If you’ve shopped around for a large appliance recently, be it a dishwasher, range, or fridge freezer, you may have noticed one thing all of the latest models have in common — Wi-Fi connectivity. These are known as ‘smart appliances’ and they can be linked to your smartphone via a specific app.
The limit of what each app has to offer can vary, but the most common feature is being able to control and monitor the appliance remotely from your phone, or via voice commands. Is smart connectivity really worth paying for in a large appliance though? Here we look at the pros and cons of this technology and why ultimately, it might not be worth your time.
Which appliances offer smart connectivity?
Most large appliance categories now offer smart connectivity — so much so it’s almost an expected feature in premium designs. You will find it’s an option whether you’re shopping for a front load or top load washer, dishwasher, range or fridge freezer and the list goes on. This is a premium feature though, so most entry-level models don't usually offer it, although some mid-range options now do.
What are the benefits of smart appliances?
Before I go into why I’m not a fan of smart appliances, I want to raise that there are indeed some benefits to smart connectivity, depending on which type of appliance you’re buying:
Smart dishwashers and washing machines can remind you when it’s time to run a cleaning cycle, which is particularly useful as it’s something we all forget to do. Some apps can also monitor energy and water consumption — this comes in use if you’re trying to save money on your bills. On some apps you can also download additional programs which are not available on the control panel. How many people actually do this and use the programs, I can’t say, but it’s nice to have.
Through smart connectivity, some appliances can also restock relevant supplies, such as your dishwasher tablets, and give you direct access to useful contacts if there’s a fault with your machine. Through some smart fridge freezers, you can even access a camera within and check what you need to buy. The question is, how many of these features will you actually use in practice?
Why I wouldn’t buy a smart appliance
Smart appliances came about as the smart home category grew more popular. Many brands wanted their products to fit into everyone’s smart home regime and offer features that no other models could. To some extent, these features could be useful, as mentioned above, but a lot of them are gimmicky and you should consider if you will actually use them before paying the extra.
For one thing, controlling a large appliance hands-free always seemed pointless to me, especially when it comes to washing machines and dishwashers. By the time you’ve connected to the appliance via the app and set it go, you could have done it much faster manually. While you could technically set it to run from anywhere in the house, or even when you’re not at home, someone still has to be there to add the detergent and fill it to capacity, so unless you pre-prepare, this won't come in use.
The next question to ask yourself is if you would actually use the additional features/settings that smart connectivity provides. When it comes to large appliances, most of us are creatures of habit and we will resort to the same settings. I myself have tested smart appliances in the past and have found the connectivity features intriguing, but then haven’t given them a second-thought in practice as I’m always in a rush when it comes to housework. Depending on the type of appliance and the brand, smart connectivity can also add a lot to the price tag too, especially when it comes to smart fridge freezers with built-in displays. Ultimately, you might love the idea of a smart appliance, and some of the tech is indeed brilliant and can prove useful, but it's also easy to forget and the appliances function just as well without it. It makes the added expense a moot point.