The 5 best kitchen faucets in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The workhorse kitchen faucet is often taken for granted – until it breaks. Just think of how frequently you and other household members use it to wash your hands, get a drink, scrub vegetables, rinse dishes, wet sponges, and more. Ideally, you want one that stands up to everyday use.

As a residential contractor, I’ve been replacing and installing different types of faucets for years. From large commercial kitchen models to simple bathroom faucets, I know the mechanical red flags to avoid (like plastic ball valves that leak) and unreliable brands to stay away from.

Using this knowledge – and after reviewing each option’s installation and design specs – I visited several appliance showrooms and hardware stores in my area to analyze my top choices. Once I got a hands-on feel for each model’s functionality and mechanics, I landed on these options as my top picks for the best kitchen faucets.

Even if you don’t end up going with one of our picks, there are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for a new kitchen faucet. For a short explainer of things to consider, read here

Here are our top picks for the best kitchen faucets in 2021

The best overall

Delta Faucet Leland Single Handle Kitchen Sink Faucet

The sleek and sturdy Delta Leland Pull-Down Touch2O Kitchen Faucet adds the convenience of touch activation to the versatility of a pull-down spray head.

Pros: Stylish, lifetime warranty on parts and finishes, design reduces valve wear and tear.

Cons: Electronics only have a five-year warranty, batteries need to be replaced every 2 years.

The Delta Leland Pull-Down Touch2O Kitchen Faucet doesn’t just pack a ton of features into a single faucet, it also looks good while doing it. From the sprayer wand to the integrated LED temperature indicator, it all comes together to make a nice, solid faucet.

What really sets the Delta Leland apart from competitors is the functional design of its pull-down spray-head. It’s got a nice ergonomic tulip-shape that is easy to get a grip on, and its magnetic locking system connects it to the spout nice and tight.

The spray head itself has a rocker-style switch for toggling between settings — standard and sprayer — without having to hold a button down the whole time. A separate button controls the Spray Shield setting, which is one of those things that sounds like a gimmicky feature but is actually pretty useful. Basically, the Spray Shield focuses the water into a thin, extra powerful stream to blast off stuck-on food, while also creating a cone of water around the area to prevent splashing.

I was really surprised by the flexibility of the connector hose. Usually, these are stiff and rubbery, but even with a braided nylon covering, the Delta hose didn’t affect my control at all. The 22″ hose, plus the 15.4″ faucet height make it great for tasks like filling up a big pot of water on the counter, instead of having to place it in the sink.

The Touch2O technology is the main feature of the Delta Leland Faucet, and it really shines here. This allows you to turn on the water by touching anywhere on the spout or handle.  I can control the water with my elbow through the entire process of rinsing off the meat, breading it, tossing it in the pan, and then washing my hands. 

A handy LED display on the base of the Delta Leland Pull-Down Touch2O Kitchen Faucet tells you the current temperature, transitioning from blue to red as it moves from cold to hot. Keep in mind though; this LED only turns on when the water is running. This means that you’ll have to be a little more self-aware when using the touch feature, and confirm via the LED that the temperature is what you think it is.

The drawback of any touch-activated faucet is the need for a power source, and this model requires four AAAA batteries — or you could use the included AC adapter if you have an outlet in your sink cabinet. If you have a garbage disposal you probably do.

In my personal experience replacing faucets — and several plumbers that I spoke with agree — single handle faucets like this are eventually going to wear out and begin to leak. It’s inevitable. Which is why touch activation is a great way to extend the lifespan of your faucet.

That being said, if you don’t think you need the touch activation, Delta does make the same faucet in a standard style for a bit cheaper. That model still includes everything else, the Spray Shield, etc.

Even with the solenoid needed to power the sensor, installation of the Delta Leland Pull-Down Touch2O Kitchen Faucet is pretty straightforward if you have a couple of adjustable pliers on hand and an Allen key. Delta did a nice job with the instruction manual, and also has some helpful videos that supplement it nicely.

The best on a budget

WEWE Single Handle High Arc Brushed Nickel Pull out Kitchen Faucet

The WEWE Single Handle High Arc Brushed Nickel Pull-Out Kitchen Faucet is low in price but high in quality with efficient operation and a simple tulip design.  

Pros: Good price, nice appearance, three-way spray setting, and easy installation

Cons: Zinc alloy is less durable, brushed nickel requires more maintenance than stainless steel

Typically, lower-priced faucets look nice on the surface but skimp on components behind the scenes. The WEWE Single Handle Faucet delivers on both fronts, with braided supply lines for durability, an ABS plastic aerator (think of the tough plastic used to make Lego bricks), and ceramic disk valves.

With no rubber caps to wear down over time, this faucet’s ceramic valves prevent leaks more effectively than ball valves and are pretty much mandatory for a quality faucet. (Though they are susceptible to cracking if you apply too much pressure to them, so keep that in mind.)

In addition to the standard stream and sprayer settings, the WEWE Faucet also lets you pause the water with a button on the spray head, which I really appreciate. You do have to continuously hold down the button while pausing, but it’s still a useful feature for preventing over-spraying while moving back and forth between the sink and countertop, for example.

All of its components are solid metal, which gives the WEWE Faucet a nice solid feel to it. This faucet definitely doesn’t have a flimsy or “cheap” feel you might expect from a budget option.

That being said, the zinc alloy and nickel finish are probably the reason for its low price. Cheaper than stainless steel, and not as resistant to water spots, brushed nickel will need a little more maintenance to stay clean. A soft cloth and soapy water should do the trick, just remember to stay away from any abrasive cleaning pads that can scratch the finish, as well as any cleaners that contain ammonia. 

The WEWE Faucet has a high-arc (15.7-inches tall) neck that swivels 360 degrees. The spout hangs 8.5 inches above and reaches 8.5 inches across the top of the sink. The sprayer head hose is 71 inches in total length, and 23 inches when pulled out of the faucet.

Just like the higher-priced options on this list, installation is simple and should be doable for anyone willing to crawl under their sink and spend 30 minutes down there. You’re not getting the “quick-connect” technology that pricier models have, so you’ll be tightening the supply lines the old-fashioned way (with your fingers and a couple of wrenches).

The best touchless faucet

Moen 7594ESRS Arbor Motionsense Two Sensor Touchless One Handle High Arc Pulldown Kitchen Faucet

Even if your hands are full or covered with grease or raw meat juices, you can still turn the water on and off with the Moen Arbor Spot Resist Stainless One-Handle High Arc MotionSense Wave Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet.

Pros: Convenient no-touch operation, spot-resistant finish

Cons: Expensive, motion sensors may need to be re-calibrated routinely

Marrying form with function, this faucet model offers convenient, hands-free operation with just the wave of your hand; the Wave Sensor (on top) and Ready Sensor (in front) initiate and stop water flow when either one detects motion.

By adjusting the control box under the sink, you’re also able to control the default temperature of the water when the sensors activate the faucet. The Moen factory setting is lukewarm, but if you’d rather have it be warmer for rinsing dishes, or colder for drinking water, it couldn’t be easier to adjust.

And if you ever feel like disabling one or both of the sensors, that’s simple too. Just hold your hand in front of the sensor for 5 seconds and it will stop registering until it’s activated again. While they’re disabled you also can use the lever handle to turn the water on and off manually, as well as adjust the water pressure and temperature. 

The Moen Arbor MotionSense Faucet has a 100-degree-rotating high-arc spout (15.5 inches) — great for filling and cleaning large pots. The spout with a pull-down spray head offers three functions: an aerated stream, a strong “PowerClean” spray for heavy-duty cleaning, and a pause that temporarily stops the water flow (1.5 gallons per minute maximum). The spray head’s hose is 68 inches in total length and retracts smoothly to dock into place.

When it comes to installation, don’t let the intimidating control box fool you, Moen’s are among the easiest faucets to install. Their “Duralock Quick-Connect” installation system makes it easy to attach the hoses and lines to the control box, and their one-way connections basically make them impossible to install incorrectly. 

The best pull-out faucet

MOEN Brantford faucet

Perfect for cozier spaces, the Moen Brantford Single-Handle Pull-Out Sprayer Kitchen Faucet is easy to use and keep clean.

Pros: Available in multiple finishes, easy to clean, quick installation

Cons: A little pricey, plastic components can make it feel “cheaper” 

The Moen Brantford Single-Handle Pull-Out Sprayer Kitchen Faucet shouldn’t be confused with the pull-down Moen Arbor MotionSense that we profiled above, but you could consider it as the baby brother. If you have a small sink or you don’t have a lot of vertical clearance, this faucet may be the right fit.

What I love about pull-out style faucets is that without all that extra spout length — the Moen Brantford Single-Handle Pull-Out Sprayer Kitchen Faucet is only 12.9 inches high — you gain a lot of maneuverability. By pulling it “out” instead of down, you avoid wasting any hose length on the bend of the faucet spout, giving you more range of motion.

The 68-inch hose itself is especially flexible, and can be easily maneuvered around any sink. This faucet does technically have a plastic spray head, but its stainless steel finish and easy installation make it a great faucet option. 

The Moen Brantford Pull-Out Faucet spout swivels 360 degrees and has several functions in common with the Moen Arbor MotionSense, including an aerated stream, and a strong “PowerClean” spray for heavy-duty cleaning. 

The installation of the Moen Pull-Out Faucet also uses Duralock Quick Connect hoses, allowing the water lines to be connected without a lot of twisting and turning. To make things even easier, this faucet also includes a cool little installation tool that basically acts as sort of a basin wrench, which makes tightening those mounting nuts a lot easier (especially if you don’t have much space between the wall and your sink basin).

The best commercial-style faucet

Kohler Sous Pro-Style Single Handle Pull-Down Sprayer Faucet

The Kohler Sous Pro-Style Single Handle Pull-Down Sprayer Faucet has the power and size of a commercial faucet, with all the features of a standard model.

Pros: Sturdy, magnetic locking arm, high quality

Cons: Spring needs to be cleaned periodically, installation can be tricky depending on your surface

The Kohler Sous Pro-Style Single Handle Pull-Down Sprayer Faucet features the sturdy construction of a commercial kitchen-style faucet, with a modern style that looks right at home in a residential kitchen. It’s great for an active kitchen and the ideal faucet for tackling large piles of dishes.

The Kohler Sous Pro-Style Faucet has a magnetic docking arm that the spray head firmly attaches to when not in use. Unlike other commercial-style faucets, the docking arm swivels out of the way when you’re working.

Something I’ve come to notice about these commercial-style faucets is that sometimes their height makes them look out of place in some kitchens. That’s not the case with the Kohler. Its 22-inch vertical is still short enough to look great on most counters. I’ve even seen this on a kitchen island — usually a no-no for taller faucets — and it looked great.

The spring-loaded design of the pull-down spray head has the perfect amount of tension to it. Not so tight that it restricts movement, but solid enough to have a feeling of control while you’re using it. The downside of any spring-type tension mechanism is that debris can become lodged in the gaps of the spring. What’s great about the Kohler Sous Pro-Style is that the entire spring is simple to remove and you can just spray the whole thing off on the sink. 

In addition to the standard stream setting, the faucet also features “Sweep Spray” technology, turning the stream into a linear broom-style pattern. This is great for “sweeping” away food from dishes, instead of just blasting it around with a standard sprayer. This setting is also excellent for cleaning out the sink itself.

If you are installing this faucet to a stainless steel sink, you will need to add a small 1/2-inch plywood support piece under the counter. It’s nothing crazy, but it’s an extra step that most other faucets don’t have.

What to consider when shopping for a kitchen faucet

Choosing a kitchen faucet may seem like a mundane task, but it’s actually important. You want the right kind to fit your needs and your kitchen’s decor, and you don’t want to simply opt for the cheapest model. So before you shop for a new kitchen faucet, think about where (the existing space, pre-existing hardware) and how you plan to use it. Consider each model’s specs: 

  • Valve Control: This is the mechanism that turns your faucet on and off, and adjusts the temperature of the water. Single-handle designs use one lever to control both temperature and flow, while double-handles have two (each handle controlling either the hot or cold water supply). Touch and motion-activated designs are convenient in a lot of ways, but they are dependent on a power source for their sensor.
    Note: Double handle styles are less common and are generally bought for their aesthetics over practicality — which is why we don’t have any featured here. That said, I definitely value their durability: dual handles tend to be sturdier, and less easily yanked on than single handles.
  • Spout style: Choose from revolving or stationary, regular (steady stream) or two-mode (regular and spray), low arc (3 to 8 inches above the top of the sink), or high arc (also known as gooseneck, which is more than 8 inches above the top of the sink) models. 
  • Spray head: The sprayer can be separate from and next to the faucet, or at the end of the spout. The latter type is either pull-down (often on taller faucets) or pull-out (which sometimes includes much of the spout itself).
  • Finish: Whatever material comprises the faucet’s finish (chrome, stainless steel, bronze, copper, brass, nickel, etc.) affects its appearance, cleanability, resistance to spotting and rusting, and price.
  • Arc and spout height and reach: Do you have ample clearance for a high-arc faucet or a cozier kitchen better suited to a low-arc model? Will you need to maneuver pots and pans under the faucet in order to wash them? Do you care how far the spout reaches across or extends over the sink?
  • Flow rate: Do you want adjustable water pressure? Do you need just a stream (for filling pots or washing vegetables) or also a spray (to add oomph to scrubbing sticky or burnt-on food off of dishes)? 
  • Installation requirements: How many holes does your sink have for fitting a faucet? Some sinks have only one hole, and faucets requiring more than one hole can’t be used (unless you plan to drill more holes … which may be inconvenient, costly, or structurally impossible). If your sink does have extra holes that the faucet doesn’t need, you can cover them with an escutcheon or deck plate or use them to fit accessories like a side sprayer or soap dispenser. It’s also worth checking to make sure you have enough clearance between the faucet and the wall behind – to ensure your handle can rotate as far as it needs to.

No matter which kitchen faucet you pick, choose a model that helps save water. A faucet aerator efficiently reduces the flow rate while still maintaining water pressure, thus conserving water and saving you money. Also, fix (or replace if necessary) the faucet when you notice any leaking. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, “A faucet leaking 60 drops per minute will waste 192 gallons (726.8 liters) per month … 2,304 gallons (8.7 m3) per year.” To calculate your household’s potential water waste from a leaky kitchen faucet, visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s Drip Calculator.  

Check out our other kitchen buying guides.

LG dishwasher
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The 4 best no-pull harnesses recommended by dog trainers, walkers, and rescuers

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A good no-pull harness can reduce your dog’s leash pulling without causing them pain or discomfort.
  • A professional dog trainer teamed up with shelter workers to test nine popular no-pull dog harnesses.
  • The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness is the best option to prevent pulling without causing discomfort or restricting range of motion.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Sorin McKnight, DVM, a veterinarian at Wellborn Road Veterinary Medical Center in College Station, Texas. The purpose of this medical review is to ensure accuracy and does not imply any product endorsements or recommendations.

Being pulled down the street can turn a relaxing dog walk into a frustrating battle. As a professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, more than half of my clients ask for help training their dog to walk nicely on a leash. I typically recommend that dog owners purchase a quality front-clip no-pull harness to assist them in training their dog how to walk on leash without pulling.

For this guide, I partnered with five shelter workers and volunteers at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco to test nine of the most popular no-pull harnesses. Harnesses were tested on walks with more than two dozen medium and large untrained rescue dogs. I also interviewed professional dog walkers and trainers about their favorite harnesses. With each harness, we evaluated how well it prevents pulling, whether it causes discomfort or impedes a dog’s movement, overall fit, adjustability, durability, and washability. Read more about our testing methodology at the end of this guide.

Why you should walk your dog with a harness

Dog harnesses are more than just a training tool to discourage pulling. Even if your dog doesn’t pull, a harness is safer than walking with a leash attached to a collar. Traditional neck collars should never be used for restraining or controlling your dog, as they can cause tension and stress on the dog’s neck. In a 2020 study using canine neck models with pressure sensors, Anne Carter, PhD, a researcher and lecturer in animal biology at Nottingham Trent University, concluded that all types of dog collars have the potential to cause harm to a dog’s neck. A flat neck collar’s only purpose is for attaching your dog’s ID tags or for decoration. 

It’s important to remember that front-clip, no-pull harnesses are not a magical quick fix. They are, however, an excellent management tool that makes it easier to train a dog to walk nicely on leash.

Here are the best no-pull dog harnesses you can buy

The best no-pull harness overall

best no-pull dog harnesses in 2021

The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness significantly reduces pulling without impeding a dog’s movement, sagging, or twisting.

Pros: Deters pulling better than other harnesses, six points of adjustment for appropriate fit, good for dogs that dislike putting their head through a harness, machine washable, 90-day chew replacement policy

Cons: More expensive than most other harnesses, no padding, can be confusing to put on at first

The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness is a favorite among dog trainers and dog walkers alike. We were impressed by how much easier it was to walk our untrained shelter dogs when they were wearing this harness. The dogs pulled less and were easier to control.

When used with a leash attached to the front D-ring, this harness offers superior control for dogs that pull. Its Y-neck design does not cross the dog’s shoulders or pinch under the armpits, offering a level of comfort not found with other harnesses. Like all the harnesses in this guide, the leash can be attached to either the chest D-ring to reduce pulling or to the back of the harness for dogs that don’t pull.

If you’ve had trouble finding a harness that fits, this is an excellent option. There are six different points that can be adjusted for dogs of all shapes and sizes. The harness has a band that clips around the torso and another band that clips around the neck. While the neck band is ideal for dogs that resist putting their head through a harness, this design can make it confusing to put the harness on until you get the hang of it. The colored top strap on the back will help you keep straight what goes where.

Robyn Socarro, a professional dog trainer at Beyond the Biscuit in Bentonville, Arkansas, swears by the Balance Harness. “It is great for daily performance, and it doesn’t interfere with the dog’s shoulder movement,” she said. “I do a lot of swimming and water activities with my dogs, and this harness doesn’t need to be removed when using a doggie life jacket, and it dries quickly without irritating the skin.”

“The Blue-9 Balance Harness is my go-to recommendation for my clients,” said professional dog walker Clare Hart-Slattery, based in Oakland, California. “It has a higher level of adjustability than other no-pull harnesses, which helps eliminate loose spots that may encourage pulling or irritate the skin.” 

The Balance Harness has a minimalist design that includes unpadded nylon straps and comes in eight different colors and five sizes. I toss mine into the washer and let it air-dry, with no damaging effects.

Although the soft nylon has a 3,500-pound test strength, if your dog chews this harness, Blue-9 offers a 90-day replacement for half price — just pay shipping to mail in the damaged harness. Because of its design, however, most dogs cannot reach the straps with their mouths and I’ve never had a dog chew through one.

The best no-pull harness for versatility

2Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness

With front and back clips and a double-connection leash, the 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness is versatile enough to use with any dog, even serious pullers.

Pros: Works well for serious pullers, straps do not loosen or sag, velvet-lined straps prevent chafing, machine washable, available in 7 sizes and 23 different colors and designs, double-connection leash included

Cons: Can be confusing to put on, straps are difficult to adjust

The 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness has something of a cult following among dog trainers. With both a front and back D-ring, it’s comfortable for walking dogs who are pullers and those who are not. Diane Livoti Perlman, owner of Metro Dog day care and boarding in Richmond, California, recommends this harness to all of her clients.

Users are frequently amazed at how quickly the Freedom harness reduces tension on the leash for dogs that pull, especially when paired with the included double-connection leash. By connecting the leash to the D-rings at the chest and back, the harness evenly distributes pressure, preventing a dog from feeling discomfort at a single point on their body and providing more control than most other harnesses. The martingale strap at the back tightens in response to pulling to help prevent a dog from squirming out of the harness and escaping. 

Several of our testers found it tricky to put the harness on the first few times because the straps are fitted tightly in the stainless steel hardware. However, once the four points were properly adjusted, they got the hang of it. The straps stay secure and don’t loosen up like some harnesses. There is also a buckle at the neck, so it doesn’t need to be pulled over the dog’s head. The velvet lining on the strap behind the legs is a nice touch for sensitive-skinned dogs.

2 Hounds has put a lot of thought and care into their product. Available in seven different sizes, the Freedom Harness works well for dogs of all sizes and shapes and is the only one in this guide that offers two different widths: 5/8-inch wide straps for smaller dogs and 1-inch straps for larger dogs. One of my clients could not find a harness that fit her low and wide Corgi-Labrador mix until she tried the 2 Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness. It comes in 23 different colors and patterns.

This harness can be machine-washed on delicate cycle and air-dried. I accidentally put it in the dryer, and it came out fine. 2 Hounds will also replace a chewed harness for $12.99 with free shipping.

The best affordable no-pull harness

Petsafe 3-in-1 Harness

The Petsafe 3-in-1 No-Pull Dog Harness is a durable, no-pull harness that won’t break the bank. 

Pros: Five points of adjustment for good fit, reflective stitching, some padding

Cons: Limited color options, heavy plastic buckles may be uncomfortable

With both a front and a back D-ring, the Petsafe 3-in-1 No-Pull Dog Harness is a solid choice. Attach the leash to the front of the harness to reduce pulling or secure it to the back ring for casual walks or running with your dog.

Beth DiMeccio walks shelter dogs most weekdays at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco and tested this harness on several untrained shelter dogs that were difficult to walk. She was impressed with how well it worked for serious pullers. “There’s little chance a dog can wriggle out of this harness, which is a big concern with shelter dogs,” she said.

This Y-shaped nylon harness does not restrict a dog’s movement, unlike Petsafe’s other popular no-pull harness, the Easy Walk, which has a horizontal chest strap that sits too low on some dogs. The 3-in-1’s five different adjustment points allow for a comfortable and snug fit, and with a buckle at the neck, it doesn’t need to be pulled over a dog’s head. It’s also easy to put on and take off after a few tries, but the tiny tags on the straps labeled “shoulder,” “girth,” and “center chest” are only slightly helpful. The light neoprene padding and reflective stitching are a nice touch.

With 1-inch wide straps, this harness is heavier than similar styles, creating too much bulk for smaller dogs. Although the wider straps mean less chafing, there is no padding to cover any of the large plastic clasps. Your dog may have some discomfort if they wear the harness all day.

The harness comes in four different sizes. Unfortunately, the color choices are limited to black, plum, and teal. It also comes with a built-in adjustable car control strap, which attaches to a car’s seat belt. Neither the strap nor the harness are crash-tested, but when used together they will keep your dog restrained in the backseat while you are driving. Petsafe recommends only hand-washing the 3-in-1, which can make it difficult to get out the dog stink that most harnesses collect.

Petsafe offers two sweet guarantees: If your dog chews their harness, the company will ship a replacement for $14.90 (no need to send the damaged harness back). Bought the wrong-size harness? Petsafe has a Perfect Fit Guarantee: They’ll send a new harness free of charge, with a suggestion to donate the first harness to a local shelter.

The best no-pull harness for extended wear

Ruffwear Front Range Harness

The Ruffwear Front Range Harness is a comfortable harness for active dogs and will hold up to years of use.

Pros: Padded, wide straps that won’t chafe, can be worn all day, comes in 13 different colors and 5 sizes, easy to put on and take off, durable

Cons: Chest piece twists and gaps with serious pullers, not quick-drying

Designed for outdoor adventures, the Ruffwear Front Range Harness can take a lot of punishment while keeping your dog comfortable. The foam padding on the chest and belly prevents rubbing and chafing, and the built-in clasps are covered with fabric so they don’t touch any part of a dog’s body.

With only two clasps and two adjustment buckles, the harness is easy to put on and remove. It has two leash attachments: an aluminum V-ring on the back and a reinforced webbing attachment on the chest plate.

The Front Range doesn’t reduce pulling as well as the other harnesses we recommend. Although it is normal for a front-clip harness to move when your dog pulls, the Front Range has more twist than our other top picks, causing it to shift to the side with consistent pulling.

But, if your dog tears through bushes or plays rough with other dogs, this harness is a durable option. After seven years, the Front Range is the only intact harness my dog still wears from his younger days. The polyester shell fabric is durable and doesn’t fade over time, and the reflective stitching is a bonus for nighttime dog walking. The harness is available in 5 sizes and comes in 13 different colors to match every possible preference because, of course, your dog needs a hibiscus pink harness.

San Francisco-based professional dog trainer and dog sport enthusiast Scarlett Cermak, owner of Embark Today, loves the size range and color options as well as its comfort and versatility. “The padding is nice because it doesn’t rub on my thin-coated dog,” she said. “I also really like that there is a back-clip option because there are times, believe it or not, when I want my dogs to pull, like in sports like canicross or joring.”

Hand-washing is advised, but I’ve had to put my dog’s harness in the washer and dryer many times. It’s held up, but the edges are now slightly curled. The chest vest can take a while to dry, so it may stay damp for a while after washing or if your dog swims in it.

Ruffwear’s warranty covers manufacturing defects, but there is no chew replacement policy. In my experience, only the most acrobatic chewers can reach the straps with their teeth.

How we tested

no pull dog harnesses we tested

We considered the most popular harnesses on the market and solicited opinions from professional dog walkers and dog trainers who were already using the brands under consideration.

Three shelter staff and two volunteer shelter walkers then tested the harnesses on walks with more than two dozen rescue dogs at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco over a period of eight weeks. The dogs were all medium and large-size (over 50 pounds) and chosen because they were known to be difficult to walk due to overexcitability, lack of training, or reactivity. Dogs were walked with the tester harnesses for 30 to 60 minutes on city streets and in local parks.

Unmanageable leash pulling is typically a problem for dog owners with larger dogs, so we did not test these harnesses on dogs under 25 pounds. Many small dogs strain while on leash, but owners do not struggle with being pulled off their feet.

We also did not test head halters, as most dogs initially find them uncomfortable and will resist wearing them. The no-pull harnesses in this guide are a better choice for anyone looking for the least intrusive, minimally aversive (LIMA) approach to dog training and behavior modification. If you’d like to learn more about head halters, read about them in our guide to the best dog harnesses.

 We rated each harness according to the following criteria:

  • Prevents pulling: We assessed how well it prevented dogs from pulling on leash while walking. Dogs were walked for a minimum of 30 minutes on 4-foot leashes.
  • Does not impede or restrict movement: Harnesses were tested on dogs of different sizes and shapes to check for sagging and straps that lay over the dog’s front legs and shoulders.
  • Does not chafe or rub: We tested harnesses on both long- and short-haired dogs to check for chafing or rubbing.
  • Dog cannot slip or back out of the harness: Because these harnesses were tested on shelter dogs who tend to be flight risks, this was a crucial consideration.
  • Easy to put on and take off/ease of adjusting: Putting on or adjusting your dog’s harness shouldn’t be frustrating. Our shelter volunteers and testers were asked to record their impressions when first putting the tester harnesses on dogs.
  • Durability and washability: We asked professional dog walkers for their opinions on how well these wear over time and whether they hold up after multiple washes.
  • Initial cost and replacement cost: We considered whether the price of the harness is justified and how easy it is to replace if chewed.

What else we considered

Kurgo Tru Fit Harness
  • Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Walking Harness: This is an affordable harness with a padded chest plate and both front and back leash attachments. It’s a solid choice as an everyday walking harness for larger dogs that pull moderately.
  • Rabbitgoo No-Pull Dog Harness: This is a somewhat effective no-pull harness, with a vest-shaped design similar to the Ruffwear Front Range. Unless your dog is barrel-chested, the front of the harness twists to the side whenever the dog pulls. The straps also require constant tightening as they loosen too easily. 
  • Petsafe Easy Walk: This popular front-clip harness is inexpensive and easy to put on and adjust. The front chest strap, however, tends to sag more than any other harness we tested, causing it to hang across the dog’s front legs and impede movement. With no padding and thin straps, the Easy Walk may also rub and create abrasions. The buckle ends up under the armpit on many dogs, which can be uncomfortable.
  • Wonder Walker Body Harness: This is a sturdy front-clip harness that works well to prevent pulling. Unfortunately, the horizontal chest strap tends to sag significantly and ends up laying across the dog’s shoulders or front legs.
  • Bolux Dog Harness: One of the most inexpensive harnesses available, this harness does nothing to prevent your dog from pulling, as it only has one leash attachment on the back. Squirmy dogs can easily back out of this harness and escape.

How to get the right fit

Finding the right harness for your dog is like choosing the perfect running sneakers. The right fit is crucial. There’s nothing scarier than your dog wriggling or backing out of a loose-fitting harness. An ill-fitting harness will also be uncomfortable, and if it’s too tight, it can cause chafing. Sagging harnesses can impede a dog’s full range of shoulder or leg movement.

A well-fitting harness should be snug but not too tight, with enough room to fit two to three fingers under all the straps. Check the sizing charts and read the instructions on how to measure your dog. When buying online, measure carefully and check the return policy before ordering. If you have a puppy, prepare to purchase more than one harness as they grow.

Dogs come in different shapes and sizes, so what fits well for one dog may not work for another. You may have to try a few different harness styles if your dog has an atypical body shape.

Why do dogs pull on leash and how can you stop it?

No dog is born innately understanding how to walk on a leash. Most dogs will pull unless loose leash walking is taught and reinforced.

Dogs pull because they naturally walk faster than we do and because they want to get to the park or greet another dog or sniff something interesting. They pull because they’ve never been taught not to pull. Dogs also strain on the leash because it works for them: They pull, and they get to move forward. Tension at the end of the leash is a learned behavior.

The best way to stop your dog from pulling is to train loose leash walking using positive reinforcement. If your dog is a veteran puller, there is no humane piece of equipment that you can just put on them to instantly stop the pulling. Carlo Siracusa, DVM, director of Animal Behavior Medicine services at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, explained that neck collars do not prevent pulling and put too much pressure on the dog’s neck.

Although front-clip no-pull harnesses are not a magic bullet that will instantly stop your dog from pulling, they are a management tool. A good harness will help you manage and control your dog while teaching them leash manners.

Although we tested these no-pull harnesses on medium and large dogs, pulling on leash can be a problem for dogs of any size. While some handlers may tolerate leash pulling with a small dog, a no-pull harness is just as helpful for them.

How do front-clip no-pull harnesses work?

2 Hounds Design Freedom Harness

Front-clip harnesses are designed to discourage forward pulling by pivoting the dog toward you whenever the leash is taut. There’s no magic — that’s it. This spinning toward you provides a training opportunity while your dog focuses on you. If you keep walking whenever your dog pulls, you are not only missing out on the chance to train loose leash walking, but you are also reinforcing pulling.

Not all front-clip harnesses are created equal. Harnesses come in two basic designs: A Y-shaped chest strap or a strap that lays horizontally across the chest. Y-shaped harnesses better allow for full freedom of movement.

“Any product that forms a Y shape around the dog’s neck and under the chest is non-restrictive,” said Chris Zink, DVM, a canine sports medicine consultant and researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

The best no-pull harnesses have both back- and front-clip rings, and some brands now sell cleverly designed leashes that clip to both rings simultaneously, giving the handler better control and balancing leash tension across the body instead of at a single location.

Leashes that attach to the back of a dog’s harness are a safe and comfortable option for dogs that don’t strain on the leash. Back-clip harnesses are also useful for attaching a dragline when teaching recall (“come”).

Why we don’t recommend prong, choke, and e-collars

We only considered no-pull equipment that does not cause pain or discomfort for a dog. Prong, choke, and shock collars are all designed to punish a dog by inflicting pain around the neck whenever they pull. Prong collars and choke chains can also cause damage to a dog’s neck.

“As a general rule, I don’t like anything that puts too much pressure on the neck,” said Siracusa. “Definitely no prong or shock collars. Even a martingale-type collar, which I do like, will not prevent the dog from pulling [and] will apply pressure on the neck.”

Punishment and pain create fear, stress, and anxiety in dogs also have no place in modern dog training. Studies show that e-collars (shock collars) produce behavioral and physiological signs of stress when used on pet dogs. As of October 2020, Petco, the second largest retail pet company in the United States, discontinued the sale of all shock collars online and in stores. Shock collars are banned and illegal in many countries, including England, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. To train your dog more humanely, effectively, and successfully, use science-based positive reinforcement and rewards-based training and handling methods.

No harness is chew-proof

There is no such thing as a chew-proof harness. A chewed-up harness is not a manufacturer defect or the fault of a poor design. It takes less than 30 seconds for a determined dog or teething puppy to destroy a brand-new harness, so take it off them when unsupervised. Be sure to also remove harnesses to prevent injury when dogs rough house, as teeth and limbs can get entangled. 

If your dog is a veteran harness destroyer, check the manufacturer’s chew guarantees before purchasing. We were pleasantly surprised by how generous some of the replacement policies are.

Who we consulted

Anne Carter, PhD, is a researcher and lecturer in animal biology at Nottingham Trent University.

Chris Zink, DVM, is a board-certified specialist in veterinary pathology and veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation. Chris is one of the world’s top canine sports medicine and rehabilitation veterinarians and researchers. She is a professor and researcher at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Carlo Siracusa, DVM, is the director of Animal Behavior Medicine services at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

San Francisco SPCA Training Department

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best charging stations and USB charging hubs in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • There are many multi-port USB charging stations to choose from with support for a variety of devices.
  • The Satechi Dock5 is our top pick thanks to its convenient ability to charge up to five devices at the same time.

Charging stations and hubs come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve included different options to suit different needs and device charging specifications, so whether you have an iPhone, an Apple Watch, AirPods, a Quick Charge Android phone, a laptop, or a USB-C Android phone; we’ve got you covered.

These days, more and more devices are shipping with USB-C cables instead of USB-A cables, so we’re including charging stations that come with both USB-C ports and USB-A ports if you’re still using your older cables.

For Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra users, specifically – unfortunately, none of the charging stations we’ve encountered support Samsung’s 45W fast charging for the Galaxy S20 Ultra. If you’re looking to max out your charging speeds with those devices, your best bet is to get Samsung’s own charger. Just note that the latest Galaxy S21 series, including the Galaxy S21 Ultra, only support up to 25W charging, which some of the chargers below can achieve.

Here are the best charging stations and USB charging hubs:

The best charging station overall

Satechi Dock5 charging station

The Satechi Dock5 Multi-Device Charging Station neatly charges five devices simultaneously and includes two USB-C PD ports, two USB-A ports, and a Qi charging pad.

Pros: Charges up to five devices at the same time, holds devices in place neatly, affordable, meets standard charging speeds on most devices, can fast charge iPhone, includes USB-C charging ports

Cons: Short charging cables are sold separately, won’t meet top charging speeds on some Android devices

Households with several smartphones and/or tablets, and wireless charging earbuds will appreciate the Dock5 by reputable tech accessories maker Satechi. 

The Dock5 can charge five devices at the same time with its variety of two USB-C ports, standard USB-A ports, and a Qi wireless charging pad. Devices can be organized neatly with the silicone dividers that prevent scratching. 

The USB-C ports are rated at 20W each, and will be best used on smartphones with fast charging, or devices with large batteries, like a tablet. For reference, the Dock5‘s 20W USB-C ports exceed the iPad Pro’s 18W included charging brick and the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12’s 18W fast charging capabilities. The Galaxy S21 phones can charge up to 25W.

The standard USB-A ports are rated at 12W each, which makes them more suitable for smartphone charging at decent speeds. 

The wireless Qi charging pad is rated at 10W, which is double what the AirPods Pro charging capacity. Unfortunately, the Dock5 won’t charge AirPods Pro faster, as they’ll only accept up to 5W for wireless charging. Still, the wireless charging pad can be used to charge a smartphone up to 10W wirelessly.

The Dock5 doesn’t come with the short charging cables you see in the images — those are sold separately and range between $9 to $18, and you’ll have to use your existing cables. That’s a shame, because charging four wired devices with longer cables will make for a messier look than what you see in Satechi’s images. Still, the convenience is undeniable.

Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best budget charging station

Anker PowerPort 5

Charging multiple devices on a budget means you’ll miss out on USB-C charging ports, but you get five USB-A ports on the Anker PowerPort 5 is a cheap, easy solution that will do a great job charging several devices.

Pros: Charges up to five devices at the same time, cheap

Cons: Doesn’t include USB-C or fast charging tech

While you may not get USB-C ports or very fast charging, Anker’s 40W 5-Port USB Wall Charger will do nicely for up to five mobile devices. For under $25 on Amazon, it’s hard to beat. You can easily charge devices like smartphones, smartwatches, headphones, and other accessories that use USB for charging with the PowerPort 5. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station with wireless charging

Nomad Base Station

The Nomad Base Station is a premium, elegant wireless charging station that can charge up to four devices at the same time with its USB-C, USB-A port, and wireless charging pad. 

Pros: Elegant and premium design, versatile charging options, affordable for what it offers, included EU and US adapters

Cons: Doesn’t wirelessly charge Apple Watch, doesn’t charge iPad Pro through Magic Keyboard

The sleek, elegant Nomad Base Station has a padded leather wireless charging surface that can wirelessly charge two devices at the same time at 7.5W, or 10W for a single device. Just note that different phones have different speed limits for wireless charging. Alternatively, you could charge a phone and a pair of wireless charging earbuds or a smartwatch on the pad. Also note that it won’t charge the Apple Watch.

If the wireless charging pad won’t charge your phone fast enough in a pinch, the 18W USB-C port will do the trick for iPhones and Android devices, and it’ll charge most tablets at a standard pace.

The USB-A port is rated at 7.5W, which is pretty slow for phones, but is suitable for charging wireless earbuds.

For its price, the Nomad Base Station is among the best options for a versatile charging station. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station for Quick Charge devices

RavPower PD Pioneer Charging Station

The Ravpower PD Pioneer 65W 4-Port USB C Desktop Charger offers quick charging for both standard USB-A ports, as well as two USB-C ports.

Pros: Compact design, charges most devices quickly, can charge a laptop, inexpensive

Cons: Doesn’t support Samsung’s 45W charging tech

The Ravpower PD Pioneer 65W Desktop Charger offers a variety of quick charging USB-A and USB-C ports for a range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It’s the best quick charger for the money. 

It features Power Delivery for the USB-C ports that charges up 65W for USB-C PD-compatible devices up to 65W from a single port. If you connect two USB-C PD-compatible devices to the USB-C ports, it’ll charge one at 45W and the other at 18W. 

As for the standard Quick Charge USB-A ports, it can charge one port at 18W, and 12W if you have two devices plugged into each USB-A port. Ravpower also includes this handy chart to show you what it can do with different connection combinations:

Connected port combination Output for each connected port
1 USB-C port USB-C – PD 65W
2 USB-C ports USB-C – PD 45W; USB-C – PD 18W
2 USB-A ports USB-A – 5V/2.4A; USB-A – 5V/2.4A
1 USB-C port + 1 USB-A port USB-C – PD 45W; USB-A – QC 18W
1 USB-C port + 2 USB-A ports USB-C- PD 45W; USB-A – 5V/2.4A; USB-A – 5V/2.4A
2 USB-C ports + 1 USB-A port USB-C – PD 18W; USB-C – PD 18W; USB-A – QC 18W
When connected to all ports USB-C – PD 18W; USB-C – PD 18W; USB-A – 5V/2.4A; USB-A – 5V/2.4A

Just note that like any other quick charging hub we’ve encountered, the Ravpower won’t support Samsung’s ultra-fast 45W charging, as it uses a special protocol that only Samsung seems to use with its own chargers. If you have a Samsung device that supports 45W charging, it’s best to go with Samsung’s own chargers. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station with USB-C for laptops

Aukey charging station

The Omnia Mix4 100W 4-port PD Charger by Aukey has a huge 100W capacity that will charge almost any standard laptop via USB-C at full clip while charging other devices at the same time.

Pros: Can charge multiple laptops while charging other devices, compact, affordable

Cons: Doesn’t support Samsung’s 45W smartphone charging

This 100W charger is smaller than most included charging bricks that come with laptops these days and meets their full power needs. For example, Aukey claims it can charge the power-hungry 16-inch MacBook Pro in 1.8 hours, at least if it’s the only device connected to the charger.

If you connect two laptops to the Omnia via USB-C, the USB-C ports will reduce to 45W each, which is enough to power two MacBook Airs at the same time. If you’re looking to charge laptops that require over 45W, the Omnia will work best as a single-laptop solution. 

The two USB-A ports can charge at a 12W maximum each, but are reduced to 6W each if you have two laptops connected to the USB-C ports. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station for iPhone and Apple Watch

Mophie charging stand

The Mophie 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Stand is an ideal charging station for your pre-iPhone 12 iPhone , AirPods (with wireless charging), and Apple Watch. iPhone 12 users should look at the Belkin Boost Charge Pro.

Pros: Perfect for desks or night stands, ideal for Apple users

Cons: Mophie is slow for iPhone 12, Belkin doesn’t support pre-iPhone 12 generation

If you’re looking to charge your daily Apple portable Apple devices that you regularly charge overnight all in one place, the Mophie 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Stand should be near the top of your list. 

The Mophie charges iPhones that support wireless charging up to 7.5 watts, which is fine for any iPhone that supports wireless charging before the iPhone 12. It will also charge your Apple Watch with the magnetic charging pad that props the Watch up in horizontal mode, and there’s a dedicated charging pad for AirPods with wireless charging.

If you have the iPhone 12, consider Belkin’s Boost Charge Pro instead, as it uses Apple’s MagSafe technology and wirelessly charges the iPhone 12 at 15W — faster than the Mophie above. It also features wireless charging for your Apple Watch and wirelessly charging AirPods. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station for travel

Zendure_Passport_Travel_Adapter

The Zendure Passport is a clever travel adapter that fits international outlets and offers one USB-C and three USB-A ports to charge your mobile devices.

Pros: Clever design, works in more than 200 countries, charges five devices at once, auto-resetting fuse

Cons: Chunky, can slide out of some outlets

If you frequently fly abroad for work or pleasure, then you should consider the Zendure Passport travel charger. This global travel adapter works with outlets in more than 200 countries and it also provides four charging ports for mobile devices that can deliver a total of 30W.

It’s quite a chunky adapter, measuring 2.24 by 2.8 by 2.5 inches, and it comes in black or white. There’s a blue LED on the bottom that lights up when it’s plugged in, and Zendure’s signature ribbing runs around the outside.

This charger plugs directly into the wall and has four sliders on the side that enable you to choose the correct plug for the EU, US, UK, or Australia. These four plug types will fit the outlets in most places you’re likely to visit. You can also plug into the other side using devices from any of these countries. On the bottom, you’ll find a USB-C port, marked in blue, and three USB-A ports. The USB-C port supports the Power Delivery standard and offers up to 30W. The USB-A ports are rated at 5V/2.4A for 12W each. The AC output is 6A (600W at 100V or 1,500W at 250V). 

This travel adapter has accompanied me on every trip I’ve taken for the last couple of years and it has served me well in the US, the UK, and across Europe. Being able to charge two phones, a smartwatch, a tablet, and a camera battery from one outlet can be very handy. It has also served my family of four, keeping all our phones charged up, and still offering an outlet for a laptop.

You will need your own charging cables, but you can effectively charge five devices at once with this travel adapter. It is quite bulky, so I’ve occasionally found it’s a tight fit with some outlets. If you have a lot plugged into it the weight can also begin to pull it out of the outlet. 

One feature that has proved very handy is the auto-resetting fuse. Fuses inevitably blow occasionally, but this will cut-off automatically for safety, then reset and be usable again, without you having to worry about changing a fuse.

There’s an older version of the Passport that just has four USB-A ports, so make sure you get the newer one with the USB-C port. It comes with a 24-month warranty. — Simon Hill

How fast does your device charge?

Here are the charging speeds of several popular devices:

Device Charging speed
iPhone 11 18W wired, 7.5W wireless
iPhone 11 Pro 22.5W wired, 7.5W wireless
iPhone 12 20W wired, 15W wireless (with Apple’s MagSafe charger), 7.5W with standard Qi charger
iPhone 12 Pro 20W wired, 15W wireless (with Apple’s MagSafe charger), 7.5W with standard Qi charger
Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Plus, Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus, Galaxy S21 Ultra 25W
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 45W

What else we considered

Aukey_QC3_6Port_Charging_Station

You can pick up a wide variety of other charging stations and USB charging hubs that will meet your charging needs. Here’s a small selection of the ones that didn’t quite make our list, but are still worth considering if you’ve yet to see something you like. 

  • AUKEY Quick Charge 3.0 6-Port USB Wall Charger: The affordable Aukey 6-Port Desktop Charging Station has two Quick Charge 3.0 ports marked in orange, four green ports rated at 2.4A apiece, comes with a detachable, 4-foot power cable that plugs directly into an outlet, and can deliver a total of 60W. It may be worth choosing over the Anker if you need that extra port, but the boxy design leaves something to be desired.
  • Anker PowerPort Atom PD 4: This charging station has two USB-C ports that support the Power Delivery standard and two USB-A ports. It can deliver up to 100W. That means you can plug in two laptops and two phones and have all four charge up at once. If you have a new MacBook or Pixelbook and want to charge it alongside your phone, then this could be the ideal charger, but it is expensive.
  • Vogek 5-Port 50W Charging Station: This doesn’t quite match our top pick from Satechi, as it only has five ports, but it’s a similar design, with slots to hold your devices neatly. One advantage of this charging station is that it comes with a mixture of eight short charging cables, and it’s relatively inexpensive.
  • Amazon Basics 60W 10-Port Wall Charger: If you need a large capacity, no frills, wall charger, you won’t find anything much bigger, or cheaper, than this charging station from Amazon. It can supply 60W in total to up to 10 devices, but ports are capped at 2.4A each and there’s no support for any fast charging standards.
  • Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Dock: This is another stylish charging dock for the nightstand that’s designed to accommodate an iPhone and Apple Watch. Instead of plugging in, it wirelessly charges your iPhone, and it has a USB-A port for a third device. The only reason this didn’t make the list is the high price. — Simon Hill

How to choose a charging station

To find the right charging station for you, there are a few questions to ask. There are also certain features that you may want to consider before you buy. 

How many devices do you need to charge?

The first thing to work out when you’re shopping for a charging station for your gadgets is how many ports you need. Count up your phones, tablets, smartwatches, and any other devices that need frequent charging. Remember that you’ll also need charging cables for each one.

Not all ports are created equal

As you’ll see when you peruse our guide, many charging stations offer a mix of ports. You might find USB-A and USB-C, and you may also find that some ports are capable of faster charging rates than others. It’s also quite common for charging stations to have some ports that support certain charging standards and others that don’t. 

Get the right cables

You can always use the charging cable that came with your device, but if you’re buying new cables, make sure they’re fit for the purpose. Look for certified safe cables that can deliver the charging rate you want. We like these 4-inch Anker Powerline Lightning cables and these 8-inch Aukey USB-C cables for keeping things tidy. 

Where will you put the charging station?

Think about where you’re going to put your charging station and consider what size you can accommodate. You will need a wall outlet handy and space to rest your devices while they juice up. It’s a good idea to choose somewhere out of sight because there will be a tangle of cables. We have one on a bookcase in the upstairs landing and another tucked away under a side table at the end of the couch in the lounge. We also use a magnetic cable tidy that helps us quickly find the end of an unused cable and keeps things from getting too messy.

Is charging rate important?

For people planning to plug in overnight, there’s little point in paying a premium for fast charging, but if you want to be able to top up quickly, charging rate matters. Check what charging standards your phone or other device supports and look for a charging station that can deliver. There’s USB Power Delivery, Qualcomm’s Quick Charge standard, and a host of other manufacturer-specific charging technologies. 

Check the safety features and warranty

You’ll be plugging some of your most prized possessions into your chosen charging station, so it’s important to think about safety. Cheap, uncertified chargers can fail, damage your devices, or even cause a fire. Stick to trusted brands, check the reviews, and look for safeguards covering surges and overheating. It’s also a good idea to check the warranty and review people’s experiences with customer support before you buy. 

Check out our other tech accessory guides

native union

The best charging cables

Although most devices come with charging cables, it’s smart to have several on hand in case yours breaks, gets lost, or you simply need to charge multiple devices at once. These are the best charging cables for iPhone, Android, and other devices. Whether you need a lightning cable or a USB-C cable, there’s an option for you here.


The best phone chargers

We’ve rounded up the best phone chargers of all kinds so you can finally have more than one charger on hand.

We’ve included fast-charging options, ones for USB-C-to-USB-C cables, and more. Regardless of your charging needs, you should find an option in our guide.


The best iPhone cases for every model

There’s a seemingly endless variety of iPhone case out there, so we’ve rounded up the best ones we’ve tested from top brands.

These case makers have options for every model of iPhone, so whether you have an iPhone 8 or an iPhone 11 Pro, you can get the right case for your phone.


The best iPhone accessories for every model

No matter which iPhone you have, you can find tons of different accessories for your device. We’ve rounded up the best chargers, cases, cables, and other fun accessories that you might want to have to make the most of your device.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 12 best places to buy patio umbrellas in 2021

Blissun 9 ft Solar Umbrella 32 LED Lighted Patio Lifestyle Image

  • The best patio umbrellas provide thorough sun coverage and can stand up to all kinds of weather. 
  • We spoke to landscape architects to find traditional and cantilever umbrellas for your budget.
  • See also: Where to buy outdoor furniture online

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

A patio umbrella is an important addition to your backyard if you eat and lounge outside regularly. 

Though it’s tempting to buy one off looks alone, remember that “as a functional piece, the most important feature in a patio umbrella is the coverage,” as Melissa Lee, the founder and creative director of design firm Bespoke Only said.   

Kevin Lenhart, a landscape architect and design director of online landscape design service Yardzen advised, “Think about the sun pattern in your yard. Even if you have a large space, you might not need a huge umbrella if you’re able to angle it to block the sun and shade the area you are enjoying.” 

In addition to umbrella canopy size, consider the fabric, which needs to stand up to rain, sun, and wind. Sunbrella, a durable performance fabric that’s resistant to fading, stains, and mildew, is a favorite among landscape designers. 

There are two main types of umbrellas: a traditional “market” umbrella, which is usually placed in the middle of a table, and a cantilever umbrella, which is freestanding and brings in the canopy from an angle. You can learn more about the pros and cons of each, as well as other things to keep in mind when shopping for a patio umbrella, here.  

Currently, all of our picks are based on research and expert input. In the future, we plan to test these patio umbrellas and evaluate their ease of assembly, effectiveness, and durability. 

Here are the best patio umbrellas in 2021

The best patio umbrella overall

best patio umbrella 2021 bridgehampton

A traditional “market” umbrella is the classic style that works best for most people. It’s affordable, easy to use, and widely available in many sizes, fabrics, and colors. Because it’s placed right in the middle of a table, it requires less backyard space and is less likely to get in the way of foot traffic. 

Bronze Aluminum Umbrella (11-ft.)  (medium)Outdoor Metal Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)Ocean Master Roman Valance Umbrella (8.5-ft.)  (medium)
The best cantilever patio umbrella

best patio umbrella 2021 cantilever umbrella sunvilla

If you have a larger backyard and don’t like how traditional umbrellas disrupt table space, you should get a cantilever umbrella. Keep in mind cantilever umbrellas tend to be heavier and more expensive, but there’s great payoff in the large amount of shade provided.

Bronze Aluminum Umbrella (11-ft.)  (medium)Offset Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)Round Cantilever Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)
The best patio umbrella on a budget

best patio umbrella 2021 budget abba patio

A budget umbrella may lack the sturdiness and longevity of the umbrellas above. Still, we found some solid options with well-designed mechanisms and strong canopies. 

Patio Umbrella (9-ft.) (medium)Market Umbrella (9-ft.) (medium, Preferred: The Home Depot)Cantilever Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)
The best patio umbrella with lights

best patio umbrella 2021 hampton bay solar led lights

Lighted patio umbrellas offer extra pizzazz and visibility when you’re sitting outside on a warm summer night. The best part is they’re solar-powered, so you don’t have to deal with tangled cords.

Solar Patio Umbrella (9-ft.)  (medium)Cantilever Solar LED Patio Umbrella (11-ft.)  (medium)
The best patio umbrella stand

best patio umbrella 2021 abba patio stand

A weighted umbrella stand or base ensures your patio umbrella won’t shake or blow away with the slightest gust of wind. “A good rule of thumb is to take the width of your umbrella and multiply it by 10,” said Lenhart. For an 8-foot-wide umbrella, for example, you’ll need a base that’s at least 80 pounds. Pre-filled stands are more expensive than empty stands, which require you to add sand or gravel. 

Umbrella Base (50-lb.) (medium)Hayward Patio Umbrella Base (88-lb.) (medium)Umbrella Stand with Rolling Base (125-lb.)  (medium)
Our methodology

We determined the best patio umbrellas through a combination of research and expert input. Using insights and brand recommendations from our experts, we chose two to three options per category, keeping a variety of sizes and prices in mind. We plan on putting these umbrellas through a variety of tests in the future. 

Patio umbrella FAQs

Traditional vs. cantilever umbrella — which should you buy? What are the pros and cons of each?

  Traditional umbrella Cantilever umbrella 
Pros
  • More affordable
  • More variety of options 
  • Covers a lot of space
  • Pivots and tilts more easily
Cons
  • Smaller canopies
  • More difficult to angle
  • Pole can get in the way
  • More expensive 
  • Requires more space

“The biggest pro of traditional umbrellas is that they get the job done at a relatively low price. They stand up to harsh and windy conditions and require little maintenance. They also tend to be less expensive,” said Lenhart. 

Danu Kennedy, design director of creative design firm Parts and Labor Design, likes cantilever umbrellas because “you don’t have to interrupt the seating connectivity to place the umbrella, but they tend to be a little more clunky whereas a traditional model is perhaps more easily worked into the aesthetic.”


What size umbrella is best for your space? 

In addition to sun pattern, consider the size of the space where you’d like to place the umbrella, as well as the surrounding foot traffic. “Do you have room for a standalone umbrella or should you look for a table that allows for an integrated umbrella? A good rule is to allow for three feet around the umbrella to circulate.” said Blythe Yost, a landscape architect and cofounder of online landscape design service Tilly


What are the best materials for the umbrella stand and canopy? 

For the stand and pole, look for durable, rust-resistant materials like aluminum, coated steel, and concrete (which is harder to find). Some designers also like teak wood because it weathers beautifully. 

As for the canopy, Olefin and Sunbrella come highly recommended by our experts. “Olefin is a durable, sustainable fabric that requires no water during production and maintains its quality for years. Sunbrella is a leader in outdoor performance fabric — it’s easy to clean and has beautiful colors and designs,” said Lenhart. 


Once you’ve figured out size and coverage, how do you find a patio umbrella that fits the rest of your patio style? 

Look at your surroundings, and ask yourself whether you want your umbrella to blend in or pop out. “If you want your umbrella to meld in the natural setting, think neutral colors like white, gray, and beige or even subtle greens and blues. If you want your umbrella to make a statement check out umbrellas in vibrant colors or patterns,” said Yost. “If you’re in a city we prefer a bold, fun pattern, to add a pop of color to the gray cityscape, but if you’re near a lake or beach, the piece shouldn’t compete with nature,” said Lee. 


How do you maintain a patio umbrella?

If your umbrella is crafted from high-quality materials, it’ll stand up to water, sun, and wind, making your job easier. Still, a few small steps can help make your umbrella last much longer. Wipe down the canopy once a month and stand with a soft cloth and a gentle cleanser like mild laundry detergent. “Finding an umbrella with fabric with the color as part of the material, and not dyed, will help retain the color in outdoor conditions,” Yost said. ‘When it comes to extending the life of your umbrella, it’s a great idea to store it when it’s not in use. Either bring it in a garage or you can find an umbrella cover for the material and the stand.” Just make sure everything is fully dry before you pack it away. 


Glossary of terms 

Traditional umbrella: Also known as a market umbrella, this is the style of umbrella you typically see at outdoor dining setups. The pole goes through the middle of the table and the canopy, which is either circular or rectangular, covers the table fully. Traditional umbrellas are usually lighter than cantilever umbrellas. 

Cantilever umbrella: The base and pole of a cantilever umbrella are offset, bringing the canopy in from an angle. Cantilever umbrellas are heavier, bigger, and more expensive than traditional umbrellas. 

Crank lift: A mechanism that helps you open your umbrella and adjust the canopy tilt by turning a crank handle. This mechanism is easier and smoother, but slower to use, than a push lift and could also break more easily. 

Push lift: A mechanism that helps you open your umbrella and adjust the canopy tilt by pushing a button. The button is typically located at the top of the pole and may be difficult for some people to reach without the help of a chair. 

Sunbrella: An outdoor performance fabric made of solution-dyed acrylic (the UV-stabilized pigment is spun directly into the yarn). It’s frequently used in outdoor furniture products because it’s resistant to fading, abrasion, mold, mildew, stains, and water. It’s strong, easy to clean, and comfortable to the touch. 

Olefin: Also known as polypropylene. A strong and thick synthetic fiber used in many household products like carpeting. It’s good for outdoor use because it’s resistant to fading, water, mold, and mildew, but it may stain more easily than Sunbrella. 

Check out our other outdoor home guides

Breeo x series 24
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The 7 best compression socks for runners, nurses, and others

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Compression socks are one of those garments that seem gimmicky, but they actually have science behind them to help improve your circulation. At its foundation, the garment works by squeezing the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help blood work its way against gravity to the heart. The compression also helps the flow of lymph fluid, which helps remove cellular waste and circulate bacteria-fighting white blood cells throughout your body.

There are a few categories of people who might benefit from this improved blood and lymph flow: athletes looking for better performance and/or recovery; folks with venous or lymphatic issues in the legs, like elderly people with deep vein thrombosis or pregnant folks trying to minimize varicose veins; and anyone with blood clot concerns. People also like to wear compression socks to improve circulation on long flights or long work shifts on their feet (like nurses), where the improved circulation may help reduce soreness.

Many studies show wearing compression socks can help improve blood flow to your lower limbs, promoting healthier vein functioning and healing. Venous issues are particularly high for pregnant women as they have a larger volume of blood pumping through their body. Some 40% of pregnant women develop varicose veins, while the risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE) is four- to five-fold higher for moms-to-be compared to non-pregnant women. Wearing compression socks or stockings during pregnancy can potentially help reduce swelling and discomfort, improve circulation, and minimize varicose veins.

When it comes to athletic performance, the jury’s still out on just how effective compression garments, including socks, can be. Some research confirms that wearing compression garments helps improve running endurance or cycling sprints, while others say it doesn’t change a thing.

However, a recently-published analysis in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine looked at 21 studies and found that a small number do show wearing compression socks during exercise improved performance. Mostly, though, the studies showed wearing the special socks during a grueling workout helped fit folks feel like their leg muscles were firing better, fatiguing less, and after the workout, less sore. Even if it’s more placebo than anything, for anyone training hard, particularly for long endurance events like a marathon, wearing compression socks during workouts and recovery may help make your training plan easier.

While researching the best compression socks, we tested dozen of styles across brands like Swiftwick, CEP, and Sockwell. Our guide features socks that provide great comfort, are relatively durable, and are fit to wear in a variety of situations.

Here are the best compression socks:

Best compression socks overall

compression socks

Whether you are a runner or just someone who wants to relieve lower leg ailments, the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 provides all-day comfort.

Pros: Incredibly comfortable, thinner, won’t sag over the course of the day

Cons: Expensive, sizing can be tricky so be sure to measure before ordering

The CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 (available in men’s and women’s sizes) stand out from the other socks on our list due in large part to the fact they offer unparalleled comfort — and should be considered by anyone, despite a steep price tag. 

The brand’s parent company, Medi, has been producing medical compression products for over 70 years. The founder of CEP, who is an Ironman, leveraged Medi’s technical knowledge and designs for athletes.

Made of polyamide/nylon (60%), elastane (25%), and polypropylene (15%), this CEP socks offer precise 20-30mmHg graduated and consistent compression so they won’t sag as the day goes on.

The Progressive+ 2.0 Socks feature a halo top band that lands right below the knee. This keeps your socks in place and the front ribbing allows air to flow through to cool your skin’s surface. Per CEP’s website, the company offers a six-month guarantee that covers wearing the socks up to 150 times before the compression lessens. 

These socks are recommended for anyone who suffers from shin splints, Achilles issues, or plantar fasciitis. They’re also great for runners looking to rehab their leg after a long run or workout. 

Best budget

compression socks

The SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are the least expensive pair in our guide, yet they stay up and provide reliable comfort.

Pros: Inexpensive, relatively durable, snug fit

Cons: Only comes in two sizes

Though the SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are about one-fifth the price of our top pick, they rival it in performance. These socks have a graduated compression rating of 15-20mmHg, which is slightly less than the CEP socks but still supplies sufficient compression for blood circulation.

The socks are made of breathable and lightweight spandex and nylon, which helps to wick away sweat and moisture from your feet. SB Sox come in 11 different colors and two sizes: S/M and L/XL.

Though they seem thinner and lighter than other picks on this list, SB Sox socks hold up well through numerous wears and washes. Plus, they provide a snug fit that doesn’t feel too constricting. More sizing options would be welcome, though.

Best for circulation

sockwell

If you experience circulation problems due to chronic health issues, the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks may be your best bet for achieving leg comfort.

Pros: Lightweight, maintain their snugness all day long

Cons: The top of the sock might warp over time, only comes in two sizes

For people with venous or lymphatic issues in their legs, compression therapy can help move blood through the veins and tissue better, which in turn promotes healing and prevents ulcers and other issues. Compression stockings are one of the easier options to put on and less cumbersome than medical bandages, says a 2014 study in CMAJ.

The Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks (available in men’s and women’s sizes) are made in the United States using bamboo rayon (31%), merino wool (31%), stretch nylon (30%), and spandex (8%). This combination helps with moisture management, thermoregulation, and odor control.

What’s more, these are one of the firmer pairs from Sockwell offering compression of 20-30mmHg. A 2019 study analysis in BMC Geriatrics found elderly folks with chronic blood flow issues (venous insufficiency) and swollen legs who wore class 2 compression stockings (pressure between 20 and 30 mmHg) regularly were less likely to have leg ulcers come back compared to wearing lower compression class 1 stockings (pressure below 20 mmHg).

These Sockwell socks have four zones of graduated compression beginning at the ankles and moving up. Since the compression starts at the ankles, the toes remain comfortable. There are four colors for men to choose from and eight in the women’s style.

Best for post-workout

compression socks 1

After running countless miles, slipping on a pair of Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks can decrease soreness and help your muscles recover.

Pros: Great for easing muscle soreness, cushioned bottom, durable, 4 sizes, 14 colors

Cons: May not be tight enough for your needs, long drying time

The Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks come in four sizes, which is helpful for ensuring you get the right fit — the appropriate sock size gives you the appropriate level of pressure. Constructed of 82% polyamide and 18% elastane, these socks feature ultra-zone ribbing which targets ankle and arch stabilization, which is ideal for runners with weaknesses in these areas.

The 200 needle count construction is designed to make the socks denser, durable, and reduce stretching over time. They’re sweat-wicking, too, but don’t tend to dry out very quicky, so are best worn in cooler weather. Zensah offers the socks in 14 colors, including Black, Heather Grey, and Neon Pink. 

Best for runners

Aspire Socks

Swiftwick’s Aspire Twelve help relieve muscle soreness and prevent or relieve shin splints — something any runner can appreciate.

Pros: Offers comfortable compression for runners, promotes blood flow, helps relieve shin splints, and wicks away moisture

Cons: Can be difficult to put on

Swiftwick’s compression socks run the gamut of everything from knee-high versions for those looking for full leg relief to no-show options for golfers. For runners, its Aspire Twelve socks are an excellent option to help relieve muscle soreness, prevent or care for shin splints, and provide stability and comfort. 

Comprised of a blend of 43% nylon, 11% spandex, and 46% olefin, the Aspire Twelves don’t just offer the benefits of compression but also help wick away moisture to keep your feet dry. They work well to keep on even after your run as you’ll continue to reap the benefits of compression as you recover. 

Best for standing all-day

compression socks

If your job requires you to be on your feet for most of the day, give your lower legs a break with Sockwell’s Circulator Graduated Compression Socks.

Pros: Good for reducing foot and ankle swelling, incredibly comfortable, inexpensive

Cons: Concerns about durability, socks may only come up to mid-calf in taller people

The Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks have a lot of the same features as our pick for best circulation, the Sockwell Elevation socks. They both have four zones of graduated compression from the ankle on up, which keeps the toes feeling comfortable, and each are made of a combination of spandex, bamboo rayon, stretch nylon, and merino wool. But the main differences are that the Circulator socks have moderate compression (15-20mmHg) and cost a bit less ($30 per pair).

The Circulator socks only come in two sizes, though there are nine colors to choose from, including Black Stripe, Charcoal, Black Solid, and Port. Regardless of the size, the socks aren’t very long, so they’re best used for people with shorter builds. 

Best for fun patterns

Vim Vigr socks

Vim & Vigr combines form and function with its fashion-forward compression socks that you’ll just love to be seen in.

Pros: Stylish, comfortable, available for both men and women

Cons: Can get expensive

First and foremost, Vim & Vigr compression socks work. After all, no amount of aesthetic creativity would be able to make up for compression socks that don’t do much by way of compressing. Luckily, that’s not the case with these.

I’m particularly fond of Vim & Vigr’s medical-grade compression level, which are designed with a Gradient Knitting Technology to help promote circulation in your calves. The socks feature a structured leg but a flexible toe and heel so that you’re supported where you need it but still able to move. These socks offer moderate to firm compression, with somewhere between 20 and 30 mmHG depending on the style.

Regardless of your selection, however, you’ll find that Vim & Vigr helps to prevent swelling in your legs, and alleviates pain and achiness. I found that these socks were just as helpful during runs as they were during HIIT workouts — especially as the weather gets colder and circulation becomes increasingly important.

What sets Vim & Vigr apart are its fun, unique designs. Not only is there a wide range of colors to choose from but the brand also offers several interesting patterns. I’m a fan of the colorblock options, as well as Rugby Stripe pattern for men.

Vim & Vigr offers wide calf versions of all their socks for both men and women, so you don’t have to be uncomfortable even when donning a tight pair of socks. If you don’t need medical-grade compression, you can always opt for the brand’s moisture-wicking nylon material, or the remarkably warm merino wool composition. You could also check out Vim & Vigr sleeves, which compress your calves without encasing your feet.

How to shop for compression socks

Compression sock ratings

The compression in the stockings is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Specifically, compression socks are rated based on blood pressure. The majority of compression socks either have a moderate pressure rating of 10 to 20 mmHg or a firm rating of 20 to 30 mmHg.

None of the socks we reviewed have a rating above 30 mm Hg, but there are specialty shops where you can find these if needed. Graduated compression socks, the most common type, are tighter near the ankle than at the calf to avoid cutting off circulation.

Fabrics used

Most compression socks are made from a blend of synthetic fabrics that provide a snug and stretchy fit. In the reviews that follow, we let you know what materials are used in the construction of the socks but unless you have an issue with a specific material, you should let performance be your main guide in choosing the best compression socks.

How best to use compression socks

There is a bit of a paradox associated with wearing compression socks. You may have purchased them to deal with leg swelling. Yet, this same swelling makes it hard for you to put them on. So, what can you do? There are countless resources on the web to help you out, plus we’ve compiled a few tips here, as well: 

  • Apply talcum powder or cornstarch to your feet before putting your socks on.
  • Wear dishwashing gloves to get a better grip.
  • Roll the socks before you put them on so you can just roll them up your legs.
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The 5 best blenders in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • When selecting a blender, you’re going to want one that’s powerful enough to do any job you need.
  • The Calphalon Auto-Speed Blender is our best pick as it has a  powerful motor, is affordable, and is easy-to-use.
  • We also recommend other blenders that have powerful motors, rival professional models, and more.

A blender seems like a simple kitchen tool, and for the most part, it is. Blenders give you a variety of settings to help you achieve the consistency you need for a particular recipe. And even if you don’t use it specifically for cooking, a blender is essential when you want to whip up, say, kale smoothies or homemade vanilla milkshakes.

Although blenders all seem to perform the same tasks, a good blender has a powerful motor, and can handle blending everything from frozen drinks and smoothies to fruits and vegetables. A blender is a great investment if you enjoy having smoothies frequently, make a lot of dips and sauces, or if you simply would like some help prepping and chopping ingredients while cooking. We tested several blenders and recommend the following options due to their power, affordability, and versatility in blending several kinds of foods.

Here are the best blenders in 2021

The best blender overall

calphalon blender

True to its name, the Calphalon Auto-Speed Blender automatically senses the correct speed for the ingredients you’re blending and can be used for smoothies, dips, and milkshakes.

Pros: 1100-watt motor that automatically senses ingredients and adjusts for best results, four preset functions, 10 adjustable speeds, easy to clean, features durable stainless steel blades, comes with a Blend-N-Go jar for added convenience

Cons: Lid that goes with smoothie cup is slightly awkward to use

The Calphalon Auto-Speed Blender has four preset functions, 10 adjustable speeds, and a 1100-watt motor that automatically senses the thickness of your ingredients. 

I put the Calphalon Auto-Speed through its paces, and it’s held up well to daily use, resulting in thick, silky smoothies. It do much more than make smoothies, however, which makes it a great multi-purpose tool to have on your kitchen counter. The pulse feature allows for food prep and chopping — and makes great salsa. There are also four preset functions for dips, milkshakes, frozen drinks, and smoothies as well as adjustable speeds for more hands-on control.

I especially like the addition of the reverse pulse button which helps pull the ingredients further down into the blade if necessary to prevent any jams, resulting in a smooth blend. The 6-point stainless steel blades are durable and easy to clean thanks to the way they’re angled.

Presets and speeds are controlled by a dial on the front that’s clearly labeled, and you can start, pause, pulse and reverse pulse at the push of a button. The easy to read digital interface shows you how long you’ve been blending, or counts down to the finish if you choose to use one of the presets.

Each part of the blender that attaches to the base is also dishwasher safe for further convenience. I’ve cleaned each of these parts in our own dishwasher multiple times with no issue.

When blending, you can either use the 2-Liter pitcher for larger quantities, or the convenient 25-ounce Blend-N-Go Jar for single-serving-sized smoothies and drinks. While I liked using the Blend-N-Go Jar, I did find the drinking lid that comes with it slightly awkward to use. It prevented any spills, but the attached cap was sometimes more of a nuisance than anything else. — Kylie Joyner

The best blender on a budget

blender

The KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender is a solid, affordable blender that can make soups and smoothies easily.

Pros: Sturdy, affordable, makes good smoothies, decent motor, five speeds

Cons: Not as powerful as others

Although you certainly can spend hundreds of dollars on a blender, you don’t have to if you only want an occasional smoothie, soup, or blended dessert. I’ve owned the KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender for several years, and it’s still going strong.

The Die Cast Metal Base is sturdy, so it doesn’t shake as it blends, which is something that a lot of cheap blenders tend to do. Although it’s not as powerful as many of the blenders in our guide, the KitchenAid has a perfectly capable motor that helps the stainless steel blades blend just about anything with little effort.

KitchenAid’s Intelli-Speed Motor Control tech ensures that ingredients are blended equally. The 56-ounce BPA-Free pitcher is easy to clean, as is the two-piece lid. Years of use haven’t harmed the sturdy plastic pitcher or the lid, which still fits snugly. — Malarie Gokey

The best high-powered blender

blender

The Ninja Professional Blender delivers plenty of power to crush ice and blend a variety of ingredients to create perfect smoothies every time.

Pros: Perfect option for creating smoothies at home, good price point, offers many different kinds of blending options, works to crush ice, blends many kinds of foods successfully

Cons: Unit’s lid can be difficult to clean, blades are sharp when you take blender apart for cleaning

If you’re looking to create great-tasting smoothies at home, you’ll want a blender with plenty of power to ensure the ingredients are well mixed and delivered at the desired texture. The Ninja Professional Blender has the features needed to pulverize ice and create the highest quality smoothies possible.

It boasts 1,100 watts of power with three speeds, a pulse setting, and a single-serve function. Ninja also includes two 16-ounce to-go cups so you can take your breakfast smoothie with you. The blender’s 72-ounce pitcher is a good size and it has a form-fitting lid and a nice big handle.

Guides Editor Les Shu has seen the Ninja in action. The multiple sharp blades that run up the core of the blender cup, while befitting of the Ninja name, look both frightening and ridiculous. When it’s running, the blender is jet-engine loud. But it did a terrific job cutting through ice and fresh pineapple for piña coladas.

Indeed, the Ninja blender does a great job with all kinds of blending needs, including crushing and pureeing for smoothies. It’s the perfect choice for people who don’t want to invest in our top pick but still need a powerful blender.

As for downsides, the Ninja blender is difficult to take apart and clean, in large part because of the sharpness of the blades. The lid also has some crevasses that are tough to clean properly. But otherwise, this is a great pick. — Kyle Schurman

The best professional-style

Screen Shot 2018 07 23 at 2.53.02 PM

The Vitamix Professional series 750 offers everything you need in a blender, and its proven longevity makes it worth the price.

Pros: Consistent, powerful motor, strong blades stay sharp, 7-year warranty

Cons: Price tag

We know this is a lot to spend on a blender, or anything, really. But if you want the most consistent consistency, and you use your blender on a daily basis, it’s easily justified. When you go to a smoothie shop, you’re probably paying well over $5 per drink, and if you do so even two or three times a week, that adds up (I’m a writer, so I’ll let you do your own math).

The Vitamix 750 is a professional-grade, 1440-watt blender built to last the better part of a decade, and Vitamix’s 7-year warranty is enough to attest to that. Sure, you may have some 20-year-old anvil of a thing living on your counter that still works, more or less, but I’ll bet your smoothies turn out to be laden with large, blade-neglected chunks of your chosen fruits. I’ll also bet it’s not the prettiest thing in your kitchen, either.

The Vitamix 750 has 10 speeds as well as four automatic settings for smoothies, hot soups, frozen desserts, and purées. These settings allow you to walk away from the blender while the automatic drive on the blender assesses the power and speed needed to acquire the proper consistency of your desired dish.

For those who use their blender only every so often but still demand perfection, the Vitamix 5200 is of comparable quality, just with a less technical interface and no automatic drive for setting your blender to smoothie mode and walking away. — Owen Burke

The best vacuum blender

breville the super q z

The Breville Super Q Blender isn’t inherently a vacuum blender, but together with Breville’s Vac Q attachment, it becomes one of the best.

Pros: Extremely powerful, versatile, automatic shut off/hands-free

Cons: Expensive, not as easy to manually operate as a Vitamix if you’re getting technical

Breville’s Super Q Blender is a great blender on its own, but when you add the VacQ attachment to it, it becomes a vacuum blender and removes all air from your concoctions.

An 1800-watt motor that drives steel blade tips at 186 miles per hour; it’s a remarkable feat of technology for blending (and nearly juicing) just about anything you can get your hands on. The Super Q also has five programmed presets for easy use.

Insider Reviews editorial director Ellen Hoffman and I set up shop at Insider Reviews Headquarters (otherwise known as our office kitchen) where we stuffed the Breville Super Q with every fruit and vegetable we could get our hands on. We ended up with a host of perfectly consistent, sometimes strange-tasting concoctions (through no fault of Breville).

Two things impressed me about this blender in comparison with the Vitamix. First, the Super Q is unbelievably quiet. We were able to carry on with a conversation at normal volume while the motor was whirring away somewhere between a whisper and a barely vocal growl. This is, far and away, the quietest, albeit most powerful blender I’ve ever put to use. 

What really makes the Super Q a solid buy, however, is the Vac Q, which, unfortunately, comes separately. That’s my only gripe with this machine so far. A small-handled vacuum about the size of a coffee mug that you place over the top of the pitcher or smoothie cup, the Vac Q pulls as much air out of the container as would seem possible. This process creates such a tight seal on the lid that it’s almost impossible to open without using the depressurizing cap, which reduces oxidation and bubbles.

In short: It makes your juice taste better and last longer. The more foam and froth in juice, or anything you’re blending, the more nutrients you lose. Sure, there are many reasons we drink juice, but most of us are taking nutrition into account, too. — Owen Burke

Breville Vac Q Attachment

Breville Super Q Blender

The best personal blender

breville boss to go sport

For the smoothest smoothies, shakes, and juices, the powerful Breville Boss To Go Sport is your go-to personal blender.

Pros: Powerful, blends ice and harder foods, two travel cups and lids

Cons: Only one speed

The Breville Boss To Go Sport is a perfectly sized blender for on-the-go smoothies in the morning or smaller blending jobs. But don’t let its compact form-factor fool you: This is a powerful 1000-watt blender that can pulverize ice and hard fruits.

Besides the powerful motor, the Boss To Go Sport uses what Breville calls a Kinetix blade. The unique curved design of the four blades helps to create smoother foods — great for silky smoothies and shakes, not so much if you like chunky guacamole. And it does things fast, which is great if you’re short on time in the morning.

The blender comes with two travel cups and lids, one 23-ounce and one 15-ounce. There’s only one speed, however. But like all Breville products, the Boss to Go Sport looks industrial-sleek. 

The Boss To Go Sport is pricey, but like many Breville products, we believe it’s a good investment and it’s backed by great customer service. You can purchase personal blenders at half the price (or more) of the Boss to Go Sport, like those from NutriBullet. However, in our experience, NutriBullets are notorious for leaking and their motors tend to blow out too easily. — Les Shu

What to look for in a blender

Here’s what we look for in a great blender:

  • Power: The motor is the most important part of any blender, and the higher the wattage, the better the performance. Always get a blender with a motor that’s more than 500 watts. If you want to make frozen drinks, you may need one with 1,000 watts of power.
  • Blades: Some blenders have blades made for solid objects like ice, while others are better equipped for blending softer foods. Stainless steel blades are best.
  • Size and materials: We look for durable, wide blender jars with tight-fitting lids. 

Types of blenders

There are a few different types of blenders, each with its own unique features: conventional, multi-function, personal, and immersion. 

  • Conventional: A conventional blender is the most common type for use in your home kitchen; it can perform a variety of functions from making soup to blending smoothies.
  • Multi-function: Multi-function, professional-style blenders have powerful motors and are often used in restaurants. F
  • Personal: These small appliances make single servings and may run from a battery for portability.
  • Immersion: These stick-like handheld blenders can be placed directly into a pot or other container to puree soups, sauces, and smoothies. We left immersion blenders (also called hand blenders) off of this list because they have their own comprehensive buying guide, which you can check out here.

Check out our other small appliance buying guides

Breville 98xl juicer

 

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The 5 best air purifiers in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • An air purifier can help clean your indoor air of pollutants, dust, and smoke.
  • We tested and researched more than 10 air purifiers to determine the best for your needs and budget.
  • The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ can clean a 650-square-foot room in 15 minutes and indicates when to replace filters.

An air purifier can help improve the quality of your indoor air, which can be more polluted than outside air. Things like candles, cooking grease, and cleaning products can contribute to irritants, and if you’re not opening your windows 24/7, they can pollute your indoor air.

Our guide recommends air purifiers that are easy to maintain, remove a broad array of irritants, and performed well in our tests. When we examined each model, we considered its Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), noise level, long-term costs, maintenance, and filtration systems. We also noted how easy they are to use, as well as other useful features.

We explain our testing methodology here, along with other models we looked at that didn’t make the cut and air-purifying techniques.

Here are the best air purifiers of 2021

The best air purifier overall

Best air purifier 2021 blueair air purifier

The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier filters the air in medium-to-large rooms up to five times per hour, and it’s so quiet that you won’t notice it’s operating.

Pros: Does an excellent job of removing dust, pollen, and smoke; indicator lets you know when to clean/replace filter; attractive appearance; easy to use

Cons: Filter replacement is expensive

The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier is designed to remove bacteria, mold, pet dander, dust, pollen, viruses, and other airborne pollutants. And, with a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) of 350 cubic feet per minute, it can clean the air in a 650-square foot room approximately four times in an hour. Plus, it’s small and lightweight enough for you to effortlessly move it from one room to the next.

The Blue Pure 211+ has three-stage filtration: a fabric pre-filter, particle filter, and carbon filter. And, the unit tells you when it’s time to clean or replace the filter. Replacing the filter can be quite pricey though it should be done every six months to ensure you continue to breathe properly filtered air. The Blue Pure 211+ is Energy Star-certified and has relatively low energy costs (using 30 to 60 watts).

Another nice feature is that it runs quietly, ranging from 31 decibels on its lowest setting and 56 on its highest — quiet enough to use in a bedroom.

Last year, the Blueair 211+ was sold out at many online retailers or were selling at marked-up prices due to the California wildfires and the pandemic. The purifiers are more available now, and we never suggest buying items that are marked up if you can help it.

The best budget air purifier

Best air purifier 2021 Honeywell

If you’re looking for an air purifier that offers an impressive balance of price and performance, the Honeywell HPA300 True HEPA Air Purifier is your best bet.

Pros: Affordable; intuitive controls; easy to transport; does a very good job of removing smoke, dust, and pollen

Cons: Complaints of odors; might be too loud on high speed for some; expensive replacement filters

Honeywell is a trusted brand when it comes to air purifiers, and the HPA300 True HEPA Air Purifier is the company’s most acclaimed model. In a crowded field of expensive models, this Honeywell unit does the best job of balancing performance with price.

It has an activated carbon pre-filter, which needs to be replaced every three months, and three HEPA filters, which need to be replaced every year. A year’s supply of replacement filters will cost around $70, so the operating cost is quite high. An indicator light lets you know when it’s time to change the filter.

The biggest drawbacks are the high costs for filter replacement and operation.

This was also previously available on Walmart via third-party sellers, which we don’t recommend as shipping dates and prices are unreliable, and return policies are dubious at best. Thankfully, the item is available via Honeywell directly now.

The best wall-mounted air purifier for large rooms

Best air purifier 2021 RabbitAir

The RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier can be mounted to a wall for an attractive and unobtrusive appearance.

Pros: Low filter and operating costs; silent operation; wall-mounted; outstanding at removing particulate matter; attractive appearance; five-year warranty

Cons: Expensive upfront cost

When installing an air purifier, you not only have to account for the space the unit takes up, but you also have to provide clearance around it to allow for airflow. When real estate is at a premium and appearances are important, the wall-mounted RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier addresses this.

The MinusA2 has a six-stage filter: pre-filter, medium filter, patented BioGS HEPA filter, charcoal-based activated carbon filter, optional negative ion generator, and a customized filter. The custom filter is unique in that you can choose to target toxins, odors, pet dander, or germs depending on your needs. The filter replacement kit is expensive, but you only need to budget for it every two years or so.

This is one of the larger air purifiers we’ve come across and can clean rooms up to 815 square feet. It’s also a good option if your space is open concept — since there are fewer walls and doors, you can clean multiple rooms at once. 

This was previously only available on Amazon via a third-party seller, which we don’t recommend, but it’s now available on Amazon via the RabbitAir store directly. 

The best smart air purifier

Best air purifier 2021 Coway Airmega

The Coway Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier barely makes any sound and adjusts the fan speed based on the air’s pollution level.

Pros: Quiet; attractive design; energy-efficient; cleans the air in a 760-square-foot room in 15 minutes

Cons: Expensive filter contributes to the overall price 

The Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier is Coway’s top-of-the-line model. It features two sets of filters on each side of the unit: the easy-to-clean pre-filter and the Max2 filter, which is a combined True HEPA filter and activated charcoal. When it’s time to change the filters, the indicator light turns on. The Airmega 400 can monitor the air quality and adjust the fan speed to quickly filter the air.

I tested this air purifier on the main floor of my home in a centrally-located spot. Although it’s designed for rooms up to 760 square feet, it still did a great job in my open, 1,400-square-foot area, filtering the air in about 15 minutes.

On Smart mode, the fan speed ramps up when I get overzealous with my meat searing in the kitchen. After a year of use, I’m just now nearing the end of the original filter’s lifespan. Replacing the filters is incredibly pricey, however. 

While some recommend the Wi-Fi-enabled version, the Airmega 400S, the only real difference between the 400S and 400 is the app-connectivity and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Other than that, performance is essentially the same.

This was previously out of stock at many online retailers but it’s more readily available now.

Read our full review of the Coway Airmega 400

The best ionizing air purifier

Best air purifier 2021 Coway Mighty

In addition to three filters, the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier includes ionization, and the fan speed adjusts based on the air quality.

Pros: Automatically adjusts fan speed based on pollutants in the air; timer; four-stage filtration; eco mode

Cons: High power consumption, gets loud on high

Coway is one of the top names in air purifiers and the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier is its most popular model. It has an array of high-end features, including an air quality indicator, an auto mode that adjusts the fan speed to the air quality, and a shut-off timer.

The Mighty has a CADR of 246 cubic feet per minute for dust, 240 for pollen, and 233 for smoke, which makes it a good option for rooms of up to 460 square feet. The air goes through four filter stages: pre-filter, odor filter, true HEPA filter, and an ionizer. An ionizer electrically charges air molecules for purification; it can lower bacterial infections by removing particles in the air. But note that the effectiveness has been questioned and may emit ozone. Fortunately, any ozone exposure is minimal, and you can turn the ionizing feature off if you’re concerned.

The Coway Mighty is one of three air purifiers I’m currently running in my home. My son has it in his bedroom so we can minimize our home’s “teen odor index.” We’ve had it for a year, and it does an outstanding job. And, I like how easy it is to clean the pre-filter: When the indicator light tells me it’s time for cleaning, I just run a cordless handheld vacuum over it. So far, I haven’t had to replace the filter, but it’s pretty affordable and it lasts for a year.

If you’re looking for a similar model, Coway has a newer version called the Airmega 200M. Based on our testing, the 200M is more powerful but is otherwise similar in performance to the Mighty. Depending on the color, you can sometimes find the newer Airmega 200M to be significantly cheaper than the Mighty. If you come across this, we suggest going with the cheaper of the two because the performance is so similar. We think you’ll be satisfied with either.

The Mighty didn’t experience discernable shipping delays or inventory issues previously and is readily available on Amazon.

What else we recommend

While researching this guide, we looked at numerous models and brands of air purifiers. Many of them just missed the cut, but are otherwise strong products in their own right. Here are five that almost made it:

Our testing methodology

Best air purifier 2021

When I test an air purifier, there are several things I look for such as the rate at which it cleans, noise level, and more. 

In addition to hands-on testing, I turn to other established reviewers, such as Wirecutter and Consumer Reports, for their assessments. Based on my and other experts’ research and testing, and looking through the manufacturers’ specs, I’m able to compare the key performance indicators of the top models.

Here are the main attributes when testing air purifiers:

CADR: Clean Air Delivery Rate is a rating developed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers that is used to determine how many cubic feet of air an appliance can clean in a minute. If you multiply the CADR by 1.875, you can determine what room size the air purifier can clean four times in one hour, which is the recommended minimum number of air changes per hour (ACH). This calculation assumes an average ceiling height of 8 feet. Don’t worry if this sounds confusing: We put it in easy-to-understand terms in our guide.

Noise level: A good air purifier will operate in the background without most people noticing it. Loud air purifiers are a deal-breaker. I use a sound meter positioned four feet from the air purifier and measure the decibels when the fan is at its lowest speed and highest speed. The average unit should register less than 40 decibels (like light rain) most of the time and about 60 decibels (normal conversation) on high.

Long-term costs: Air purifier filters don’t last forever. They need to be replaced every 3 to 24 months, depending on the type of filter. When buying an air purifier, you need to factor in filter costs and operating expenses. Look for Energy Star-certified units if you want to save money on electricity.

Maintenance: If your filters are dirty, then they won’t perform well. You need to clean your filters regularly. I prefer an air purifier that tells me when it’s time for a cleaning. A cordless hand vacuum is all you need to clean most filters. You can clean some with water, but read the user’s manual to make sure it’s okay before doing this, and be sure to thoroughly dry the filter before using it again.

Filtration: You want a true HEPA or HEPA-type filter that can remove at least 99.97% of 0.3-micron airborne particles. The purifiers in our guide all meet this requirement. Additionally, some models have ionizers. Ionizers are controversial, but they reportedly produce negative ions that cling to air pollutants, which makes them easier to filter or vacuum up.  

What we’re looking forward to testing

We’ll continue to test our top picks to see how they hold up long-term. In the meantime, here are other air purifiers we’re looking to test for future updates to this guide:

FrescheAir ($99.99): This is a portable air purifier and deodorizer, so it’d be interesting to see how the smaller size might affect the performance.

Rx Air 400 ($899.99): This is one of the most expensive air purifiers we’ve seen so it’d be great to see how the quality stacks up to others we’ve tested. It’s also labeled as a Class II Medical Device, which other air purifiers are not.

Dyson Pure Cool TP04 Purifying Fan ($549.99): My colleagues have tested older generations of this air purifier but I have yet to test it personally. 

IQAir Atem Desk Personal HEPA Air Purifier ($399): While most air purifiers are meant for a whole room, this is meant for personal use at a desk or table. 

PURO²XYGEN P500 Air Purifier ($189.97): This is among the least expensive air purifiers we’ve seen so it’ll be a good contender for our best budget pick. Like the RabbitAir, this has a six-stage filtration system, and it’s effective in smaller spaces up to 500 square feet. It’ll be interesting to see how its low price 

FAQs

Why do I need an air purifier?

Air purifiers can help clean indoor air of incense, cooking grease and smoke, and more — basically, it does what its name implies. For those with allergies, it can also help clear the air of pollen, pet dander, and more. 

According to the EPA, air purifiers outfitted with a HEPA filter are an effective way to remove particles from smoke and ash and can be particularly helpful in improving symptoms for individuals with asthma or COPD that are triggered by wildfire smoke.

What does HEPA mean?

HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air.” As defined by the EPA, HEPA filters are able to capture at least 99.97% of all airborne particles, including dust, mold, bacteria, and pollen, that are 0.3 microns in diameter.

Are all your picks true HEPA filters?

No. That said, we generally give true HEPA filter models preference in our picks. However, there are some “HEPA type” models that perform just as well or better than true HEPA filter models and have features that make them a better pick. We make a point of specifically saying if a model has a true HEPA filter. 

Can an air purifier prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus?

If you’re considering an air purifier to help protect against the novel coronavirus, according to the EPA, a portable air cleaner by itself is not enough. However, when used along with other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention such as hand washing and social distancing, operating an air cleaner can be part of a plan to protect you and your household. 

Can HEPA or H13 purifiers capture viruses, including the coronavirus?

HEPA air purifiers help with the coronavirus but won’t completely eliminate it, says Dr. Ravi Pandey, an internal medicine specialist in South Florida. He adds that the virus is smaller than what air purifiers generally capture. Most viruses, including the coronavirus, are 0.06 to 0.12 microns. HEPA filters are designed to filter out at least 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns in size.

However, while an air purifier alone isn’t enough, it can be another tool for protection when used in conjunction with social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing.

Where do you put an air purifier? 

You’ll likely want an air purifier in your bedroom, living room, or kitchen — these are common areas that get a lot of traffic, and in the case of your kitchen, might help remove smoke from cooking.

How do you use an air purifier?

Most air purifiers just need to be plugged in to start working — there’s usually no installation or setup involved (unless you’re trying to connect to an app). 

Place an air purifier about a foot away from the wall and plug it into a nearby outlet. If your model has an indicator light, it might say that the air is very polluted so make necessary adjustments such as opening a window or vent.  

Once the air has cleared as indicated by the air purifier, keep it running to ensure continuous cleaning. Some of the models in our guide have timers so you can set it and go about your day. 

How often do you change the filter?

This depends on the manufacturer’s guidelines — some suggest every three months while others say every two years.

Can plants help clean indoor air?

Think again before filling your house with plants. A 2019 article in The Atlantic cites research showing that indoor vegetation will not remove significant pollutants from the air.

How can you keep your air clean if you don’t have an air purifier?

Intense wildfires that raged in California and Oregon in 2020 burned more than 3 million acres, displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and blanketed cities hundreds of miles away from the epicenters in ash and eerie orange skies. Between wildfires and the novel coronavirus, air quality is at the forefront of many minds. 

With so many people struggling with poor indoor air quality, we spoke with Dr. Junfeng Zhang, Ph.D., Professor of Global and Environmental Health at Duke University, for advice on what you can do if you don’t have an air purifier.

Dr. Zhang is particularly concerned about how individuals with asthma, COPD, heart disease, and other pre-existing diseases will cope with the poor air quality on the west coast, which is currently the worst in the world. “In the absence of a HEPA-based air purifier,” Dr. Zhang said, “I’d suggest that people, especially those who are more susceptible/vulnerable, wear N95 face masks, even when staying indoors.”

Unfortunately, true N95 masks are still hard to come by and should be reserved for medical workers but there are some more widely-available alternatives, such as KN95 masks, which can provide a decent level of filtration. The CDC has released respirator assessment results for some of these. There is a lot of misinformation and counterfeit products floating around, so be extra cautious in ensuring that you’re buying from a trusted seller. 

If you are one of the lucky ones with an air purifier, remember to clean your filter thoroughly and often so it can do its job. But for an effective multi-pronged attack on pollutants, you’ll want to test and improve your air. Here’s how to test and improve indoor quality and a few steps you can take to clean your air more effectively:

  • Clean regularly: Irritants can collect on surfaces and cause sneezing fits when disturbed. When you clean regularly — including dusting and vacuuming — you remove allergens and more. Check out our guides for the best vacuum cleaners, best robot vacuums, best budget vacuums, and best cordless vacuums.
  • Ventilate: This could include installing ventilation fans in your bathroom or kitchen, or running (well-cleaned) ceiling fans. Freestanding fans can also help clean air circulating, here are the best ones. Be sure not to open windows or doors to prevent polluted air from coming inside.
  • Store chemicals outside of your house: Abrasive cleaners and other harsh chemicals are often a source of irritation. Store them in your shed or garage and not where you will be exposed to them regularly.

Check out out other in-depth guides

best robot vacuums
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The 5 best blood pressure monitors of 2021 with easy-to-use digital displays and accurate at-home readings

  • If you have high blood pressure, a home blood pressure monitor can track trends in your hypertension. 
  • Studies show taking a daily blood pressure reading helps you to control your hypertension over time.
  • Our top pick, Omron Platinum Blood Pressure Monitor, can save 100 accurate readings for two people to be shared with your doc. 
  • This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Velimir Petkov, DPM, a podiatrist and board-certified wound specialist physician, practicing at Premier Podiatry.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

High blood pressure is very common, but it is also very serious – it’s known as the “silent killer” because it can be dangerous, even deadly if left untreated. If you go to the doctor and they reveal you have high blood pressure (hypertension), taking regular readings on your own at home gives you a better picture of whether your health is improving or getting worse – and, especially, if you’re nearing dangerous levels that may cause a heart attack. 

What’s more with fewer in-person doctor visits these days and more autonomy over owning your health, an at-home blood pressure monitor is a smart device to invest in if you have high blood pressure. By recording your blood pressure levels several times a day for several months, you can provide our doctors with a larger set of data for examining chronic health issues or determining our current level of physical fitness. In fact, studies show being aware of your blood pressure on a daily basis can help you learn to control it and even lower it over time. 

At-home blood pressure monitor devices are affordable, easy to use, and incredibly helpful for people with hypertension.

At the end of this guide, we’ve included insight into whether wrist- or arm-based blood pressure monitors are better, as well as the overall accuracy of at-home monitors. Here, the five most accurate, affordable, and generally helpful blood pressure monitors available for home use.

Here are the best blood pressure monitors:

Best blood pressure monitor overall

Omron Platinum Blood Pressure

The Omron Platinum has an easy-to-read digital screen, support for multiple users, and the ability to track how your blood pressure changes over time.

Pros: Fast and easy to use, wireless cuff, rechargeable battery, multi-user support, saved historical data, irregular heartbeat alerts

Cons: Smartphone app not user friendly

Thanks to its ease-of-use and numerous features, the Omron Platinum tops our list as the best at-home blood pressure monitor on the market. The device has a cuff that is designed to fit most people and it can wirelessly share its readings with the base unit. It doesn’t have any cables or pumps that can get tangled or in the way while measuring your blood pressure. You can easily strap the monitor onto a person while they are in a chair or even in bed for quick and easy checks. 

The Omron Platinum has the ability to support two users and keep track of the results for each person individually, which is great for a household focused on getting healthier. The device can save 100 blood pressure readings per user in its memory and that information can easily be shared with doctors.

Thanks to the Platinum’s built-in Bluetooth, the base unit can be paired with a smartphone as well. You can add even more users and results and save them in Omron’s free app for iOS and Android. The app isn’t as user-friendly as it could be, but it is usable once you get the hang of it.

One of the more unique features of this particular monitor is its ability to compare current blood pressure results with those stored in the memory and issue an alert if something is amiss. The device can tell if the systolic or diastolic measurements are abnormal, which is especially helpful in the morning when there is a higher risk for heart attack or stroke. By raising the users’ awareness of their condition, it gives them time to see medical assistance for what could be a potentially life-threatening problem. 

Well-built and easy-to-use, the Omron Platinum‘s dual backlit screens are bright and easy to read from any angle. This dual-screen approach allows the device to display the user’s current blood pressure readings on one side, and show historical data on the second screen. This can be extremely helpful for giving patients a better understanding of how their blood pressure varies from day to day and how stress, anxiety, and other factors can influence it. 

Best digital arm monitor

Beurer Bluetooth Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor

The Beurer BM47 is easy to use thanks to its digital screen, adjustable cuff, and ability to track four patients’ blood pressure over time.

Pros: Accurate, simple, multi-user support for up to four people, large LED screen

Cons: Only saves historical data for seven days

Inexpensive, easy to use, and feature-packed, the Beurer BM47 upper arm blood pressure monitor will suit the needs of most people. The compact device includes a soft, adjustable cuff designed to fit small and large arms. The monitor supports up to four users.

One of the BM47‘s best features is its simplicity. Once the cuff is securely in place, all you need to do is tap a single button to activate the device. Within a matter of seconds, the cuff will constrict and measure systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The readings are then displayed on the large LED screen along with the patient’s heart rate. A series of colored lights along the edge of the unit serves as an indicator of a patient’s current danger level, making it easy to tell at a glance if their blood pressure is too high. 

The BM47 is lauded for its accuracy and it has the ability to save up to 30 blood pressure measurements for four unique users in its onboard memory. When checking an individual’s current blood pressure, the device can then compare the results to the readings that have been taken over the previous seven days. This can be useful for tracking short-term variances, but if you want to compare data for a period longer than a week, you’ll need to save the data manually. 

Because the BM47 tracks a user’s pulse, it also has the ability to identify unusual heart rhythms. This is yet another safety feature that could give users a warning if the device detects arrhythmia.

Best bare-bones monitor

Paramed Professional Blood Pressure

The Paramed Professional Manual Blood Pressure Cuff is a traditional monitor that uses a cuff and a small air pump to measure blood pressure on an analog gauge.

Pros: Traditional analog design may appeal to some, easy to use, affordable price, accurate readings, comes with a case

Cons: Analog dial not as easy to read as a digital screen, no alerts or digital monitoring system

Some would describe the Paramed Professional Manual Blood Pressure Cuff as an old-school method for monitoring your blood pressure, but we prefer to think of it as a tried-and-true approach instead. This monitor resembles the ones that were used by doctors for decades before high-tech, digital devices came along. The traditional method continues to work well, particularly for those who just want as simple a monitor as possible. 

Technically defined as a sphygmomanometer, this monitor features a traditional cuff that wraps around the upper arm. The user then squeezes a small air pump that causes the cuff to inflate and constrict. As the pressure is released through an air valve it will equalize at approximately the same level of the current systolic pressure in the body. It then provides the blood pressure reading, which is indicated by a needle pointing to a number on an analog gauge rather than a digital screen. 

This model is a no-frills, simple, and very accurate way to monitor your blood pressure. That said, all of its components are very durable and made of high-quality materials which makes it feel like a premium product, even though it has an affordable price tag. The sphygmomanometer even comes with a handy case for storage and transport, making it easy to take with you when traveling. 

Obviously, this low-tech monitor lacks a lot of features that you’ll find in other models. It doesn’t keep track of your blood pressure results for instance, nor is it capable of providing any kind of alerts if a patient’s blood pressure is too low or too high. Instead, it is a simple, proven method for keeping track of this important indicator of your health, and for many people, that’s all it needs to be. 

Best wrist monitor

Paramed Blood Pressure Automatic

If you’re looking for a wrist blood pressure monitor, the Paramed Automatic is a good choice because it is easy to operate and more accurate than most wrist-based monitors.

Pros: Small, lightweight, easy to carry, accurate for a wrist monitor, large LCD screen, can store up to 90 results

Cons: Screen can be hard to read in some lighting conditions, only single-user support

Compact and lightweight, the Paramed Automatic Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor is a good alternative to the more traditional upper arm cuff models. This FDA-approved device wraps around the user’s wrist and is activated with the touch of a single button. You can see results for the systolic and diastolic numbers and the patient’s current heart rate within 30 seconds.

The main appeal of this monitor is how small and simple it is: Its onboard memory can store the results of 90 blood pressure readings, which can help you better understand trends in your levels. It can only hold one person’s profile, but it’s compact enough to be carried with you anywhere, making it a great choice for folks always on the go who have trouble with bulkier arm models.

With its surprisingly large display, this wrist-worn blood pressure monitor presents information in a clear, easy-to-understand fashion. The monochrome screen works well in most circumstances but can get a little washed out in direct sunlight. It can be hard to read while outdoors, but it functions just fine under most other circumstances.

As already mentioned, wrist blood pressure monitors can be a bit more finicky and lack the level of accuracy found in the bulkier upper-arm models. That said, this particular unit is quite accurate and dependable, making it easy to recommend. 

Best budget monitor

Hyology Blood Pressure Machine

Hyology’s digital arm monitor is an affordable option that is still accurate and feature-packed.

Pros: Inexpensive, easy to use, supports two users, stores 90 readings per user, can be powered by batteries or wall outlet

Cons: Slower than some other models

There are a number of inexpensive blood pressure monitors to choose from, many of which will perform adequately when it comes to monitoring your health. But few models offer the same level of value that you’ll find in the Hyology Arm Blood Pressure Monitor, a device that packs in a lot of features for an easy-to-swallow price.

It has a large, bright LCD screen that displays both systolic or diastolic readings, along with heart rate. It offers a simple one-button operation, supports two users, and can store 90 readings for each individual. It can even detect an irregular heartbeat and alert the user if something seems amiss. 

Unlike the other models we recommend, this device can operate with either standard AAA batteries or charge up with a USB-C cable and power adapter. 

This model isn’t the fastest blood pressure monitor around, and it takes about one minute for it to collect data for its readings, but it’s a good deal at this price. Hyology created an affordable monitor that gives anyone the ability to add an accurate and handy blood pressure monitor to their home. 

Wrist vs. arm blood pressure monitors

When shopping for a blood pressure monitor of your own, you’re likely to come across two distinct types: those that wrap around the upper arm and those that go around the wrist. Generally speaking, the monitors that take their readings from the upper arm tend to be more accurate and consistent. That’s not to say that wrist monitors can’t be reliable too; they are just a bit more finicky to use. 

Arm monitors fall into two distinct categories: aneroid or digital. An aneroid model features a more traditional design with a cuff that wraps around the upper arm and is inflated by squeezing on a bulb. The blood pressure is then read from a mechanical gauge. These types of monitors are slower and can be less accurate, but they are also more affordable. 

Alternatively, a digital monitor inflates the cuff either with a bulb or automatically from the device depending on the individual model. The results are displayed on an easy-to-read screen. Digital monitors are simple and straightforward to use. That simplicity comes at a price, though, as digital models are usually more expensive than their aneroid counterparts. 

Are at-home blood pressure monitors accurate?

Good-quality at-home blood pressure monitors are accurate, but it’s important to do the research to find the best option for your needs. No matter which type of blood pressure device you choose, it is a good idea to check its accuracy before relying on it too closely. 

You can check its accuracy by bringing the monitor along with you on a visit to your doctor’s office and comparing the numbers between your monitor and the one that is used by the healthcare professionals. Slight variances in accuracy are normal, but if the numbers vary dramatically, you should return the one you purchased for a different model. 

When deciding which specific blood pressure monitor is right for you, you’ll want to be sure that the cuff fits properly before purchasing. Most devices have a fairly universal fit, but some arm cuffs can be too large or too small. If the cuff is too loose or too tight, the blood pressure readings may not be accurate, invalidating any tests. It helps to try a few of the monitors out ahead of time to ensure that they’ll work for you and to get a sense of the other features they offer as well. 

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The best mattresses for side sleepers in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The perfect mattress for side sleepers includes features that are unique to this sleeping position. 
  • We’ve done some research and testing to bring you the best mattresses for side sleepers.
  • The fully customizable Helix mattress is our top pick because you can design it to suit your specific needs.

Side sleepers, it’s a tough life we’ve chosen. Or rather, a tough life that’s chosen us. Finding a mattress that allows us to attain that ever-elusive good night’s sleep may be difficult, but it’s certainly necessary. After all, if back sleepers and even stomach sleepers can find a way to catch some z’s, why can’t we?

Perhaps the biggest challenge that I’ve faced in my side sleeping days is finding a mattress that is firm enough to support my contours, but soft enough to avoid feeling pressure – particularly in my hips and shoulders. And while that mattress may seem like a unicorn, I’m here to bear some good news: There are, in fact, quite a few great mattresses for side sleepers that don’t cost a fortune. We’ve put together this buying guide with the best ones you can buy based on research and testing.

Regardless of which one you choose from our favorites, we’re confident that you’ll get a good night’s sleep. And if you find that these mattresses don’t work for you, rest assured that they come with a sleep trial so you can take these beds for a test run before making a long-term commitment.

Here are the best mattresses for side sleepers:

The best mattress for side sleepers overall

best mattress for side sleepers 2

The Leesa mattress is one of the best-designed mattresses that work for everyone, and it’s great for side sleepers.

Pros: Great design, competitive price, innovative use of Avena foam, great social mission

Cons: If you’re on the heavier side, this may not be the most supportive mattress

The Leesa mattress has long been one of my favorites, and we at Insider Reviews love it so much, we’ve named in our best mattress overall in our overarching guide to the best mattresses. Not only does it provide great pressure relief, but it’s also one of the best looking mattresses on the market. I know, I know — once you put your sheets on and actually get into bed, you’re not actually seeing the mattress itself.

 

One of the best things about the Leesa from a sleeping perspective lies in its consistency. I’ve never had a problem sleeping on the Leesa on my side, but I’ve also found that during nights when I end up on my front or on my back, I’m still extremely cozy. So if you toss and turn, or are generally sharing a bed with someone who doesn’t prefer the same sleeping position as you do, the Leesa tends to be a good compromise.

When it comes to firmness, Leesa qualifies as a medium, or for some folks, a medium-soft. The amount of give the mattress offers is ideal for folks who often suffer from pressure points, and while most foam mattresses aren’t particularly bouncy, the Leesa actually does have a bit of a spring to with it. That means that you can easily move around the bed without feeling as though you’ve sunk in.

The Leesa also avoids sleeping too hot thanks to its top layer of two-inch Avena foam. This material promotes airflow and cooling, while the pinholes and egg-crate-esque surface underneath this layer also ensure that you won’t wake up sweating.

And if getting a good night’s sleep is contingent upon knowing that you’ve done some good for the world, Leesa can certainly help out there. For every 10 mattresses sold, the company donates one to an organization helping to combat youth homelessness. The company also prides itself on other social impact initiatives, including planting trees for each product sold, and volunteer work in its local community.

The best side-sleeper mattress for athletes

best mattress for side sleepers 4

The memory foam of the Bear mattress, combined with Celliant technology, makes this a great bed for active folks looking for some rest and recovery.

Pros: Celliant technology, memory foam support and softness, accessible price point, 10-year limited warranty

Cons: While some side sleepers love memory foam, it’s not for everyone. Some reviewers also noted that the bed could be a bit too firm.  

If your muscles are already tired and sore from hours of sports practice and training, the last thing you need is a mattress that leaves you even tighter than before. Bear is here to ensure that doesn’t happen. The mattress is made of a high-density memory foam, which is quick to respond. Because it’s relatively soft, it certainly helps to relieve pressure points.

The real differentiating factor of this mattress, however, lies in its use of Celliant technology, a relatively new innovation that is rarely found in mattresses. All of Bear’s mattresses are woven with Celliant’s FDA Determined Infrared Yarn Technology, which claims to “harness your body’s natural energy to aid recovery time and overall well-being.”

As per Celliant’s own website, the material applies a blend of minerals and “proprietary ingredients” in order to enhance tissue oxygen levels, improve athletic performance, and perhaps most importantly, improve sleep quality.

While this sounds a bit like magic, don’t be so quick to write these claims off. I found that my rest on a Bear mattress seemed to yield better results than sleeping on other products — at the very least, it was easier to go to kickboxing in the morning.

Celliant technology also doesn’t seem to result in any overheating (despite its leveraging of infrared energy). In fact, because the mattress utilizes graphite gel-infused memory foam, I found that my body temperature was quite well-regulated, and I didn’t have to kick off all the covers in the middle of the night.

The best side-sleeper contouring mattress

nectar mattress 1

The gel memory foam of the Nectar makes it a versatile mattress that conforms to the contours of your body to relieve pressure.

Pros: Provides great pressure relief (particularly to the hips and shoulders), bed bug resistant, great value   

Cons: Some customers have noted that the mattress sleeps too hot

Some of the best things in life have layers, and the Nectar mattress is among them. Nectar’s mattresses boast an impressive five layers, topped with a Tencel Cooling cover, the same material that is often used in workout apparel and heralded for its sweat-wicking capabilities.

But heat dissipation aside, the Nectar is a fantastic mattress for folks who have sensitive pressure points in their hips and shoulders. That’s thanks to the mattress’ layers of memory foam and contouring gel layers. Together, these two materials create a soft yet supportive mattress.

So what exactly are these various layers comprised of? Once you get past the Tencel cover, you’ll find a quilted pad of gel memory foam. The next layer is Nectar’s patented LushFoam, which promises to distribute weight and heat evenly across your body. Then, there’s the Hi Core adaptive foam, which seems to be the key to Nectar’s ability to support your weight, and finally, there’s a base layer of high-density foam, which contributes to the mattress’ overall stability.

When I first laid down on the Nectar, I felt as though I were sinking into my bed in quite a luxurious manner. That’s thanks largely to the one-inch quilted top layer, which is the first stage of the mattress’ pressure relief. There’s actually another inch of gel memory foam that is key to the contouring aspect of the mattress. I found that the Nectar conformed well to the shape of my body, rather than fighting against it (and my sleeping habits).

In essence, you’re getting a bed whose whole purpose is to ensure that you don’t wake up with pain points, which is all I’ve ever asked for in a bed.

The best side-sleeper mattress for spinal alignment

best mattress for side sleepers 1

Casper’s Wave Hybrid Mattress will ensure that your core doesn’t sink too deeply into the mattress so that your spine is well aligned.

Pros: zoned support is great for aligning the body in any position, luxury feel, soft yet supportive, mix of foam and springs is more breathable than all-foam mattresses

Cons: Expensive

When it comes to bed-in-a-box brands, it often feels as though you’re sacrificing luxury for convenience. But Casper is here to prove that just because your bed comes to you rolled up in a box, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be a truly sumptuous experience. The Wave Hybrid Mattress is the company’s higher-end mattress, and while it certainly costs more than other mattresses in our guide, it’s worth the extra dough.

The key is the mix of springs and foam that offers zone support and properly aligns your body, which is of the utmost importance for folks who tend to sleep on their sides. With the right alignment, your shoulders and hips will receive the support they need to keep your spine in check, but without causing any pressure or pain.

While this is particularly useful for side sleepers, one of the great things about the Casper Wave is its ability to please sleepers of all persuasions, so if you find yourself moving from your stomach to your back to your side throughout the night, you’ll still be well-supported and comfortable.

In order to provide proper alignment, this mattress supports different parts of your body with unique levels of support. Unsurprisingly, your hips likely do not need the same level of firmness as your shoulders, and Casper’s luxury mattress makes these adjustments. The upper half of the mattress (the part where your shoulders ought to go) is made of softer foam, whereas the lower half is a bit firmer, providing extra support where it’s needed.

For this luxury mattress, Casper implemented its Natural Geometry System. The precisely contoured foam actually has grooves cut directly into the material to make it more forgiving, and to provide relief where you might otherwise experience the most pressure.

The best side-sleeper mattress for customization

Helix mattress

Helix designs a bed to suit your particular needs after you take a quiz, so it’s no surprise that you’ll be able to get an excellent night’s sleep out of a customized mattress.

Pros: Total customization allows for a soft (yet not too soft) mattress, plush feel, great for couples who have different sleeping positions

Cons: Some customers report that the Helix mattress does not age particularly well

Helix believes that when it comes to your mattress, there is no such thing as one size fits all. And for side sleepers, that’s excellent news. Buying a mattress from this online company starts with a quiz and ends with a customized mattress. 

The quiz asks basic questions about your height and weight, as well as how many people are normally in your bed and what size you’d prefer. But then, it also gets into whether or not you toss and turn at night, your sleeping position, pressure points, whether or not you feel hot in the night, how firm your current mattress is, and how much you like it. From there, Helix begins to create a mattress that suits your body and your sleeping preferences.

I found that the Helix is particularly useful for side sleepers because of its relative softness. For years, I was convinced that I was a fan of firm mattresses, only to find that the firmer the mattress, the more pain I felt on my pressure points. But Helix’s version of “firm” seems to be a bit less severe than other mattresses. That means that even if you’re as overzealous as I am, you’ll likely end up with a mattress that won’t cause you to wake up stiff or in pain.

The Helix also features a Dynamic Foam top layer, which responds quickly to your movement so you never feel like you’re sinking too far into the mattress (which could also affect your alignment). And if you’re a hot sleeper, this layer of foam works with the microcoils of the mattress to aid in heat dissipation.  

Another important thing to note: Helix can actually personalize a mattress for two people, which means that if you and your partner don’t have the same preferences when it comes to your bed, you can still lay on the same mattress. You’ll have to stick to your respective lanes quite literally, of course, but at the very least, it allows you to comfortably share a bed.

FAQs

What makes a good mattress for a side sleeper?

When considering a side-sleeping mattress, you should keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, you’ll want your bed to help with spinal alignment. There’s nothing worse than waking up with terrible back pain because you’ve somehow collapsed into ball during the night. You’ll also want to ensure that the mattress supports your contours and provides comfort on the rare occasions that you end up sleeping on your back or stomach.

What is the best mattress firmness for side sleepers?

A firm mattress that alleviates pressure is key for side sleepers. I often find that I toss and turn because my mattress isn’t forgiving enough on my hips, or that my shoulders are sore because my mattress is just a little too firm.

That means that the ideal mattress for us side sleepers is likely a bit softer than you might otherwise want. But be sure that the mattress isn’t too supple. After all, you’ll need something that will support you across a range of sleeping positions. It’s likely that even though you start off on your side, you ultimately fall asleep on your back or on your stomach, and as such, you’ll want a mattress that is as dynamic and flexible as you are.

Check out more great buying guides for bedding

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The 2 best smart light strips of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Best light strips Govee

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  • Smart light strips bring illumination and color to dim spots, like under kitchen cabinets.
  • They also work as night lights or as mood lights.
  • Smart light strips can be controlled from your phone and by voice-activated assistants like Alexa.

Light strips can transform the look of your home. With adhesive backing that enables them to stick virtually anywhere the only limitation is the need for a power outlet. They are designed to be concealed under cabinets or shelves, and behind TVs or panels, so that you only see the light they emit.  

The latest smart light strips can integrate with your smart home, enabling you to schedule or automate different kinds of lighting, select new lighting scenes from your phone, and use voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant to change your lighting. 

We have tested several different smart light strips in the home to see how they perform, and we’ve bolstered that testing with research into the most trusted brands and highly reviewed products. We also sought advice from lighting designer Anna Ames who explained the importance of color temperature measured in units of Kelvin (K) and brightness measured in lumens.

Here are the best smart light strips you can buy:

Govee Wi-Fi Dreamcolor LED Light Strip

best light strip govee Dreamcolor

Affordable, versatile, and easy to use, the Govee Wi-Fi Dreamcolor LED Light Strip is an irresistible bargain for anyone with a limited budget.

Perhaps the most prominent purveyor of budget light strips, Govee offers a wide range of smart lighting. It updates its product line frequently, which can make it a little confusing. I tested a few different models, but the one I’m recommending is the H6163 model. At $33.99 for the 16-foot light strip, this is the cheapest option we tested. 

The Govee Wi-Fi Dreamcolor LED Light Strip comes with a power unit attached that has a button to turn it on or off and one to cycle through colors. There’s also a button to activate the sound-reactive mode, which lights up and changes colors based on the music or other sounds in the room. This is ideal if you’re placing the strip in a child’s bedroom or guest room and don’t want to use a phone to control it. You can also connect to the strip via the Govee app, though you do have to sign up for an account. 

The app connects the strip directly to your Wi-Fi and offers additional features, such as a timer, sliders for brightness and color temperature, and a selection of scenes, including animated multicolored scenes. You can also select colors individually for different segments of the strip and you can create your own scenes via the DIY option. This light strip also supports Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control.

The Govee Wi-Fi Dreamcolor LED Light Strip worked flawlessly during my testing. I’m very impressed by the full range of features on offer for such a low price. It works beautifully as a night light and for background mood lighting, but with a color temperature range of around 3,000 to 5,000 K and a maximum brightness of 800 lumens, it’s not suitable as a main light source. The ability to display multiple colors in different segments simultaneously is the main thing that differentiates this strip from some of Govee’s cheaper models that only display a single color at a time, like the Model H6188, which I also tested and liked. 

The H6163 version 16.4 feet long with an adhesive backing and was easy to install. I stuck these light strips on the underside of a wooden bed frame and behind a large cabinet without any issues. You can cut it if you need to, but you can’t extend it. 

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Light Strip Plus

Best Light Strip Philips Hue

With lots of features in the easy-to-use Hue app, the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Light Strip Plus is ideal for anyone who has already invested in Philips Hue lighting. 

As the leading smart-lighting manufacturer, Philips knows how to make great lights. The Hue range is its best but also its most expensive. The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Lightstrip Plus costs $79.99. 

The Hue app is very straightforward and reliable. You can change the brightness, color, and color temperature of your strip; choose different scenes; and create routines. If you want to schedule your light strip to come on or turn off automatically, control it when you’re not at home, add additional accessories like motion sensors or smart switches, or sync with music, you need a Philips Hue Bridge. The bridge also makes for a faster and more reliable connection than Bluetooth.  

At a maximum of 1,600 lumens, this is one of the brightest light strips we tested, and it has a fairly wide color temperature range of 2,000 to 6,500 K, but it is limited to a single color at a time. The basic Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Lightstrip Plus is 2 meters (6.6 feet) long, and you can buy one-meter extensions that slot into the end for $24.99. It’s quite thick and feels very durable, but it’s very difficult to bend and I had to tape the end with duct tape because it kept peeling away from the back of my TV.

The high brightness and durable covering make this a good choice for the kitchen and other environments where you want plenty of light. Although it doesn’t come with any power button or controls, you can configure it to work with a Hue Dimmer Switch (even without a Hue Bridge), but that’s an additional cost on what is already a pricey product. For people who have a Hue system with a bridge already, or people who need that high brightness level, this could be the best option.

Setup is a breeze via the excellent Hue app, but I made a mess of the installation, as part of the adhesive peeled away from the back of the strip. Philips has also chosen to cut the backing you peel off into sections, which makes it even more fiddly to remove and leaves a mess behind. Once you move the strip to a new location, you’ll need to find a new way of attaching it, as the adhesive doesn’t stay sticky.

How to choose a smart light strip

Here’s a brief explainer of some common terms and things to keep in mind when you’re looking for smart lighting. We also share some advice from lighting designer Anna Ames, who designs lighting for buildings in New York and beyond. As an early adopter, Ames has been using smart lighting in her home for several years now.

Placement: Light strips can bring a futuristic feel or add accent lighting to lots of spaces around your home, but you must consider placement very carefully as they can be difficult to remove. Because light strips tend to look quite ugly, Ames says they should not be directly visible. You can stick them under shelves and cabinets, in recessed areas, or behind furniture. Consider how the light will be reflected; the closer the light strip is to a surface the more intense the light will appear there. Always measure to see what length you require and remember that you need an accessible power outlet to plug the strip into. Some light strips can be cut, and some can be extended, but follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter to avoid problems. Bear in mind that the portion you cut off usually can’t be reused. It’s easy enough to place a light strip in a straight line, but corners and right angles can prove tricky. Be careful not to bend too tightly, or you may damage the strip.

Installation: Smart light strips usually have adhesive that runs their length. You simply peel the backing off and stick them onto the desired surface. Be very careful when you peel the backing off, as it’s easy to accidentally peel the adhesive off with it. If you want the light strip to stay in place, take the time to clean the surface thoroughly first. If you’re fitting a long light strip, it’s also a good idea to get help from someone. In our experience, the adhesive sticks better to some surfaces than others and you may need additional clips or brackets. Bear in mind that the adhesive may leave a mark if you remove the light strip.

Controls: While smart light strips can be controlled from your smartphone, that’s not always convenient. Some smart light strips have simple power switches attached, and even a button that cycles through scenes or colors. A few come with their own remote controls. This is very useful if you’re installing them in a common area or a kid’s bedroom, for example. 

White or color: If you just want the ability to dim lights and schedule or remotely control them, then white light strips will give you everything you need. Color light strips are always more expensive, though they obviously give you much greater versatility. For most people, a mix will work best. Ames recommends sticking with white in certain rooms, like the kitchen or bathroom, but using color in the living room or bedroom to help you relax. She also suggests using more blue in your lights during the day and switching to warmer, yellow tones at night to stay in tune with natural circadian rhythms. When buying color light strips, it’s important to note that some strips can only display one color at a time. Others can display multiple colors along their length. 

Brightness: This is measured in lumens. A standard 60W light bulb, for example, gives out around 800 lumens. Most smart light strips state a lumen count for brightness, but in some cases, you may need to ask the manufacturer. The brightness you need from your light strip will depend on the room and its existing lighting. You can find guides online, such as this one at Home Depot, offering advice on how many lumens different rooms require and a formula for calculating based on the size of a room.

Color temperature: Measured in Kelvins (K), the color temperature of a light dictates how warm or cool it will appear. A range should be given for each light. For example, the Philips Hue Color Ambiance Light Strip goes from 2,000 K up to 6,500 K. Light appears more yellow at 2,000 K and a bluish white at 6,000 K. Ames’ top tip is to aim for a color temperature of 2,700 K for use in most of the home, as this gives a nice, relaxing, warm light. You may want a higher temperature in areas like the kitchen.

Scenes: These are specific brightness, color temperature, and color settings that come as presets or that you create and save for future use. Sometimes scenes can include animations that cycle through different colors. Settings like Daylight or Relax are a quick way to change your lights for a particular mood or activity. 

Connectivity: Smart light strips can connect directly to your control device (usually your phone) through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or indirectly through a hub (which mostly use the Zigbee standard). There are various trade-offs here. Bluetooth uses less power and doesn’t require a hub, but the control range is limited to around 33 feet and it’s slower to react than Wi-Fi. With a hub or Wi-Fi, you can potentially control your lights from anywhere, provided you have an internet connection. They tend to connect more reliably and respond faster, as well. While a separate hub means plugging a device into your router and a power outlet, it can also help reduce congestion on your home Wi-Fi network, which can prove helpful if your Wi-Fi bandwidth is limited. While hubs are a higher up-front cost, they are easier to swap out than replacing a ton of bulbs around the house if you want to upgrade to a new technology. 

Smart-home integration: There are lots of different services and standards related to smart-home setups, so make sure your chosen lights work with your preferred services. If you want to use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to control your smart light strips, for example, then look for the relevant logo on the box or in the product details online. If you aren’t sure what you might want to add later, go for a product with more connectivity options. 

Longevity: Smart light strips should last for years. You’ll often see their lifetime listed in tens of thousands of hours. As smart light strips contain many small LEDs, sometimes a single LED or section of LEDs will fail or refuse to display a specific color. This can happen if you physically damage the strip by bending or twisting, so be careful when installing your strip. Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix if this happens and you may need to replace the entire light strip.

What we are looking forward to testing

Kasa Smart LED Strip Light ($54.99): We are keen to try this light strip, as it has a well-rounded spec sheet. This is a multicolored light strip that boasts 16 color zones, and it comes with an app featuring animated lighting effects. There’s also Alexa and Google Home support and no need for a hub. It’s supposed to be easy to cut, bend, and extend. TP-Link’s Kasa smart home range is growing, and we like the smart plugs, so this could be a great product.

Sylvania Smart+ Zigbee light strip ($53.85): A fairly low price and support for the Zigbee standard makes this light strip an interesting prospect. It offers good smart-home integration, lots of colors, and a nice color temperature range (2,700 to 6,500 K), though it is limited to one color at a time and you need a Zigbee hub. The fact that you can cut, bend, and extend this light strip makes it more tempting, and we plan to check it out soon.

Sengled Element Light Strip ($39.99): This light strip has a similar feature set to some of the light strips we’ve tested or plan to test soon, including tunable light (2,000 to 6,500 K), Alexa and Google Assistant support, a wide range of colors and scenes, and brightness of 1,400 lumens. It’s also quite cheap, though you do need a hub. We also like the IFTTT support and the option of the Sengled Smart Switch.

C by GE LED Strip Light ($45.99): With millions of colors, tunable color temperature, and scheduling support the C by GE light strip looks promising. There’s also voice control via Alexa or Google Assistant, and you can select various scenes for different moods. It connects directly to Wi-Fi and you can add out of home control with a C by GE smart plug or smart switch. 

What else we considered

Yeelight Lightstrip 1S ($48.63): This is an affordable light strip from Yeelight, which is part of Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi’s ecosystem. I found it easy to set up and use. It has a physical power button, with a wider range of options in the app where you can tweak the color, brightness, color temperature, select scenes, and set a schedule. It misses out on the list because we prefer the Govee light strip, but one thing Yeelight has that Govee lacks is extensibility, with 1-meter extensions for $12.99.

Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Outdoor Light Strip ($76): If you want a light strip that’s safe to use outdoors, then your options are limited. This Philips Hue light strip, rated at IP67, is well worth a look. It offers the same features as the rest of the Philips Hue range, but you do need a Bridge to get the best from it. We go into more detail in our Philips Hue Outdoor Light Strip review. The problem is that stock seems to be dwindling. There is also another version of this strip, which is rated at IP44, but neither is currently listed on the US Philips website.

Lifx Z Light Strip ($89.99): Lifx’s light strip is one the most versatile we tested. This light strip has eight addressable color zones, so it can display multiple colors at once. Performance is very reliable, and it has a maximum brightness of 1,400 lumens, which is plenty to light a small bedroom. It’s one of our favorite light strips that we’ve reviewed. Unfortunately, it’s out of stock and only available for pre-order at the moment. 

Nanoleaf Essentials Light Strip ($49.95): With the highest peak brightness we’ve tested and a reasonable price tag, there’s a lot to like with the Nanoleaf Essentials Light Strip. It’s 2,200 lumens at max brightness. It can only display one color at a time and doesn’t support scenes, but at $50 for a two-meter (6.6 feet) starter kit, it’s an attractive option. However, the starter kit isn’t available at the moment. While the one-meter extensions are still for sale, they won’t work if you don’t have the starter kit with the controller. 

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