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What are smart appliances for?

When people tell you that the Internet of Things (IoT) is all the rage, it's hard to know what they're talking about. The answer is not so complicated: among other things, they are talking about smart appliances that can make your life easier. 

It all started in 1691, when the Industrial Revolution had not yet begun. That year, the first machine for washing clothes was patented, a rudimentary device that was the starting gun in the modernisation of the home. With the passage of time, more and more inventions made their way into homes. And with the arrival of electricity, they began to be called household appliances.

The objective has not changed since 1691: to make tedious tasks quicker, easier and safer. In short: to ask efficiency to move in with you.

The great internet revolution that has accompanied us for the last 20 years had hardly affected household appliances, which until recently were still more or less the same as those our parents’ and even our grandparents’. Yes, they have of course taken giant leaps in terms of energy efficiency and have undergone cosmetic improvements, but until recently a washing machine or refrigerator was not very different from those from decades ago.  

But the Internet of Things is not just anything and it is greatly affecting household appliances. If we had to summarise the change in two points, we would do it like this:

  1. Now, household appliances are connected to the internet: you can communicate with them remotely, from anywhere with a connection (your mobile, a computer, etc). They will tell you how they are working and you can give them orders.
  2. Now, appliances are anticipating your needs: it is no longer about something boring (for example: doing laundry) that can be done faster. That phase is over. Now it's about the washing machine detecting the texture and colors of your laundry and choosing the best washing programme without you having to worry about a thing. 

Smart refrigerators

Smart refrigerators have bluetooth and wifi to synchronise with other devices on the network.

Things they can do for you:

  • The fridge has a camera inside. Through a mobile app, you can connect and check from the supermarket (or from anywhere) if there's any milk left or whether you need to buy eggs.
  • You can control the temperature, activate the freezing or quick cooling functions—and all this without opening the door. These functions are possible thanks to an external screen on the fridge door.
  • Some models have virtual assistants with whom we can communicate through voice. If you don't have time to go shopping, the fridge will do it for you, as long as you schedule the task.
  • They can notify us in the event of any type of damage to the device. Thanks to remote diagnosis, technicians can identify the problem without having to travel to your home.

The smart washing machine

In addition to being smart, the new generation of washing machines is eco-efficient. They perform more optimised washes to produce less environmental impact.

Things they can do for you:

  • They can choose the appropriate programme for each type of garment, depending on the colour, fabric or degree of soiling. Save water and energy thanks to shorter programmes.
  • In addition to their lower consumption, their washing systems are much gentler to clothes, ensuring fabrics stay in perfect condition for longer.
  • Some models have sensors that scan the clothes and, according to the programme, adapt the movements of the drum so that the clothes come out impeccable.
  • Through an application that is downloaded onto your mobile, you can control the tasks that the machine performs and also receive notifications about the washing process.
  • As with refrigerators, some models of washing machines have the ability to self-diagnose potential problems.

Smart microwaves

Similar to other smart appliances, microwaves can be connected to other devices in the home.

Things they can do for you:

  • Suggest recipes with the foods you have in the house.
  • You scan the barcode of a food with your phone and the microwave will receive information on the proper way of cooking it.
  • Some newer models incorporate voice control technologies that allow users to meet their cooking needs quickly and conveniently. Commands are used to tell the device the power, cooking time, and when to switch itself off. Many also have a locking function that prevents accidents involving children.

Your coffee maker is smart, too

Through wifi, users can control all the functions of smart coffee machines. It is now possible to have a fresh coffee waiting for you as soon as you get out of bed. All you need to do is download an app on your mobile and schedule the preparation time.

Things they can do for you:

  • Wherever you are, you can programme the coffee preparation time through your mobile.
  • Some models incorporate an alarm clock that alerts you when the coffee is being prepared.
  • In addition to determining the preparation time, Amazon Alexa-compatible devices allow you to control other aspects such as the water temperature or the amount of coffee you want. 
  • There are models designed to fully infuse all the coffee grounds so that a more intense flavor is guaranteed.
  • They keep the coffee at an ideal temperature for hours.

The food processor that writes your shopping list

In addition to the time they save, they provide multiple functions that will make your food healthier. Some even incorporate an intelligent heating power system that allows the temperature to be controlled to 10 levels.

Things they can do for you:

  • Thanks to their wifi connection, some of these devices can update recipes periodically.
  • Choose weekly menus and send the user the shopping list to the mobile.
  • They have intelligent temperature control that prevents food from sticking or burning.
  • Some models allow several dishes to be prepared at the same time.
  • They store all the recipes that best suit your preferences in their memory.

Are smart appliances value for money?

Obviously, so much intelligence does not come free: Smart appliances are more expensive than those without these features. Making your house "smart" can cost you around 340 or 2,100 euros according to your ambitions. Is it worth it?

The answer to this question depends on each one, but it is clear that if they are worth it, it is because of their efficiency. Because of the time and effort that these new technologies save you. Because of their greater respect for the environment. But also because of the hard cash that they save you on electricity bills. For example: some washing machines or dishwashers have an automatic dosing system that prevents water from being wasted unnecessarily.

Another example of intelligence is finding a tariff that allows you to choose the hours of the day when you are not going to pay for electricity. With Tempo Happy 2 Horas you can choose 2 hours in a row each day when your smart appliances will not cost you money for the energy they consume. 

"Smart appliances are more expensive than normal ones but this is set off due to their greater energy efficiency."
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