A mission of Buoy, one of the latest startups to attack the smart home, is "to enjoy water without worry." For the vast majority of Americans, that seems like a solution in search of a problem. Water usage may be the least top-of-mind concern of the modern US homeowner, so much so that it is often held up as a model of a nearly-free commoditized modern convenience.
Here's the Flo installed in my house. I have had the misfortune to experience the results of two leaks inside my home. Trust me when I tell you that if you haven't gone through this, you really have no idea how bad it can get. The first occurred quite some time ago. I went to work in the morning, worked a long day, and came home... to my basement apartment filled with five inches of water. My cat was cowering on my bed, clearly quite freaked out.
If you're like most people, the only time you think about lawnmower maintenance is when the mower won't start on a Saturday morning. The latest Craftsman-brand riding mower from Sears won't let you forget, it relays its maintenance needs to your smartphone. It's one of five new connected-home products that the big-box retailer announced today. Sears made a big play in the connected-home market last year, unveiling connected-home showcases at a number of its retail stores. Now the company is adding connectivity to a number of its own products marketed under its Craftsman, Kenmore, and DieHard brands.
Although wind and solar energy are growing in popularity, storing that clean energy costs a lot of money. If consumers wanted to keep their green energy in Tesla's Powerwall home battery, for example, they would have to shell out 3,500. That may be why Tesla discontinued sales of its largest Powerwall a couple weeks ago. Instead of expensive battery storage, utilities are turning to a low-cost alternative: For a just few hundred dollars, your electric water heater can be made to work like a battery, a fraction of the cost of a Tesla Powerwall. If you're a homeowner, you may have noticed a man-sized cylinder in your cellar.
Sears brands Craftsman, Kenmore, and DieHard have just debuted a host of smart home products, some of which add a dose of practicality to a marketplace cluttered with nonsense. The new smart window air conditioner, water heater controller and leak detector, water softener, lawn tractor diagnostic kit, and battery charger all have one thing in common: they're decidedly not flashy. For example, the water heater control module starts at just 69.99. "Our value proposition is going to be around the home," said Tom Park, president of Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands at Sears Holdings. For that reason, Park said, prices of smart products will be very close to their traditional counterparts.