Smart Home

Odd Home Gadgets You Might Not Realize You Need

Guy McDowell 25-04-2016

Gadget used to be a word that described garbage sold on infomercials or by some guy barking in the mall. They seemed like the solution to all our problems. That is of course, until you go it home.


Now some gadgets are just as wonderful in our homes as they were on the showroom floor. You know about most of them; Roomba robot vacuums 6 Top Robot Vacuums You May Be Able To Afford These days, you can find robot vacuums for less than $200, making them great for yourself or a good gift for a techie friend. Read More , Nest thermostats, and the Amazon Echo 7 Creative Uses for Amazon Echo and Alexa You’ve seen the ads starring Alec Baldwin, but you're still not sure what Amazon Echo does or whether you need one in your home. We’re about to find out. Read More to name a few.

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But you might not know about the following really useful gadgets for your home 9 Impressive Home Automation Gadgets Family & Friends Will Love With the holidays just around the corner, now is the perfect time to snag one of these amazing smart home devices. Read More .

Ambi Climate Smart AC Control

The Ambi Climate Smart Air Conditioner (AC) Control might just help you keep your cool this summer. It may even put some money back in your pocket. If you’ve got an AC unit or mini-split heat pump with remote control, you can use the Ambi to control them from your smartphone or tablet.

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The iOS or Android app allows you to pre-cool your home during your evening commute, or adjust the temperature in your little one’s room without having to go in and wake them up. It will start to learn your patterns and over time, you’ll have to tell it what to do less and less. Since Ambi tracks usage and AC units can account for as much as 40% of your electric bill, you could end up saving money on your electric bill Save Energy and Money With These Smart Home Devices One of the biggest benefits of a smart home is the energy saving technologies available. As well as saving money, you’ll also be pushing toward a more sustainable, convenient living situation. Read More .

For only $180 you might not expect it to perform so well, but review after review praises Ambi.

One Amazon reviewer writes, “I love the fact that it works with any IR controlled remote. I am renting and I know that when I move somewhere else, I won’t have trouble continuing using it.”

Another reviewer who also gave it 5 stars suggests, “Before you buy one it’s probably good to check out their compatibility list (so that you can avoid any disappointment). If your air conditioner is not on their list, I’d recommend emailing them, as they might be already working on making it work.”


Stir Kinetic Desk

Some people say that doing your desk work standing is healthier for you Use Your Computer the Right Way to Increase Productivity Given the time we spend with our computers, you'd think we'd all master them like craftspeople masters their tools. The problem is, we rarely commit to learning. Let's change that! Read More . But not many people can jump into doing that for 8 hours, after sitting for years. Just like any other lifestyle change, it takes some training.

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The Stir Kinetic Desk has a built-in touch-screen computer to help you get out of your chair. You can customize how high and low the desk goes, set intervals as long or as short as you like, and even create profiles for everyone who uses the desk.

The Stir has a unique way of letting you know when to stand. Instead of an annoying alarm, it will gently, and slightly, move up and down. The motion is described as being similar to how the chest moves when you breathe. Not jarring, but noticeable enough to nudge you to stand.


Of course, having a computer built-in, the Stir will also track data on how often you stand or sit, and the extra calories you burned by standing. You can even sync it up with your Fitbit How to Get Your Best Workout Using Fitness Sensors There are lots of devices and apps that will help you exercise and stay healthy. Here are some of the latest innovations in the area of fitness sensors. Read More .

EcoloBlue 30 Atmospheric Water Generator [No Longer Available]

The EcoloBlue Atmospheric Water Generator is a dehumidifier, water purifier, cooler, and heater rolled into one. Why suck all that water out of the air just to dump it into the sewer and then turn around and buy jugs of water for your cooler? The EcoloBlue 30 takes care of that!

If you live in a humid area, it can draw up to 8 gallons of water from the air, a day. Then it will clean the water through a 12-stage process including reverse osmosis. Of course, being an environmental product, there’s an option that will run on your solar power system 5 Types of Home Solar Electric Systems and Choosing the Right One Want to know how you can make your life greener, make your wallet a little more full and not be so dependent on the power company? Install one of these home solar electric systems! Read More too.

With clean drinking water becoming a serious issue, atmospheric water generators may have an important future. We also know how important humidity levels are for efficient heating and cooling 4 Gadgets That Can Boost Indoor Air Quality and Keep You Healthy Let's take a look at checking your home's air quality, then filtering, and humidifying or dehumidifying. We'll also look at some impressive devices to help with each step. Read More of our homes. For all that it does, and how compact it really is, even at about $1,300 the EcoloBlue is a fairly affordable clean water option.


Curtain Call Remote Controlled Drapery System

The long days of summer are a short distance away. As much as we all love the extra sunlight, leaving the curtains open can make your home unbearably hot. That will make your air conditioner 3 Alternative Energy Home Projects That Could Slash Your Electric Bill Let’s take a look at how we can take on some simple alternative energy DIY projects and save tons of money. Read More , and your wallet, work overtime. Consider the Curtain Call Remote Controlled Drapery System.

At first glance, all you see is a remote controlled curtain. Cool, but not a big deal. There is a timer option, so you can have the curtains close during peak sun hours. A bit cooler, but still not seeing the need for it.

Now consider hooking this up to one of the many smart home control systems like 1X, Z-Wave OpenHAB Beginner's Guide Part 2: ZWave, MQTT, Rules and Charting OpenHAB, the open source home automation software, far exceeds the capabilities of other home automation systems on the market – but it's not easy to get set up. In fact, it can be downright frustrating. Read More , or Lutron 9 Reputable Smart Home Brands With Products You Can Trust The modern world is moving toward all kinds of smart home automation, and the longer you hold out, the more difficult it's going to be when your day of conversion finally comes. Read More . If you’re the kind of person to tackle a little home automation, you’ll find a way to have complete control over them. Think about hooking this up in your TV room so you can set the ambiance with just a few words How to Use Siri to Set the Scene for Romance Yesterday we showed you how to create a Wi-Fi light; today we're going to build on that knowledge to make Siri to work with Sonos, then put it together in a romantic scene. Read More . How cool would that be? Vanilla Ice cool, that’s how cool.

Aeon Labs Z-Wave In-Wall Micro Controller

Speaking of Z-Wave home automation, check out these in-wall micro-controllers 12 of The Weirdest Arduino Projects Ever Made Read More from Aeon Labs. You do have to have some electrical skills 7 DIY Tech Skills to Teach Your Kids, Because Schools Won't Read More to make use of these, but if you’re doing your own home automation 5 DIY Home Automation Projects to Get Started With Your Smart Home When it comes to creating smart homes, most people just don't know where to start. Here are five basic beginners smart home projects you can build right now. Read More already this shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re having an electrician automate your home, at least you’ll know this option is out there.

What makes these so great is that they fit inside the wall, in the gang box behind your switches.

Many other add-ons like this are wall mounted or go between an outlet and a plug. The optimized antenna gives it a 100-foot range for wireless control, so it should work no matter where you use them in your home. Invisible, and controllable from anywhere. It’s like magic and that’s how good technology should appear. All for under $40.

Davy Crocket Smart Grill and Smoker

What’s better than barbecue? Smoked barbecue, that’s what. Yet smoking meats and veggies has been the world of only the most dedicated and patient BBQ artists. Green Mountain Grills may have just ended that, though.

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The Davy Crockett Pellet Grill is WiFi enabled and smart. Using wood pellets ensures a consistent feed of quality smoke that’s intense and works more quickly to seal the flavor into the food. But it’s the smart controller and app that steal the show here.

The Green Mountain Grills app, for iOS and Android, allows you to, “Create grill profiles, monitor meat temps, set timers and alarms, and adjust grill temps…” all from the comfort of your easy chair, indoors. Great for mosquito and black fly season.

Once you have your times and temperatures perfected, you can create a special cooking profile for that exact recipe. Then the process becomes a one-click job. With the Davy Crockett version being the smallest of the Green Mountain Grills and able to run on AC or DC electricity, you can take this unit to your next tailgate party. Just set it up, tap the button in the grilling app, grab a few sodas, and be the belle of the parking lot ball. Look out, Bobby Flay.

What Will You Do?

Control your power How a Smart Energy Monitor Can Save Money And Give You Peace of Mind Smart energy monitors tell you how much electricity your appliances use, and how much money you could save if you turned them off. They can also help you create clever smart automations. Read More , make the home comfortable year round, give your family ultra clean water and BBQ gourmet food, make desk work healthier…is there anything good gadgets can’t improve The Internet of Things: 10 Useful Products You Must Try in 2016 The Internet of Things is ramping up in 2016, but what does that mean exactly? How do you personally benefit from the Internet of Things? Here are a few useful products to illustrate. Read More ? If there is, we haven’t seen it yet. So which of these gadgets is going to make it into your shopping cart? Do you know of or use another gadget that’s become indispensable in your home?

We’d love to hear about it. Always up for another gadget…or twelve. Tell us about it in the comment section below.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Bryan Wolfe
    May 21, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    This is really nice list. Some of these are definitely worth taking a look at. Gonna be an expensive year in my household.

    • Guy McDowell
      May 22, 2016 at 9:46 pm

      I hear ya. I'm really liking the lighting controllers.

  2. Anonymous
    May 1, 2016 at 8:01 am

    If you "might not realise you need" these gadgets, then you certainly DON'T need them.

    • Guy McDowell
      May 20, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Or maybe you needed to do something these things can do, but didn't know these things existed?
      I mean, really, need comes down to air, water, food, shelter, and companionship. Everything after that is a want, right? ;)

  3. Anonymous
    April 25, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    "If at all possible, put it on the north side of the home (in the northern hemisphere) for best results."
    Good idea but, unfortunately most of the time it is the south facing rooms that need the A/C the most. :-)

    I cannot take the credit for the idea of keeping the A/C in the shade. It has been mentioned many times in various media. Also mentioned was the solution to the south-facing problem. To create shade for the A/C, put an awning or a sunshade over it.

  4. Anonymous
    April 25, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    "review after review praises Ambi."
    Review after review praised various versions of Windows O/S also. Then we found out that many of those reviews were bought.

    While the Curtain Call Remote Controlled Drapery System may help to keep things cool, keeping the A/C unit itself out of direct sunlight also helps a lot.

    • Guy McDowell
      April 25, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      Good call about keeping the A/C out of direct sunlight. The temperature of the air around the A/C can be important.

      If at all possible, put it on the north side of the home (in the northern hemisphere) for best results. Then it will be shaded all the time and the air around it will be consistently cooler than on the sunny side of the home.