Sometimes when I'm shopping, I make the mistake of grabbing an item without paying enough attention, and I end up bringing home something that I was really not planning on buying. This item was one of those cases, however, it worked out much better than I planned.
After buying my first house, I went out to the local home improvement store shopping for a garden hose as well as a bunch of other items I needed. I found a good hose and planned on grabbing a simple hand-cranked hose reel, just so I could keep the hose up and out of the way. I knew that I'd need a hose reel that was somewhat skinny, because I wanted to tuck it in amongst some of the landscaping around the house. The store I was in only had one that would fit in the space that I had available, so I put it in the cart and checked out.
I was in a bit of a hurry to get back home, so I had to rush out of the store. When I got there, though, I checked over the receipt because my total came out to be quite a bit more than I thought it would be. That's when I saw it. The cheap little $30 hose reel that I thought I was buying actually turned out to cost about $80. "What could possibly make a hose reel cost that much?", I wondered, so I checked the packaging to see exactly what I had bought.
Apparently, the item I had grabbed was no ordinary hand-cranked hose reel. It was a "Crate 125 NO-CRANK Hose Reel", with a built in water-powered engine that automatically winds up the hose with the flip of a switch.
Regardless of it's features, I thought $80 was a lot of money for a simple hose reel, so I was planning on returning it. However, before I could, curiosity got the better of my family and I, and we had to try it out.
It was actually pretty cool. On the side of the unit is a lever which, when switched, diverts the water from the hose and activates a water driven motor inside, that automatically spins the reel. It doesn't wind the hose in at a any great (i.e. dangerous) speed, instead it moves a more leisurely pace of about a couple of feet per second. As the hose is being retracted, a guide mechanism moves back and forth across the reel to keep the hose neatly wound around the spool, and the water that is used to drive the motor is dumped out via a separate "exhaust" hose.
After trying it out, we decided to keep it, and it's been out in our back yard for the past two summers. We use it fairly often for a variety of tasks and have never had a problem with it.
I'm still of the opinion that an automatic hose reel is somewhat of a novelty item for me, as well as being pretty expensive, but i have to admit that this thing has really grown on me. It's actually quite convenient to be able to put away my tools or other items, while the hose is automatically rewinding itself. I can also see where such an item could be very useful to someone that cannot, or does not want to, physically turn a crank to wind up their garden hose.
So actually, what could be seen as a $50 dollar mistake, ended up working out for the best. I was introduced to an item that I didn't even know existed, and my family and I have benefitted from the convenience that it offers.
If you're in the market for an automatic hose reel, either due to physical limitations or just because of the "coolness" factor, be sure to take a look at the "125 NO-CRANK Hose Reel" from Crate.