The Easy Way To Make A Smart Appliance

It seems that finding an appliance without some WiFi connectivity and an app to load your laundry data into the cloud is an increasingly difficult thing to do in the 2020s. Many of us resolutely refuse to connect these smart appliances to the Internet, but not because we don’t see the appeal — we just want to do it on our own terms.

[Terence Eden] did just this with his rice cooker, using a surprisingly straightforward approach. He simply connected it to the mains via an energy monitoring smart plug, and that was the hardware part, done. Of course, were it that simple we probably wouldn’t be featuring this here, as the meat of this project lies in connecting it to his smart home systems and getting something useful from it.

He’s using Home Assistant, and after a bit of messing about had it part of his home automation system. Then it was time for Appliance Status Monitor, which allowed him to easily have the rice cooker send him a notification once it has done its thing by monitoring the power it was using. All online, part of a smart home, and not a byte of his data captured and sold to anyone!

This isn’t the first home automation project we’ve brought you from this source.

32 thoughts on “The Easy Way To Make A Smart Appliance

    1. Washing machine and dishwasher can both also be done via smart plug (SonOff S31 flashed to ESPHome in my case). Have an automation for each currently that detects when average power consumption (10-minute window) hits zero, and notifies.

      Also have a current clamp around one of the inputs to the dryer hooked to an ESP32 with a similar automation, and also notify if 15 minutes after Washer turned off the dryer hasn’t turned on.

      1. I did this with a couple of Sengled Zigbee smart outlets with power monitoring on both my clothes washer & clothes dryer(gas dryer so still just uses basic electrical amps). I also have this setup in Home Assistant with notifications when the power drops to zero after an amount of time. I determined the amount of time to wait by doing some monitoring of cycles over time before I added the notifications.

      2. While checking the actual data my monitor registers at least 1W when the internal electronics (+time display) are still on, so simply monitoring on 0W might be plenty for you

    2. For my washing machine I have a sensor on the circuit it’s on, if the power has been above 100w for 5 minutes, the washer is on, if it’s been below 100w for 5 minutes, the washer is done.

      For the dryer I do under 1kw for 3 minutes and it’s off

  1. I wouldn’t call this particular application “smart”; smart would be “I suggest a stir-fry for Thursday to use up those leftovers. Would you like me to make rice with that?”. But it’s interesting to see a simple example like this, that demonstrates how much easier it is now to connect stuff up to the internet.

    I guess I’m still wary of the pitfalls of over-connecting stuff. I have a box-full of ESPs and SONOFF switches, and a rPi server ready to run it all, but I haven’t yet found a compelling reason to do some serious home automation. Lights and heating, maybe. We haven’t missed or ruined a load of rice yet.

          1. Howdy doodly do!
            Talkie’s the name, toasting’s the game! Would anyone like any toast?
            I don’t want any toast. He doesn’t want any toast. In fact noone around here wants any toast. Not now, not ever. No toast!
            How about a muffin?
            Or muffins! We don’t like muffins round ‘ere!
            We want no muffins, no toast, no teacakes, no buns, baps, baguettes or bagels. No croissants, no crumpets, no pancakes, no potato cakes and no hot cross buns. And DEFINITELY no smeggin’ flapjacks.
            Ah! So you’re a waffle man!

  2. I did the same for my ps5, when the power use raise above a threshold it triggers a bunch of automation (turn on the Video Projector, bring down the screen, turn off or dim some lights, turn on the PA system… and when power goes down, doing the opposite. Way easier then hacking around with Sony’s api.

      1. It did a couple of times (often around 6pm), which haven’t been enough of an annoyance to change the system. Usually the updates are on demand (either when turning it on or off)

        @Misterlanous what api are you using for your stereo? Is it through the network or hdmi?

    1. Not trying to tell you how to live, but if you’re automating a mouse trap, you might want to look into preventing the little beggars from getting in in the first place. Don’t be like me and get a cat, though!

  3. “but not because we don’t see the appeal — we just want to do it on our own terms.”
    Maybe true for some. But I’ve never seen the point of most cloud or local appliance automation above and beyond the activity at had. Each appliance does well what it is designed to do (wash, toast, make coffee, etc.) and that is good enough automation for us :) . Except one case…. That is trying to leave the house, and a stove burner is still on. That would be a ‘good’ alert….

    That said, glad he found a way to keep it ‘local’ as that is the only way to go for all home automation projects.

    1. Perfect?

      Needs salt, butter and a lid on the pot.

      Also note: You _need_ to wash your rice in the third world. In Indonesia you’ll find toenail clippings from employees at the processor mixed in the rice.

        1. To stop it bubbling over, yes. It also reduces the starch content.

          Also adding salt and butter? Sounds very American and gross. Try some dried vegetable stock while cooking. After cooking, you can add soy soy, hot sauce and/or rice seasoning and garnish with spring onion.

          1. It tastes good. Why would that be gross? And who cares if it’s American? The French butter everything, why doesn’t it sound French? Why not Korean, where it’s common for restaurants, like with Gyerman Bap? Or like Japanese style fried rice? Or Jeera in India? Or arroz a la mantequilla in Mexico?

            Where are you from that DOESN’T butter rice? China? I don’t really know of anywhere else that doesn’t butter rice, at least sometimes.

      1. Salt, butter? Wat? Whats next, sugar? Aromatic enricheners? I guess this was a joke.

        I don’t know how well you wash your rice if you can separate toenail clippings from it. I somehow doubt that there isn’t that much of toenail clipping in rice :D

    2. you must be every time eating the same rice I guess. Because in the real world where I live I can observe huge difference of cooking length between for example a basmati and a black rice.

  4. I use a similar concept to detect if my washing machine finished the cycle (washing machine is upstairs, and sometimes we don’t hear the chime at the end), but much simpler. I look for a moment when the power consumption goes above 1500W (heating the water), and wait until the power consumption drops below 1W. It is surprisingly effective, works every time and does not depend on the wash cycle. Unless you run a rinse only program, but we never do that.

  5. I did a similar thing with the coffee machine at the office, but instead of a watt meter, I used a Hall sensor next to the power cable and sniff the 50Hz electromagnetic field when it is drawing power. An Arduino simply crafts a request to Slack/Mattermost, reporting the time of the brew and the duration (as a proxy for quantity).

  6. …and then there’s the rest of us, who really just don’t see the appeal. Maybe not using “social media” lets us toast a slice of bread or brew a cup of coffee without needing a bloody NOTIFICATION when it’s done. It’s easy, you know – just wait two minutes or so. As for the washing machine, _I_ do not exist to service _it_, _it_ exists to serve _me_. I couldn’t care less when it is done, and I’ll unload it whenever the hell I get around doing it, or feel like doing it, whatever. In the mean time it can sit and wait patiently, and under no circumstance may it “notify” me that it’s done. BUDDY, I DIDN’T ASK YOU.

    1. I’m guessing you don’t need to do multiple loads of laundry in a row all that often.

      You don’t gotta get this frothy about a washing machine, man, just take the concept and see if it can translate to something relevant for your life

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