Best smart home devices for spring 2023: meat thermometers, mowers – USA TODAY

Spring has arrived, and with it comes a new crop of smart home innovations.
Often for the backyard, these “connected” devices offer modern conveniences – such as gadgets that can water or cut your grass – to free up time for you to better enjoy the season with family and friends.
Or instead of barbecuing blindly with the lid closed, and embarrassingly overcooking burgers for your guests, an app-supported meat thermometer can tell you when it’s time to tend to the grill.
Other solutions may help you better cope with springtime irritants like pollen, such as “smart” purifiers and Bluetooth-enabled filters that clean the air of allergens and pollutants and report its progress on your smartphone.
According to Grand View Research Inc., a San Francisco-based market research firm and consulting company, the smart home automation market will continue to flourish, estimated to balloon to a nearly $445 billion global industry by 2030, up from roughly $82 billion today.  
Here are a few high-tech ways to welcome the new season:
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The family of Husqvarna Automowers (from $699) can autonomously cut your grass, but for the first time in North America, the latest model doesn’t require a “boundary wire” to be first installed around the perimeter of the property, or around flowerbeds, gardens, and other areas you don’t want to be cut.
Instead, the new Automower 450X EPOS ($5899) is the first model relying solely on Husqvarna’s Exact Positioning Operating System, which leverages precise GPS connectivity to stay on your grass and with custom stay-out zones.
(Actually, there are two new models, based on desired cutting height, both for properties up to 2.5 acres.)
Like its predecessors, it can navigate around obstacles, handle slopes, and when it detects it’s running low on its battery, it navigates itself back to the base to charge up and continue the job.
These residential mowers are quiet, too, at 58 to 69 decibels, which is similar volume as a conversation, says the company, which means you can cut your grass early in the morning or late at night without disrupting your neighborhood.
Speaking of which, a recent Husqvarna survey found nearly a fifth of Americans have considered moving because of difficulty with a neighbor – with loud lawn equipment proving to be one of the most annoying grievances.
For suburbanites and countryfolk with larger properties, new rideable mowers from Ryobi have also gone electric as opposed to gas-based solutions, which could be noisy, smelly, costly, and causes emissions.
For instance, the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless Lithium Electric Zero Turn riding mowers (from $4,999 for the 30-inch model) take suitcase-sized Lithium Ion cells to power the mower, plus you can snap in any Ryobi 40V battery – popular with more than 85 tools and other equipment, like leaf blowers – to extend performance.
Other features include the iDrive system that uses one-handed joystick steering for easy maneuvering on your lawn; an LCD screen to see runtime, blade and drive speed; and an app to monitor charge time status.
The Moen Smart Sprinkler Controller (from $179), paired with its Smart Wireless Soil Sensors (from $69), is designed to cut down on water usage and includes features such as independent zone control and scheduling, automatic weather skip – if it’s raining, it won’t water the grass at that moment, for instance – and can accommodate for local watering restrictions, all via the Moen Smart Water App.
Homeowners can save up to 30% more water, up to 15,000 gallons annually, compared to clock-based controllers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Wireless sensors monitor soil moisture and temperature at 1-, 3- and 5-inch depths, and will automatically adjust watering routines based on a zone’s specific needs.
3M’s Filtrete Smart Air Purifier (from $285) continuously monitors and improves air quality in your home, with its laser-based sensor that reads particles in the air, like dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke, bacteria, and viruses.
An “auto mode” automatically adjusts fan speed based on air quality, with a display on the top that shows air quality readings in real time and other info.
As a connected air purifier, control it from anywhere using the companion app, plus there’s smart speaker support, so you can use your voice with Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri to say something like “Ask Filtrete for the air quality today.”
For as low as $28, there’s also the Filtrete Smart MPR 2500 Premium Allergen & Ultrafine Filter for your existing HVAC system, to catch microscopic particles (like smoke and viruses) or larger particles (like pollen and dust) and with its integrated Bluetooth sensors, pair with your smartphone to display relevant information on the Filtrete Smart App.
If you don’t want to spring for a “smart grill,” such as an app-controlled Traeger wood-pellet solution, the $79 Yummly Smart Thermometer lets you barbeque with confidence, as this wireless probe will communicate your food’s internal temperature up to 150 feet away (via Bluetooth) to a smartphone or tablet app.
Ideal for cooking indoors or outdoors (and portable for camping trips), this small doohickey works with all cuts of meat (beef, lamb, chicken, and pork), as well as fish.
The app will display alerts, such as when it’s time to flip your steak based on your desired doneness. It can also be used to set timers, access a huge selection of more than 2 million recipes, and supports up to four smart thermometers.
Battery life tops 25 hours between charges.
Follow Marc on Twitter for his “Tech Tip of the Day” posts: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.


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