Now that spring has finally arrived and the weather is approaching the eighties, our focus at gearbrain is on keeping the smart home cool and comfortable.
Of course, air conditioning units have been around for years, and even if you don’t have them permanently installed in your home, there are plenty of portable options available for occasional use.
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but these solutions are not particularly smart. Even if you can set a timer with your AC unit, that still means the system doesn’t pay attention to what the weather is actually doing. And who wants to play with the schedule every day based on the weather forecast?
no, neither do we. Fortunately, there are smarter options out there that can save you time, keep you comfortable, and lower your air conditioning bills all at the same time.
how to make your existing air conditioning system smart and connected
Instead of spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a completely new air conditioning system, there are several devices on the market that will help give your current system some 21st century smarts. These devices work by sending infrared signals to your air conditioning unit, just like those sent from the unit’s remote control.
But because these devices connect to the internet through your Wi-Fi network, they can be used to control your air conditioner while you’re away from home. everyone has their own smartphone app to send instructions to the air conditioner from anywhere.
some are also compatible with alexa so you can control your air conditioner with voice commands, and some connect with ifttt (if this then that), giving you much more control and automation options. For example, you can set the air conditioner to turn on when you’re almost home (based on your phone’s location), when the temperature in the room reaches a certain level, or whenever someone enters the house and their motion is detected.
simply place these devices within sight of your air conditioning unit, so infrared signals can easily reach them, then plug them into an outlet and connect to your wi-fi.
sensitive – $115
available in white or grey, the sensibo sky allows your air conditioner to be controlled via the company’s ios and android smartphone apps. Alternatively, you can issue voice commands to Alexa or Google Assistant on a nearby smart speaker or display, or through their respective apps. the system also works with siri shortcuts.
This connectivity means you can turn on the unit from across the room, upstairs, from the office, or from anywhere in the world. There is a seven-day scheduling system in the sensibo app so the air conditioner can be set to come on multiple times a day, and there are built-in temperature and humidity sensors so you know what level to set the air conditioner to before you walk in. .
integration with ifttt opens up additional features, such as geofencing. this means that the sensibo can be set, knowing the location of your smartphone, to turn on the air conditioning when you leave the office or are a couple of blocks from home.
Other ifttt applets take advantage of underground weather forecasts to help cool your home when the temperature or humidity outside reaches a certain level. another applet turns on the air conditioning when you have a meeting on your phone’s calendar, useful if you’re in a home office meeting with clients. sensibo also works with samsung smartthings, openhab and apple homekit. you can find the full selection of ifttt applets for the sensibo sky here.
Because the sensibo works with simple infrared signals, it can also be configured to work with heating systems via the sensibo companion app.
tado Smart HVAC Controller v3+ – £89
tado sells smart thermostats and a range of other connected devices to control the heating and cooling of your home. Sold in the UK and Europe, the Smart AC Control v3+ works much like the Sensibo in that it connects to your Wi-Fi and sends infrared signals to your air conditioning unit or heater.
The tado has its own simple interface on the front, showing you the current operating temperature and other basic information. There’s Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and Apple HomeKit integration to control heating and air conditioning with your voice, and your smartphone’s location can be used to automatically turn devices on before you get home, or turn them off again when you get home. go away.
tado claims that the device works with all air conditioning units that are normally programmed by a controller that displays the temperature. This includes units from Daikin, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Toshica, LG, General Electric, Samsung, Fujitsu and many more.
The tado app includes reports on air conditioning usage and how much money you can expect to save by using the device; a figure that, according to the company, can reach up to 40 percent. if you buy multiple controllers, they can be used to manage heating and cooling in different rooms of the house, from the same app.
air patrol wifi v3 – $66
Also very similar to both the sensibo and tado, the airpatrol controls your air conditioner via infrared and connects to your wi-fi. there is an app for ios and android smartphones to turn the unit on and off, set a seven-day schedule, and check the device’s temperature and humidity sensors.
ifttt compatibility means it can be controlled by alexa, google assistant and other smart home systems, and through ifttt applets you can set the air conditioner to turn on and off based on your smartphone’s location . other applets can control your air conditioner based on the local weather forecast, or you can have it turn on when the air patrol’s temperature or humidity sensor reaches a certain level.
The creators of airpatrol claim that taking smart control of your air conditioning and heating can reduce your home’s energy requirements by 20-25 percent.
window air conditioner with smartphone and voice control
If you have a bigger budget to spend on keeping your smart home cool, then there is a range of window air conditioning units with wi-fi connections, smartphone apps and even amazon alexa compatibility for voice control.
frigidaire smart window air conditioner 6,000 btu) – $389
Certain Frigidaire window air conditioner units come with Wi-Fi and can be controlled through the company’s iOS and Android smartphone app. just look for the word “smart” in your product name to know that the model comes with wi-fi and app control.
The app allows you to remotely adjust the temperature, mode and fan speed, and set the schedule to run at certain times of the day. A regular remote is included for when your wifi drops or you don’t have your smartphone (or echo speaker) handy.
Designed for smaller spaces and rated at 6,000 btu, this unit is claimed to cool rooms up to 250 square feet and dehumidify at a rate of 1.3 pints per hour.
Boost your budget to $519, and frigidaire sells a smart air conditioning unit with wi-fi and app control, but rated at 12,000 btu, making it suitable for rooms up to 550 square feet, and dehumidifies at a rate of 3.8 pints per hour.
rollicool cool310 portable air conditioner with alexa
The portable unit is designed for large rooms and has Alexa controlRollicool
This portable air conditioning unit is mounted on wheels, so it can be easily moved around the house and plugged into a wall outlet where it’s needed most. just remember to place it near a window, to hang the exhaust pipe. The unit is rated at 12,000 btu and is designed to cool spaces up to 550 square feet.
A Wi-Fi connection means the unit can be controlled using its own app (for iOS and Android) or by talking to Alexa. a conventional remote control is also included. when switched to dehumidification mode, it can remove 2.3 pints of moisture from the air per hour.
Use a smart plug to control a portable air conditioning unit
As with many home appliances, portable air conditioning units can be made smarter by connecting them to a smart plug. These plugs connect to your Wi-Fi and are controlled from your smartphone, or with voice controls delivered to a voice assistant or smart speaker. in many cases, they can also be configured via ifttt to turn on and off based on your location, ambient temperature, or the local weather forecast.
The most important thing to consider is how the air conditioning unit turns on. if it starts working immediately when plugged into a wall outlet, it will work when a smart plug is activated. if it requires a button to be pressed every time you plug it in, then a smart plug won’t help.
If AC units are out of your budget for now, consider buying fans that turn on when plugged in and can therefore be controlled via a smart plug. That way, you can have your fans turn on when you’re a block away from home, helping you relax when you walk through the door.
and don’t forget to check gear brain to see if any of your connected devices also work with google home or amazon alexa enabled products.