Smart home isn’t just about switches and plugs. If you find a way to make technology simplify your life, improve your health, save time/energy/money, or help you have a little fun, then that is smart home tech. A great example of this is, of all things, my cat’s litter box.
I’ve enjoyed the company of several dogs and cats over the course of my life. Our cat, Beaver, has been a loyal companion since 2005. As much as I enjoy sharing my home with her, cleaning a litter box is a rotten chore (and nobody wants their house to smell like cat litter).
Just afterwards, I picked up my first automatic litter box, a brand I used for several years, but when I needed a replacement in 2007, the local pet store was out of stock. I picked up a different brand with a significantly different design, and I’ve used that product ever since – the Simply Clean litter box by Pet Safe.
While I like the price (usually around $75 shipped from Chewy.com), the real reason I’ve stuck with them is their customer service. The Simply Clean has a one year warranty, and I have averaged between 2.5 and 3 years of use with the current generation of their product. The first generation had a tendency to strip gears and burn out motors, but, again, their customer service quickly handled any issues that occurred under warranty, occasionally even replacing an entire unit.
Today, I un-boxed and set up a new unit. Assembly is comprised of 5 pieces and takes less time than opening the box and removing the parts!
To summarize – item A is the main body of the unit, consisting of the bowl that holds the cat litter while rotating completely once per hour. A separate motor controls the “conveyor,” which lifts solids out of the bowl and carries them up to deposit into the pail (item B). The conveyor is made up of two independent sets of scalloped plastic rows – one set is fixed and the other rotates in an elliptical motion, moving the solids up towards the top of the conveyor.
Item C is the AC adapter. Item D is a ring that serves to keep everything in alignment when the bowl is assembled. Item E is a cover which protects your cat from coming into contact with the moving parts of the conveyor. There are sensors (switches and magnets) that make sure that the guard and pail are in place, or else the litter box will not power on.
These two thumb screws hold the conveyor in place over the bowl.
This ridge on the ring is used to align the conveyor with the ring.
Another thing that I love about this product is that, instead of buying expensive trays or custom liners, you can use a regular plastic grocery bag to line the pail.
Assembly complete – notice how snug the pail fits under the lid? When the box is working properly and you use a quality litter, there’s no odor, since everything is picked up within an hour of deposit!
The one knock I have against this litter box is that the bowl is not tall enough to block most “litter kicks,” so we place it inside a plastic box to catch any litter that would otherwise end up kicked across the laundry room.
This light indicates that the pail and guard (lid) are in place and the power adapter is plugged in. The litter box’s bowl will now quietly turn a complete rotation every hour!
Obviously, you have to use clumping litter with this litter box. I’ve found that the more-clay-like the litter, the poorer the performance. On a brighter note, the light weight litter that Tidy cat is producing now works great with this (as does their regular litter). Arm & Hammer clumping litter tends to cake around the inner edge of the bowl.
While I don’t have the litter box connected to any larger home automation system, I plan to put a power metering plug or outlet into service for it and possibly a magnet sensor to verify that the bowl is moving.
The benefits of using an automatic litter box are significant – odor control, simplified cleanup, and a healthier environment for your pet. Combine that with a low price and great customer service, and you understand why I consider the Simply Clean an integral part of my smart home ecosystem!
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