How smart is a refrigerator?
What’s a smart refrigerator and do you really need one? And if you don’t really need one, or any smart fridge features, does it still make sense to want a smart refrigerator?
To help answer these questions, in this post we cover:
- What is a smart refrigerator?
- Smart refrigerator features
- Smart refrigerator benefits
- How much a smart refrigerator costs
- The downsides of smart refrigerators
- How BSC can help you make a smart decision
What is a smart refrigerator?
Any refrigerator with wi-fi connectivity is considered a “smart” refrigerator. Wi-fi connectivity enables you to control certain refrigerator functions using an app or even a voice assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. It also gives you the capability of connecting to other smart appliances, such as a coffee maker or microwave–an increasing post-pandemic kitchen trend.
Really smart refrigerators are actually small computers, with a touchscreen interface that provides additional functionalities beyond refrigeration management, just like a smartphone or tablet. They can also include advanced sensors that respond to foot gestures to open doors as well as automatically pull doors shut.
Smart refrigerator features
Smart refrigerator features vary depending on manufacturer make and model. We already mentioned wi-fi connectivity, which provides you with integration to other smart devices in your home, as well as access to cloud storage and just about anything else you get with a tablet or smartphone, including the ability to:
- Mirror video from your smart TV, phone or tablet, or video doorbell
- Browse the internet
- Control the refrigerator as well as other connected appliances and devices, using either an app or voice control
- Stream music through speakers in the refrigerator (if so equipped)
- Store and access recipes
- Create family schedules on a shared calendar
- Write notes on a touchscreen whiteboard
Smart refrigerator benefits
Has this ever happened to you? You didn’t quite close the freezer door on your fridge, and by the time you discovered that it was open, there was a layer of ice over all your frozen foods. This phenomenon is called freezer burn. It’s the result of warm air coming into contact with the frozen foods, forming ice crystals.
Smart refrigerators aren’t likely to get cases of freezer burn. That’s because whenever a door isn’t closed properly, your app displays an alert for your immediate attention. So there’s no excuse to not know if a door is left open, which is particularly handy if you have children who don’t naturally pay attention to such things.
Perhaps the chief benefit of a smart refrigerator is the ability to view its contents without opening its doors. This saves energy and keeps food fresher for longer. It’s also convenient when you are grocery shopping and can’t remember if you need milk; just open the smart refrigerator app to take a look inside to see if there are any milk cartons left. Knowing exactly what is or isn’t in your refrigerator also helps save on grocery bills so you can buy only what you need, precisely when you need it, without overspending.
An additional advantage to easily displaying smart refrigerator contents is better health. It enables you to better identify items past their expiration date, and remove them in time to prevent odors and bacteria that emit from spoiled food and contaminate fresh food.
Some really smart refrigerators use AI (artificial intelligence) to analyze food preferences and family eating habits to anticipate readjustment of temperature settings and other functions. For example, say you host a regular gathering with a group of friends every fourth Saturday; the smart refrigerator “learns” to produce more ice needed for drinks that Saturday!
Many smart refrigerators also provide the means to track nutrients and the calorie content of your food items. This is particularly handy if you are on a diet or watching your calories.
Stored recipes downloaded from websites or scanned from printed materials conveniently display on the smart refrigerator’s touchscreen. It makes cooking or baking that much easier, with less clutter on the countertop during food preparation.
If you’re someone who likes listening to music while cooking or watching a favorite Netflix show in the kitchen, your smart refrigerator is also your entertainment source. In fact, any kind of information, whether it’s about your local grocery store or your local school, is at your fingertips, without needing to drag a laptop into your kitchen. Maybe not the sole reason to buy a smart refrigerator, but certainly a “nice to have” feature.
How much a smart refrigerator costs
The first smart refrigerator, the “Internet Digital DIOS” refrigerator which launched in June 2000, featured online shopping and a video phone. It cost more than $20,000. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t exactly a sales blockbuster at that price.
High prices are usually the case with first time innovations. But as the sophistication of computing technology improves and advances, it is generally true that the cost of the technology gets more affordable to the average consumer. What you can do with your smartphone today was only imaginable in a science fiction story 20 years ago.
That said, smart refrigerators are going to cost more than a comparable refrigerator without smart capabilities. Today, depending on other features such as glass doors and water dispensers, smart refrigerators run anywhere in the neighborhood of about $2,500 to $6,000 and more.
The price is somewhat offset by higher energy efficiency. Smart refrigerators generally cost less to operate because they incorporate energy efficient technologies you may not find on a standard refrigerator. Also, smart refrigerators are programmable, so, for example, you can run certain high energy consuming features during off-peak hours to save on utility costs.
However, even if you feel the cost of a smart refrigerator is within your budget and justify the features and benefits, there are certain downsides to keep in mind.
Downsides of a smart refrigerator
The basic refrigeration function of a smart refrigerator lasts the same as any refrigerator; you can expect a working lifespan of anywhere from 10 to 15 years, on average. However, the computerized components won’t last as long. You can change out your laptop or smartphone every few years to take advantage of new features and functionalities. You aren’t going to do that with the computer in your smart refrigerator.
However, regular software updates and reliance on easily updatable cloud computing to perform certain functions somewhat minimizes the risk of obsolescence. And no matter how much the next generation of technology improves, your smart refrigerator is always capable of what it can do today, which is already quite impressive and certainly more than an ordinary refrigerator.
Perhaps a more serious concern is that smart refrigerators are easy to hack, in comparison to a laptop or PC. While it doesn’t happen often, your smart refrigerator could become the portal to compromising all the devices on your home network.
Your smart refrigerator experts
BSC Culinary offers a variety of smart refrigerators. Every smart refrigerator we sell includes installation and delivery by qualified and insured technicians. A dedicated Enjoy Life Counselor ensures error-free delivery and installation. You can even track delivery on the day of the appointment. If you prefer, BSC can provide contactless delivery, a trend that started with the pandemic and that we are happy to continue to offer.
Contact us to discuss whether a smart refrigerator is the smartest choice for you.