I tried to make my dryer smarter, and it (mostly) worked

When I bought my dryer two years ago, I wasn’t thinking about smart technology. I was just looking for a machine that could dry a massive amount of clothing in one load. It was only after I had my new dryer installed that I started to have some buyer’s remorse.

There are so many cool dryers on the market, like the LG Signature Smart Dryer or the Samsung Smart Wi-Fi Dryer, that can connect to your phone and tell you when your load is dry or allow you to remotely start or stop a load with Alexa or Google Assistant. That would be so helpful, but I couldn’t afford to buy another new dryer. So, you can imagine how excited I was to hear about SmartDry, a device that claims to take your dryer from dumb to smart in just minutes. I gave it a try. Here’s what I learned.

How it works

SmartDry comes with a hub that you connect to your Wi-Fi and your phone, and a sensor that has a magnet inside. You plug the hub into an outlet that is within 10 to 15 feet from the dryer, connect it, and slap the sensor inside the metal drum of your dryer where the clothing goes.

SmarDry Sensor and Hub
Alina Bradford/Digital Trends

The movement of the dryer drum activates the sensor and it starts sending messages to the hub, which then sends messages to your phone. This process can take 5 to 10 minutes. Once the sensor is sending out correct information, you can check on your clothing using Alexa or the SmartDry app.

Smart device, dumb installation

When you open the SmartDry box, you’ll notice right away that there’s no quick start guide. All of the installation instructions are on the app. No biggie, right? Well, app installation instructions typically have animations and easy to follow steps, but this one didn’t include as many steps as it should have, leaving a lot of guesswork.

It was so bad the SmartDry instructions had both my husband (who runs a $7 million plant full of complicated tech) and myself (who has written hundreds of tech reviews) scratching our heads. After about 30 minutes or so, we worked through connecting the app to the hub and the hub to the sensor. Maybe we were just having a bad day, but that seems excessive.

Smarter, but not an honor student

Adding SmartDry to my dumb dryer did make it smarter. It sent alerts to my phone when my clothes were dry, even if the load is still running. This feature is particularly useful because you can turn off the load early to save energy. Plus you don’t over-dry your clothing, which can cause your shirts, pants, and other items to prematurely age.

SmartDry App

By saying, “Alexa, open SmartDry,” I could get an update on how my load was going or I could also check the app. The app has some other nifty features. It can tell you exactly how hot it is inside your dryer, how wet your clothes are, how long the dryer has been on, and the exact time you started the load. You can set up alerts that will push notifications to your phone when the load is done or when the clothes are dry (or both).

What it can’t do is a little disappointing. Unlike the apps for smart dryers, the SmartDry app can’t start or stop a load for you remotely. So while adding the device to your dryer makes it smarter, it won’t be applying for MENSA membership. Though to be fair, even though it has smart in the name, I think SmartDry was meant more to be of a notification system then a full-blown transformational smart device in the way Chromecast can turn a TV into a smart TV.

How to make your dryer even smarter

Though SmartDry doesn’t have all of the features I have longed for, you can easily upgrade the situation by adding a smart plug to your dryer. The SmartDry will handle notifications, and you can use the smart plug to turn off the dryer remotely. If you’re going to go down this route, be sure to get a smart plug that is compatible with Alexa, too, like the Wemo Insight Smart Plug or the TP-Link WiFi Smart Plug. That way, you can use the assistant to control both devices with your voice.

Samsung also has a device, called the Smart Home Adapter, you can add to certain models of their washer and dryer lines. It allows you to monitor loads, adjust start and stop times, and more from your phone. If you have the right Samsung machine, this may be another option.

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