Product Reviews

  • Smart Lock – August Home

    August Home has released its 3rd generation Smart Lock and Smart Lock Pro, building on its already popular smart lock. In the past, I have written articles covering the explosion of the smart home market, which has been experiencing double-digit growth year after year and showing no signs of slowing down. The smart lock is one of the most popular categories in the smart home market, just behind smart lights and appliances. In theory, the market is everyone with an exterior door.

    All smart locks provide a varying level of control to gain access to the home either by a manufacturer app, internet connection or a keypad. However, one common requirement is the replacement of the existing door lock and/or deadbolt. This is just one area where August Home’s Smart Lock and Smart Lock Pro differ from the competition. Both models install on the inside of the door and attach to the existing deadbolt in just a few minutes. This unique application allows even renters to install a smart lock without impacting the existing deadbolt key of the landlord.

    August locks are controlled by a free smartphone app for both iOS and Android using either an internet connection (optional Wi-Fi bridge required) or Bluetooth®. Once the Bluetooth setup is complete the user can either open the app to unlock their door or automatically unlock once the phone comes within Bluetooth range. This last feature is extremely useful when coming home with a handful of groceries and not having to fumble for a phone or keys.

    The locks can also be set to auto-lock once the door is closed. While most smart locks provide auto-locking, August adds DoorSense™ technology. This sensor prevents the lock from deploying the deadbolt before the door is closed, which can lead to door jam damage.

    The app also enables guest access for family, friends or other trusted people. Guest access is an excellent feature if the owner needs to provide temporary access to the house for either a contractor or short-term renter without having to issue physical keys. The app also displays door opening and closing activity by the assigned user. The locks communicate with Alexa or Google Assistant enabling voice control to lock, unlock or check the status of the door lock. Click here to watch a complete overview.

    We provided our testers two versions of the August Smart Lock: with the Wi-Fi bridge and without the bridge. The bridge provides remote access to lock while non-bridge locks can only use Bluetooth for control. Both groups raved about the ease of installation, set-up and the ability to maintain their current deadbolt.

    Another feature that jumped out for our reviewers was the ability to automatically unlock the door upon approach. One test was a mother of two who “rarely has a free hand” to grab keys or phone. The door sensor was also a popular aspect, as one tester had a bad experience with another smart lock that automatically deployed the deadbolt before the door was completely closed and slammed into the jam, causing damage.

    If you have been on the fence about bringing smart products into your store because of fear of ever-changing technology and being stuck with the outdated product, the August Smart Lock is a great entry point since it utilizes common Bluetooth communication technology and can be installed utilizing the existing deadbolt lock.

  • Duracell Optimum

    Duracell recently launched a new premium line of AA and AAA batteries under the name Duracell Optimum. The Optimum line features “extra life” and “extra power,” enabling a flashlight to shine brighter and longer. Optimum’s enhanced performance is driven by a new proprietary cathode system that outperforms even Coppertop. The technology is one of the biggest innovations for alkaline batteries in the past 50 years.

    The battery technology is just one feature that sets Optimum apart from other batteries. The packaging also underwent a redesign. The new package features a slider pack with a resealable storage tray featured in the following videos: slider packsealable tray. While I doubt many people give too much thought to battery packaging when purchasing, the new design does replace the old Ziploc bags found in many closets and bags.

    As any parent can attest, batteries are in virtually every device. You don’t even realize some of these devices have batteries until they stop working (e.g. wireless mouse, toothbrush, gaming controllers). The gaming industry has exploded over the past decade with more than 2.5 billion gamers worldwide and 75 percent of American households have at least one gamer. The gaming market represents a staggering 22 percent of battery demand.

    Batteries powering toys or other devices are great, but sometimes we rely on them for the basics during electrical outages caused by natural disasters. Living in a hurricane-prone area, our testers were more than versed on the critical role batteries play. We asked them to test the batteries in high-output, high-draining devices such as flashlights, communication devices and even a medical device. 

    All reported their devices either performed better or longer compared to traditional batteries. During testing in the office, we found similar results when running our non-scientific test using two flashlights, one with Optimum and one with Coppertop left on all day. The flashlight with Optimum appeared to be brighter at the beginning of the test and for a longer duration before dimming. Our test results were supported by Duracell’s own data. Optimum performed better for a longer period of time and maintained in the peak performance zone.

    Both Optimum AA and AAA are available in 4-, 6- and 12-count packaging. Optimum creates a new level of premium battery performance and is a perfect solution for customers looking for a battery offering peak performance and longer use.

  • VamPLIERS® JAWZ

    VamPLIERS® JAWZ 7-1/2” Curved Jaws Screw Extraction Locking Pliers easily remove stripped, rusted, security, specialty, torx, low-profile truss screws, nuts and bolts.

    Vertical serrations bite and grip the screw head without slippage. Gripping vise remains closed securely while pliers are turned.

    Quick-release feature enables you to unlock the pliers at once. Also equipped with anti-slip elastomer handles for safety.

    Perfectly fit serration maximizes contact with no slippage.

    Vampire Tools
    www.vampiretools.com | 949-748-0552

  • Peel-Tek® 150 Liquid Masking Tape


    Peel-Tek® 150, a multi-surface liquid masking tape, removes the frustration caused by paint bleeding through traditional tape applied to rough or porous surfaces such as brick, stucco, cement and untreated wood. Peel-Tek can also serve as a temporary protective coating for both porous and non-porous surfaces and simply peels off cleanly when done. 

    Peel-Tek starts as a turquoise color liquid with the consistency of yogurt and dries to a rubber-like protective coating. It can be applied with a roller or paint brush to almost any surface and dries in about 15 minutes depending on the thickness applied. Once dry, Peel-Tek can stay on for as long as required with no adverse effects and still be easily removed. If applied in an exterior location with UV exposure, it should be removed within five to seven days.

    Since Peel-Tek is a new masking method, there is a small learning curve when compared to a simple roll of tape. The company’s website offers numerous videos demonstrating various applications on job sites and includes various pro tips. Click here to view. One video features the product used in combination with masking paper to protect from overspray.

    One of our pro testers had the opportunity to utilize Peel-Tek in combination with masking paper when spraying a room with a rough surface. He typically would have applied tape with clear caulk to prevent the paint from bleeding onto the protected surface. He was able to reduce his initial preparation time and produce the same high-quality edge, with the added bonus that clean-up work was simple and easy. The product’s benefits proved an excellent combination of reducing his overall time on the job and increasing profitability.

    While Peel-Tek is an ideal product for your painting contractors and homeowners, it has endless applications in crafting. Since it can be applied to almost any surface, its application is only limited by the user’s imagination. 

  • SKATEPLATE® – CircSaw Technologies

    CircSaw Technologies is a new company to the market and offers a new power tool accessory designed for both the pro and DIY markets: SKATEPLATE®.The power tool accessory market is full of products and innovations designed to make power tools more useful and productive. Many of the accessories are either brand or application-specific, which can limit its appeal to the market. 

    SKATEPLATE has been designed as an accessory for one of the staples of power tools—the circular saw. SKATEPLATE turns virtually any circular saw, including battery-powered ones, into a portable table saw. The SKATEPLATE also features dual polyurethane rollers that glide over surfaces, increasing cutting speed and eliminating scratching. Click here to see a video highlighting its features.

    The SKATEPLATE assembles in three easy steps and includes all the mounting hardware. Once attached the plate does not limit the cutting options of the circular saw or greatly impact its cutting depth—less than 1/8”. The company also offers a water saw accessory to enable cutting of granite, masonry or concrete.

    Our testers were a mix of professionals and non-professionals who tried the SKATEPLATE on various job sites or home projects. All of our tester’s feedback centered around two primary points: table saw cutting accuracy in a mobile package and how effortlessly the saw slides over the cutting material. The adjustable SKATEGUIDE® provides precision and serves as an additional handhold. The rollers effortlessly glide over the surface, which reduces vibrations and user fatigue. The company even offers replacement rollers if they become damaged or just worn out.

    Since the potential market is large—almost anyone with a circular saw—the SKATEPLATE is a perfect addition to your power tool accessory assortment. It also makes a great gift idea for the customer shopping for something for the “person who has it all.” 

  • Electric Tankless Water Heaters from Reliance Water Heaters

    Reliance electric tankless water heaters are compact, easy to install for both the pro and DIY markets and offer wall-mount options for tight spaces. According to ENERGY STAR, water heating is the second-largest energy use in homes, but often goes overlooked until there is no hot water. Reliance offers numerous features to extend the life and efficiency of the electric tankless water heater.

    Reliance electric tankless water heaters feature Anti-Scale Technology utilized in the auto industry to extend the heater’s life, enabling a five-year limited warranty for the heating chamber. Maintenance is simple with no moving parts and the ability to replace the element if needed. An advanced electronic control system addresses two common complaints with tankless water hearers: inconsistent water temperatures and lights flickering/dimming when the unit turns on. The until will shut down if it detects a leak and has an LCD showing current temperature, setpoint, and any diagnostic information if required.

    Our tester installed a single element point-of-use model on a faucet not plumbed to the home’s existing water heater. The installation was extremely simple and straightforward with a clear instruction manual and detailed labeling. The included wall-mount brackets made for clean horizontal installation without sacrificing storage.  

    Tankless water heaters have demonstrated strong year-over-year growth as consumers look toward the more energy-efficient household appliance. They are an ideal efficient water heating option, especially for stores servicing the Southern Zone (see map) with higher inlet water temperatures than cooler zones. Although not traditionally a higher-margin product to stock, tankless water heater purchases lead to total shopping baskets that are offset with higher-margin items.

  • ZIP System® Roof & Wall Sheathing

    High quality structural sheathing panel made of engineered wood delivers strength and durability.

    Built-in vapor permeable water-resistive barrier eliminates the hassles of house wrap and felt. Engineered for enhanced drainage of bulk water and optimal permeability to allow water vapor to pass through and promote drying.

    A continuous, rigid air barrier decreases unwanted air leakage for greater energy efficiency.

    ZIP System™ tape with a specially engineered, high performance acrylic adhesive bonds with ZIP System® panels for a permanent protective seal.

    Huber Engineered Woods
    800-933-9220
    www.huberwood.com

  • Artisan® Shingle

    Artisan® Shingle, the latest addition to the Aspyre Collection by James Hardie™, captures the natural look of cedar shingles, while delivering the uncompromising performance of James Hardie fiber cement.

    Brought to life through a variety of individual widths and carefully detailed woodgrain patterns, Artisan® Shingle delivers a distinctive design that’s engineered to last.

    It is available primed and with ColorPlus® Technology blends.

    James Hardie
    888-542-7343
    www.jameshardie.com

  • DAP Touch ‘n Foam

    DAP is a staple in the hardware channel manufacturing premium caulks, sealants, adhesives and Touch ‘n Foam products. Our testers had the opportunity to review three versions of Touch ‘n Foam: Home Seal™, Max Fill™ and Mouse Shield™.

    Home Seal is an all-purpose minimum expanding sealant designed to fill small cracks and gaps. It can be used for both interior and exterior projects while curing in virtually all temperature ranges—30° to 120°. The product is also water-resistant, fire retardant, sandable and paintable.

    For larger cracks or gaps Touch ‘n Foam offers a Max Fill™ expanding sealant that expands 3x. With the enhanced expansion feature, the green label Touch ‘n Foam can fill spaces larger than 1”. Max Fill™ shares many of the same benefits as the Home Seal version but cures at a much narrower temperature range—60° to 100°.

    If filling a gap or crack is to block mice or other pest, Touch ‘n Foam has Mouse Shield™. What sets Mouse Shield apart from the other Touch ‘n Foam SKUs is the expanding foam also contains a pest blocker. Click here to watch the difference when compared to other expanding foam product.

    All of our testers were familiar with Touch ‘n Foam products but did not realize they offered different formulas to solve a variety of household issues: filling large gaps/cracks or pest repellant. The testers were also surprised to learn the unused product is reusable for up to three weeks after initially opened when stored properly. Each SKU trigger features a plug on the opposite end to stop the remaining product in the can from curing.

    As fall is quickly fading away and the cold of winter has arrived many customers are searching for inexpensive, DIY methods to improve their home’s energy efficiency. Filling gaps and cracks in windows and doors, attics and crawl spaces is an excellent start to reducing those heating bills.

    Click to watch Home Seal video

    Click to watch Max Fill video

    Click to watch Mouse Shield video

  • No Bull Ladder Bumpers

    No Bull is a new entry to the hardware channel offering a premium line of ladder bumpers and ladder stabilizing bumpers. These bumpers were designed for the professional contractor, who use ladders daily and often store them on work trucks exposed to the elements.

    No Bull utilizes the highest durability rated rubber for use in all weather environments. The rubbers are resistant to UV light that cracks and deteriorates lesser-quality bumpers, shortening their lifespan. To back this up, the company even offers a three-year warranty.

    Our testers were a mix of professional roofers, painters and general contractors. All of them stored their ladders exposed to the harsh Florida sun and while our test was limited in time, all of the bumpers looked like they just came out of the package. Our painter had the opportunity to use them on an interior job and the bumpers did not mar or slip on a delicate wall finish.

    If your store services the pro or active DIYer, then take a look at No Bull ladder bumpers. Your customers will be impressed with the quality and durability of No Bull ladder bumpers.

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