#

Delta’s Alexa-enabled faucet is surprisingly useful

  • Posted by admin on July 11, 2018

Two weeks ago I installed a piece of gear that allowed my existing Delta kitchen faucet to communicate with Amazon’s Alexa. And in a few days, you too could have this opportunity as the item will launch during Amazon’s Prime Day shopping extravaganza, available for $ 499.99 with a chrome finish (this is an affiliate link and I may earn a commission if you purchase through this link). I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to upgrade my kitchen with this product, but costs and a few annoyances make it not for everyone.

The first thing to know is that the faucet actually has two tech-enabled features worth talking about. The first is capacitive touch, which allows you to turn on the faucet simply by touching anywhere on the metal. You can actually buy this same faucet for $ 449.79 with capacitive touch (the plain, no tech faucet costs $ 234.06). The second tech piece is Alexa. Adding voice capability to the product lets you turn the faucet on and off with a voice command, and also lets you tell Alexa to dispense specific amounts of water.

For the last five and half years I’ve owned a capacitive touch faucet and I can tell you, I’m am never going back. It’s super convenient to be able to touch the faucet anywhere rather than turn it on. I use it all the time while cooking. When my hands are covered in meat juice, I can turn on the water with my forearm. When I’m holding a heavy pot of water, I can turn off the faucet with my elbow and sometimes with my forehead.

The downside is that when guests come into the house, they use the faucet as intended, so when they turn the handle off, the capacitive touch doesn’t work. It’s similar to what happens when someone flips a light switch off and you have smart bulbs. Only at the sink you’re already standing right there so it’s not a huge deal.

So even if you aren’t sold on Alexa, you may want to check out capacitive touch for your next kitchen upgrade.

But if the capacitive touch is of interest and you are mildly interested in Alexa functionality, I’d say splurge on the Prime Day deal and spend the $ 50 to get Alexa. Voice control isn’t really practical for day-to-day interactions, especially with a four-second latency between voicing the command and the faucet turning on or off. But where it does shine is when it comes to dispensing set amounts of water. If I want to fill my pasta pot I can ask Alexa to ask Delta to dispense 2 quarts of water. For rice, I ask for two cups.

This is what I ended up with under the sink. Yes, that’s an Ethernet cable.

It works with milliliters and liters too. And for even more fun, you can pre-program specific amounts. So you can say, “Alexa, ask Delta to fill spaghetti pot,” and it will fill it to whatever amount you’ve specified. I created one for a large vase I use to replenish my fish tank and for my hard boiled egg pot. Randy Schneider, product electrical engineer at Delta, says the developers went to the Crate and Barrel web site to figure out what types of products people were likely to fill with water.

As impressive as it is to get 6 ounces of water on demand, it would be even better to avoid having to ask Alexa to ask Delta to do the dispensing. Unfortunately, until Amazon offers native support for faucets like it does for lights, thermostats and locks, users will have to ask Delta to complete the task. My husband has adapted so well to this, that he no longer stutters at asking for Delta, but I still struggle with the phrasing.

In day to day life, the dispensing feature is getting a lot of use in our house, while the basic on/off function has been used once or twice. But my husband, who merely tolerates many of my smart home gadgets, really values this one. I think it’s valuable for anyone is is trying to save a few steps in the kitchen or doesn’t want to mess with measuring cups. But plenty of people will look at this and think it’s silly.

If you’re in the category who still finds it cool, there are some things to know. Installing the faucet was fairly simple for me because I happened to already have a Delta faucet featuring capacitive touch. Delta basically sent me a module to add onto the line running to my sink. It provided clear written directions and an app that walked me through the process. I had no idea about the app until it was time for me to connect, but it seemed like it would be really helpful.

Installing the device isn’t as hard as you might think. Of course, I wasn’t replacing my entire faucet.

You will need A/C power under the sink for the Alexa functionality. My capacitive touch sink ran on six AA batteries, but the Wi-Fi capabilities for Alexa require wired power. Most newer homes have wired power under the sink for the garbage disposal, so check. You might be surprised. The installation requires you to turn off your water under the sink. Have a bucket handy to catch any pooled water still in the pipe. I forgot that step and experienced the terror or thinking I had flooded the house, for about ten seconds.

Set up took me about 30 minutes to replace the module, and an entire faucet replacement would have taken me maybe an hour longer. Once everything is set up and you’ve tested for leaks, it’s time to connect to the internet. Unlike every other single connected device in my home, the Delta faucet doesn’t have an app. Instead you log into a web site and connect to the soft AP the Wi-Fi module sets up. I had trouble getting my phone and my tablet to recognize the web site to start the process until I switched over to the Safari browser.

Schneider says he isn’t sure what happened but guessed it might be a result of my connecting so many devices and having some leftover network credentials cached on my phone and tablet. Either way once it was connected, I logged into the web app and connected the faucet to my Amazon Alexa app. Programming the special pot sizes is taken care of on the web app and you can also see how many gallons of water go through the sink.

As I was connecting the sink, I got a lot of worried tweets from people who wondered how easy the sink would be to hack, resulting in a large water bill if someone turned it on while I wasn’t home. Schneider says that Delta has a four-minute shut off function on its touch-capable devices that extends to this Alexa-enabled device as well. In four minutes roughly seven gallons of water will run through the sink. So, while that’s a waste, it’s not as terrible as 700 or 7,000 gallons.

So if you’ve got an itch to do away with your measuring cups or just need to be at the forefront of every new tech trend out there, this is a product that works well, looks good, offers some  convenience through Alexa and a lot of convenience through capacitive touch. Delta guarantees the faucet and finish for a lifetime and offers a five-year warranty on the electronics. Schneider says that the company is evaluating adding support for Google Home and Apple’s HomePod, but has not done so yet.

So for now, this is a product for Alexa households only.

 

The post Delta’s Alexa-enabled faucet is surprisingly useful appeared first on Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *