Study finds Canadians using more eco-friendly tools and methods in the yard

Robotic mower

The study was conducted by Husqvarna, which makes many “green” outdoor products, including robotic lawn mowers and battery-operated chainsaws, trimmers and leaf blowers.

A study released by Husqvarna Canada Wednesday found that 61 per cent of Canadians are using some form of eco-friendly tool or method, such as composting, when working around the yard.

RELATED: EGO Power+ releasing 56v battery-operated snow blower fall 2016

The study, which surveyed 1530 Canadians online between July 18 and 21, 2016, also found that 55 per cent of respondents want a landscaper that uses emissions-free equipment, with 44 per cent saying they would pay a premium for landscapers who use quieter equipment.

“This report confirms the value Canadian customers place on environmental impact, and as a global manufacturer we know that the case for offering environmentally-friendly equipment to our professional and at-home users is strong,” Michelle Sordi, Husqvarna Canada’s director of marketing, said in a statement.

Seventy-six per cent of those surveyed feel companies aiming to be greener should get tax benefits and 70 per cent said they would support companies that use eco-friendly equipment. Seventy-seven per cent of respondents also stated that city officials should be using emissions-free equipment in public parks and spaces.

RELATED: Charge your smartphone with a solar patio umbrella

Husqvarna offers many “green” outdoor products, including robotic lawn mowers and battery-operated chainsaws, trimmers and leaf blowers. Vist husqvarna.com for more information.

Do you use eco-friendly yard equipment or methods? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

The survey was conducted using Leger’s online portal. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

Around the House (Sept. 12, 2016)

Around the House is a weekly roundup of news items related to smart devices, tools, kitchen gadgets and anything else worth mentioning from the last week that affects our home life.

Nest Cam Outdoor arrives

The highly anticipated Nest Cam Outdoor is now available to purchase for a cool $249.99 CDN. The weatherproof camera allows users to monitor the outside of their homes live 24/7 and also includes two-way audio. Users with a Nest Aware subscription can receive person alerts and have 10 or 30-day video history saved in the cloud depending on the package they subscribe to. Nest also added three new thermostat colour options this week. For those unhappy with only being able to purchase the standard stainless steel model, you can now get it in white, black and copper.

Nest Cam Outdoor

The Nest Cam Outdoor is now available in Canada for $249.

Apple shows off ‘Home’ app

During its iPhone 7 event last week, Apple briefly showed off its new ‘Home’ app in iOS 10, which will give users total control of HomeKit integrated smart devices in one location. Compatible devices include the likes of Philips Hue bulbs, the ecobee3 thermostat and Schlage Connect locks (among others). Besides the announcement that Mario is coming to the iPhone and iPad this holiday season (about time!), the ‘Home’ demo was the most exciting thing about the event.

Apple Home App

Apple’s ‘Home’ app.

PlayStation 4 Pro announced

The PlayStation 4 Pro is coming November 10. Along with a faster processor and a 1TB hard drive, it opens up 4K gaming. Unfortunately it does not not support 4K UltraHD Blu-ray titles like the XBOX One S does. This is somewhat odd since Sony Home Entertainment has been pumping out 4K UltraHD Blu-ray movies all year, including the Angry Birds movie (which, if you’re going to watch, it might as well be in 4K UltraHD).

PS4 Pro

The Sony PlayStation Pro 4.

Milwaukee Tool has a light for everyone

Four new lighting options are coming this fall from Milwaukee Tool. These include the M18 Rocket LED Tower Light/Charger, M12 ROVER LED Compact Flood Light, M18 LED Search Light and M18 RADIUS LED Compact Site Light w/ONE-KEY, which can be programmed via the ONE-KEY app and remotely controlled from up to 50-feet away. As a fan of the Milwaukee Tool brand I’m excited for all of these. All four options will be available in October.

Milwaukee M18 RADIUS LED Compact Site Light w/ONE-KEY

The Milwaukee M18 RADIUS LED Compact Site Light w/ONE-KEY.

Samsung Canada officially recalls Note 7

After some serious issues surrounding the Note 7 battery (like the potential of it to explode and cause a fire), Samsung Canada has issued a recall notice for the device. If you purchased one between August 19 and September 1, 2016, you are urged to power it down and register for a new one. There’s been approximately 21,953 of these sold in Canada (according to Health Canada) so if you know someone with one let them know about the recall.

Have something to add to Around the House weekly? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Why DeWalt’s battery-operated shop vac is a must-have tool

DeWalt 18V/20V MAX cordless wet/dry vac

DeWalt’s battery-operated shop vac. Yes, it does have a cord.

When it comes to vacuum’s (and most tools) I am an anti-cord guy. Besides delivering power, which batteries these days can do a fine job of, all a cord does is get in the way. Think of these scenarios.

Scenario 1

You’re in the middle of vacuuming up a mess and go to reach a spot that just happens to be an inch out of reach. What happens? Plug falls out of receptacle, vacuum turns off and now you’re frustrated and on a hunt for a new socket somewhere closer (or an extension cord).

Scenario 2

You need to vacuum in a place where there is no wall outlet (like in your attic or the back of your shed) and you don’t have an extension cord long enough. Or the electricity is off where you’re working and you have no generator. Do you just leave the mess in place and move on?

Scenario 3

You have electricity and solve your cord issue by running a long extension cord. Now you’re wrapped around furniture and knocking everything over (or worse, tripping over it yourself and getting injured).

While slightly exaggerated, all three scenarios have happened to me and caused me great stress. So when DeWalt offered to send over their battery-operated shop vac, I jumped at the chance to review it.

RELATED: EGO Power+ releasing 56v battery-operated snow blower fall 2016

One of the biggest surprises after I unboxed the DeWalt 18V/20V MAX cordless wet/dry vac (model DCV581H) was that there is indeed a cord! Since it can’t be used to charge a battery in the unit (which would have made more sense), I see this as a safety blanket for the generation that doesn’t fully believe in battery-operated tools yet and wish there was an option to detach it.

BELOW: Watch as I unbox the DeWalt 18V/20V MAX cordless wet/dry vac

Getting past the cord on a “cordless” wet/dry vac, I was immediately impressed with how lightweight and durable the unit is. Even after adding one of my 20V MAX batteries to power it, it was still easy to carry around.

RELATED: Ryobi’s ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vacuum a game changer

The unit has an attached vacuum hose and includes a crevice tool, wide nozzle tool and a long-life HEPA filter. What it doesn’t come with is a battery, which is to keep the cost of the unit around $100. DeWalt is banking on you to have some of their tools with a battery you can “borrow” for the vac. I used one of my 20V MAX Li-Ion drill batteries (an 18V NiCD/NiHD/Li-Lon stick battery can also be used) and have not had any issues with it running out as I use the vac.

DeWalt shop vac

The battery port on DeWalt’s 18V/20V MAX cordless wet/dry vac.

It’s only a 2-gallon unit, but it feels like I never have to dump the canister when cleaning up dry material. Since I got it, I’ve sucked up drywall dust, small pieces of concrete, sawdust and tiny wood pieces. I’ve also tackled a small basement flood with it. It’s also replaced Ryboi’s ONE+ 18V EVERCHARGE hand vac as my go-to unit for cleaning the car.

DeWalt’s battery-operated shop vac can go from dry to wet items without having to switch out the filter. DeWalt does recommend you empty the canister (which is a very simple process) before sucking up liquid, but this is just to make cleaning the canister and the filter easier. This is a huge time saver during a job and one of the best features of the unit.

Besides being a great little shop vac, the DeWalt 18V/20V MAX cordless wet/dry vac can also act as a blower, which is a bonus for getting debris out of a tight space in order to suck it up. And while it is loud, it’s not as loud as some bigger shop vacs.

DeWalt shop vac

Overall, I highly recommend the DeWalt 18V/20V MAX cordless wet/dry vac. It’s definitely a tool that will make life easier for every DIYer. And if you can find it on sale for under $100, the value is unbelievable.

For more information on the DeWalt 18V/20V MAX cordless wet/dry vac, visit dewalt.ca.

Have you used a battery-operated shop vac? Does one interest you? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Ryobi beefing up product line in Canada

Ryobi demonstrated some of the new tools and accessories they’re bringing to Canada soon at an event in Toronto earlier this month. Along with the ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vac, they’re adding upwards of 20 products to their line, beefing it up to over 70 items for Canadian DIYers to play with. Here are a select few I’m excited for.

Ultra-Quiet Garage Door Opener

Ryobi garage door opener

The Ryobi Ultra-Quiet Garage Door Opener is a modular system allowing you to add accessories, such as a fan or speaker, to it.

With their new products, Ryobi appears to be focusing on tools and items around the home that need improving and the Ultra-Quiet Garage Door Opener is a prime example of this mandate.

The Ryobi Ultra-Quiet Garage Door Opener has a 2HP motor, lifetime motion-controlled LED light and sports built-in Wi-Fi, giving you control of it (via an app) even when you’re not home. It’s also compatible with HomeLink and can use a RYOBI ONE+ P108 4Ah battery as back-up in case of a power outage (since it’s on the outside of the opener you can use the battery as a spare for your tools as well).

RELATED: Ryobi’s ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vacuum a game changer

The coolest feature of the Ryobi Ultra-Quiet Garage Door Opener though is that it’s a modular unit and has accessories available that can be attached to it. These include a Bluetooth speaker, park assist unit, garage fan, a 30ft retractable extension cord and carbon monoxide detector. The unit also comes in only three pieces, making it much more easy to assemble than most garage door openers on the market.

The Ryobi Ultra-Quiet Garage Door Opener is available now for $349.

18V ONE+ P737 Power Inflator

Ryobi 18V ONE+ Power Inflator

The Ryobi 18V ONE+ Power Inflator delivers up to 150 psi.

With two kids I’m constantly inflating bike tires and balls of some sort so a cordless handheld power inflator is hugely appealing to me.

The Ryobi 18V ONE+ Power Inflator delivers up to 150 psi, has a 20-inch hose and works with any 18-volt ONE+ battery. It comes with a sports needle and two nozzle accessories (allowing you to inflate a range of items), has a comfortable pistol-grip handle and a 2-inch easy-to-read pressure gauge.

The Ryobi 18V ONE+ Power Inflator is available now for $39.99.

18V ONE+ P516 Reciprocating Saw

I’m always searching for tools to make my life easier around the house and the new Ryobi 18V ONE+ Reciprocating Saw is a great option in this domain.

With a more powerful motor than the previous model, the P516 offers smooth cutting, has a variable speed trigger, an anti-vibe handle and a 1‐1/8” stroke. It’s also cordless and uses the same 18-volt ONE+ battery as other Ryobi tools. It also feels more solid than some other battery-operated reciprocating saws available.

The best feature though is that it’s only going to be $99 when it’s released in Sept.

18V ONE+ 6 Port P135 SUPERCHARGER

Ryobi 18V ONE+ 6 Port SUPERCHARGER

The Ryobi 18V ONE+ 6 Port SUPERCHARGER can be wall-mounted to save space and includes a USB port for charging a smartphone.

One of my biggest pet peeves with battery-operated tools is having multiple chargers plugged in all over my garage. Ryobi’s 18V ONE+ 6 Port SUPERCHARGER solves that problem.

As the name indicates, the SUPERCHARGER can fully charge six Ryobi 18-volt ONE+ batteries at once and can do it in as little as 30 minutes. It has a status light, a temperature indicator that warns if a battery is too cold or hot to charge and can conserve energy while also protecting battery cells.

RELATED: Ryobi’s Phone Works line brings high-tech tools to DIYers

The unit can be mounted to the wall or stand vertically and batteries lock into place so you can use it to transport them if heading over to work on a friends house. It also has a 2-amp USB port that you can charge a smartphone with.

The Ryobi 18V ONE+ 6 Port SUPERCHARGER is available now for $99.

All Ryobi tools are sold exclusively in Canada at The Home Depot. For more information on these and the other tools in the Ryobi line, visit ryobitools.com.

Are you a fan on Ryobi tools? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Get your garage organized with the Proslat wall storage system

Proslat wall storage

The Proslat wall storage system is easy to install and looks very slick.

One of my main goals for 2016 was to get my garage organized. I was hoping to do this before spring but kept procrastinating for one reason or another (too much stuff in my way, not enough time, etc.). This past weekend I took the battle on head first after picking up the Proslat wall storage system.

Why Proslat?

There are many different types of wall storage systems available from brands like Rubbermaid, Gladiator and Kobalt. While more expensive than some of the others, I settled on Proslat mainly because it’s a high quality, expandable system and is easily available in Canada at Lowe’s, Costco and Home Depot. It also has a nice variety of hooks and accessories available and as a bonus, Proslat is a Canadian-based company.

WATCH: My video on installing the Proslat wall storage system

What I got

The Proslat wall storage system is available in black or white in either a 4’ x 4’ or 8’ x 4’ package. I got the 8’ x 4’ white system, which runs between $130 to $150 depending on where you shop. It comes with everything required to mount it to the wall, but does not come with any hooks. Individual hooks are available or you can purchase a hook kit.

Trying to keep costs down I grabbed a few random hooks I thought would come in handy. I realized afterwards I didn’t get enough and that it would have been cheaper if I bought them all in a kit.

Installation

Installing the Proslat wall storage system is very simple for the most part. You start by marking your studs and figuring out how high you want the top of the system from the ground. Once you have the height marked you measure down 4-feet from the top and mount the bottom piece of frame into the studs using the supplied screws. The left and right pieces of frame then need to be cut to size before they get mounted into a stud with the ends fitting into the bottom frame (you only need a screw at the top and bottom of the left and right frame as the screws for the main section will hold the rest in place).

Proslat frame

A close-up of the Proslat frame in place. The left and right sides fit into the bottom piece.

Once the frame is secured, adding the pieces for the main section is even easier. Everything is made from recycled plastic (another reason I went with Proslat) so the main pieces have some flex to them and can be bent into place (if you have enough headroom you can slide the pieces down from the top). After the first piece is set and screwed into the studs, the next piece slides in and snaps onto it and is then screwed into place. Most of the time I found these snapped together with no issue but did get stuck a few times. The times I got stuck I had to use the palm of my hand to “hammer” them down to force them to click together.

After the last section is installed there is a cover that needs to be cut and attached to the top to complete the frame. This piece just snaps into place and doesn’t require screws.

The entire installation took about two hours from start to finish for me to complete.

Proslat installation

Each section of the Proslat wall storage system fits inside the frame, connects to the piece below and is then secured to the studs with screws.

Hooks and accessories

The hooks can be attached and moved around in seconds by just popping them into the track. Smaller ones clip in and rest against the track while bigger ones have a nut you can tighten so they don’t slide around. It would be nice if hooks from other brands worked, but they don’t (I tried).

RELATED: 5 apps to help you get organized in 2016

Besides hooks, there are shelves, baskets and even steel cabinets available to hang on the Proslat wall system. Unfortunately, they don’t have hangers for balls like Rubbermaid does.

Tools and tips

The hardest part of the entire process was mounting the pieces of frame to the wall as they are made of very flimsy plastic and need to be properly leveled. Having a second person help with this part makes the job go much faster and smoother (the rest can be done solo).

My studs in the garage are exposed which also helped speed up installation. Ensuring you are mounting to studs is key for proper installation.

RELATED: Ryobi’s ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vacuum a game changer

I used snips to cut the frame pieces to size and because I decided I only wanted a 50” wide x 4’ high section of the Proslat system on this wall, I used my mitre saw to cut the main section to size. This was quite smelly because the pieces are made of recycled plastic and as an alternative a hacksaw could be used (but would take longer to install). The leftover pieces I have will be used to build another section on the other side of the garage once I clear out more space.

While a drill will suffice, an impact driver makes driving the screws in super quick and easy without stripping them (the screws come with a proper bit as well).

A level, pencil and tape measure are also required for installation.

Final thoughts

The Proslat wall storage system is very slick and has given our garage a new life (my wife says it looks like a Sears display). I have hooks low enough for items my kids use, like baseball bats and bike helmets, while the other hooks are spread out for rakes, shovels and other garden tools (the system can hold 75 lbs per linear foot). It’s also mold and water resistant and can be easily wiped clean. While it is more expensive than some of the other wall storage systems on the market, it’s a quality product and I highly recommend it.

Do you have experience with the Proslat wall storage system? Recommend another brand? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Ryobi’s ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vacuum a game changer

Ryobi ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vac

The Ryobi ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vac is durable and powerful.

I’ve been looking for a decent hand vacuum to use around the house and in my car for quite a while now. Most of these units are either poor quality, don’t do a good enough job cleaning or have terrible battery life. So when I received Ryobi’s ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vac as a gift this past week, I was pleasantly surprised that it exceeded all my expectations.

WATCH: My unboxing video of the Ryobi ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vacuum

Quality

My first thoughts on Ryobi’s hand vac was that it feels like a much more durable product than others I’ve tested in this market. Unlike similar units from Black & Decker and Dirt Devil, I’m not too concerned the Ryobi hand vac would break even if it fell off a table. While it’s not heavy by any means, it does have a bit of weight to it, giving the user more control. The grip also feels nice and makes it easy to hold and use. And the placement of the on/off button is reachable by even my 9-year-old’s thumb.

RELATED: Ryobi’s Phone Works line brings high-tech tools to DIYers

Battery

The first full charge of the ONE+ 18v battery took about 5 hours to complete. After that the unit charges via a wall-mounted holster and stays topped up. The unit also has an LED light to indicate if the battery is full or needs charging. I cleaned my entire car after a day at the beach with two kids (sand everywhere!) without running out of juice. As a bonus, any Ryobi ONE+ lithium-ion battery will work with the hand vac so if you have other Ryobi ONE+ tools you can swap the batteries in a pinch.

Ryobi ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vac

The Ryobi ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vac charging on the wall. Photo courtesy Ryobi.

Suction

No doubt, this is not a typical hand vac when it comes to suction. This thing sucks (in a good way)! Other than my sand-filled car, I’ve used it to vacuum up cat hair on a small rug, gravel my kids brought into the house after a trip to the playground, my father-in-laws camper trailer and a box of cereal I dropped on the floor. It was also great at sucking up fruit flies that somehow took over my kitchen (they didn’t have a chance once I started it up).

Capacity

The Ryobi ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vac has a 3.5 cup capacity canister, which is large enough to clean the average car. It also has a dual filter system to catch small debris. Removing the canister to empty it is very easy to do. Just keep in mind this is meant for dry items only so sucking up wet items should be avoided.

Ryobi ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vac

The Ryobi ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vac has a 3.5 cup capacity canister.

Noise

Because of the power of the hand vac, the unit is pretty loud. It’s tolerable for small clean-ups around the house, but when you get into doing an entire car or cleaning up a trailer or tent while camping, it’s definitely noticeable. Of course the trade-off is that it’s more powerful.

Final thoughts

After a week with the Ryobi ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vacuum I am still very impressed with it and don’t know how I lived without one for so long. I love the wall mount charger and ease of use (even my kids can use it to clean up their messes) and feel it’s truly a game changer in this market. The only potential downside is that there are absolutely no attachments for it. I haven’t found this to be an issue though and feel it helps keep everything more organized in the long run.

The Ryobi ONE+ 18v EVERCHARGE hand vac kit includes the P714 EVERCHARGE Hand Vacuum, P102 18V ONE+ Compact Lithium-Ion Battery, P180 Wall Adaptor/Charger and Operator’s Manual. It will be available in Canada exclusively at Home Depot later this summer with a MSRP of $88. For more information, visit ryobitools.ca.

Are you excited for Ryobi’s new hand vacuum? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

EGO Power+ releasing 56v battery-operated snow blower fall 2016

Snow. Yuck!

It might not even be summer yet, but snow will be back before we know it!

When you live in Southern Ontario (that’s in Canada) it’s hard to not think about snow year-round. Even on a warm, sunny May day you just know snow is not that far away. So when I was tipped off that EGO Power+ is releasing a 56-volt battery-operated snow blower this fall, I got very excited.

I’m a big fan of the EGO Power+ line of battery-operated lawn equipment. I own their 20″ lawn mower, leaf blower and 14″ chainsaw and have nothing but praise for all of them. Their tools are solid and their batteries last (living on a corner lot, I have a lot of grass to cut and the mower does an amazing job keeping up with my demands and the battery hasn’t lost power in the two years I’ve had it).

RELATED: Why you should put your patio furniture away in the fall (even if it’s nice out)

What makes the EGO Power+ snow blower standout to me is the fact it uses two 56v, 5.0Ah batteries! Most battery-operated snow blowers, such as units from Snow Joe and Ryobi, max out at 40v, 4.0Ah (Greenworks makes an 80v model but it’s only 2Ah). From my own personal experience with the Snow Joe iON18SB, a single 40v, 4.0Ah battery is just not enough power, especially during a major dumping of snow (the Snow Joe battery also took a long time to charge, whereas the EGO Power+ battery takes about 20 minutes to fully charge).

I reached out to EGO Power+ for further specs and information on the snow blower but have not heard back from them (the only announcement they’ve made is via a video on their Instagram page that says “The Struggle Ends Fall 2016”).

Pro Tool Reviews got their hands on a unit to test earlier this month and their review is highly favourable (they used wet sawdust in place of snow and put it against the 80v Greenworks unit and a Toro gas-powered model). They also list the specs as the following:

  • Model: EGO SNT2100
  • Power Source: Two EGO 56V batteries
  • Clearing Swath: 21”
  • Run Time: 20′ x 60′ space, 6” deep
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Warranty: 5 years tool, 3 years battery
  • Price: $599 with two 5.0 amp hour batteries

Considering the 20″ lawn mower is a beast with only one 4.0Ah 56v battery, I’m extremely interested to see how this runs with two 5.0Ah 56v batteries. I’m also curious to know what they are going to charge for this in Canada (my guess is it will be closer to $899 Canadian).

RELATED: 8 observations after driving a 2015 Toyota Prius for a week

I’ll post more info on the EGO Power+ snow blower once I get official info from the company (and hopefully a chance to play with one come winter).

Are you excited for the EGO Power+ snow blower? Share your thoughts in the comments below or over at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

5 reasons you should get a heated hoodie

Milwaukee heated hoodies

The line of Milwaukee heated hoodies (I have the grey one).

A heated hoodie is like a regular hoodie but surrounds you with warmth when you attach a battery and turn it on. I got myself a Milwaukee M12 hoodie last winter (DeWalt also has a line) and it has changed my life.

Besides being a nice overall hoodie to work around the house and lounge in, it has come in handy many times over the last year in situations I never expected.

Here are five reasons you should get a heated hoodie.

It will make your morning commute bearable

Leaving the house at the crack of dawn to commute to work is terrible, especially when the temperature outside is below 0. Whether I’m waiting for my car to warm up or walking to the bus stop, I fire up my heated hoodie before venturing out the front door. The heat it gives off makes everything better and my commute doesn’t feel as bad.

It will make you feel better when you’re sick

Being sick is never fun, but curling up on the couch with a warm hug from a heated hoodie will help you feel better during your suffering (it’s also better than a heating pad as it wraps heat around you and it’s better than a heating blanket because it travels with you). Below is a photo of me the last time I was sick.

Shovelling snow isn’t so bad now

I dread the thought of having to go outside during or after a big snowstorm to shovel snow. The amount of snow we got in our area last winter was pure torture! Wearing my heated hoodie every single time I ventured out to shovel made it a much less miserable experience. I also wore it while putting up my Christmas lights, playing in the snow with the kids, and whenever I have to be outside in the cold for longer than it takes to check the mail.

Camping is also nicer

Even during the summer months it can get chilly at night in parts of Ontario. I brought along my heated hoodie when I went camping up on Manitoulin Island in August and was able to sit out under the stars much longer than I normally would. I also slept in my tent like a baby with it on (even during a chilly downpour). Needless to say, my friends were jealous.

They make great gifts

If you know someone who works outside for a living, a heated hoodie is one of the best gifts you can get them (they make them for men and women). They’re also great for people who are cold all the time or have constant aches and pains (my mother-in-law is getting one from me for this very reason). Really, anyone who likes being cozy and warm will appreciate a heated hoodie.

For more info on the Milwaukee M12 heated hoodie and other heated gear they offer, visit milwaukeetool.ca. For info on the DeWalt line of heated hoodies and jackets, visit dewalt.com.

If you have a heated hoodie share your thoughts on it in the comments below.

Ryobi’s Phone Works line brings high-tech tools to DIYers

Ryobi Phone Works

I recently tested three Ryobi Phone Works devices: the infrared thermometer, noise suppressing earphones and moisture meter.

If someone told me a few years ago I would be able to turn my smartphone into a moisture meter or inspection scope I’d have laughed in their face. These were once tools that only professionals knew how to use and could afford (and most people never even knew existed).

Ryobi is changing all that with its line of Phone Works smartphone tools. These devices give DIYers like me access to some great instruments without much of a learning curve (and for a good price).

Along with the inspection scope and moisture meter, the Phone Works line includes an infrared thermometer, laser level, laser distance measurer, noise suppressing earphones, stud finder and laser pointer.

I recently tested the infrared thermometer, moisture meter and noise suppressing earphones and was quite surprised at how well they work (once I got them working). Here’s a breakdown of how the three fared.

Infrared thermometer

Out of three devices I was sent I was most excited about the infrared thermometer. I’ve been busy upgrading areas around my house to be more energy-efficient and I wanted to ensure certain spots were indeed warmer than they used to be.

After spending 10 minutes breaking into the package (Ryobi really doesn’t make it easy to open these) I got the unit out and quickly discovered an issue – my Samsung Galaxy S4 is not compatible with the Phone Works app required to use the tools (more on the app below). Without the app the tools won’t work.

I switched to my iPhone 5S and was able to download the app via the iTunes App Store with no issue.

The infrared thermometer attaches to the back of your phone and plugs into the headphone jack to connect to the app. Using a laser beam it allows you to pinpoint a spot and get a true temperature reading.

Ryobi Phone Works

Using the Ryobi Phone Works infrared thermometer to test the temperature near a window inside my kitchen.

I used it first to check my front door, which was replaced over the summer. Sure enough, it was warmer than the last time I had it checked with a similar device. But I also discovered some spots around the edge where the temperature dropped by a few degrees. This was caused by a bad seal and I was able to remedy the problem and instantly see a rise in temperature.

I also used it to get some readings on bedroom walls that are lacking insulation and around all my windows. During the process I was able to snap photos and keep everything organized as a project from within the app, which is a great feature of the Phone Works line.

The Phone Works infrared thermometer retails for around $47 at Home Depot.

Moisture meter

I’ve never had the need to use a moisture meter before but was interested in the Phone Works one to see how it works.

Like the infrared thermometer, the moisture meter plugs into the headphone jack of your phone to connect to the app (it’s a handheld device so doesn’t physically attach to the phone). There’s two prongs on the end for sticking into wood, drywall, etc. in order to get a proper reading. There’s many different materials you can select to test from within the app, including different types of wood and concrete.

Ryobi Phone Works

The Ryobi Phone Works moisture meter.

I tested it first in my basement and didn’t find anything out of the ordinary. I then had the idea of testing it on the firewood my father-in-law has stockpiled. Sure enough, this is where it came in the most handy as I was able to tell him what wood was ready to burn now and what wood was too wet. That alone is worth the price of the unit in my opinion.

The Phone Works moisture meter retails for around $32 at Home Depot.

Noise suppressing earphones

Out of the three Phone Works products I got to try, the noise suppressing earphones were the most underwhelming.

As far as headphones go they are more comfortable and sound better than the standard ones that come with most phones. As for using them as earplugs (they do meet applicable OSHA safety standards), the cord kind of gets in the way when trying to work with them on.

Ryobi Phone Works

The Ryobi Phone Works noise suppressing earphones.

With a built-in microphone the earphones can monitor sound via the app and suppresses any noise over 82dB. They can also remove specific frequencies (you can manually set this) and record up to 30 seconds of sound (good if you have a problem with a machine and need to have someone remotely take a listen to it).

They’re nice to have but not a must-have piece of the Phone Works lineup in my opinion.

The Phone Works noise suppressing earphones retail for about $25 at Home Depot.

Phone Works App

The Phone Works app, which is free, is used to activate and run all the devices in the Phone Works lineup. It is built for certain Android and iOS devices so make sure you check the list of phones it works on [PDF list] before buying any of the Phone Works products.

Some of the nice features of the app include the ability to create and track a project between all the Phone Works devices and send photos and recordings via email or text message. It can be buggy, but if you’re patient with it and follow the instructions for each device you’ll find it’s a nice app to have.

Final thoughts

For a DIYer who wants something more high-tech in their toolbox, Ryobi has done a great job with the Phone Works lineup and I highly recommend checking out some of the devices they offer (I’m personally adding the inspection scope to my wish list). If you’re a pro there is no need to run out and replace the tools you already have unless you want some secondary devices for preliminary purposes.

To find out more about Ryobi’s Phone Works line, visit ryobitools.com.