How to make your air conditioning smart with apps and Alexa


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Summer may be winding down, but it’s not over just yet. At GearBrain, our attention is still focused on keeping the smart home cool and comfortable.

Air conditioning units have existed for years, and even if you don’t have one permanently installed in your home, a wide number of portable options are also available.

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Neither of these solutions is particularly smart, though. Even if you can set a timer on your AC unit, that still means that the system pays no attention to the weather. Who wants to fiddle with the schedule every day based on the weather forecast? We certainly don’t.

Thankfully, there are smarter options that can save you time, keep you comfortable and lower your AC bills all at once.

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How to make your current AC system smart

Instead of spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a new AC system, you can check out several devices that can give your current setup some 21st-century smarts.

Because these devices connect to the internet via your Wi-Fi network, they can be used to control the temperature while you are away from home. They all feature their own smartphone app so that you can send instructions home no matter where you are.

Some units can receive voice commands via Amazon Alexa. Others are compatible with IFTTT (If This, Then That), giving you many more options for smart air conditioning. For example, you can set the AC to switch on when you are almost home, when the room temperature reaches a certain level, or whenever someone enters the home and their motion is detected.

Place these device within sight of your AC unit so that the infrared signals can easily reach them, then plug them into a wall outlet and connect them to your Wi-Fi.

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Sensibo – $119

Sensibo allows you to control your AC via the company’s iOS and Android smartphone apps. Alternatively, you can issue voice commands to Alexa through an Amazon Echo smart speaker or to the Google Assistant on a Google Home speaker.

This app means that you can switch the unit on from, well, anywhere. It also includes a seven-day scheduling system as well as built-in temperature and humidity sensors so that you know what to set the AC at.

Integrating the Sensibo with IFTTT opens it up to extra features, like geofencing. This method allows the Sensibo to configure your AC based on your physical location (making it easy to turn on when you’re on your way home from work).

Other IFTTT applets can tap into forecasts from Weather Underground to help you cool your home when the temperature or humidity reaches a certain level. Another applet switches the AC on when you have a meeting set in your phone calendar, which can be handy if you hold meetings in a home office. Sensibo also works with Samsung SmartThings, OpenHab and Apple HomeKit.

Because the Sensibo works with simple infrared signals, it can also be configured to work with heating systems via the companion Sensibo app.

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Tado Smart Air Conditioner and Heater Controller – $199

Tado sells smart thermostats and a range of other connected devices for controlling heating and cooling in your home. These products work similarly to the Sensibo in that they connect to your Wi-Fi and send infrared signals to your AC unit.

The Tado has a simple interface that displays the current operating temperature and other basic information. The device also features both Alexa integration and smartphone geofencing.

Tado claims that its device works with all AC units that are normally manipulated via remote control. These include units from Daikin, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Toshiba, LG, General Electric, Samsung, Fujitsu and many more.

The Tado app generates reports on air conditioning usage and how much money you can save by using the device — a figure the company claims can be up to 40 percent. If you buy several controllers, you can use the app to manage heating and cooling in different rooms throughout your home.

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AirPatrol – $119

Like the Sensibo and the Tado, the AirPatrol controls your AC with infrared signals and also connects to your Wi-Fi. There’s an AirPatrol app for both iOS and Android that can be used to switch your unit on and off, set a seven-day schedule and check the device’s sensors.

IFTTT support means that the AirPatrol can be controlled with Alexa, Google Assistant and other smart home systems. You can also set the AC to switch on and off based on your smartphone’s location. Other applets can manipulate your AC according to weather forecasts or you can have it activate when its temperature and humidity sensors reach a certain level.

The makers of AirPatrol claim that taking smart control of your air conditioning and heating can reduce your home’s energy requirements by 20-25 percent.

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Window air conditioning with smartphone control and Alexa

There’s a wide range of window AC units that feature Wi-Fi connectivity, smartphone apps and Amazo Alexa integration.

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Frigidaire Smart Window Air Conditioner – $250

Select window air conditioning units by Frigidaire are Wi-Fi compatible and can be controlled via the Frigidaire smartphone app, which is available for both iOS and Android. Some models include Alexa support for voice commands.

The app also lets you remotely adjust temperature, mode and fan speed, as well as set up a daily AC schedule. A regular remote control is included with the unit in case the WiFi shuts down or you don’t have a smartphone or Echo speaker handy.

Rated at 8,000 BTU, this unit can cool rooms up to 350 square feet in size and dehumidify at a rate of 1.7 pints per hour.

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Kenmore 4277087 Smart Air Conditioner – $310

This 8,000 BTU unit also has Alexa support and is able to cool rooms between 350 and 500 square feet in size. A companion smartphone app for iOS and Android lets you control the unit remotely, adjust the temperature and set up a weekly schedule. Users who purchase several Kenmore units can control them all with the same app.

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Using a smart plug to control a portable air conditioning unit

Like many household appliances, portable AC units can become “smart” when attached to a smart plug. These plugs connect to your Wi-Fi and can be controlled via a smartphone or smart speaker. Additionally, many of them can be configured via IFTTT to switch on and off based on your location, room temperature or a local weather forecast.

The most important factor to bear in mind for smarter air conditioning is how your unit turns on. If it’s designed to turn on when plugged into a wall outlet, it will also work when connected to a smart plug. A smart plug won’t work if the unit also features button activation.

If air conditioning units are out of your price range for now, consider buying fans that switch on when they are plugged in. These can be controlled via smart plugs, giving you a means of turning them on on your way home and avoiding a warm house.

Don’t forget to check out The GearBrain to see if any of your connected devices also work with Google Home or Amazon Alexa-enabled products.

This article originally appeared on GearBrain and was syndicated by

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