speaker that broadcasts and receives music or phone calls from your smartphone, a retractable electrical cord, a battery backup, and even a laser system that tells you when your car is parked in exactly the right spot.
Robotic Lawn Mower: Automower
Smarter Smart Bulbs: GE’s C Light Bulbs
The new line of LED lightbulbs from GE, simply called ‘C,’ can be directly controlled with a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth — no central hub necessary. There are two types of bulbs in the ‘C’ line: The ‘C Life’ is an all-purpose light perfect for the kitchen, living room or office. The ‘C Sleep’ bulb has been designed to support the body’s natural circadian rhythms, which can help you sleep more soundly. It emits a traditional soft light for the day; a warm, calming light before bedtime; and a crisp, energizing light in the morning. Using an app, the lights can be dimmed and set to a timer as a group or individually. When run for three hours a day, the bulbs should last 20 years!
Smartphone-friendly Garage Door Opener: Chamberlain HD950WF
Keep Your Components Cool: CabCool 1202-M
Hide TV Wires: Power Jumper kit
LED Retrofit for Recessed Lighting: Halo RL560
If you think you can pop an off-the-shelf LED bulb into a recessed fixture, think again. It may not survive the heat buildup in a small space. Plus, it may not provide the same beam pattern or color as your current bulb. So if you’re serious about reducing your electric bill, look for a retrofit module made especially for recessed lights.The Halo RL560, for example, fits most existing 5-in. and 6-in. housings. Just screw the threaded adapter into the existing socket, connect the ground wire and snap in the module. The RL560 uses 10 watts and provides 600 lumens (65-watt equivalent). Estimated life is 50,000 hours. It’s rated for damp and wet locations and is dimmable. Find the module at home centers, lighting showrooms and online. It’s available in white or a satin nickel finish.
Save 10 Percent on Your AC Bill with QwikSEER+ WattSaver
Most furnaces and heat pumps run the air-conditioning blower motor at a fixed speed regardless of the conditions inside your home. But the QwikSEER+ WattSaver add-on controller board makes your AC system more efficient by running the blower motor at the optimal speed to match the temperature and humidity levels in your home. It’s proven to save at least 10 percent on your annual AC bill.You can install the unit yourself if you can follow an electrical schematic and feel comfortable cutting a small hole in the sheet metal plenum to mount a sensor on the evaporator coil. Don’t want to do it yourself? An HVAC pro can do it in less than an hour. The QwikSEER+ WattSaver pays for itself in about two years, depending on your AC usage and the electric rates in your area. For more information, visit the manufacturer’s site.
Reduce Cord Clutter with a PowerTap Grommet
WaterCop: Automatic Water Shutoff
A little leak can lead to huge costs and headaches. That’s why there are water shutoff systems like the WaterCop control valve. Install it right after your main shutoff valve, then locate water sensors (sold separately) near the most likely leaks (water heater, toilets, dishwasher, etc.). If a sensor detects water, it wirelessly signals the valve to shut off. You can also install a temperature sensor that shuts off the water when indoor temperatures fall to 38 degrees F. That won’t prevent the pipes from bursting if they freeze, but it will prevent a flood. Visit the manufacturer’s site for more information.Find you water main and gas shut off when you move in to a first home or new home.
Digital Fence Gauge
Vacuum Dustpan Saves Your Back
You may think this Crowley Jones EV1850 Eye-Vac Pro Electric Dustpan represents the ultimate in laziness. But if you have back issues, this smart vacuum/dustpan is for you. Just set the unit to automatic mode and sweep the debris toward it. The motion sensor detects when your broom is within range and starts up the vacuum. Aim the dirt pile toward the suction port and the vacuum will suck it up. If you have pets, they may activate the motion detector when they walk by. That’s why there’s a switched manual mode to activate the vacuum.Discover vacuum attachment uses for dust collection in the workshop.
TrickleStar Motion-Sensor Power Strip Trims Your Electric Bill
Your cable/satellite box, Blu-ray player, TV sound system and streaming devices all draw power 24/7, even when the TV is off. It’s the same with your computer and its attached printer, scanner and accessory speakers. The TrickleStar Motion Sensor PowerStrip shuts off those power-sucking devices when they’re not being used. It takes its cues from whatever device (TV or computer) is plugged into the ‘control’ receptacle, along with input from the attached motion sensor.Here’s how it works. When you turn on the TV or computer, the power strip immediately powers up three switched receptacles for your accessories/peripherals. When you turn the TV or computer off, it shuts off the switched receptacles. And, if the TV or computer is on, but you leave the room for 30 minutes or longer, the motion sensor shuts off the switched receptacles. Come back and it powers them back up. The unit has one control receptacle, three switched receptacles and three always-on receptacles, along with built-in surge protection (1080 joules) for all outlets.
Answer or Open the Door From Any Phone with Viking Electronics
You get packages and you don’t want them sitting on your doorstep. Or, you need to open the door for housecleaners and contractors when you’re not at home. Forget the spare keys. Forget the dead bolt codes. These two products from Viking Electronics allow you to answer the door, speak with the visitor from any phone anywhere, and even open the door remotely.Install the C-250 controller between the landline demarcation box and your home phones or between your router and your VoIP box. Connect the controller to the Viking E-40-BN-EWP door box. Then program the controller to dial up to five family cell phone numbers. When a visitor presses the button, the controller rings your home phone with a double ring so you know it’s a visitor at the door and not a regular phone call. Answer the door and open the door from any home phone.
When you leave the house, simply program the controller to forward the door box calls to your cell phone. If you don’t have land or VoIP service, leave the controller in call forwarding mode and it’ll send all door box calls to a portable phone. The forwarded call will show up on your portable phone’s screen as your front door. Answer the call and enter a code to activate your door strike or Wi-Fi?enabled dead bolt. The Viking units are a bit pricey, but they’re commercial-grade products, so they’ll last much longer than cheaper consumer-grade versions.
Control Your Tools With Your Phone
Milwaukee’s ONE-KEY line of tools is a new generation of ‘connected tools’ that can be programmed to suit the job.Let’s say you’re installing metal vent using self-drilling screws. Just use the Milwaukee app to find the setting for the gauge and type of metal and the size of the screw. Then program the drill or impact driver using your phone’s Bluetooth. When you squeeze the trigger, the tool will start at a low rpm to prevent the tip from walking across the metal. The electronic torque monitoring senses when the screw bites in and boosts the speed to drive the screw in. Then it’ll slow down and cut off power when the screw reaches the programmed torque—all with a single trigger pull.
The ONE-KEY system also has an inventory management and tool reporting feature for pros to keep track of tools and monitor their workers’ productivity.
Super-Fast Wi-Fi Router
If you’re into wireless home video streaming or gaming, or home automation, you need a Wi-Fi router with the best range and fastest speed. Most Wi-Fi routers have a hard time delivering all the available bandwidth when multiple users are online. That’s because they deliver data to only one device at a time. So everyone’s speed is based on the speed of the oldest and slowest device in use at the time. The Netgear Nighthawk X6 Tri-Band Wireless Router solves that problem by adding an extra traffic lane. When the router sees a slowpoke device come online, it diverts the faster devices to the new traffic lane, so everybody gets the fastest possible speed.The Nighthawk router also uses six antennas and Beamforming software to locate and direct the signal toward each device. Together with a fast dual-core processor and a powerful amplifier, this Wi-Fi router gets you the strongest signal at almost every spot in your house.
Smartphone Inspection Camera
This Distianert Endoscope Inspection Camera has a 13-ft. cable that lets you snake behind walls and peek inside appliances—even grab wires or retrieve nuts and bolts from tight quarters. Just download the app and plug the 2.0-megapixel inspection camera into any on-the-go (OTG) compatible Android smartphone or tablet or into a USB port on a Mac laptop. Move the camera into position and adjust the light intensity switch to get the proper illumination. Watch your screen to get the camera into the right spot. Then snap a still shot or shoot video.For long runs, tape the cable to a stick to feed and aim the camera head. The unit comes with a cloth storage bag and three attachments: a 90-degree mirror, a hook and a magnetic tip. The video quality is good enough to get the job done; just don’t expect 1080 resolution for this price. You can find the camera for about $23 at amazon.com.
Electrical Tools with Onboard Voltage Tester
Non-contact voltage testers are great for making sure the power is off before you start an electrical project. But the testers are easy to lose track of and misplace—which pocket is it in?Tool manufacturer Gardner Bender solves the problem of lost testers by incorporating a tester right into the handles of its wire stripper and screwdriver—tools you’re bound to have on hand whenever you’re doing electrical work. Simply press the button and move the tool handle near the wires to test before touching. Or, slide the tester off the tool handle to use it as a freestanding unit.
Find the GST-70M Circuit Alert Voltage sensing stripper and SDT-10 screwdriver at home centers and online.
We had a problem with strangers disposing of their garbage in our dumpster here at work. On a few mornings, it was completely full of construction debris! We could either start locking the dumpster at night or keep paying the $80 early pickup fees. I bought a Master Lock Bluetooth padlock because I didn’t want to carry any more keys in my pockets or try to remember a combination.The app on my phone lets me open the lock remotely (within Bluetooth range). I can also use the app to set combinations that my coworkers can use. If I give out individual codes, I can track who opened it and when—not that I don’t trust my coworkers. I can give out single-use codes as well. I bought the heavy-duty outdoor model No. 4401DLH online. — Josh Risberg, Lead Carpenter
Lutron Caseta Wireless Lighting Starter Kit
Weber iGrill 3
Smartphone with Thermal Imaging
The CAT S60 Android smartphone (catphones.com) is far more rugged than a consumer-grade phone. It’s shatterproof up to a 6-ft. drop onto concrete, dustproof, shockproof and waterproof down to 5 meters for up to an hour. This phone works in temps from minus 13 to 131 degrees F, and the touch screen has glove-on and wet-finger tracking ability, so it operates in any weather.The CAT S60 has a 13-megapixel camera as well as an infrared (FLIR) camera. Use the FLIR camera throughout your house to measure surface temperatures and find air leaks and temperature differences behind walls, electrical problems and even beehives. The S60 works with AT&T and T-Mobile and affiliated GSM networks using a nano sim card. It comes with 32GB internal memory and accepts a microSD card for extended storage up to 128GB.
Pull Power, Light and Compressed Air From Your Ceiling
When auto mechanics need a trouble light, receptacle or compressed air, they just reach for the ceiling and pull down whatever hose or cord they need. Now you can too. The Chamberlain Garage Power Station mounts on your ceiling and has a 25-ft. multifunction pull-down/retractable ‘hose’ to provide light, power and compressed air.The base unit plugs into a nearby receptacle and houses an air compressor capable of putting out 100 psi (great for bike tires). Pop two MR16 halogen bulbs into the ceiling unit to get 100 watts of area lighting in addition to the LED work light on the retractable hose.