I smarted up my washing machine in the past. Adding Alexa, Google Assistant and Android notifications to a £160 washing machine was done on a budget and works fantastically. The project also raised two questions: Can it be done with a dishwasher and should I use vibration sensors instead? About the same time, PR reps behind the Comfee brand sent me an email about their tabletop dishwasher… the rest is the history.
How to make your appliance smart
Unlike my washing machine, which remains silent as a mouse when the wash is done, the Comfee TD305-W dishwasher (AmazonUK) beeps a couple of times on completion and opens its door to cool the dishes quicker. Leaving the dishes in the dishwasher isn’t as bad as leaving wet laundry for a day or two inside the washing machine. As the questions and suggestions kept pouring – it’s a great weekend project to take on.
In a nutshell, I have a NodeRED server used for automation at home. It handles almost every connected device, and with a bit of DIY, the server also looks after my modified DIY Smart Heating and DIY Smart Door. Adding an IoT element to an appliance, could be great to monitor the usage costs and help all of us that keep forgetting about checking on them. That’s the plan – intercept the Comfee TD305-W dishwasher operation and let me know when it’s done so I can empty it before my other half gets annoyed.
Comfee TD305-W Dishwasher
Despite a rather impressive size, the kitchen’s furniture prevents me from having a built-in dishwasher. For the last 7 years, I had been doing it by hand, or more precisely I’d bring all cups throughout the day and leave it in a sink until somebody gets annoyed. As Comfee sponsors this project, it’s only fair I share what I think about the dishwasher I will attempt to smart up first.
Comfee TD305-W dishwasher is a tabletop dishwasher that solves the problem of fitting it. As it can be connected to the main water supply or filled up by hand (6L tank capacity), you don’t even have to turn into Mario the plumber to start washing dishes. I was able to put my 1st batch on 5 min after I unpacked it.
It’s a compact dishwasher. Probably a little too small to handle a full Sunday roast for 2 people, but perfect to gather all the cups plates and spoons, from lunches and brews consumed throughout the day. Just expect to play Tetris a little bit when loading ut up. On average, I will fit 4 cups, 4 plates, 2 bowls and perhaps squeeze in a handful of cutlery and extra bits. It’s nice to see glass being crystal clean again, something that is notoriously hard to achieve with hand dishwashing. If you forget to add a plate or two, you can interrupt the cycle add the plate and carry on with your day while the dishwasher continues the cycle.
My overall experience is positive, I mainly use 58 min mode, as it clears the dishes nicely, with perhaps occasional dish needing some rinsing of food leftovers. In terms of cleaning performance, it matches the old Bosh dishwasher I had in my last flat. There are more modes to try including high-temperature modes that young parents may find very appealing and delay timers to set it off later. The shortest one is 29 min, and the longest one takes over 2h. In my experience 58min mode was enough to take care of the full load.
It’s reasonably quiet, and it doesn’t vibrate enough, which leads me to my project’s main question:
Will it wiggle enough?
To detect when the dishwasher (or washing machine, tumble dryer) done its business we need a trigger. My audience suggested that a vibration sensor could be a better solution than the one I used with my washing machine. Considering how quiet the Comfee TD305-W dishwasher is, I’m not sure that would work well.
In my tests, I discovered that I could not trigger the vibration sensor consistently (I used Aqara one) when placed on top of the dishwasher. It’s a testament to how well it is made and the fact that the dishwasher doesn’t come with a cylinder spinning madly at 1000/min. This approach won’t work for Monika, whose posh washing machine sounds about as loud as my Raspberry Pi fan.
Comfee TD305-W dishwasher opens the loading door once the cycle is done, but the same may not be true for your appliance.
The door opening action is detectable by the contact sensor however it causes 2 more problems. As the dishwasher is gets loaded multiple times a day, this would simply mess up the system if the sensor is permanently attached to the loading door. If the entire plan relies on me reliably putting a sensor into position to get the notification when the dishwashing is done, I might as well just set an Alexa timer since all Comfee cycles are time-based.
“I told you so” approach
If you going to spend your time and effort and make something smart, make sure the final result is less complicated in use than the original one. Arming sensors, placing them carefully in the trigger spot etc it’s a counterproductive approach that introduces extra hassle to a machine that aims to remove some of the hassles from your life.
In the end, I reverted back to my original project. I used a connected relay spliced into a small extension cord to monitor and send the information about the power usage of the dishwasher. NodeRED script handles the rest, and all you need to do is plug the dishwasher into a power-measuring relay and start the dishwashing.
There are extra advantages of this approach too! You can monitor the power usage of the appliance, calculate the cost of the electricity used and disable the appliance remotely if needed.
As the dishwasher behaves differently from my washing machine in regards to the current draw, I had to make small changes to my project. It turned out that the dishwasher is in “standby” mode even if the display isn’t powered on and the consumption reported is 1W. This means I can’t detect when the dishwasher had been emptied without the additional trigger.
To fix this, I have added an extra variable to so set in settings. If your appliance doesn’t come with a true power-off state, set
"noPowerOff = true" and the script will take care of this for you.
Unfortunately, this will disable my nagging mode, where smart speaker reminds you until you take care of the appliance and turn it off, but the regular notifications are still issued. I’m ok with this compromise.
As both appliances are connected to the same power lead, I have to think of a way of detecting each profile (I will experiment with current curves) or settle for an alternative resolution – a dual-channel relay like Sonoff Dual R3 (review) and Shelly 2.5 (review).
The project allows you to receive notifications via Alexa (NotifyMe, AlexaRemote), Google Assistant (Castv2) and Android (Join). As this is already covered in the original article I will simply refer you there for details.
Here is the list of the recommended relays that will do the job. Before you pick any of them, please check the power usage of your appliance to stay within safe operational margins:
It’s nice to have a dishwasher at hand, it may not be the final appliance in my kitchen, but it will man the fort until we saved up enough for the kitchen refurbishment. Until then I can hide all the coffee cups and cookie plates inside the Comfee TD305-W Dishwasher (AmazonUK) and set it off in the evening. If you urgently need automating or dishwasher, give Comfee a browse as it’s easy to use and keep your mugs clean. If you want to try my profile on your appliances, the link is below. Let me know how it works for you in this Reddit thread.
Article reposted with permission from https://notenoughtech.com/home-automation/smarting-up-comfee-miniplus-dishwasher/,author: Mat Zolnierczyk.