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About Us

Simplicity. Transparency. Honesty.

Skip the gimmicks and get facts, expert opinions, and product tests.

Modern Castle Team
The Modern Castle Team

There’s a better way to research products for home — and we’re here to help you find it.

Welcome to Modern Castle.

What We Do

We review the cool and essential stuff you need for home. We research, test, and review the products that are featured on our website.

The Modern Castle team has been testing and reviewing products together since 2014.

Our Mission

It is our goal to publish the most useful, interesting, and beautiful reviews to help our readers discover, research, and select the products that best help them create the home of their dreams.

What products do we test?

Currently, our product reviews include seven main categories:

  1. Vacuums
  2. Robot vacuums
  3. Air purifiers
  4. Home security cameras
  5. Furniture
  6. Mops
  7. Smart home


Read Reviews

Robot Vacuums

Roomba 690 robot vacuum review

Read Reviews

Security Cameras

Arlo 1 camera

Read Reviews

Air Purifiers

Levoit LV-PUR131 Air Purifier Review

Read Reviews


Read Reviews

Smart Home

Nest Thermostat E smart thermostat

Read Reviews

We’re always adding new product reviews and product categories. If you have a specific product you think we should investigate please let us know here.

In addition to our standalone reviews, we also complete deep dive brand research like our best Roomba guide, best of analysis like our best vacuum for hardwood floors, and comparisons like our Dyson V6 vs. V7 vs. V8 vs. V10 vs. V11.

Who We Are.

I’m Derek Hales, Founder, and Editor-in-Chief around here. After business school and spending 4 years in corporate America, I decided it was time for a change.

So I launched my first consumer education website and hired the best people I know to help me run it, my sister, Kayla, and cousin, Chris. Chris left us in 2019, but Kayla and I, along with my wife and our friends continue to work together to create the best reviews possible.

Kayla & Derek from the Modern Castle team

We take our reviews seriously and do our best to always find ways to improve (both new content and existing reviews). But, we’re not perfect. If you have suggestions or things you think we could do better please send us your feedback.

Our Stats


Products Reviewed


Hours Working


Consumers Helped

Meet the Team.

Derek Hales

Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Derek Hales

My name is Derek Hales. I’m responsible for overseeing everything on Modern Castle, making sure our review process is always being improved, and researching new products to test and analyze.

I have a passion for creating extraordinary reviews, videos, and visuals to help my readers find exactly what they need.

Kayla Hein

Reviewer & Designer

Kayla Hein

Kayla is my sister and heads up design for Modern Castle. In addition to reviewing products, she also helps to ensure that all of our visuals look beautiful, creating the best possible experience for our readers.

Kayla has a Master’s Degree in Architecture & Product Design, which provides her with a unique perspective on how product design impacts performance.

Featured In

Modern Castle featured in

How We Make Money

Modern Castle is a business. In order to pay for our operational expenses and allow the Modern Castle team to earn a living Modern Castle uses referral links.

When you use our links to purchase a product or service Modern Castle may earn a referral commission.

These referral links don’t cost you anything extra.

They simply tell the respective company that you came from These referral links financially support Modern Castle and let us keep doing what we do best, creating great reviews.

Our referral links may influence the products we review and write about (in addition to where those products appear on Modern Castle). However, our referral links do not affect our scores or recommendations, which are based on our research, tests, and analysis.

Companies don’t pay us to review their products and they cannot pay us to rank or score them highly.

What about ads?

We use traditional on-site advertisements and on our YouTube channel, but we make an effort to make them as non-annoying as possible. If you see an ad that looks sketchy or annoying please let us know here. We can add it to our block list.

How We Review

We research and test products. Then we publish our findings in reviews, comparisons, best of guides, videos, and more.

Our process to sniff out the best products for today’s modern home includes four critical steps:

  1. Research
  2. Receive
  3. Test
  4. Review

The majority of the products we test go through this same process. It is in-depth, rigorous, and we try our best to test products the same way they would be used in a home. To do this, we test them at our home testing lab and within our homes for day-to-day use.

Modern Castle behind the scenes

Our first testing lab and photography / videography studio (I need to get new photos of our current studio soon!)

#1 Research the category.

Before diving into any product for review, we start with research on what is already on the market. We look at different sources to try and understand essential product information before diving into a test.

Modern Castle researching products
  • What do companies say is their best product?
  • What do other consumers say is the best?

We consider features, specs, usability, maintenance, and other factors to determine which products ultimately come to the Modern Castle for a test drive.

#2 Receive the product.

Once we’ve selected which products are ready for a Modern Castle review, we order the product. We order our products in the exact same way that you would order a product. Go to the website, enter our information, wait for that tan package to arrive at your door.

Ecobee4 new in box

What about free products?

In some cases, we will accept product samples from a manufacturer or retailer. However, these free samples don’t earn them any extra points. You can see the free products we’ve received in the table down below.

#3 Put it to the test.

The exact details of our Modern Castle tests vary by product type, but each product is compared across similar testing criteria within each product type. To decide how we test, we think as any consumer would.

The Crosswave was able to remove dirt, debris, and dog hair that our vacuum missed

What do we look at during testing?

  • What was the product designed to do?
  • How well does it do that particular job?
  • Does it have any other features that help to increase the overall value?

We document the results of each test with real data to show how it performs across the variety of tests we do. The overall product score is based on the results of the tests and product analysis.

What about long term tests?

Virtually all products we test are brand new. So we order a new product and test it right out of the box. Because our team is relatively small (just a few people) we don’t have the resources to complete in-depth extended tests for most products.

Long Term Test Team

In addition, we do have a small team of volunteers. These are mostly family and friends of Modern Castle employees. We provide them with products we’ve already tested and give them the product for their use. All we ask is they check in with us periodically and let us know how they like the product, how it’s performing, etc.

If these long term tests reveal major product flaws, longevity issues, or other important information, we do our best to update the respective review and include that information.

#4 The final review.

The final review is written up after the series of tests and analysis are complete. All of our final reviews include a broad-spectrum look at product performance as well as the small details and specifications. Each of these factors can play a roll in whether or not a user chooses to ultimately purchase a product.

Brita vs. Pur scoring

We definitely have our opinion on how good a particular product is. However, everyone’s needs and desires are different. We try help arm you with enough information, pros, and cons, to determine if the product can meet your specific requirements.

Sometimes what’s great for one person isn’t so great for another.

Pre-Test Reviews

Some products that we review go through our pre-test review process. For these products, we complete in-depth research, but don’t personally test the product.

We do pre-test reviews for products that are one or more of the following:

  • Not as in high demand from our readers
  • Substantially similar to other products we’ve tested
  • We feel we could review through research alone
  • We want to get some initial thoughts on, but fully test later

To review these products, we rely on manufacturer specifications (and comparing them to similar products and products we’ve tested or others that are on the market) as well as looking at third-party reviews and information.

How We Score

We take scoring and rating products seriously. We are always striving to improve our scoring processes and methodologies so we can deliver the most accurate and helpful reviews possible.

Our scoring system is a universal system and it applies to all products on Modern Castle. We rate based on 5 factors that we think best capture the essence of a product’s overall performance.

Our 5 Scoring Factors

  1. Design – how does the design, features, and specs impact overall usability and performance?
  2. Performance – how well does the product do what it has been designed to do?
  3. Quality – are the materials, construction, and assembly good? Are there longevity issues?
  4. Usability – how easy is the product to use?
  5. Value – how does the product’s design, performance, quality, and usability compare to its price? Is it worth the cost?

Each above factor is worth 20% of the total score.

Our 5 factors are scored on a 100% scale.

  • 95-100% (exceptional) – This is the top-tier. Products that score here can be considered exceptional.
  • 90-94% (good) – Products that score here can be considered good.
  • 85-89% (okay) – Products that score here can be considered okay.
  • 80-84% (poor) – Products that score here can be considered poor.
  • <80% (failing) – Products that score here can be considered failing.

All scores are color coded (see above) to help make it more immediately clear on their respective performance. The more green, the better they are! The more red, the worse they are.

Updating Our Scores

As we test and score more products we often find that our previous reviews need to be updated.

  • Sometimes we test a product and realize it’s way better than a previous product we tested. So we may need to update that old product’s score to maintain a scoring and recommendation system that makes sense across all of the reviews (especially within that category)
  • On the other hand, sometimes we test a product and it’s significantly worse than a previous similar product we tested. It may be appropriate to simply give that product a worse score and move on. However, sometimes it makes more sense to update our other reviews and improve their relative score.

In both cases, it’s our objective to update and maintain the scores on all of our reviews so that they are consistent with our opinions on what products are best.

If we do make scoring updates to a page we usually will add a section at the bottom of that page explaining why the score changed, whether it went up / down, and what the original score was.

Scoring Systems Tracker

1.0 Scoring SystemAugust 2018 to Present – During the first 2 weeks of August 2018, we made scoring changes to virtually every product on Modern Castle. We made these changes as part of our 1.0 scoring system roll out. This scoring system replaced our 0.9 legacy scoring system. This scoring system is designed to be more intuitive to understand and offer additional clarity on product performance differences.

0.9 Scoring SystemOctober 2017 to July 2018 – This was our legacy scoring system. It was based on a similar 100% scale, however, the scoring factors varied from product to product. As a result, we found it to be more complex to maintain and more confusing for users.

Referral Links & Relationships

The following table has a list of referral relationships has with the companies we review and write about.

In addition, we’ve listed products we received for free.

CompanyReferral Links?Sent Us Free Products?
AcumYesYes (sent us a cordless vacuum)
AerisYesYes (sent us an air purifier)
AirocideYesYes (sent us Airocide APS200)
AirtherealYesYes (sent us an ozone generator)
AmareyYesYes (sent us Amarey A800 & A900)
ArhausYesYes (sent us Kipton sofa)
ArkiiYesYes (sent us handheld vacuum)
BagotteYesYes (sent us wifi camera & robot vacuum)
BenQYesYes (sent us bluetooth speaker)
BestekYesYes (sent us blender)
Black & DeckerYesNo
BluramsYesYes (sent us 2 security cameras)
Buff / Microfiber WholesaleYesNo
BulexYesYes (sent us an air purifier)
Campaign FurnitureYesNo
ComfyerYesYes (sent us 2 mops and a vacuum)
COSORIYesYes (sent us 2 air fryers & a toaster oven)
CoredyYesYes (sent us 2 robot vacuums)
DEENKEEYesYes (sent us a stick & robot vacuum)
DibeaYesYes (sent us a stick vacuum)
Dirt DevilYesNo
ElechomesYesYes (sent us air purifier & humidifier)
EnviroKlenzYesYes (sent us air purifier, but did require we send it back after our review)
EtekcityYesYes (sent us foot massager)
EvapolarYesYes (sent us evaCHILL)
Gearbest.comYesYes (sent us Roidmi F8)
GeekBuying.omYesYes (sent us Xiaowa Lite, Makibes G03)
Germ GuardianYesNo
Google NestYesNo
HeimVisionYesYes (sent us HMD2 camera)
HOBOTYesYes (sent us HOBOT 198, 298, & Legee 668)
iLifeYesYes (sent us iLife A9)
iRobotYesYes (sent us Roomba e5 x 2, Roomba S9+, and Braava M6)
iCleverYesSent us smart plug
iTeknicYesYes (sent us ear buds & headphones)
iTvaniliaYesYes (sent us air purifier)
JimmyYesYes (sent us JV51 vacuum)
JoybirdNoYes (sent us a sofa)
KeepowYesYes (sent us Dyson dock)
LANMODOYesYes (sent us night vision dash cam)
LanmuYesYes (sent us Dyson dock)
LefantYesYes (sent us M500 & T700)
LepowYesYes (sent us a portable monitor)
LevoitYesYes (sent us 1 humidifier, 1 vacuum, and 8 air purifiers, various models)
LIFXYesYes (sent us LIFX Beam Kit x 2)
Light N' EasyYesNo
MECOYesYes (sent us an outdoor security camera)
MerossYesYes (sent us smart plug)
MolekuleYesYes (sent us Molekule Air Mini)
NashYesYes (sent us a smart fan)
NNEWVANTEYesYes (sent us a bamboo sofa table)
NovostellaYesYes (sent us a flood light)
NoveteYesYes (sent us a handheld vacuum)
Oak HollowYesYes (sent us their Aloria chair)
OCLUYesYes (sent us OCLU camera)
OkaysouYesYes (sent us an air purifier)
OransiYesSent us EJ120 air purifier
PUPPYOOYesYes (sent us a stick vacuum)
ProscenicYesYes (sent us a robot vacuum)
Rabbit AirYesYes (sent us MinusA2 & BioGS 2.0)
RenphoYesYes (sent us 2 air purifiers)
Rejuvenate YesYes (sent us mop)
RoborockYesYes (sent us S4, S5, S5 Max, S6, S6 MaxV, H6, E2, E35, and C1)
RobocistYesYes (sent us their R850 robot)
SanteviaYesYes (sent us pitcher filter)
SiliwareYesYes (sent us a Dyson dock)
SQairNoYes (sent us an air purifier)
TenergyYesYes (sent us robot vacuum, heater, thermometer, ear buds, air purifier, & kettle)
TinecoYesYes (sent us vacuum)
Tuft & PawYesYes (sent us cat furniture)
VstarcamYesYes (sent us a dash cam)
VASAGLE / SongmicsYesYes (sent us 4 furnitue pieces from their VASAGLE collection)
Xiaomi MiYesNo

We periodically update the above table, but we might miss a particular product / company or they may be slated for an upcoming update. If you want to know if we have an affiliate relationship and / or received a free product from any company please email us here.

We participate in a variety of referral link programs. Some programs are with eCommerce platforms (like Amazon), some are through a 3rd party network (like ShareASale), and some are direct with the product manufacturer (like

In many cases, there are different referral programs available that sell the same product. We choose our referral links based on a combination of where we think our audience most wants to purchase a product from and on the commission rate. Disclosure

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Still Have Questions?

If you still have questions on the way Modern Castle operates or want to submit requests for new products to review, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

We are excited and willing to help you find the best products for your home. Let’s get started right away.

About Derek Hales

Derek HalesDerek Hales is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of He has been featured in Fast Company, Reader's Digest, Business Insider,, She Knows, and other major publications. Derek has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Kansas State University. Hales has been testing and reviewing products for the home since 2014.