Best New Home Products of 2010 — Networx Blog Networx

Best New Home Products of 2010

As the effects of the great recession wore on, flash was out. Functionality and frugality were in for 2010. Our favorite home improvement products were not five-star upgrades, but items that made our lives easier or cut our energy bills or both.

Here are the products of the year, in 10 handy categories.

CertainTeed simplified solar power installations this year with the EnerGen photovoltaic roofing system. The solar panels are in lightweight, thin-film laminates that seamlessly integrate with asphalt roofing shingles and dont require any rooftop penetration. This makes them more attractive, and easier to install.

They are available now in Arizona, California and Hawaii.

Dow went one step further and unveiled the PowerHouse. a solar panel that doubles as a shingle this year. It is helping power the first net zero energy home in Michigan, but wont be commercially available until next year.

Lennox also got into the solar game this year, with the SunSource Home Energy System that connects dedicted solar panels directly to high-efficiency heat pumps and air conditioners.

2. Seamless sinks

The popularity of concrete countertops has us spoiled. We think every countertop should seamlessly integrate the sink without any ugly, grimy joints. We also want the seamless surface to resist microbes, stains and scratches.

Now we can have our cake, eat it and spotlessly clean up afterward. Consentino this year debuted the Integrity Silestone sink. a seamless quartz sink with anti-microbial protection.

Panasonic has made shopping for bathroom exhaust fans a no-brainer. Its Whisper series of fans run more quietly on less energy than any other fans. They are also easy to install, and have an optional motion sensor that kicks on the quiet motor when you enter the room.

For cooling down the attic, the Broan Solar Powered Attic Ventilator cuts energy bills two ways. It has solar panels, so it doesnt require electric wiring. It also starts running at first light, ventilating the attic long before the midday heat builds up and triggers the temperature sensors in most attic fans.

With these paints, you must choose your colors carefully because you might not have an excuse to repaint for a long time. New NeverFade exterior paint from APV Engineered Coatings is guaranteed not to fade for 15 years. It works on most exterior surfaces, and is made with Kynar Aquatec polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), which apparently means it resists fading, stains, chips, algae and fungus.

Behr also has a versatile new exterior combo paint and primer-in-one with extra protection against sun fading, stains and moisture. Look for Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior Enamel with Nanoguard.

5. Water-safe wood

Hardwood flooring is so popular that we are seeing it in places that it doesnt necessarily belong, such as bathrooms and kitchens, where it could be warped or worse by water. Thats why we are excited about these vinyl and ceramic alternatives that look like hardwood planks.

Armstrongs Luxe Plank comes in four-foot strips with edges and ends that mimic hardwood. They also attach to each other in a simple floating installation. Mission Stone and Tile is among a small handful of companies making tiles with the appearance, grooves and grain of hardwood but the durability of ceramic.

Another good wood fakeout are NuCedar Shingles, which are made of PVC but individually cut and scratched to look like real cedar shakes.

While most of the attention was on tainted Chinese drywall, an American company was quietly making drywall easier to hang. USGs Ultralight Panels have the strength and durability of standard sheetrock but weigh 30 percent less than the competition (and have none of the toxic problems of the Chinese stuff). The lighter drywall is also made up with up 95 percent recycled content and minimal VOCs.

This year, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) started to become a serious and affordable contender in the residential lighting market. They are even more efficient than compact fluorescent light bulbs, and avoid many of the drawbacks. They can be designed in any color, and with a softer light quality. They also dont contain the toxic mercury in most CFLs.

However, they have always been too expensive for most homeowners.

Best New Home Products of 2010 - Networx Blog Networx

To be honest, they still may be too pricey for many, but the gap is quickly narrowing. Home Depot sells the EcoSmart LED bulb at less than $20. The 9-watt bulb is equivalent to a 40-watt incandescent and is designed to last more than 20 years.

The manufacturer promises $155 in energy-bill savings over those two decades.

Home Depot is also the exclusive dealer for the Outreach Centerset Faucet. Its the first bathroom faucet with a kitchen-style pullout head. Its as easy to install as other faucets, but has some added versatility.

Niagara Conservation this year debuted the first toilet that promises a full, quiet and effective flush with only 0.8 gallons of water. The Stealth toilet is sold individually, and in a water-saving package with an efficient and powerful showerhead. Niagara suggests homeowners with both the new showerhead and toilet can save $600 on annual utility and water bills, and up to 40,000 gallons of water.

It claims it could save three trillion gallons of water by replacing every toilet and showerhead in the U.S.

10. Three time-saving tools

Finally, we need to geek out about the three best new tools of 2010.

Best hand tool: The Wallboarders Buddy helps you cut and measure drywall in one motion without a measuring tape or chalk line. Its little more than a utility knife mounted to a T-square, but its a pretty brilliant time-saver.

Best cordless power tool: The Dewalt MAX line of tools use the same interchangeable lithium-ion batteries to power drivers, drills, lights, inspection cameras and more. They have cool LED lights and other neat features, and they uphold Dewalts reputation for quality, but the real innovation is the battery that charges in 40 minutes. Even forgetting to charge between projects will set you back less than an hour.

Best corded power tool: The Rockwell BladeRunner comes close to justifying the overused claim of being the only tool youll need. For the occasional DIY project, this wall-mountable saw should cover most of your bases. It is essentially a jigsaw mounted to a table, but it can cut wood, metal and tile with commonly available and easy-to-change blades.

It also has a miter gauge and rip fence to control cuts.

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