Run your Crock-Pot or Mr. Coffee from your phone

Owner of small appliance brands teams up with smart home platform

Published: July 17, 2014 03:30 PM

Unless you're very absentminded, you might not feel the need to turn your slow cooker or coffeemaker on or off from your smart phone. But that's the way small appliances are going with the owner of such brands as Mr. Coffee, Crock-Pot, Sunbeam, and Oster, among more than 100 others, allying with the maker of the WeMo smart home platform. Starting with the Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker this summer, Jarden Consumer Solutions, will begin rolling out connected coffeemakers, slow cookers, air purifiers, humidifiers, and space heaters.

The first products of the WeMo line were debuted by Belkin at the Consumer Electronics Show two years ago, and so far Consumer Reports has tested the Belkin WeMo light switch, with plans to test more connected products as they become available. Here’s the lineup:

Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker, $130
Stuck at the office? This WeMo-enabled appliance lets you check status, get reminders, or change cooking settings such as extending cooking time or switching to warm. Announced at this year’s CES, the slow cooker should be available by August and can be pre-ordered on Amazon now. (The other products should ship this fall.)

Mr. Coffee Smart Optimal Brew Coffeemaker, $150
This drip coffeemaker with 10-cup thermal carafe uses WeMo to automate the traditional programming many coffeemakers offer. Should you decide to sleep an hour later on the weekend, you can set up grounds and water the night before and, upon rising, tell the machine to brew the coffee then. You can also set up 7-day programming a week ahead. The WeMo app can remind you to set up the machine.

Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker

Holmes True HEPA Smart Air Purifier, $200
Consumer Reports doesn’t recommend you buy an air purifier before taking some free or low-cost steps to improve your home’s air. But if you do feel you need one, this one can notify you when air quality is poor—so you can turn the unit on remotely—and it can tell you when it’s time to replace the filters. One thing we don’t yet know is whether the replacement feature works by a timer or by sensing an obstruction of airflow. If it’s timer-based and you don’t use the unit much, you might want to inspect the purifier yourself before ordering a new filter.

Holmes Smart Whole House Console Humidifier, $200
Even without the remote control, this is one big unit, claiming to cover 2,500 square feet over its 60-hour runtime. The WeMo app lets you set it remotely and will notify you when its filter needs replacement, even making the order for you if you like.

Holmes Smart Console Heaters, $150 and $200
You shouldn’t turn on a space heater from anywhere but the heater’s immediate vicinity, but if you’ve accidentally left it on, you can turn it off from elsewhere. In your home, your phone can act as the heater’s remote, letting you change settings or the timer. The large unit is 1,000 watts; the extra-large, which has wheels, is 1,500 watts.

The WeMo app, which controls any WeMo-enabled product, comes free with any of the above products, and Jarden representatives we spoke with say that if anything on one of the products need updating, the app itself will download the features or fixes. They, like other manufacturers in this arena, say they are learning from Nest’s recent mistakes in which a touted motion detection feature proved to be too sensitive to motion.

The time might come when you won’t be able to buy a product that isn’t “smart,” but that may be years away. And not all of us believe everything in the home needs to be connected. What's wrong with using the on-off switch? If you want a small appliance that's capable but maybe not-so-smart, see our Ratings of coffeemakers, air purifiers, humidifiers, and space heaters.

—Ed Perratore (@EdPerratore on Twitter)

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Coffee Makers Ratings

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Slow Cookers Ratings

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Air Purifiers Ratings

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Humidifiers Ratings

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Space Heaters Ratings

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