For the latter group (at least for those with electric stoves), there's a new product that aims to give some peace of mind. Wallflower turns your dumb range into a semi-smart (more on that in a second) stove that provides some insurance should things be left cooking.
This whole thing is cleverly simple: Wallflower is a plug that fits between your stove and the power outlet and can tell when juice is flowing. You set up an account with Wallflower, and it lets you know via your phone — Android and iPhone, of course — when the stove is in use or when you've left it on.
The hardest part of all this is getting to your stove's plug. For me, that was simply a matter of pulling out the drawer underneath and then plugging everything in. (Note that Wallflower is a little larger than a standard plug. I needed an extension to get the proper clearance.) You set up the Wallflower via Wi-Fi Direct, and you're on your way. All in all, it took about 2 minutes.
I called Wallflower a semi-smart product. That's maybe selling it a little short. It tells you when the stove is turned on. It'll learn your cooking habits to try to guess when you've actually intended to leave the stove on (you know, for cooking) versus when you might have accidentally left it on. You can set an alert timer if it remains on after a certain point. You can set cooking timers within the Wallflower app. (Or, ya know, just use your phone or Alexa or whatever.) And you can geofence the whole thing and get an alert if you move more than 1,000 feet away from a defined location while the stove is on. Or you can do all of the above.
Or you could just remember to turn off the stove.
Now's a good time to talk about what Wallflower doesn't do. It can only tell you when the stove is off or on. (It also tells you when it's "hot" by guessing that it'll remain hot for 15 minutes after it was last on.) But it can't actually turn off the stove. That would truly make this a smart product. Instead, it's meant to warn you in plenty of time to turn things off before a fire starts.
Will that be good enough? Maybe.
I want to say that $169 is too much to pay for that sort of peace of mind, but my better half very much disagrees. While you can get this sort of functionality in a new $2,000 oven, that's maybe a pretty small price to pay to retrofit an older one. And maybe it's not for me. Maybe it's for that forgetful (but oh-so-lovable) spouse. Or maybe it's for an aging relative. Or for someone who just doesn't want to worry.
OK, my wallet is starting to open up.
What I do want to see, however, are more options for notifications. You can invite family members to join in via the Wallflower app, but Wallflower needs external notifications, too. SMS alerts, for starters. I'd love to see integration with Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, Google Home, and the like. Leave your stove on? Start flashing ALL THE LIGHTS. If we're really going to use this thing as a layer of fire protection, I want more than just a standard push notification. (Because, if you're anything like me, you already get too many notifications. And if everything's an emergency, then nothing is an emergency.)
But, yeah. This is a pretty quick and easy way to see if someone left the stove on. It's still up to you to prevent the fire, though.
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