What do you think about smart refrigerators? Do you want one in your kitchen? Smart refrigerators are becoming more and more popular as time goes on and homes get smarter. They have a lot of great features that can make life easier for the person who owns them, but they also come with some drawbacks.
In this blog post, I will discuss both sides so that by the end of it, you’ll know if smart fridges are right for you!
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What is a smart fridge?
While many features will depend on the specific type, model, and brands, fundamentally, a smart fridge is a refrigerator that connects to the internet to allow a multitude of functions such as advanced temperature control, food monitoring, and even the ability to order groceries.
Most will also have an LCD display embedded in the door that will provide information and reports as well as companion applications that you can use to connect to via smartphones or tablets.
How does a smart fridge work?
The specific functionality will depend on the brand and model of your product, but they all basically work the same way.
Most smart fridges have a smartphone app that will allow you to connect your fridge to the WiFi network. Once connected, all data that is collected from inside of the refrigerator can be transferred wirelessly back and forth with your phone or tablet as well as any other internet-enabled devices you may own.
What are the features of a smart fridge?
- Constant Temperature monitoring and alerts
- Reduced power consumption
- WiFi connectivity
- Reduced food wastage
- Self problem diagnosis
- Food freshness monitoring
- Grocery list planning
- Some even have a camera inside
- Look up recipes conveniently
- Voice control and internet browsing
- Inbuilt display panel with a multitude of apps such as virtual assistant, whiteboard, calendars, recipe planning, and much more
What are the benefits of a smart refrigerator?
So now we know a few smart fridge features, let’s break them down and see how a smart fridge can really benefit you.
Constant Temperature monitoring and alerts
Temperature sensors will allow you to monitor your fridge from anywhere and get notifications if it gets too hot or cold. This can help to avoid food wastage from incorrect fridge temperature and will also help you save lots of money on your energy bill.
This feature also makes sure that your freezer stays at a consistent temperature which will greatly reduce ice buildup inside of the refrigerator’s walls.
Reduced power consumption
By always knowing what is inside the fridge, you can reduce the amount of power it uses. For example, if your fridge is empty, it will use less power than if you were to have a fridge full of food which would require more refrigeration. As a result, using less power will reduce your energy bills and electricity costs.
Some will even use an element of geo-fencing, it will know when you are out of the house so it can go into low power mode.
Self problem diagnosis
Smart refrigerators will analyze stored data from millions of other internet-connected devices which lets them know when problems are going awry so they can take appropriate measures (temporarily close an ice maker if there is too much moisture). They also come equipped with a self-diagnostic system that fixes any issues without you having to do anything.
How can a smart fridge make your life easier?
Grocery list planning
One of the coolest things about smart fridges is that they have a grocery list planner built-in. The smart fridge will automatically generate a shopping list of all the food you need based on what it can see in your fridge and pantry, so there’s no more guessing for ingredients when cooking or planning meals.
Some even have cameras inside so you can have a look inside your fridge and see the contents from anywhere. Great if you can’t quite remember how many eggs you have while you’re in the grocery store.
Look up recipes conveniently
With the LCD touch screen that comes on the fridge door, you can browse the web or find recipes right on your own fridge. This is also the access point for the family hub and many of the online apps such as grocery lists and the family calendar.
Voice control and internet browsing
Homeowners can also talk to their fridges. For example, you may have a question about food, or find out what the weather will be like tomorrow, there are usually smart speakers built into them.
There are many reasons to invest in a smart refrigerator, but one of the most important things that they do is help you save money by making sure food lasts as long as possible and reduces waste. They also allow you to monitor your consumption habits so if there’s an ingredient you’re running low on, it’ll make sure you get a reminder to buy more before the fridge is empty.
What are the downsides to a smart fridge?
So far I have just talked about the benefits, but are there downsides? Yes, and quite a number of them.
The first thing is the price. The smart fridge market is not cheap, and the more you look at them, the less competitive they seem. You could spend over $3000 on a fully-loaded model with all of your favorite features. Many of the most popular features, such as shopping lists, and expiration warnings can be done through apps without the need for a smart fridge.
But, the biggest issue I have is longevity. A good fridge should last 15, maybe 20 years. With technology improving so fast, the chances are the software will be out of date in 5 years or so. Then it becomes an issue keeping it updated.
The same way Windows often retires support for outdated versions, you can probably expect the same for apps and the software updates in your fridge. Once support is ended, it will not only not be that smart anymore, it may also leave your fridge, and more importantly your home network, open to hacking.
Outdated software is expensive for companies to maintain, so while I can’t say for sure this will happen, I can’t see companies like Samsung, or LG seeing value in keeping 10-year-old fridges updated with backward-compatible enhancements.
So, you are then faced with a choice. Do you keep your not-so-smart fridge or dump it and get a new one and add to the strain on the environment that discarded electronic devices are creating? A worry that I’m starting to see more and more of in the news.
While most of this is just speculative, they are certainly a couple of concerns that you should consider.
Are smart appliances worth it?
It very much depends on you as a person and your disposable income. If you have the money, a smart refrigerator or oven can be worth it because of all the benefits they provide. But, if money is tight, the cost vs benefit really doesn’t add up to making them a worthwhile investment.
How much does a smart fridge cost?
Usually, prices will range from around $2000-$5000 with the sweet spot being around $3500. A couple of examples. If you want the best smart fridge with extensive drawer capacity, french door, water filter, and all the smart features we have talked about in this article, then you’re probably looking at a cool $6000.
How do Smart fridges connect to the Internet?
Smart fridges connect to the Internet through a WiFi connection. You will need to ensure that you have a WiFi connection point in your home and will need to connect via the smart fridge’s touchscreen or smartphone app.
How does a smart fridge store data?
The smart fridge will typically store power usage and temperature for its own records, but all of that information will typically be sent and accessed via the cloud using a mobile app.
Can a smart fridge be hacked?
Security and hacking vulnerability is a constant threat for internet-connected tech devices. It’s possible that smart refrigerators could be hacked, but there are some protections in place to prevent this from happening. For example, the smart fridge will only work with an authorized user who has entered their personal WiFi pin code or fingerprints into the device.
How long do smart fridges last?
Well, it is hard to say. The actual fridge part of a smart fridge is pretty much the same as any other, and can happily be expected to last about 15 to 20 years. However, the software may well become obsolete much sooner than that, so a lot depends on the manufacturers’ desire to continue support for outdated software.
Conclusion: Is a smart fridge worth it?
In all honesty, I cannot say yes with a good conscience. The more I immersed myself in smart fridges, the less convinced I became about them.
Are they cool? Yes. Would I want one if they weren’t so expensive? Probably. But I think smart fridges are just not worth the price.
While they are getting cheaper, there is still a big premium to pay for things that can easily be controlled by other devices. Personally, I’d recommend getting a dumb fridge and an Echo Show with Alexa, Google Nest Hub or even just a tablet.
Also, the software really worries me and the fact it can become outdated really quickly. A fridge isn’t like a phone that you will replace every few years, a fridge should be with you for decades. There’s already so much e-waste, we don’t need to exacerbate the problem.
But! If you are lucky enough to have a lot of money and dropping a few grand on a fridge won’t make a dent, then I can see a place for a smart fridge to make your life a little easier.
If you live in a smart apartment and are out working late, there are a number of benefits. Also, if you have a large family with plenty of kids, keeping track of the food in your house and knowing what you need from the supermarket can be difficult, this is where they excel.
So, in conclusion, smart refrigerators are a good idea but for the average family of four, it’s not worth the expense.