WILLMAR — Wireless internet seems to run everything nowadays, from cellphones and computers to refrigerators and doorbells. With a swipe of a touchscreen or a press of a button homeowners can turn on their lights, start the dishwasher and even pre-heat the oven before leaving the office.
"Smart house technology can provide conveniences, energy efficiency and security," said electrician Ryan Buer, owner of Ryan Buer Electric LLC of rural Atwater.
At Willmar Home and Appliance Center, more and more brands are getting into the smart-tech business.
"It is getting more prevalent with the brands," store manager Mike Duke said.
What a smart appliance can do is pretty impressive. A range on the market can help cook a roast to perfection with the use of a smartphone.
"You can scan the product you are going to consume and it (the range) pre-loads the correct cooking setting," Duke said. The cook just needs to scan either a QR code or UPC on the food's packaging. Duke said the appliance companies are working with the food industry to increase the number of products that can use this setting.
Washers and dryers with smart technology can help choose the best wash setting for delicates or sense whether the clothes just need a few more minutes in the dryer.
"It won't let you forget to unload your washer," Duke said.
Everything from microwaves to televisions and even grills are getting in on smart technology.
"Now, pretty much every television is smart and 4K," Duke said.
For the griller, there are probes that read a meat's internal temperature and then send a message to a cellphone, to make sure the meat doesn't burn.
"Weber is always working on updating. They always have things in the pipeline," Duke said.
While most smart house technology is very user friendly and can be set up easily by do-it-yourselfers, Buer said the difficulties can be having the infrastructure in the house.
"The challenging part can be to get power from an outlet to the device," Buer said. "For aesthetics, you don't want a cord running down your house."
The number of property owners interested in smart technology at home is growing, including security cameras and video doorbells. Such equipment can help parents keep an eye on kids at home or open a door or garage for someone.
"I'm starting to put more of it in my house. We are seeing more people become interested in that," Buer said.
For the most part, a home doesn't need super fast internet speeds to use smart house technology. Appliances use very little, most just for data transfer, Duke said. Products like cameras might take a bit more speed, since they're streaming video.
"Your internet can definitely play a role," Buer said, adding rural areas might have more high-speed internet issues than cities.
Both Buer and Duke said it is mostly the younger generation leading the push for smart house technology, whether its security cameras or a new stove.
"It is picking up steam, especially with the younger generations,' Duke said.
That being said, so far people aren't coming into the store with smart technology as its number one priority. Appliances with smart technology are usually the top of the line, so the smart tech is a bonus, he said.
"It is pretty well received with the customers," Duke said.
And if people don't want to use the smart tech, or it malfunctions, everything else will still operate.
"You still can always use the manual controls. It still works 100 percent. It is not dependent on the Wi-Fi," Duke said.
Duke expects as prices come down and more people begin looking for smart tech, more appliance models will start offering it at a wider range of prices.
"I think the smart features will be across models," Duke said. "With technology and the way things go, it is inevitable it will trickle down."
As smart technology continues to grow and improve, consumers will want it to do more and more. Buer said consumers can personalize a system to fit their own needs.
However, as of right now, you still have to load your own dishwasher.
"They haven't invented that yet," Duke said. "I think that technology is going to be a little expensive."