While product manufacturers may not know exactly what consumers and homebuyers want, market research ensures they have a pretty good idea. At the moment, appliance manufacturers are betting that consumers are looking for technology features in products for their homes.
Wireless control and smart technology are the primary drivers of product development these days. Five years ago, the reasons for having smart appliances were less clear, but brands are now seeing real advantages and opportunities for creating efficiencies for families, says Wendy Treinen, director of brand and product communications at GE Appliances.
With the ability to operate and monitor appliances via a mobile device or voice assistant, users aren’t confined to a space, such as the kitchen, and can do more with their time, manufacturers say. As a result, almost all major appliance companies carry a variety of connected products in their lines.
For example, many manufacturers now offer artificial intelligence and cameras in refrigerators to track food inventory and make recipe recommendations based on the fridge’s contents, which helps with meal planning. Cameras in ovens allow users to monitor baking progress from a mobile device. And at the 2020 International Builders’ Show, GE wowed crowds with its next-generation Kitchen Hub, a smart screen attached to a vent hood, offering a front-facing camera for video chatting and a downward-facing camera that images the food as it cooks.
- Why Builders Can’t Afford to Ignore the Smart Home Tech Trend
- Expert Luxury Kitchen Insights for 2020
- 2020 Pro Builder Top 100 Products
- Pro Builder's 2019 Top 100 Products: Appliances
- Smart Home Features Are Becoming the Standard
Smart Appliances: A Growing Trend
This trend is growing. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers says that 10% of homes will own a smart appliance this year, and market research and consulting company Futuresource Consulting forecasts that the category will grow at a 36% compound annual growth rate to 2023.
Manufacturers are betting that smaller technology upgrades to products will drive appliance sales as well. Electrolux, for example, has introduced a sustainable suite that includes a counter-depth French-door refrigerator with asymmetrical doors, the larger of which users can open to access 75% of the interior and conserve energy. Signature Kitchen Suite offers a 36-inch dual-fuel Pro range and 36-inch and 48-inch range tops that include three cooking technologies: induction, gas, and built-in sous vide.
Manufacturers are betting that smaller technology upgrades to products will drive appliance sales as well.
Signature Kitchen Suite is one of many manufacturers targeting at-home cooks who seek professional results. The term Signature assigns to this new generation of forward-thinking home chefs is Technicureans. “Signature Kitchen Suite embraces the idea that better cooking is possible through better thinking, and nowhere is this more evident than in our 2020 culinary portfolio, where our appliances incorporate purposeful design and professional-grade features to help transform the functionality of today’s home kitchen,” says Zach Elkin, general manager of Signature Kitchen Suite and LG builder sales. “With our advanced new ranges, cooktops, and wall ovens, we’re giving today’s forward-thinking home chefs even more tools to prepare food in the best possible way, delivering on our brand promise of being ‘True to Food.’”
Next-Gen Home Appliances
Gaggenau’s new 400 series dishwasher offers back-wall illumination and Zeolite drying. Zeolite is a naturally occurring mineral that absorbs moisture as it releases heat, so it helps wash and dry dishes while reducing the amount of energy needed to do so, the company says. Home Connect technology is also now available, providing seamless integration of certain Gaggenau appliances into home management systems, giving users the option of controlling appliances remotely. (Home Connect is featured on a range of connected home appliances from Gaggenau as well as from Bosch, Siemens, Neff, and Thermador.)
Sustainable, Versatile Wall Oven
Part of the Electrolux sustainable kitchen suite, this Double Wall Oven offers an array of cooking functions: Air Sous Vide, which gently cooks food by circulating heated air; a variety of steam-cooking functions, including bread proofing; and Built-In Air Fry, as well as Electrolux Connect Technology for remote monitoring and control of the oven via an app.
Dishwasher With Innovative Detergent System
Miele’s G 7000 dishwasher line offers smart features and AutoDos with PowerDisk technology, an auto-dispensing detergent system. All users need do is load and unload the dishwasher and occasionally replace the PowerDisk; everything else can be left to the machine, the company says.
Side-by-Side Smart Refrigerator
Samsung has updated its Family Hub refrigerator with a new side-by-side model and a built-in look, flat doors, a minimal display ice dispenser, and recessed handles. Available in Stainless Steel (shown) or Black Stainless Steel (both fingerprint resistant), each model has a redesigned interior, multiple vents throughout the interior to keep food evenly cooled, and LED lights. In addition, the Family Hub offers a digital bulletin board for photos or videos and an internal camera so homeowners can see what’s inside the fridge.
Smart, Eco-Friendly Fridges
Designed to operate quietly and integrate seamlessly into the kitchen, Liebherr’s Monolith Column Refrigeration appliances feature clean lines, smart technology, and eco-friendly engineering. The energy-efficient refrigerators come in a stainless steel finish or panel-ready, so customers can customize them to match existing cabinetry.
Odor-Free Front-Load Washer
The GE UltraFresh Front Load Washer tackles the problem of odor, offering a wider gasket and a steeper angle for improved drainage after a wash cycle. It also features the UltraFresh Vent System with OdorBlock, a ventilation system that removes moisture from the washer interior by pulling in and circulating fresh air while using Microban antimicrobial technology to inhibit bacterial growth on the gasket, dispenser, and pump.
Ventless Heat-Pump Clothes Dryer
The new Bosch 500 Series Heat Pump Dryer is a 24-inch ventless unit with a self-cleaning condenser that eliminates the need for manual maintenance. The unit cleans the condenser by recycling the moisture collected in the water tank during the drying process.
Smart Washer and Dryer
Using smart home technology, the new Maytag smart laundry washer and dryer allow consumers to monitor the laundry cycle and control the washer and dryer remotely. The company says that consumers can avoid unnecessary service calls and better maintain their machine because of the smart features. The washer also features an Extra Power button to tackle particularly messy loads.
Frigidaire’s oven with Air Fry was the first of its kind on the market, the company says. With less than one tablespoon of oil, air frying allows users to fry ingredients to achieve all of the desired crunch without the fattening oils that frying foods usually requires. The oven also features a quick preheat, five-burner cooktop, and a true-convection setting and comes in gas, electric, and induction models. (Gallery 30-inch front-control electric range with Air Fry, shown.)
Smart Kitchen Ranges
Available in electric and gas models, LG InstaView ThinQ Ranges with Air Fry are Wi-Fi–enabled for easy access to the company’s customer service tool and recipes from several smart cooking platforms. The ranges can also be controlled by voice command.
36-inch Dual-Fuel Range
This Signature Kitchen Suite 36-inch Dual-Fuel Pro Range with Steam-Combi Oven and Sous Vide offers dual-fuel technology for gas and induction cooking, as well as sous vide. The brand says it’s the first range of its kind. A follow-up to the Signature’s flagship 48-inch Dual-Fuel Pro Range with sous vide, the 36-inch model is more compact while still offering Ultra-High 23,000 Btu burners and Ultra-Low burners, plus a 6.3-cubic-foot oven with steam and convection cooking.