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Trends on Display at the 2017 Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Expo

Energy efficiency, smart technologies and more accessory options for the grill were some of the trends on display at the 2017 Hearth, Patio and Barbecue (HPB) Expo, held in Atlanta March 2-4. The Expo drew 6,800 attendees from around North America to see the latest innovations in outdoor cooking and hearth products. In addition to the booths inside the Georgia World Congress Center, the Outdoor Burn Area was the place for exhibitors to show off their grilling skills and the place for attendees to sample the best in barbecue.

In an industry that appeals to a wide variety of end users, from beginning grillers to outdoor landscapers, manufacturers continue to respond to push trends that make the grilling and hearth experience more enjoyable and efficient. Here are some of the trends Hardware Retailing saw at the 2017 HPB Expo and some of the manufacturers joining those trends.

Weber’s iGrill was one of the new products incorporating technology at the HPB Expo.

Smart Technologies. More and more, consumers are expecting their smartphones to assist them with everyday tasks. As homes with smart technologies join the mainstream, in 2017, consumers will seek out those technologies to give them more control, whether it’s controlling heat in the home or knowing when the grill needs more fuel. Weber was one of the manufacturers unveiling a new smart technology at the 2017 HPB Expo. Its new iGrill accessory, which includes an app, can be used to monitor the internal temperature of food and notify the user once it has reached the desired temperature.

Grill Cleaning. Some consumers may be concerned about the danger of cleaning grills with wire brushes. Flakes of the brush have been known to stay on the grill after cleaning and then get in the food, causing major damage if they are ingested. Manufacturers are responding with safer and easier options. Nylon brushes from Char-Broil, a steam cleaning brush from Grill Daddy and a wooden scraper from Charboss were some of the options available at the 2017 HPB Expo.

New smokers from BarrelHouse follow the trend of more consumers looking for easier ways to smoke meat.

Smokers. Once the domain of a few die-hard barbecue chefs, smoking meat has been going mainstream for several years now. Consumers continue to demand smokers as an alternative to grilling and manufacturers continue to offer more options, making the cooking process easier to use and accessible to more consumers. BarrelHouse is an example of one vendor that has a product built to mimic the type of smoker used in professional barbecue competitions. Another brand new vendor to this year’s HPB expo was Diamond King Smoker, with a product that can turn any standard grill into a smoking system.

High Efficiency. According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, new low-emission home heating technology is a top trend for 2017. With new EPA regulations on solid fuel appliance that took effect May 2015, there are more options now for woodburning units that meet more stringent emission standards. The Expo included EPA-certified woodstoves, pellet stoves, warm air furnaces and hydronic heaters to show off the newest, cleanest home heating technologies.

Housewarmings Outdoors showed off some of the trendy countertops for outdoor rooms, including this wooden plank.

Customized Outdoor Rooms. Creating outdoor living spaces has been an ongoing trend for several years, and homeowners desire these rooms to serve multiple functions. Housewarmings Outdoor was one of the outdoor room vendors on display at the 2017 HPB Expo. Popular outdoor rooms are those that include multiple zones designed to promote the flow of traffic from one area to the next, much like the room layout of the interior of the home. Popular zones include a cooking area, counters and tables for dining and fire pits for conversation areas. This vendor also offered a variety of new countertop options – such as glass, leather-finished granite, wood plank, and surfaces with two-tones – that indicated consumers are looking for luxury options that are different from their neighbors.

Some of the new products from Amantii featured the linear design currently popular with consumers.

Modern Fireplaces. Linear designs in fireplaces continue to interest consumers, and a walk around the showfloor at the 2017 HPB Expo indicated more manufacturers are working it into their product mixes. The ability to offer piers, or open sides on one or two sides of the fireplace, is a desired option. Fireplaces are no longer just for one living area. They are becoming more popular in other areas of the house, including the bedroom and the kitchen. Desirable options include high-heat tolerant glass for safety and electric models for areas where gas is not available.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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