If you are an avid smart homeowner, any new smart appliance on the market may excite you. And a smart refrigerator, which promises features such as creating a grocery list for you! Now THAT sounds exciting! But these appliances also come with a hefty price tag. So sometimes need to re-evaluate if they are worth it. So, are smart fridges is not worth it?
Despite cool features, like letting you know if a door was left open, they are expensive. And the chances are high that their software will not be able to be updated in a few years. This will make your smart fridge ‘dumb,’ and can be a serious security risk. There are cheaper alternatives.
In this blog post, I explain the cool features of smart fridges. I also compare a few popular smart fridge models. Then I discuss the problems that are associated with smart fridges. I even explain how you can make your current fridge smarter for much cheaper.
- What Is A Smart Fridge?
- 6 Cool Features Of Smart Fridges
- 1. Internal Cameras Let You See The Contents Of Your Fridge
- 2. Food-Recognizing AI Technology Can Write Your Grocery List
- 3. Sensors Let You Know When Something Is Wrong
- 4. Sensors Let You Know When You’re Running Out Of Ice
- 5. Large Displays On Fridge Doors Act As A Digital Family Whiteboard
- 6. Smart Fridges Can Act As Smart Home Hubs
- Some Top Smart Fridges (That I Still Don’t Recommend You Buy)
- 2 Major Problems With Smart Fridges
- Can I Make My current fridge smart? Smart fridge alternatives.
- How Can I Mount My Tablet Onto My Fridge?
- Home Streamliner’s Take
What Is A Smart Fridge?
A smart fridge is a refrigerator that has more features than a traditional fridge. Most models can be connected to the internet. You can then pair your fridge with your phone. This lets you receive notifications and control your fridge remotely.
Many models also have internal cameras, sensors, and microphones. These allow even more features, as listed below.
6 Cool Features Of Smart Fridges
Please note that several brands have produced smart fridges. Most brands have also produced different models. There are smart fridges with basic smart features and those with much fancier versions.
Not all the features below are present in each smart fridge model. If you do decide to buy a smart fridge, please read the product specifications carefully before choosing a model.
1. Internal Cameras Let You See The Contents Of Your Fridge
Viewing the contents of your fridge without opening the door has a few potential benefits.
Firstly, if you are in the grocery store without a shopping list. You can view the inside of your fridge on your smartphone. This prevents the situation where you buy something that you still have plenty of. In this way, you might waste less food.
Secondly, this can be an energy-saving feature. When you open your fridge door, you let in warm air and the fridge has to use more energy to keep the contents cool. You won’t have to open your fridge door as often if you can use your phone to see what is inside.
And if you want to take something out, you can check where it is on your phone first before opening the door. In this way, you won’t keep the door open for as long.
2. Food-Recognizing AI Technology Can Write Your Grocery List
The cameras in smart fridges, along with AI technology, can detect which food you have in your fridge. Based on this information, the fridge can create a grocery list for you.
The most advanced models can even read the expiration dates on the different foods. Based on these, they can suggest recipes for the foods that are closest to expiring. This can prevent food spoiling at the back of your fridge and the resulting wastage.
3. Sensors Let You Know When Something Is Wrong
Many smart fridges have sensors that can detect if you have left the door open. You’ll get a notification on your phone. This can be a very energy-efficient feature.
Some smart fridges have technology that senses problems with the fridge’s functioning. They can notify you of problems such as a malfunctioning thermostat or poor airflow. This can help you detect and fix these problems early. This might prevent major maintenance issues later on.
4. Sensors Let You Know When You’re Running Out Of Ice
Many smart fridge models have sensors that can detect if you are running out of ice. They will send you a notification on your phone. Then you can use your phone to send an instruction to the fridge to make more ice.
5. Large Displays On Fridge Doors Act As A Digital Family Whiteboard
Some smart fridges come with a huge interactive screen on one of the doors. These screens can be used as digital whiteboards. You can show your family calendar and leave messages for family members. You can display the weather. You can even mirror your smart TV’s display on your refrigerator.
Another advantage of this screen is that you can use it to research recipes online. You can even play a YouTube video with a recipe while you are cooking.
6. Smart Fridges Can Act As Smart Home Hubs
Some smart fridges, like the Samsung Family Hub, act as a hub in your smart home. You can link your other smart devices to it.
Some Top Smart Fridges (That I Still Don’t Recommend You Buy)
If the above features have you intrigued, you can check out these smart fridges. But don’t click “add to cart” until you’ve read the rest of this article!
The Samsung Family Hub refrigerator has a Wifi enabled touchscreen. Along with internal cameras, these let you control and monitor your fridge remotely.
This Family Hub is available in a few different designs. At the time of writing, the 4-Door French Door Black Stainless Refrigerator cost $3600 on Amazon.
You can use the Family Hub app to stream music and play YouTube videos on the screen. You can also link to other compatible smart devices.
The Samsung Family Hub app works with Tizen software. The fridge can’t run Android apps. The app has a rating of 2.2 out of 5 on the Google Play store, which is not a good sign.
This LG fridge has InstaView technology. This means that if you knock on the door twice, you can see into the refrigerator. This prevents energy loss if you want to see what’s in your fridge.
The Door-in-Door design has adjustable bins. These let you pull out sections of the fridge to reach what you need faster.
It doesn’t have a display screen like the Samsung Family Hub. But you can link the fridge to the LG ThinQ app. This app can let you know if you’ve left the door of your fridge open. You can also use it to control the temperature of your fridge.
The ThinQ app has a much better rating on Google Play Store than the Samsung Family Hub app. At the time of writing, the rating was 4 out of 5, based on 258724 reviews.
At the time of writing, it cost $3000 on Amazon.
The Café brand is part of the GE brand. The Café fridges are relatively expensive (this one was just under $4000 at the time of writing). GE also has a more affordable range of smart fridges, the GE Profile fridges such as this one. The Profile fridges have fewer features though.
The Café Smart fridge can be connected to your smartphone via the SmartHQ app. This app can let you know if the fridge’s temperature is too high. It alters you if the water filter needs to be replaced or the door is left open.
It also has some cool control options, including turning the ice maker on or off and adjusting the fridge temperature.
Hot water models also let you dispense hot water, and schedule hot water for your morning coffee.
Unfortunately, this app also has a low rating on the Google Play Store (2.4 out of 5 at the time of writing).
2 Major Problems With Smart Fridges
The first disadvantage of smart fridges is their price. They are much more expensive than regular fridges.
For the features that you get, at this point, these costs don’t seem justified. This is especially true because the features often don’t work as they should.
While you can get a good “dumb fridge” for as low as $500, smart fridges range from $2000 to $6000.
The second disadvantage of smart fridges is similar to that of most smart products. They have a limited lifecycle. The chances are high that the software will not be updated in just a few years.
As soon as the software is no longer updated, you’ll lose many of the features that you bought the fridge for in the first place.
At first, Cloud-based services like Google Calendar may drop support for your fridge. You’ll slowly be left with a few offline apps.
After a few years, the smart functions of the fridge may not be available at all. You’ll be left with a “dumb” fridge.
A regular fridge should last around 15 years. In comparison, you’ll have to replace your fridge much more often. Not only is this expensive, but it also creates a lot of e-waste. It’s not a sustainable option.
You may think, “That’s alright. I’ll just use the smart functions for as long as I can, and then I’ll carry on using it as a “regular” fridge.”
Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. Outdated software isn’t just inconvenient. Outdated technology is also much more vulnerable to hacking.
If you check your email or personal calendar on your fridge, these could be hacked. Many smart fridges have cameras, sensors, and microphones, which could also be hacked. All of these options are a risk to your security.
Even if your fridge isn’t hacked for your personal information, it could be used as part of a botnet to attack other internet users.
Can I Make My current fridge smart? Smart fridge alternatives.
If you love the idea of a smart fridge with a display screen, there might be a cheaper alternative. You could mount a tablet or smart kitchen display to your fridge.
A tablet can do everything that a smart fridge screen can do, and more. You can use it to stream music and play YouTube videos. It can support your favorite smart assistant. It can be paired with smart cameras in your home and listen for wake words.
And it can access a lot more apps and services than the display on a smart fridge.
Tablets also receive way better and more consistent software updates than smart fridges.
Tablets are more affordable. Plus, replacing a tablet every two to three years creates a lot less e-waste.
How Can I Mount My Tablet Onto My Fridge?
You can use a fridge mount to attach your tablet to your fridge. The three examples below are similar in price (around $40 each).
Note: If you are worried about your tablet falling from the fridge, add a strip of strong double-sided tape to the mount to give it extra security.
This magnetic mount has few reviews on Amazon, but those that are there are mostly positive. It can hold devices up to 4 pounds and fits tablets from 7 to 10 inches. It also has a rubber base that prevents scratching, so you won’t scratch your fridge.
The tablet holder rotates 360 degrees. This lets you use your tablet vertically or horizontally.
This mount has holes that let you hang it onto a wall as well. This can make it more reusable. For example, if you move houses and your fridge no longer fits into your kitchen you can still hang your tablet on the wall in the kitchen.
It had a rating of 4 out of 5 on Amazon, based on 95 ratings at the time of writing. But there were some complaints about the holder sliding down the fridge.
This mount can hold tablets from 6 to 13 inches. It had a rating of 4.5 out of 5 (based on 128 ratings) at the time of writing.
Home Streamliner’s Take
Smart fridges are expensive, and they have a short lifespan because of the risk of reduced software updates.
Their features also don’t excite me all that much. Being able to see the inside of my fridge remotely is appealing. But is it that hard to open the door and write a quick list before going grocery shopping?
And some features downright defeat the point of a kitchen for me. The kitchen is a space for bonding with your loved ones while you cook together. Mirroring what is showing on your TV onto your fridge door won’t encourage family time.
I say buy a regular fridge and save a few thousand dollars. If you really want the display features, mount a tablet to your fridge.