CES was awesome this year! Home automation products and services were everywhere. Some were awkward and promised something that we just don’t want, while a few others hit a sweet spot of homeowner need, including GreenIQ.
GreenIQ is a weather based automatic irrigation scheduling system. It claims to reduce water consumption by up to 50% and of course is app controlled.
The core of this product is the Smart Garden Hub. The Hub controls your garden’s irrigation scheduling based on current and forecasted weather. If a storm is on the way it knows it and will shut off your sprinklers. If the weather service was wrong, GreenIQ will make up for the missed watering.
You can connect your Hub to soil moisture sensors such as Flower Power and Koubachi, Netatmo weather station, or a flow meter, and save even more water. The Hub can even control your garden lighting based on sunrise and sunset schedules.
For more information on GreenIQ visit their website.
Water dispensers in refrigerators are nothing new, but dispensing hot water is a different story. This year GE and Keurig will introduce a first of it’s kind refrigerator that offers water, ice and hot brewed coffee (K-Cups).
The above video demonstrates how it’s done from a cold startup. It took less than two minutes for the unit to heat up and coffee was served just as any K-Cup brewer does.
This should save some room on your countertop but also keep you hooked up K-Cups. The only drawback might be the discontinuation of that type of coffee size but because they have proliferated so much and the Vue not having the same impact, single-serve K-Cups will be around for awhile. Will the Keurig 2.0 soon make it’s way into a refrigerator?
A Keurig rep couldn’t confirm or deny if they were working with other manufacturers on this same feature but I’m sure you will see it across the board on LG, Samsung, KitchenAid and more.
The Keurig single-serve coffee maker will be available on GE Cafe Series French-door bottom-freezer models, GE CFE28USHSS and GE CYE22USHSS and the MSRP is $3,300. Available this year.
Is a coffee maker a feature you’d like to see in your refrigerator?
Heated gear is more popular than ever, which is why Milwaukee Tool expanded their lineup of M12 heated apparel this year. We checked out all of the gear when we visited Milwaukee Tool this summer and we couldn’t wait for the temps to drop before trying it out.
The heated camo hoodie is similar to last years model, but the biggest difference is that it’s now machine washable. This makes a huge difference and will probably motivate the last hold outs to get on board. The camo pattern is tried and true Realtree Xtra which makes it ideal for fall, winter and early spring hunting.
The hoodie comes with an M12 battery or you can use the same M12 battery that powers your tools. It simply plugs into the jacket and is kept out of the way in a back pocket.
The camo hoodie is extremely comfortable and lightweight and is easy to stash in your car or truck for the times when the temps really drop.
This jacket is also suitable if you aren’t an outdoorsman and will keep you warm wherever you are. If camo isn’t your thing, Milwaukee tool offers various heated coats in red, gray and black.
More info here.]]>
Our backyard is great but has one drawback. The side wall facing the street is only 4’10” in height so the average person walking can see into our yard and jumping the wall is quite easy. There have been quite a few break-ins in our neighborhood and many of them happen during the day.
This concerns us and we want to keep our home from becoming an easy target so we decided to raise the height of our back wall.
The wall is built of basic masonry brick and topped with a short red brick. The expensive route would be to add more brick and simply keep building up but since the brick is nothing special we thought building up by adding wood fencing would be the best, easiest and fastest option.
We called up R & M Fencing here in West LA and they were up to the task. They added 3 feet to the top of the wall using redwood slats that are screwed into a frame that is bolted onto the top of the wall. They also built a custom new gate that matches the fence extension.
For added security they installed 1×1 wood around the gate so people couldn’t peek in and for a nice detail they installed a topper across the wood slats. They sealed it up with Thompson Waterseal and in about 5 hours we had a much more secure yard. We like the look of natural redwood but it is easy to stain or paint.
It’s simple solutions like this that serve as an excellent deterrent and add to the value of your home. Thanks R & M Fence!
Note: A reader just reminded us that it’s important to check with your local municipal code regarding the height of fences. Some cities and communities have restrictions on how high you can build walls and fences.]]>
Clopay is set to woo builders at next week’s International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas. Their new garage door designs are absolutely stunning and will change the way you think a garage door can look. If you are a fan of mid-century modern and contemporary home design, then you will love these new doors which also include a number of high-tech features.
For the second year in a row they are sponsoring The New American Home and will have four Clopay doors featured at the home. Builders are invited to tour the home which is built on the latest technology in the home building industry. According to Pat Lohse, Clopay’s vice president of marketing, “The most striking feature of the Clopay Avante doors is the etched glass design, which controls the amount of natural light that filters through while maintaining privacy. The appearance of the doors changes as the light shifts during the day, resulting in a warm, welcoming glow when lit from inside at night.”
If you can’t make it to The New American Home, you can view their latest models on the trade show floor (booth #C1062). Clopay will showcase their custom capabilities with new contemporary designs manufactured in wood and steel.
New products include the Model 9205 black ribbed panel contemporary door. Painting a steel door black used to be a no-no, but Clopay’s thermal reflective paint technology reduces surface temperatures and heat absorption.
The 9205 features a three-layer insulated construction with optional Intellicore® insulation, providing an 18.4 R-value, and Clopay’s WindCode® Storm-Ready® reinforcement for coastal and high wind regions. Decorative windows in long or short panel designs are also offered. They also have a contemporary black entry door to compliment the modern black garage door with frosted glass.
Clopay is also spotlighting unique custom wood garage door designs. The company has manufactured natural wood garage doors since 1964. Architects and custom builders often choose wood because it gives them the flexibility to integrate the garage door design into their vision.
Clopay’s in-house craftsmen engineer each custom wood door to specifications and can assist building professionals in selecting and procuring the best wood species for the project. We’ve seen this in person during our Clopay factory tour.
“With wood, the options are virtually limitless,” says Lohse, “A custom garage door can become a piece of art. And since it’s the door we all come home to, why shouldn’t it be as beautiful as the rest of your dream home?”
Visit ClopayDoor.com for more information.
Check out these dueling Grillbots from CES. These are far from the most hi-tech devices at CES but they are among the coolest.
Just set it on your grill and forget it. The Grillbot will do all the brushing for you.
A dry Christmas tree is a fire hazard, and also makes a big mess as it drops needles. Here’s how to recycle your Christmas tree and give it a new purpose beyond the holidays.
Christmas trees should not be disposed of in landfills, and most communities have laws prohibiting cut trees and yard waste from being dumped in the trash.
Recycle your Christmas tree by contacting your local recycling center or waste management company for information on where to drop off your tree. Some recycling centers have a separate “treecycle” area for discarded Christmas trees.
Before recycling your tree, make sure you’ve fully undressed it by removing the lights and packing away the ornaments. Make certain all tinsel, hooks and wires have been completely removed.
Recycled Christmas trees are put through a chipper and the mulch is used for erosion control, landscaping or trail surfaces.
We’ve found the perfect last-minute gift for anyone in your family,the Pilot InstaBoost 400 Amp Car Battery Jump Starter! Here’s why this gift is sexier than you think.
Car battery jump starters have changed dramatically over the past couple of years. We’ve got a 400 amp Powerstation that we keep in the back of our truck. It’s huge and weighs about 20 lbs, but it works when we need it. The main drawback is that it only works for jumping car batteries.
The Instaboost has the same amount of power and can jump start anything from a compact car to a full-size truck or SUV. Compare the two side-by-side and see the difference. The Instaboost is small and svelte and can fit in a glove box or easily under a seat (as well as a Christmas stocking). Once it’s charge it will hold it for 6 months so just set a reminder twice a year and you’ll always have jumping power. You can ditch the jumper cables if you want and you don’t need to rely on the kindness of a stranger or AAA to rescue you.
The Instaboost separates from the pack by offering a USB and 12-volt adapter so you can power and charge your cell phone, spotlights or mini air compressors. This feature makes the Instaboost much more valuable to every member of the family. If all the chargers in the car are taken you’ve got another power source for a tablet or phone.
As a safety feature the Instaboost also has a built-in LED flashlight that has a flashing SOS signal for nighttime road emergencies.
It’s currently available at a 20% discount for $79 through December 24th at Lowe’s. Shop here.
This post is sponsored by Lowe’s. All opinions and photos are from Charles & Hudson LLC.]]>
The battle for your smart home has been set with three big players: Google Nest, Apple HomeKit and Samsung. All three are taking a different approach but have the same goal – to become the brains, hearts and guts of your home.
Nest was well on it’s way as a stand alone company with a singular product that transformed the home automation industry. The Nest thermostat. They took an otherwise nondescript product that had not been innovated on for years and flipped it on it’s head. The Nest is a true “smart home” product as it’s settings are learned and it has the capability to communicate with other home automation devices under their Works with Nest family of products that includes brands such as Whirlpool, Chamberlain, Jawbone, Dropcam and Mercedes-Benz.
Nest has a comfortable lead in the smart home space with an easy to understand product that is simple to install. They’ve also got the millions of Android smart phone users who are also part of the Google ecosystem.
Apple HomeKit contains enormous promise but they’ve delayed release. The latest iOS update on the iPhone has a HomeKit setting but they haven’t officially rolled it out. Apple has announced an impressive roster or manufacturers who are in board and can’t wait to get started. Apple also has sold a ton of AppleTV units which could become the hub of their smart home system (similar to Nest). Apple doesn’t rush products and you can bet that when they finally launch HomeKit it will be the most polished home automation system available. That in itself is one reason why Apple might win the battle as it’s all about ease of use. No one wants to fumble with things. Smart home products should make living easier. That’s it and it’s what Apple does so well.
Samsung is the only contender that builds both smart phones and large appliances which places them in a unique position. They will rely on some extent to software from Apple or Google to communicate with their products but appliances are where buyers will see the true future of smart home devices come to play. From pinging you when clothes are dry to identifying which part is broken and needs can be ordered automatically. The CEO of Samsung will be doing the keynote at CES this year and CES has dedicated an entire show area for home automation products.
2015 is going to be an amazing year for this industry. Hold on tight and we’ll keep you posted on the latest technology that will help you decide which to system is best for you.
Last year we visited the Butler Street Foundry, a metal shop located on the Southside of Chicago in the shadow of Comiskey Park. We met the owner, John Lamonica, at a Craftsman event and besides being an artisan metalworker he also works closely with kids and inspires them to learn how to weld and shape metal. At his shop he gave me a crash course with the plasma cutter which is an amazing tool.
John was gracious enough to give me a tour of his metal shop which was an ode to how metal working has been done for centuries. The shop served as one of the key rebuilding centers after the Great Fire in 1871. There were no computers or digital machines in sight and the heavy machinery was all operated on hydraulic systems.
The highlight of this tour was getting a peek into the wood shop which functioned as a small addition to the metal work but had ceased production in 1947. Fortunately for me the wood shop had never been cleared and according to John, almost everything was left as is.
These photos don’t do this place justice and I can still smell the musky scent of a variety of wood and years of dust and dirt. One of my favorite photos is of a 48-star US flag that still hangs from the wall near some front doors which had been replaced but still bear a Chicago tax stamp from 1930.
Here are some photos from the metal shop.