Ring Spotlight Cam (Battery)

In addition to the video doorbell I got the chance to test out the Ring Spotlight Cam (Battery). When we built the house it was 2012 and about all we could do was pre-wire the house for security cameras. So there is a blank box on the garage, and in theory a way to route wires to the studio where a DVD recorder and screen could be mounted. Well not it is 2019 and smart home technology has become mainstream. With smart phones as our screens, the cloud as our recorder and wireless cameras you no longer have to plan for anything. You can just purchase the hardware, download the app, maybe sign up for a plan and voila! you’ve made your home significantly safer and more convenient to live in.

I’ll just say I absolutely love this camera. What I like about it most is its versatility to be mounted literally anywhere you can get a wi-fi signal. I mounted mine on the house but you could mount it on the garage, porch…a tree I guess if you wanted to. The Ring app allows you to see the video and sound on demand. The app will also send you notification when motion is detected. I’ve seen strangers, deliveries, family, even wildlife like deer and ground hogs. I also like that the camera has a spotlight. The spotlight comes on automatically which helps illuminate doorways, or just alert people that they are being recorded at night. The video quality is excellent day or night.

The camera comes with everything you need to install it including a drill bit! The instructions are super easy, and the app is simple to install and set up. I mounted it directly to the cement board trim with the included screws. There’s not much to say…it was an easy job.

Ring-camera

The camera looks good, has motion detection and a spotlight. It can be mounted anywhere there’s a wi-fi signal.

The removable battery needs recharging every few weeks but that is easy to do using the included USB cable. There is room for a second battery and they cost about $30 a pop. So far I’ve found one battery to be enough. Eventually I will probably get a second battery.

All Ring products work with one app on your smart phone, which is convenient when you have multiple products like we do. It was great to watch the painters progress on the exterior of our house while we were three thousand miles away on vacation.

I highly recommend the Ring spotlight cam for any home or office. Well worth the money because of the convenience and added security.

Ring Video Doorbell 2

I recently got the opportunity to test out the Ring Video Doorbell 2. We’ve always had a “regular” doorbell at our house. It was a pretty and unique bronze butterfly that was absolutely perfect for our nature oriented home. There was no real reason to replace it. My only complaint was that about half of our guests didn’t realize the bronze butterfly was the doorbell so they would knock. And if I was in the basement I couldn’t hear anyone knocking. But given the opportunity to try out a new “smart” video doorbell I figured it was time to retire the butterfly, at least for a while.

butterfly-doorbel

Our original bronze butterfly doorbell

Ring is a California based smart home company that manufactures and markets smart doorbells, cameras and security systems. The Video Doorbell 2 looks to be a middle of the road entry in their lineup of doorbells.

Ring doorbells copy

The Ring lineup of doorbells as of September 2019.

The purpose of a video door bell is to be able to see who is at the door, via your smart phone, from anywhere in the world. You can also talk to them without having to come to the door, e.g. “No, thank you we aren’t interested.” or “Please leave the package by the door, thank you.” The voice feature is a great way to scare the crap out of people as well, so you can have a little fun with unsuspecting skittish kids and adults alike. You can access the camera at any time to see what’s happening outside your front door. Video is recorded and can be viewed via the website and app for future reference. The app on your phone can be set up to send notifications when motion is detected. I could be in my living room or the other side of the world and see and hear in real time what’s going on. Ring is also promoting safer neighborhoods by encouraging sharing of video with neighbors if you see something suspicious. Imagine a “ring” around your neighborhood via various cameras on everyone’s homes.

The doorbell comes with everything you need for installation including mounting hardware, several paintable faceplate options and even a screwdriver. The instructions and app set up are incredibly easy. The doorbell connects to the existing wiring and also operates off of a rechargeable battery. The app alerts you when the battery starts to get low on power. The removable battery recharges simply using the USB cord included with the doorbell kit in a couple hours.

I installed the unit in less than an hour. My biggest hang-ups were 1) trying to turn the power off to the current doorbell, I never did figure that out but I think it’s so low voltage I couldn’t really hurt myself, and 2) trying to figure out how to take the butterfly doorbell off (there’s a screw the wasn’t readily viewable). I left the new doorbell unpainted because the plastic (black) case matches our exterior superbly.

I love the new “smart” video doorbell. It allows me to check on the front door when I get an alert without having to drop what I’m doing and see who’s roaming around outside or I can see if something has been delivered. The video and sound quality is great day and night.  The app is easy to use and integrates beautifully all of my Ring products in one place. Setup and use is so easy that anyone can install and live with this doorbell.

It is sad to see the butterfly doorbell go away but I am extremely happy with the new doorbell.

Too Many HDMI Cords? Fix It With This…

January?

I haven’t written since January?

Ugh, I’ve been stressed all year – work has been crazy so I haven’t had the energy to sit down and write. Which I kind of miss it. So, today I had a blank Saturday in which I could do anything I want to do, including putting off cutting the grass. Even if not a lot has been going on, there’s gotta be at least something to write about since January, right?

Alright I’ll throw some product reviews at you all, over the next few posts. And we can touch base on the mice and whatever else I can think of. I need to write.

First up, back in February I picked up a pair of these Techole HDMI splitter switches. They are about ten dollars (US) on Amazon and got decent reviews.

Techole-switch-in-box

We use our living room as our primary living space. And our family time usually includes an hour or two at night watching tv or movies together. We also play video games…I think if I added it all up there are like ten devices in the living room cabinet…let’s see: two xBoxes, two DVD players, a Nintendo Switch…cable box…anyway it’s more HDMI cables then the Sony tv (the old ~50″+ version of this tv) has ports for. So I needed a splitter to take the HDMI from the tv and feed in two devices. I think I had 5 ports so I picked up two splitters or switches.

There’s not much going on here but these are solid metal switches (like I said, I ordered two) each packaged in some nice simple brown packaging.

Obviously super easy to install, just plug in your HDMI cables and you’re good to go. I believe because the devices I plugged into the switches are powered, the switches themselves are “powered”. This allows the number on the switch to illuminate so you can tell if cable 1 or cable 2 is hooked up at any given time.

Whenever you need to access a device just press the button on the switch and tune to the right input on the tv.

I also ordered these color coded HDMI cables from Cable Matters and love them as well. Good quality and very low cost. $12-18.50 for a three pack. Color coding is a blessing with all that’s going on behind the tv.

I don’t notice any reduction in quality and the switches (and cables) have worked fine since I bought them. I’d definitely recommend trying them out to help manage things and expand your cable capacity behind your tv.

 

The LED Light Bulb Review You Need to Read

Okay, you need to know one thing about me…okay two things about me, for today’s post: 1) I love buying things, 2) it’s virtually impossible for me to buy anything without over analyzing it.

When we built this house, almost four years ago, we had a ton of 6″ ceiling light fixtures installed. To this day I’m not even sure why, but we did. They are everywhere in the main floor’s living spaces.

Twenty non-dimming, and ten dimming 6″ BR-30 light fixtures in the family room, dining room, hall and kitchen, to be exact. That’s five for every man, woman and child.

The dirty fact is: half of them are burned out because I want to replace the incandescent bulbs with LED’s. But I can’t replace them with LED’s until I complete some mind numbing amount of research.

My wife literally asked (begged) for light bulbs for Christmas.

If you go to cut veggies in the kitchen, better bring a flashlight.

Alright, so why do you need to read this review? Because you probably have some recessed lights in your home. You also probably enjoy saving money in the long run, which switching to LED bulbs will definitely do just that. Most importantly, I’m going to hopefully save you the trouble of researching bulbs yourself.

burnt-out-lights

Lights on different circuits? Nah, just burnt out light bulbs in the hallway.

Bulb vs. Integrated Trim

One quick note, for recessed lighting you can purchase either just a bulb, or an integrated bulb and trim for you 4″ or 6″ recessed cans. I wanted to do this, I absolutely hate the 80’s look of our 6″ cans, but didn’t for two reasons. First I couldn’t find ANY useful reviews of bulbs with the integrated trims. Secondly the cost of the integrated style can be up to twice that of a regular BR30 LED bulb. With our need for new bulbs being immediate and our budget being microscopic, I had to forgo the integrated bulbs.

Philips-BR-30-trim-lights

These integrated trim LED light bulbs are slick, and go a long way to eliminate that annoying old school 6″ recessed can look, but the cost is a bit prohibitive when you have thirty cans to outfit.

A Note About Our Dimmer

Our dimmer is whatever the electricians put in when they built the house. I really need to replace them with something a little higher tech to get the most out of our LED bulbs and their dimming capabilities. So keep this in mind as you read.

kitchen dimmer

Our old school, non-LED friendly, dimmer in the kitchen.

Green Creative Titanium Series 4.0

I was attracted to the Green Creative bulb because of it’s sexy as f*ck good looks, and the great review it received on CNET (click here to read for yourself). I order my sample bulb directly from EarthLED.com and received free shipping with my order.

Green-Creative-BR-30-LED-bulb-review

Green Creative LED BR30 light bulb, with it’s beautifully cool flying buttress like supports, and smooth plastic cover

The looks of the bulb and the packaging didn’t disappoint. It’s a shame to hide them away in a recessed ceiling can.

Installed, the bulb gives off a super bright, warm glow similar to an incandescent on steroids. It’s definitely the brightest. Where the bulb fell down was with our dimmer. It didn’t really dim at all. But as with all the bulbs, I really need to test with a new dimmer, designed with LED’s in mind. There was a slight flicker when the bulb was dimmed all the way. Noticeable, but not bothersome.

GE Reveal BR30 LED

Once again, I relied on CNET (click here) to throw the recommendation my way for the new GE Reveal BR30 LED bulb. I found the best price on Amazon.com, and ordered up a sample bulb for $16.99. They’re actually closer to $15 as of this writing today (12/30/15).

GE-BR-30-LED-bulb-review

Blue stripe accent and curvy body of the GE Reveal BR30 LED bulb.

The bulb is pretty pleasing to look at, and has a blue stripe accent which is a nice touch. The bulb gets high marks for color rendering, which I cannot measure with other than with my eye, and I can say it appears to deliver. Everything looks clean and colorful, but not to cold. All the bulbs I tested are definitely close to that 2700K range, so no problems replacing your old bulbs with these from a “mood” standpoint. The GE also wasn’t as glaring white as the Green Creative. Seems like this would be a great bulb for the kitchen or the art studios.

Where it disappoints though is with dimming. It doesn’t dim very far down with our old school dimmer.

Philips 9.5w LED BR30 Indoor Flood w/ WarmGlow 

Alright, the Philips was recommended to me by Tom my electrician. Normally I rely on online reviews, but he spoke highly of the bulb so I figured I’d give it a go and include it in my impromptu kitchen test.

I ordered one bulb from Amazon.com, with my free shipping the cost was $11.19 plus tax (not sure why it’s showing so much higher in cost today 12/30/15…shop around for the best deal, unless they’ve discontinued the bulb)

Philips-BR-30-LED-Bulb

I’m a fan of Philips’ industrial design on most of its LED light bulbs, this BR30 is no exception

Philips-BR-30-LED-Packaging

The Philips packaging was refreshing because it was all recyclable and renewable kraft corrugated material. This is what packaging should be.

The packaging on the Philips bulb was fantastic. I was so happy to see they created a simple to make, and open corrugated box to house the bulb in. Too often, mostly at retail, LED bulbs and other products are encased in hard to open plastic clamshells. Not so with this bulb.

With skepticism I installed the bulb in the kitchen. And wouldn’t you know it…the damn thing dims brilliantly with our old school dimmer. The bulb is warm looking at full blast, and then does this cute trick as it dims down: it gets warmer. Where as the other two bulbs only went down about 50% and were both white looking when dimmed, the Philips bulb performed basically just like an antiquated incandescent light bulb that we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing.

The Philips is rated at 730 lumens, compared to the other bulbs 650 lumens but I’m not sure I see a discernible difference with my well trained eye. If anything the other bulbs are brighter over achievers, and this Philips is generous in saying 730. Regardless, all three bulbs are plenty bright enough for any home or application.

dimmed-bulbs

Here are all three bulbs dimmed down all the way. Green Creative is in the foreground, Philips in the middle and GE in the back next to a turned off incandescent bulb.

lights-full-bright

Same three bulbs turned all the way up with incandescent bulbs way in the back by the cabinets.

Winner: Philips

The bulb we chose is the Philips bulb. The GE was our second choice. Our decision is based on overall look and feel when the bulbs are at 100% and when they are dimmed. All three bulbs will save us money, and other than the GE, they’re reasonably priced.

In fairness I should try them with a new dimmer, and I will. In the meantime I feel confident that we can migrate to the Philips LED BR30 bulbs for our home.

I will actually use the sexy Green Creative bulbs in my art studio because I like the look and I don’t need to dim anything.

And I may still use the GE’s in the non-dimming kitchen or studio areas for best color rendering.

The Other Philips Bulb

I was at Home Depot today and noticed they had a slightly different Philips WarmGlow bulb for sale that looks interesting and presumably performs as well as the one I tested. If in fact they discontinued the Philips bulb I tested, then this one at Home Depot may be the route to go. It uses less energy and is Energy Star certified. (Our winning Philips is inexplicably not Energy Star certified).

other-Philips-BR-30-LED-bulb

An alternative Philips bulb I saw at Home Depot with WarmGlow technology, costs less and uses less energy.

the-other-Philips-BR-30-LED-bulb-at-Home-Depot

The back of the Philips BR30 WarmGlow bulb I saw at Home Depot.

Here’s a chart I threw together to compare the bulbs I looked at.

Light bulb test-01

You can download and print it here: BR30 LED Light bulb comparison

Okay kids, there you have it: my LED light bulb comparison. Hopefully I’ve saved you some trouble in deciding which bulbs to put in your home. Whichever one, or “ones”, you choose, you can not go wrong with this group. What’s most important is that when your incandescent, AND florescent, bulbs burn out: REPLACE THEM WITH LED’s. These bulbs will save you a ton of money in the long run, add value to your home (in my opinion), and because the use less energy, they reduce our reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels.

Speaking of energy use, it’s imperative that you get your home energy use down to the bare minimum to make it easier to transition to renewable energy. Eventually all of us (or our children) will have to make the switch from non-renewables. Why not make that transition as simple as possible.

One last note, these bulbs last over twenty years. Just think, the bulbs I’m putting into this house right now may very well be the last light bulbs I ever have to change.

That means one less thing on my “to do” list, and more time to write (or eat and drink).

Cheers!

 

-Chris

 

 

Framing The Basement – Steel Studs

Here’s my recap for framing the basement. It’s probably a good thing I’m writing this a few weeks after the actual work, because it wasn’t as easy a chore as I would have thought.

In a previous life I rough framed houses, so framing is probably what I’m best at when it comes to home DIY projects. Had I chose to use wood framing I’m sure partitioning the basement would have been uneventful. Well because of my concerns with flooding down there, should the sump pump ever fail, I was leery to use pine 2×4’s that could become water-logged and moldy in a water event. There’d be the risk that I’d have to rip everything out and start over if that ever happened.

I could use all pressure treated lumber, which would be impervious to rot, but I was thinking of a more contemporary solution.

Steel Framing

I knew about steel framing, having seen it used at my corporate job. It seemed like that might be a good option: use galvanized steel framing. If it got wet it wouldn’t rot, mold or rust. So I did my homework.

From what I gathered steel framing would be less expensive and go up as quickly as lumber. You can’t use it for structural walls, but none of my basement walls are structural. They just have to hold up drywall. Steel framing is also resistant to fire, which is a good thing around mechanical systems. And steel is 100% recyclable, so it’s a good choice from an environmental standpoint.

I got a quote for having someone else install the walls, but I decided to try to save some money, as well as learn a new skill by doing it myself. Here is an article from The Family Handyman magazine that explains how to install the steel studs (click here). I’ll let you look and learn on your own. Instead of going through the steps again, I’ll hit on my thoughts and highlights regarding using steel framing (compared to wood framing).

Cost

From what I read steel was supposed to be cheaper but I’m not sure that’s the case. If anything it’s a wash. Studs were $4.17 for 10′ lengths. Pressure treated wood is more. Regular pine / fir is less. I looked at both Lowe’s and Home Depot and both stores had steel in stock for similar prices. I bought at Lowe’s because I get a discount there.

Fastener wise you have to buy screws, four per stud. That cost is likely the same as nails so that’s a wash. The same goes for the floor anchor bolts.

Advantage: it’s a draw

Material

Steel is great because it’s straight and light weight. I did the entire project single-handedly. I’m not sure I could have done wood alone. Also we haul materials on the roof rack of the RAV4. Lightweight steel means more studs per trip to Lowe’s. Wood is renewable. Steel is recyclable, fire resistant and doesn’t rust*.

Advantage: steel*

(*make sure you get galvanized steel. I bought mine at Lowe’s and I’m almost certain it’s not galvanized, other than one batch of studs. I asked the associates on two occasions and they said the product I was buying was galvanized but I’m pretty sure it’s not. What I got will likely rust over time potentially. I’ll keep an eye on it (I have access to nearly all the walls from  the back side via mechanical rooms).)

Installation

Wood is easy. Measure and cut. Steel studs are a pain in the ass to cut to length. Our ceilings are 9′ tall. Turns out the holes for electrical wires to go through the stud fall right at 9′ from the end of our 10′ studs. So I had to cut each stud two times.

Actual installation was nothing short of maddening. A drill holster is an absolute necessity since you have to screw each stud four times, twice each top and bottom into metal channels. You also have to clamp the stud to the track every time you go to fasten a screw. I nearly had the entire basement framed before I learned that you just gotta jam the drill on full blast and hope the screw bites.

The worst part is trying to fasten a screw where the track butts up against an obstacle such as the I-beam running down the center of the basement. I finally figured out you need to install the fastener from the inside of the stud, not the outside, first. Then do the subsequent other fastener on the other side of the stud, from the outside.

Steel stud install easily took 2-3 times longer than wood would have.

Advantage: wood

Utility

Steel studs can’t bear weight. So if you’re going to hand cabinets or shelves you likely have to frame those areas with wood. Doorways need to be trimmed in wood anyway because finish trim won’t attached to steel unless you use decorative small profile head screws. I plan on putting in a barn door for the storage room and I know I’ll have to block the heck out of that area to support a sliding door.

For electrical, my electrician is saying steel will cost more because of the boxes and whatnot that he’ll have to use. Also I’ll need to block in with wood mounting points for outlets and more.

Steel is great for partitions but not much else. By the way, all my soffits are made from wood, as well as the ceiling in the bathroom.

Advantage: wood

Final Verdict

So it’s no surprise that I can’t recommend steel framing for any project. I love the look, and steel is definitely easier if you’re working all by yourself, like I invariably am. I suppose the learning curve is there: I now know what to look for and I’ve made many of the mistakes. But regardless I probably should have just stuck with lumber, even if I used pressure treated sole plates and risked wet wall studs.

Check out my photos below for more info and details.

Shoot me any questions in the comments section.

 

My Garage Organization Project

Over Easter weekend I tackled a project that I had been looking forward since we moved in: organizing the garage. And while it’s not 100% all good, it’s a huge improvement. I’m loving it.

I rummaged around the garage and came up with a few hollow bi-fold doors that would make perfect shelves. I also had a couple of pieces of 2’x4′ pegboard that I brought from the old house. I supplemented those items with 12′ worth of Gladiator brand organization track, and accessories, as well as premade metal shelf brackets from Lowe’s (~$125 worth of stuff).

First up was putting up a shelf and pegboard above the gardening area. I located the studs at 16″ on center in that area. There is an electrical box and a window in the way so I had to scratch my head a little bit as to where I wanted to mount the shelf brackets. Also I didn’t want to lose vertical height; mounting the shelf brackets above the pegboard, so I decided to mount the brackets ON TOP OF the pegboard.

Pegboard requires 1×2 furring strips so the panel stands off of the wall, allowing the peg hooks to have clearance and work properly. I cut the strips and mounted them over each stud location using my favorite screws: SPAX #8 2-1/2″ wood to wood screws.

1x2 furring strips where each stud lies behind the drywall. I will attach peg boards to the strips, notching it for the windows.

1×2 furring strips where each stud lies behind the drywall. I will attach peg boards to the strips, notching it for the windows.

I then mounted the pegboard panel, which I had to notch to clear the window, using smaller 1-1/2″ SPAX screws. On top of the pegboard I then fastened the metal shelf brackets using 2-1/2″ screws, through the bracket, pegboard, furring strip, drywall and into the wood stud.

I mounted the brackets over the pegboard and drywall, where the wall studs are.

I mounted the brackets over the pegboard and drywall, where the wall studs are.

Once that was done I was ready for the shelf. Like I said I reused some old hollow bi-fold door panels that were about 6′ x 12″ for the shelf. I had to cut the one end down, at a 45 degree angle to fit, and to make sure we didn’t hit our head as we came and went through the garage man door.  Because the door is hollow, the cut end looks weird but form follows function, and the door, er, shelf material was free after all. I used 1-1/2″ deck / drywall screws to attach the bottom of the shelf to the metal brackets. I also ran a 2-1/2″ screw through the top of the shelf into the top of the furring strips – the doors have solid would all along the perimeter so by running a screw through there where I could was an added measure of security.

Lining up the 45 degree cut on the hollow bi-fold door. Measure 12 inches up on both sides of the square along the same edge.

Lining up the 45 degree cut on the hollow bi-fold door. Measure 12 inches up on both sides of the square along the same edge.

The door are hollow and my SPAX screws proved to aggressive to attach the bottom of the bracket to the shelf. So I used some small deck / drywall screws that worked just right.

The door are hollow and my SPAX screws proved to aggressive to attach the bottom of the bracket to the shelf. So I used some small deck / drywall screws that worked just right.

Here you can see the 45 degree angle I cut on the end of the hollow bi-fold door that is now my garage shelf.

Here you can see the 45 degree angle I cut on the end of the hollow bi-fold door that is now my garage shelf.

Well we're a little more organized now.

Well we’re a little more organized now.

Here you can see I added another piece of pegboard and shelf to the other side.

Here you can see I added another piece of pegboard and shelf to the other side.

It was nice to have the added organization space above the garden work area and my work bench. I mirrored the set up on the other side of the window and was good to go.

Next up I quickly added a 1/2″ plywood shelf over the toy area per the wife’s request. I used up some scrap material and mounted that to three simpler metal brackets.

I added this quick simple shelf, made of 1/2" plywood and store bought brackets.

I added this quick simple shelf, made of 1/2″ plywood and store bought brackets.

Over to the far end of the garage I had a pile of yard tools leaning up in a pile in the corner. My plan was to put a Gladiator brand track up, then a bi-fold door shelf above that, and then way up high use a couple hooks I had lying around to hang up the extension ladder.

It took some time but I decided to run all 12′ of track in one line, even with the bottom of the window. The stud layout worked out perfectly – I didn’t have to cut any of the tracks. I decided not to temp fate though, and I predrilled all the tracks, in prep for using more 2-1/2″ wood screws to mount the them to the wall. I used a level, marked my studs and the tracks went up without any cause for concern.

Drilling pilot holes in the Gladiator track before mounting them to the wall.

Drilling pilot holes in the Gladiator track before mounting them to the wall.

A detail of the Gladiator track installed. I used 2-1/2" long SPAX screws.

A detail of the Gladiator track installed. I used 2-1/2″ long SPAX screws.

I then mounted shelf brackets above the track, the door shelf to the brackets and eventually the ladder hooks way up high. I intentionally tried to stagger how much I was screwing into each stud to try to keep the load distributed across the wall. The track goes into every stud obviously. Shelf brackets, I mounted those higher and tried to skip a few studs. Then the ladder hooks higher up on lesser used studs.

In addition to the Gladiator track I added another hollow bi-fold door shelf and even hung up the extension ladder way up high, out of the way.

In addition to the Gladiator track I added another hollow bi-fold door shelf and even hung up the extension ladder way up high, out-of-the-way.

I spent some time noodling over the Gladiator accessories I had purchased, but eventually got a set up I liked. Just above the electric trimmer I mounted the battery charger, using my favorite wall anchors and screws.  The charger is conveniently located near an outlet.

I mounted the recharger for the trimmer just above the track, near the timmer and an outlet.

I mounted the charger for the trimmer just above the track, near the trimmer and an outlet.

Now our garage is organized. For the most part. And I can start enjoying it. I can’t wait to work in the garden, or make bird boxes, with all our tools, and supplies easily accessible. The best part is I was able to use many materials that we had on hand, so it kept costs down.

Have any questions?

Know any tips or tricks?

Share in the comments below.

Ranking Movies My Kids Watch – Part 2

Lorax. photo from IMDB.com screenshot.

Lorax. photo from IMDB.com screenshot.

Well the wife and I never connected to arrive at a consensus on the top ten list, so I’ll take a stab at it with my thoughts. I’m not sure I can rank them in order, so consider this our top ten (plus some more) animated movies that our kids (and we watch) but not necessarily in this order. Because they’re all kind of different, I’m not sure we could rank them anyway; sort of like comparing apples and oranges. Besides, even if we’re on a deserted island, we could grab more than one DVD for entertainment, I bet.

Drum roll please….

The Lorax – We saw this gem at the theater while on vacation with our oldest. I believe I liked it then but the wife luke-warm. For whatever reason we bought it on DVD and it grew on us. I love the environmental message. For the non-tree hugging crew there are plenty of great songs and the Dr. Suess inspired story line is fast paced, cohesive and illustrated very nicely. If it’s not our number one, it’s definitely in the top five.

Despicable Me – I didn’t know what to expect when we first saw the movie, but turns out it’s one of our favorites. It’s hilarious, heart warming and there are plenty of one-liners, memorable moments and subtle distractions to keep you coming back for repeat viewings. The animation is artfully fantastic.

Despicable Me 2 – The sequel is nearly as good as the original, and in our top ten regardless. New characters, new story but the same great animation, humor and action to keep the whole family engaged.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs – I suspect this might be Christine’s favorite set of movies. Cloudy does a nice job, despite a departed mom, of keeping things upbeat. The movie is a cornucopia of visual delights and requite subtle dialogue details that we seemingly see or hear something new every time we watch.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 – Another sequel makes our list. It’s more of what we love, including all of our favorite characters. Probably the only reason I might like this one less than the first is a couple of the new characters, but all in all the movie comes through with more visual delights and snappy one-liners.

Tangled – This newer classic is my favorite Disney movie of all time. ‘I’ve Got A Dream’ is the best song in any animated movie, ever. Bar none. There’s more to love than just one song though: a good story, funny characters and even a cute little chameleon make for a wonderfully good time.

Turbo – We had no interest in ‘Turbo when we saw the previews. I’m not even sure what prompted us to rent it. But we’re glad we did. It’s a really cute upbeat movie, which is important with any kid movie that you’re likely to watch over and over again. The action is non-stop.

Hotel Transylvania – Another movie that we didn’t pay much attention to. And another one that delights the whole way through, from start to finish. Once again there’s a missing mom, but that doesn’t bring us down as the movie is humorous and the animation is fantastic. Well worth checking out.

Ratatouille – Who would have thought a movie about rats would be good? Well turns out this one is more than just good. A Disney / Pixar combo means the animation is top-notch. The story line stands out and is heart warming. One of my personal favorites.

Cars – I have a love hate relationship with cars. The animation is great and our one son watches Cars…..actually Cars 2, all the time, so it deserves a showing in our top ten. It’s an emotional roller coaster with funny moments, sad moments and heart-felt moments. At some point I probably well up every time I watch, even to this day. I have issue with the fact that cars don’t have arms and hands so how do they take care of themselves in a decidedly human centric world, devoid of actual humans. Regardless, ‘Cars’ earns it’s spot.

Honorable mentions (or the movies beyond the top ten)

Rio – we just saw this gem about a blue parrot a few weeks ago when it was on TV for free. For me, I have it a 9 right out of the gate, in fact I’d put it in my top 5 quite possibly. It’s upbeat, cute, and has a fun story. And it stays away from being too annoying at times, when it easily could have been. After ten minutes, I was smitten.

How To Train Your Dragon – I don’t know how this isn’t in the top ten. It’s a delightful movie. Though yet again, the mom is missing – what the hell is it with people who write these kids movies. Anyway, the main dragon reminds me of my black kitty which that alone earns it extra points. The animation is good, and the story packs plenty of interest and top-notch animation.

Cars 2 – It’s been on almost every day for the year. I’ve never actually watched it start to finish, but have seen it all. Same great animation, car crashes, and some new characters.

Ice Age 1 & 2 – The first two installments, of this four part series are likely the best in terms of music and one-liners. The other two are okay, but the return on investment dwindles with every subsequent installment.

There you have it, our top ten plus list of animated movies for our kids.

What movies would you add to the list?

What’s your favorite?

Share in the comments below.