How Touchless Technology Can Make Life Easier
Touchless technology has been around for years. Here are two ways you can integrate this technology into your home for added convenience. Touchless faucets let you wash your hands after handling raw meat without sullying the handle. Touchless door locks let you in when your hands are full or if you don’t want to stand there feeling vulnerable while you search for your keys.
Touchless faucets: Go with the flow
Touchless kitchen faucets such as those from Kohler and Moen work seamlessly and reliably. They don’t wear out, and they shut off automatically to save water. Better still, most can be installed by do-it-yourselfers.
There is a wide variety of styles to choose from to match your kitchen hardware. Kohler, for example, has about a half dozen models that cost about the same as premium non-touchless models, starting about $400 (less at big-box retailers).
Hands-free fixtures use a motion sensor, usually situated in the side of the faucet. Simply pass your hand across it and the water flows. To turn it off, wave at the sensor again. They come with a single handle, typically at the side, that you can use to set the temperature (and that any visitors unfamiliar with your high-tech faucet can use to turn it on and off).
DIYers should note that these faucets require a power source. There are some plug-in models, but it’s usually simpler to connect a supplied, battery-powered control box under the sink. A set of 6 AA batteries should last more than a year (unless the grandkids get into playing with the sensor).
The only hitch: Installing a kitchen faucet requires awkwardly twisting yourself under the sink and often the use of a basin wrench, a long-handled tool designed specifically to attack from below the bolt that holds the faucet onto the sink and counter. Basin wrenches cost from $10 to $30, with the more expensive models giving you more grip.
Smart locks: Lose your keys
Easier to install are replacement door locks that use Bluetooth to communicate with your smartphone and Wi-Fi to connect to your home network. These smart locks are designed to be switched out with existing deadbolt locks.
Simply approaching the door with your phone in your pocket will unlock it — handy when your arms are full carrying groceries. With a remote-control app, you can open the door for a dog walker or service person even when you are thousands of miles away.
Not only can you open it just by approaching your front door, you can also add other family members and temporary users. If you want to get really geeky, you can even set access for specific days and times. Some, like the Kwikset Halo, understand Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant commands.
And if you find yourself wondering if you remembered to lock up when you left to walk Fluffy, the “geofencing” feature on smart locks automatically locks the door when you leave.
Going touchless with a smart lock does come with some caveats. For one thing, they are a lot pricier than standard deadbolts. A basic mechanical lock can cost as little as $15; a reliable smart lock will cost between $200 and $300. For another, batteries can run out and wireless connections can fail. You might consider a model that includes a physical key as a backup. A numeric keypad that lets you enter a code is also handy, in case you don’t always have your smartphone with you. Such models are available from traditional lock companies such as Kwikset, Schlage and Yale as well as newcomers like August and Ultraloq.