If you follow our Facebook Page or visit this website, you shouldn’t be surprised that preventing hot car deaths is a cause that is near and dear to us. We are huge supporters of anything that can help prevent hot car deaths, so we jumped at the opportunity to try out the Clever Elly.
The Clever Elly is a simple little device that plugs into the vehicle’s auxiliary power outlet (what some people refer to as the “cigarette lighter”). When the vehicle’s ignition is turned off, most vehicles also cut the power to the auxiliary power outlet. This change in power prompts the Clever Elly to do it’s most important job — play a sound clip that reminds you to check the back seat. Were that the only thing it did, we’d still find it pretty great but Clever Elly also serves a very functional function — it has 2 USB charging slots.
We know that habits form easily – and ignoring a reminder can also become a habit. The folks at Clever Elly know this too, and have used two different voices that say ten different alerts at random. All of the reminders tell you to “Check the back seat”, but say it with different words and phrases so it’s very difficult to tune Clever Elly out.
We purchased a few Clever Ellys (Ellies?) so we could have multiple views and opinions about this great little device. Here’s the summary of our Review Team’s thoughts about Clever Elly.
I have three children and they each have their own opinions on the Clever Elly. My three year old caught on quickly and now repeats “Mom! Check the back seat!” after the Clever Elly warning is heard. My seven year old is annoyed by the Clever Elly and has no issues voicing that opinion but I actually found this to be a good thing – if the voice alert is annoying it means people will pay attention to it. That, ultimately, is what makes devices that remind parents to check the back seat successful. I have been using the Clever Elly for about a month in my 2007 Honda Odyssey and have yet to hear a female voice, but I have found that the male voice is an effective reminder.
I work in early intervention, and spend each day driving around to different children’s homes to provide services. This means LOTS of Clever Elly alerts, because I am turning the vehicle on and off roughly 8+ times per day.
After over a month of use, I am still noticing the voice. In other words, I haven’t tuned it out just yet, despite hearing it 100+ times already in a short period of time.
In my vehicle, a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander, the chime sometimes plays when I start the vehicle. In addition, one of the auxiliary power outlets in my vehicle does not turn off when the vehicle turns off – which is convenient for charging my phone when the car is off (during a power outage at home, for example), but it means the Clever Elly wouldn’t work in this outlet.
When driving my 4 year old niece and 2 year old nephew around, they are delightedly surprised when the vehicle turns off and the Clever Elly alert sounds. Recently my niece said, “It says that so you don’t forget to get me out of my car seat.” That’s right, kiddo.
It’s a nice reminder for everyone in the vehicle. I plan to continue using the Clever Elly and buy several more for the other vehicles my two favorite Littles ride in.
I have four children who are 11, 9, 7, and 5 years old. I started using Clever Elly as soon as I received it. My youngest child was enthralled with Clever Elly right away, and enjoyed the voice reminding us to check for her. She’d repeat it and tell us, “Check in back for me! I’m back here.” We heard two of the male voices for about two weeks before we heard a female voice, but now we regularly hear female and male voices.
In our 2003 Grand Am, the former cigarette lighter gets continuous power so this device would not work in that vehicle.
Using the main outlet in my vehicle, we found the device was popping out of place after about a month of consistent use. I think this was because it was getting jostled by the surrounding items in the console. We were happy to note that the Clever Elly could quicky charge both my husband’s Android and my iPhone at the same time! The outlet inside our center console also has continuous power, so while the Clever Elly charged our phones quickly, that center console position would not be the best spot because it would never give us the verbal reminder.
My child is a very opinionated three year old. While testing the Clever Elly device, I have been using it fairly equally in both of my vehicles – a 2015 Ram 1500 and a 2016 Kia Sedona.
After a few weeks of use, I am happy to report that I have not encountered any challenges with this device – outside of a husband unplugging it without my knowledge!
The male voice is definitely dominant on Clever Elly, though the female voice is there on occasion. My daughter noticed the reminder immediately and now enjoys making sure everyone has heard it by repeating, “Check the back seat!” whenever the device alerts. This tells me that it is definitely loud enough to be heard throughout the vehicle since she could hear it from the back seat even when Clever Elly is plugged in to the outlet inside the center console.
I was so excited to see such a simple and effective tool created to help prevent hot car deaths. I have four children who are 10, 7, 5, and 2 years old. I am most often traveling with the younger two in our older vehicle that lacks air conditioning, which makes our drives quite warm during the summer months. This made me particularly worried about the possibility of one of my children remaining in the vehicle.
Clever Elly worked great for charging our devices but we found that all our vehicles supplied continuous power to all outlets whether the vehicle was on or off. Since it is a cut to the power that prompts Clever Elly to chime, this did not end up being a useful hot car death prevention tool for our vehicles.
I did get to hear several of Clever Elly’s reminders and was happy to notice quite a variety in efforts to reduce tuning them out as you would an identical sound every time (like I do to my morning alarm clock). For those whose vehicles have power outlets that do not have power when the vehicle is off, I feel this is a great step in preventing hot car deaths.
Our review team found plenty of good things about Clever Elly. It’s simple, low cost, effective, and doesn’t interfere with the car seat or car seat installation. That makes Clever Elly one of the very very few aftermarket products that we’d recommend. We’d suggest that caregivers continue to use the low-tech hot car death prevention techniques that we advocate — Look Before you Lock, Lock Before you Leave, and hot car death prevention tips for preschoolers. Adding Clever Elly to this routine can only help ensure that more avoidable deaths are prevented.
We do caution caregivers to make sure that Clever Elly is compatible with their vehicle before incorporating it into their hot car death prevention routines.
Note: Hyundai is phasing out the 12 volt jack, and is going to be putting USB ports in their new vehicles so Clever Elly may not work in those vehicles.