Are Smart Air Conditioners Truly Smart?
Summer is a time for picnics, trips to the beach, and long days in the sun. When it’s time to come inside, air conditioning systems help to lower the temperature and keep uncomfortable humidity at bay.
In 2016, smart devices are taking off. From light bulbs to large appliances, many of the newest products on the market are now controllable from anywhere in the world. Not surprisingly, there are now smart air conditioners on the market. Should you spend your money on these? It’s time to find out.
The Current Smart Air Conditioner Market
Home air conditioning methods take many forms, from centralized systems that control the entire home to single units mounted on a wall or in a window. Floor units are also becoming popular thanks to their portability. For now, there aren’t a lot of companies offering smart air conditioning systems. Of those who are, the products aren’t yet available everywhere.
Samsung, for example, owner of SmartThings , has been introducing many types of smart appliances in recent years, including smart refrigerators, washers, and dryers. On the air conditioning front, the company offers a series of smart wall units. Each of these features Smart Wi-Fi, allowing you to monitor and change energy settings from anywhere, and Smart Check, where you’re able to diagnose errors and request a service immediately. Unfortunately, these smart wall units aren’t available in major consumer markets such as the United States.
The window-based Frigidaire Gallery Smart Room Air Conditioner is available in many places. It features Wi-Fi control, allowing you to control a room anywhere, anytime from your smart device.
Finally, there is the first smart conditioner on the market, the GE Aros, which arrived in 2014. This product tracks your daily usage so you can adjust settings to save on energy costs. Additionally, the GE Aros learns from your schedule, weather, and budget to cool when you need it.
The biggest drawback to the limited number of smart air conditioners is the price. For example, an 8,000 BTU smart air conditioner from Frigidaire retails for $429. A similar “dumb” unit is $299. You’ll also find that smart air conditioners are only available at lower BTU levels. The Frigidaire Gallery Smart Room Air Conditioner and GE Aros are both only available with 8,000 BTUs.
A BTU or British thermal unit is a traditional unit work equal to about 1055 joules. It’s the amount of work needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
Most Current Air Conditioners Can Be Smart
Unimpressed with the current list of smart air conditioners? Don’t stress, because we’re about to show you how to turn traditional units into smart ones.
Sensibo turns any remote controlled air conditioner into a smart device, thereby helping you to reduce your energy consumption. Sensibo features a Smart Pod and Hub. The former is placed directly on your air conditioning unit; the latter connects to your home router via an Ethernet cable. You control the air conditioner through a free Sensibo smartphone app.
Have more than one air conditioner? Add more Smart Pods.
Sensibo is known for its easy setup and ability to add more air conditioning units simply by installing a new Smart Pod to the home network. Additionally, Sensibo works with IFTTT, which adds more flexibility.
IFTTT, or “If This Then That ” is a free service that allows everyday users to create chains of statements, called “recipes,” which are triggered based on changes to other Web services such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Here are a few of the Sensibo recipes available on IFTTT:
- If you send an email to IFTTT then switch on your air conditioner using Sensibo
- When it’s steaming hot outside, switch the air conditioner on using Sensibo
- When you enter an area with your iPhone, switch on your air conditioner with Sensibo
A single Sensibo pack, which consists of one Smart Pod and Hub, is available for $199. A starter kit, with two Pods, is $318, while a home kit with three Pods is $437. Additional Smarts Pods are $130.
The Tado Smart Thermostat controls your air conditioning (or heat) via infrared, just like your remote control, and connects through your Wi-Fi to the internet. As a bonus, it regulates the air conditioning based on whether anyone is home using geolocation control.
Better still: Tado is Bluetooth and iBeacon capable, which allows it to monitor users’ movements within the home. As residents move around, Tado adjusts the temperature in each room. In doing so, empty rooms are cooled at high temperatures.
Tado is also compatible with IFTTT. Among the recipes:
- Yo, boost heating to ___ °C
- If tado° switches to Home mode, then add a row to a spreadsheet in my Google Drive
- If tado° switches to Sleep mode, then send a notification to my watch
Tado is compatible with window, wall, and mobile air conditioners. Like Sensibo, Tado is available starting at $199.
Already a Samsung SmartThings owner? You can control your air conditioner remotely with products like the GE-In-Wall Smart Switch. With this switch, you can turn your lights on/off from your smart devices, and also trigger the lights when certain events occur. For example, when someone opens a door or leaves a room. The switch also plays nice with ceiling fans, which can turn on/off depending on the temperature of the room.
There are many SmartThings-compatible products already on the market to monitor, control, and secure your home. New products arrive each month. For a current list of compatible products, see the SmartThings website.
A Final Word
The number of native Smart Air Conditioners on the market remains low. Thanks to tools like Sensibo and Tado, however, you can turn everyday air conditioners into smart ones, for less money and added flexibility.
Image Credit: woman cooling herself by dean bertoncelj via Shutterstock