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An introduction to connected home appliances

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Do you have enough hours in the day? Most busy people probably wish they had a few more. Connected appliances, while they can’t make a day longer, CAN help you recapture more of your own time. One recent study estimated that connected appliances could save a typical household 100 hours a year.

The time savings from connected appliances could come from a number of places, including an easier process, automated tasks, and remote operation. Here’s a sampling of how connected appliances make your life easier, taken from AHAM’s new white paper, Home Appliance Connectivity: Limitless Potential:

Peace of mind: If you’ll be away from home for a while, connectivity can allow you to make sure your appliances stay in working order while you’re gone. Connected appliances can also help you keep tabs on older or ill family members or friends who are under your care.

Repairs made easy: Connectivity could revolutionize appliance repairs and make long waits for a repair technician a thing of the past. Manufacturers are already developing features that will allow repair technicians to remotely identify problems and, in some cases, repair them without even visiting your home.

Simplified process: A connected dishwasher could “learn” when you typically wash dishes, and be set up to begin the process automatically when appropriate. Clothes washers could give you advice on how to wash a certain type of garment, saving you the time of doing research. That’s one less thing you have to worry about.

Lower energy costs: Connected appliances have the potential to work with the Smart Grid to drive energy cost savings and improve the environment. They could automatically reduce energy use based on the user’s preference, or allow users to access renewable energy when it’s available.

Want to know more? Download Home Appliance Connectivity: Limitless Potential, for an introduction to the possibilities connected home appliances have to simplify your life, as well as what manufacturers are doing to keep connected appliances safe and secure.

Here’s what’s hot in the world of major appliances

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Source: Houzz

While connectivity seems poised to become a widespread feature in home appliances, consumers are still looking for convenience and style first when it comes to their kitchens. And top-load washers are making a major comeback. Here’s a look at the trends we’re seeing in major appliance shipments:

  • Induction cooking goes mainstream: Since 2010, the percentage of surface units shipped that include at least one induction unit has doubled. Five years ago, only 8% of electric surface cooking units shipped included at least one induction element. By last year, the number had grown to 16% of units shipped. This is one example of a commercial kitchen trend that has made its way into homes as well.
  • More doors, please: Consumers are looking for more refrigerator and freezer space. AHAM has seen a steady increase in bottom-mount refrigerators with four or more doors since 2011, the year we began tracking those shipments. Last year, 17% of refrigerators shipped in the third quarter had four or more doors, up from 11% four years earlier. Bottom-mount refrigerators with two doors made up just 13% of shipments in 2015, down from 35% in 2008.
  • Back on top: After several years of lower shipment numbers, top-load washers are seeing a resurgence in popularity. They accounted for 76% of units shipped last year, up from 62% in 2009, according to AHAM data. But it’s different this time around, as a lot of the growth is due to a growing preference for top-load washers without agitators. They made up about 48% of top-loading units shipped in 2015, compared to 27% in 2011. This is a prime example of innovation, as this product has grown more efficient, and offers the consumer multiple configurations and options.
  • It’s a “steel”: We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of dishwashers and side-by-side refrigerators with a stainless steel finish. Side-by-side refrigerators with a stainless steel finish made up 60% of units shipped at the end of the third quarter in 2015, up from 29% in 2006. More than half of dishwashers—56%—shipped last year had a stainless steel finish, a trend that has been on a steady upward climb since 2007.

What styles and features are you looking for in your next major appliances? Leave a comment below.

CES 2016: New heights in convenience

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For most of us, life isn’t going to get less busy anytime soon. But appliance manufacturers are stepping in to help by giving us appliances that are ready to take on a bigger share of the day’s tasks.

While connectivity and smart appliances are one of the main themes for appliance manufacturers at CES 2016, convenience remains the driving force behind the next generation of home appliances. We’ve already touched on robotic cleaning, remote operation and smart home features. Here are a few more of the innovations AHAM members are displaying at CES 2016:

Recipes at your fingertips: A new generation of refrigerators, stoves and other cooking appliances showcased at CES 2016 will tell you what’s for dinner. They’ll give you instant access to recipes, and even make meal recommendations based on the ingredients you have on hand.

They’ll do the thinking: A new generation of washers and dryers could largely eliminate the guesswork that sometimes goes with choosing a wash cycle. Just tell them what kind of clothes you’re washing, and they’ll automatically select the most appropriate cycle.

Faster action on repairs: Smart and connected appliances could cut down on the time it takes to make repairs. In the future, repair technicians—with the user’s permission—could keep tabs remotely on how appliances are functioning, and let the users know when something is wrong. Some of the problems could be corrected without a visit from a technician, but if not, connectivity could also streamline the scheduling process.

Smarter space: It’s not all about connectivity at CES. Along with the new electronic features, manufacturers are also touting increased capacity of washers and dryers, as well as refrigerators with strategically placed compartments and space-saving features like retractable shelves.

Follow AHAM on Twitter @AHAM_Voice for more on innovation, energy savings and the latest news from AHAM.

Appliance manufacturers pile on the innovations at CES 2016

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AHAM member companies are rolling out a new wave of connected appliances at CES 2016, and it’s clear that the new and cutting-edge appliance features could help consumers maximize convenience and take back more of their own time:

Here’s a brief look at the some of the innovative home appliances on display:

The end of fridge magnets? A new generation of connected refrigerators feature multi-function digital touch screens that could turn the refrigerator into the home’s top gathering spot, where family members come not just to eat and talk with family, but for entertainment and news about the day. A number of models on display allow you to display schedules, notes, and photos. And don’t forget about the food inside. Some feature cameras to let you see what the fridge is holding, without opening the door. Other features allow you to mark expiration dates, keep a shopping list, order groceries, and play video and music.

Welcome home: The buyers of new homes want the latest appliances to be a part of their homes from the day they move in. Mock-ups of smart homes and rooms being showcased at CES 2016 include connected refrigerators, induction stoves, washers, dryers and other appliances, with central controls. Some are even operated by voice command.

Chores, on your schedule: Have a last-minute schedule change and don’t want your clothes to sit around, getting wrinkled? A number of clothes dryers at CES 2016 can be operated remotely, so you can align your arrival home with the end of a cycle. Manufacturers are using connectivity to improve dryer safety as well. Some models will send alerts when it looks like your dryer vent is becoming clogged, which could reduce the risk of fire.

Tasks on autopilot: While robots have handled their share of the vacuuming for a number of years, a new generation are taking automated floor cleaning to the next level. New models include cameras to allow you to check up on their work, and others map the rooms in the house and accept precise direction on areas that need to be cleaned.

CES 2016 runs through Saturday. Follow us on Twitter @AHAM_Voice for more on the hottest home appliance innovations!

AHAM Members at CES 2016

AHAM members will be out in force to reveal their latest innovations at CES 2016 this week in Las Vegas. Connected and smart appliances will have a prominent place in this year’s show, and AHAM staff will be on hand, visiting with members and highlighting the latest trends.

A day before the official opening of the show, appliances are already grabbing media attention. Major appliances drawing some of the early buzz include are refrigerators that send shopping lists straight to your phone, washers and dryers that can order more detergent when supplies run low, and ovens that can be controlled via smartphone. We’re also hearing about innovations in the portable and floor care spaces, including a robotic vacuum that allows the owner to check on its work via video.

Throughout January, AHAM will be focusing on the growing trend of connected appliances and the potential it has to introduce consumers to new levels of convenience and efficiency.

Want to keep up on the action at CES 2016? Follow AHAM on twitter @AHAM_voice for ongoing updates from the CES exhibit hall.

Stainless Steel Continues to Grow in Popularity

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If you’ve been shopping for appliances lately, seen a home improvement program or browsed a design magazine, you’ve probably noticed a lot of appliances with stainless steel finishes. There’s a simple explanation for that: it’s become the most popular finish for the “core?? kitchen appliances (refrigerators, dishwashers and ranges). Ten years ago only 20% of core appliances had stainless steel finish but by 2014 that number had grown to 49%! Stainless is also a popular finish for vent hoods, microwaves and even portable appliances such as coffeemakers and toasters.

What used to be a finish reserved for mostly higher-end models now extends to more budget-conscious  models. Many consumers are attracted to the finish’s sleek, contemporary appearance, especially those of us who grew up in a time when every kitchen we stepped into had appliances that were white, beige or even avocado green or harvest gold!

For someone who is thinking about redesigning their kitchen or simply replacing their existing appliances, the appliance’s finish is one of the top concerns. Some questions to consider include “How will stainless steel integrate with my current or new cabinets???, “How can I avoid having a cold, industrial look in my kitchen??? and “How easy is stainless steel to keep clean??? AHAM has assembled a few resources to help you. HGTV has some suggestions from designers on how consumers can take advantage of the benefits of stainless steel and other materials:

You can soften the cold shine of stainless with granite and ceramic, says Karen Sciascia, designer for A Matter of Style in Cheshire, Conn. In a traditional or contemporary kitchen design, Karen favors cream-colored granite counters to offset the cold shine of stainless appliances. “The mica in the stone really picks up the soft gray color in the stainless,” she says.

Read the complete article here. SFGate also has some tips on what colors blend well with stainless. Finally, Bob Villa tells you how to keep those new stainless steel appliances looking like they just came out of the showroom.

What is induction?

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If you’ve shopped for a new range or cooktop recently, you may have seen some are induction. Although induction has been around for quite a while, it’s only recently started to catch on as home chefs look for an alternative to electric burners. In fact, 15 percent of electric cooktops shipped last year included an induction burner! This is a three percent increase from 2013.

So what is induction and how does it work? An induction burner looks very much like an electric smoothtop burner and is heated using an electromagnetic field whereas a conventional electric burner uses radiant heat. Unlike cooking with a conventional electric burner, induction burners only transfer heat to magnetized pans so you could place a chocolate bar directly on an induction burner without it melting! Therefore, you’ll need to make sure your cookware is induction-capable and you can do this by simply holding a magnet to the underside of the pan or pot. Additionally, induction is also highly energy efficient since heat is only transferred directly to the pan

If induction has piqued your interest, you can learn more  through any manufacturer’s website or, CNET’s website has additional information behind the science of induction. Lastly, several years ago The New York Times published a detailed article about the pros and cons of induction.