01 Apr 5 Best Smart Vents and Air Conditioners
Cooling can be extremely energy-intensive, and costly, especially during hot summer months. However, if you get smart vets and air conditioners, you can drastically reduce your energy consumption and optimize temperatures in your home.
Smart vents and air conditioners are dynamic HVAC units that work based on motion and proximity sensors. As such, they only get engaged when they sense that someone is around to benefit from it, thus saving a lot of energy.
Generally speaking, vents offer a single temperature for both cooling and heating purposes. Hot or cold air is transmitted through the building’s cooling equipment and they enter the room via vents that can be closed or opened by hand.
However, smart vents use motion and proximity sensors to identify which rooms are currently occupied. Users can also set specific temperatures for each room. And the smart vent then automatically closes or opens accordingly.
Smart air conditioners provide a greater degree of control than smart vents. They come with infrared remote controls and sensors that allow them to automatically moderate temperatures to keep the residents comfortable. Users can set the ideal temperature using their smartphone apps. The smart air conditioner’s sensors then detect the room’s temperature and presence of occupants to moderate the temperature accordingly.
In both these cases, the smart vents and air conditioners are only engaged when they sense that the room is occupied, allowing them to optimize energy usage.
Smart Vents and Air Conditioners have the following benefits:
- You don’t need to remember to turn the vents or air conditioners off when you’re leaving the premises. When the sensors detect that you are no longer around, they automatically turn off.
- Once you set the optimal temperature, the smart air conditioner can maintain that temperature through all climatic conditions.
- By optimizing the temperature, they can also conserve energy.
- You can also control the settings when you are not at home. You can use the smartphone app to change temperature settings from anywhere in the world.
- You get reports based on which you know when to clean the air filters.
Let look at some of the products that ara available on the market today.
Best Smart Vents
1. Keen Home Smart Vent
Keen Homeis the perfect smart vent with which you can control the temperatures in each of your home’s individual rooms. It is extremely easy to install, has a simple app user interface, and it has a wide range of automation features that can integrate it perfectly into a smart home.
In order to truly make Keen Home Smart Vents interact with other smart home devices like the Nest Thermostat or Samsung’s SmartThings Hub, you need to also install a Smart Bridge. The Keen smart vent can be installed manually. You simply have to get a ladder and screwdrivers, and then screw the vent into your ceiling or wall. The whole installation process should take no more than 20 minutes.
The front panel of the smart vent is magnetized instead of being screwed in place. As such, if the front plate gets damaged, you can easily replace it for another one. Furthermore, magnetized plates also make it easier to manage the vent’s maintenance. These Keen Home smart vents run on 4 AA batteries, which can run for a total of 2 years. The smart vent also comes with an inbuilt LED light that flashes different colors to indicate different messages such as low battery, connecting to WiFi, heating, etc.
After you install Keen Home smart vent, you have to connect it to the rest of your smart home. The Keen Home smartphone app can guide you through the entire process by offering step-by-step instructions. It allows you to set up multiple zones throughout the house, based on wherever you have installed vents. You can then set specific optimal temperatures for all of those zones. As such, the temperature will only be regulated in those zones with vents and only to the specified degree, thus saving a lot of energy and creating an optimally comfortable living environment.
You can also set up schedules for the vents for each of the zones individually. However, I am not at all happy with the scheduling system. You cannot set up the exact start and stop times for your smart vent. Instead, you get four 6-hour blocks and you have to use them to denote the start and stop times. This makes Keen Home Smart Vents extremely inaccurate in terms of scheduling.
One of the best aspects of Keen Home Smart Vents is that they are compatible with a wide range of smart home standards such as Nest Learning Thermostats, Ecobee, Wink, SmartThings, and various others. You can also use the IFTTT (If This, Then That) protocol to set up situations wherein the different smart home devices interact with each other. For example, if you open the door with the smart locks, then the Keen Home Smart Vent should automatically get engaged.
The biggest issue with Keen Home Smart Vents is their connectivity issues. The vent often gets disengaged from the Smart Bridge without warning, disconnecting it from all your smart home devices. The only thing that indicates the disconnection is the blinking LED lights.
- Wide range of compatibility with other smart home devices.
- Simple installation.
- User-friendly app.
- Can set up multiple zones.
- Scheduling isn’t very effective or specific.
- Smart Bridge keeps getting disconnected.
2. Flair Smart Vent
Flair Smart Vent can be used in conjunction with Flair Puck to offer perfect climate control throughout the house. They also have long battery life and a wide range of 3rd party smart device compatibility. However, they are also more expensive than Keen Smart Vents.
Flair smart vents are available in four different sizes and all of them are designed with a sleek white aesthetic. The front panel in these smart vents is made of metal and the entire vent is powered by AC batteries that can last for 4 years. If you don’t prefer battery installation, you can also get them hardwired, though that option is slightly more complex in terms of setup.
Flair Smart Vent comes with Flair Puck, which is a smart hub that can also serve as a thermostat and motion sensor. The availability of this smart device is its greatest advantage. Flair Puck allows you to create multiple zones by interacting individually with all of the smart vents. This allows you to balance the temperature around the house. In addition to the smart vent, the Flair Puck can also be used to control smart air conditioners.
Flair Puck is also equipped with motion sensors, which is a vital feature that was missing in the aforementioned Keen Smart Vent. With the motion sensors, Flair Puck can detect when occupants are present in certain rooms, and it can control the smart vents accordingly. This can help conserve energy whenever people aren’t at home.
The Flair smartphone app is also extremely comprehensive. In addition to controlling the smart vent and its temperatures, you can also set schedules and view the temperatures changes over an extended time period. You can also use the Geofencing feature so that the smart vent only comes on when your phone is in close vicinity. As such, when you’re away from your home, the geofencing feature will disengage the smart vent.
The biggest issue here is that the occupancy sensors are only available in the Flair Pucks and not in the vents themselves. As such, if you want to accurately track occupancy around the house, you need to install several Pucks. And that can be extremely expensive.
- Compatible with most smart home devices.
- Easy to install.
- 4 years of battery life
- Can set up multiple zones.
- Motion sensors can track occupancy.
- Geofencing can also be used to track occupancy.
- Smartphone app is comprehensive and provides statistics.
- To set up motion sensors in different zones and make them effective, you have to install several Flair Pucks.
Best Smart Air Conditioner Controllers
3. Ambi Climate 2
Ambi Climate 2 isn’t an air conditioner in itself, but it is one of the best smart air conditioner controllers. As such, if you already have a regular air conditioner, you can use Ambi Climate 2 to convert it into a smart air conditioner without having to replace it altogether. This smart air conditioner controller allows you to control your AC from anywhere and it also has the ability to learn your habits over time in order to enhance automation.
Ambi Climate 2 needs to be installed in direct line of sight from your AC. It also needs to be plugged into a power outlet. There are no controls on the device itself, so you have to install the Ambi Climate smartphone app in order to relay commands to your air conditioner. Ambi Climate 2 allows you to monitor both humidity and temperatures, and you can use that ambient environmental information to set up the optimal temperatures. The smartphone all also provides a detailed log that tracks the environmental vitals information over days, weeks, and months.
The best feature in Ambi Climate 2 is called ‘Comfort Mode’. Basically, you are asked for your temperature preferences and times of occupancy. Following that, the app provides you with a range of temperature settings and you have to select your comfort level from Hot to Freezing. After you provide all the necessary information, the device determines your ideal comfort range. Over time, as you use Ambi Climate 2, it learns all your preferences and completely automates its functioning so you always have the perfect optimal temperature setting according to your needs. Furthermore, Ambi Climate 2 also takes the local environmental conditions into account to set up the temperature that would be perfect for you.
The biggest drawback with Ambi Climate 2 is that it has to be placed in a direct line of sight from the air conditioner that it is controlling. As such, even though Ambi Climate 2 can theoretically control multiple air conditioners to set up multiple zones, it can’t do that in practice — not unless all the air conditioners are in the same room as the Ambi Climate 2. As such, if you want to control several different air conditioners, you’ll just have to buy several devices, which can be really expensive.
- It can convert a regular air conditioner into a smart AC, which is a lot cheaper than getting a smart AC.
- You don’t have to get rid of an existing AC.
- The app is user-friendly and comprehensive.
- It can learn your preferences.
- Comfort Mode.
- Has to be installed in direct line of the AC it’s controlling.
- Can technically control multiple ACs, but only if they are all in a direct line of sight. So that’s not really useful.
4. Sensibo Sky
Like the aforementioned Ambi Climate 2, Sensibo Sky is also a smart air conditioner controller. It can convert your regular traditional AC into a smart AC. It is basically a small plastic device that you can mount on your wall and connect to the WiFi network. With the Sensibo smartphone app, you can then send commands to your air conditioner.
The Sensibo Sky device also has an LED screen on which you can see the current temperature and humidity. There are, however, no controls on the device so you have to control the temperature via the smartphone app.
Installing and setting up Sensibo Sky is extremely easy. You simply plug the unit into the wall, launch the smartphone app, and pair them via the WiFi. After that, you have to point your AC’s remote at the device and press the power button. Sensibo will automatically detect your AC and get paired to it.
The Sensibo smartphone app is extremely intuitive. You can handle all the basic controls like adjusting the temperature and turning the AC on or off easily. One of my favorite features is Climate React Mode. With this, you can set it up so that the AC gets turned on or performs certain functions when the temperature or humidity reaches a certain point. For example, if the temperature reaches 80 degrees, you can turn on the AC at around 70 degrees. You can modify these controls as much as you want and in combination with both the temperature and fan settings.
You can also set up smart schedules for when the AC should go on or off, and at what temperatures. The smartphone app also comes with a geofencing feature so the AC can get turned on whenever you return home (along with your phone).
All of these factors taken into consideration, Sensibo Sky is one of the best devices with which to control your regular air conditioners. However, it has one major drawback. Each Sensibo Sky device can only control one AC. As such, if you have multiple air conditioners, you’ll need multiple Sensibos to control all of them, which can get very expensive. You should also note that Sensibo Sky doesn’t yet have Apple HomeKit integration. So if you already have Apple devices and want that smart integration, this isn’t the right choice for you.
- Simple installation.
- Smart scheduling possible.
- Geofencing feature.
- Energy efficient.
- User-friendly app.
- Climate React Mode.
- Doesn’t work with Apple HomeKit.
- Can only control one air conditioner.
Best Smart Air Conditioner
5. JHS A016-10KR/B1
JHS A016-10KR/B1 is a 10,000 BTU portable smart air conditioner. This isn’t just a controller, it’s a smart air conditioner in its own right. Being a 10,000 BTU unit, you can use it to cool a space of around 220 sq. ft. This smart air conditioner serves three different functions. It works as an air conditioner, it has two fan speeds, and it also works as a dehumidifier. Being a portable unit, you can easily roll it around to any part of the house whenever necessary.
The JHS Smartphone app is extremely user-friendly and has a wide range of controls and features. In addition to simply monitoring and controlling your air conditioner, you can also set up smart cooling schedules. As such, you can set it up so that it turns on shortly before you reach home so that you’re always comfortable. The smartphone app, however, could have been more sophisticated. While it can perform the bare minimum of functions, it doesn’t have useful features like geofencing or the ability to set up specific actions for different climatic conditions.
One of the most common complaints against this smart air conditioner is that it can get loud, especially at nights. It states that the noise level is less than 54dBA, but you can hear the air conditioner pretty clearly at nights. However, that’s a relatively minor issue. Other than that, this smart air conditioner does everything it promises.
- Powerful cooling capacity.
- Can also serve as a dehumidifier.
- Easy to install.
- Can easily be rolled around to different rooms.
- Smartphone app is user-friendly.
- The app doesn’t have any advanced features.
- Can be loud.
What are the different types of Smart Air Conditioners?
Smart air conditioners come in three different types depending on how they are mounted or installed.
Window-Mount Air Conditioners
Window-Mount Air Conditioners are some of the cheapest smart air conditioners on the market. They are also the most common type, the ones that are rested on your window sill. They can be installed easily, but they have several drawbacks.
The primary drawback of using a window-mount air conditioner is that it looks ugly from the outside. Furthermore, they also reduce the home’s security because they can easily be knocked down by potential burglars to create an entry point. They are also hard to seal firmly.
Portable Air Conditioners
Portable Air Conditioners are easiest to set up and use. You simply place them anywhere in the room, plug them in, and that’s it. Due to their portable nature, you can move them to whichever room most needs cooling. As such, you don’t need to install several different air conditioners and you can simply use one.
However, portable air conditioners also have their drawbacks. Bigger ones can be hard to move around and they occupy a lot of space in the house. More importantly, they don’t generate fresh air and keep recirculating the air already within your house. As such, these air conditioners have to be coupled with an effective ventilation system as well.
Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners
Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners are the most expensive smart air conditioners on the market. They don’t have an extremely high power capacity so they can only cool small rooms, garages, or offices. The compressor is installed outside the house (so there’s no noise), and only the fan and controls are located inside the house.
However, Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners are extremely hard to install and they can’t be used to cool an entire house.
Which Factors to Consider when Buying Smart Air Conditioners?
The following are the main factors to consider when buying smart air conditioners.
As already mentioned, there are three primary types of smart air conditioners based on how they are installed — window-mount, portable, and ductless mini-split. All of these smart air conditioners come with their unique advantages and drawbacks so choose the one most suitable for your needs.
All smart air conditioners come with a basic set of features such as WiFi compatibility, temperature readouts, and timers. However, there are some additional features you can only find in some smart air conditioners.
The following are some smart features you should look out for.
- Energy Saving Features: Different smart air conditioners will be equipped with different sets of energy-saving features. Some might get turned off when they detect there’s no motion in the vicinity. Some might turn the cooling off before the room reaches optimal temperature so that the remnant cool air in the system can be dissipated using fans. And others might offer extensive energy reports based on which you can optimize your usage.
- Scheduling: Some smart air conditioners come with advanced scheduling systems. You can basically set up extremely detailed schedules for when you’re home or when you’re away.
- Sensors: The most advanced smart air conditioners use proximity and motion sensors to detect if anyone is in the vicinity of the air conditioner. If not, they automatically turn off or go into energy-saving mode.
All smart air conditioners come with associated smartphone apps. However, some apps are better than others. When considering the quality of the smartphone app, you should go through its reviews and check how often they make updates. If the last update was made several years ago, that’s a good indication that the app is outdated and that the company doesn’t care to enhance the smartphone app’s design.
Ease of Use
The primary benefit of smart air conditioners is that they are so much easier to use than regular air conditioners. They allow you to change temperatures and make changes from anywhere in the world. So be sure that the controls are easy.
The smart air conditioner you get should be powerful enough to cool the entire space that you’re getting it for. To figure this out, you need to consider the size of the room in feet and cross-reference that with the necessary BTUs. However, it is always best to be cautious and get an air conditioner with greater BTUs than is necessary for your room’s size.
Window-Mounted air conditioners need to fit into your current window, so you need to be very careful with their size. The air conditioner needs to be several inches less than the size of the window because you need to maintain enough clearance between the air conditioner and the corners of the window as well.
Air conditioners are extremely heavy because of their solid metal air compressors. Regardless of whether you’re getting a window-mounted or portable air conditioner, they are likely to be over 70 pounds in weight. Most air conditioners require at least two people to move and install them. However, try to find an air conditioner that’s as light as possible so you can install them with ease.
There are a lot of different filtration methods used in air conditioners. The most common filtration methods are sponge or mesh. However, you should go for some of the more advanced washable filters with antimicrobial properties.
Look at the air conditioner’s method of operation. The air conditioner should be equipped with easy push-buttons, you should also have an infrared remote and an efficient smartphone app for operation.
You should get air conditioners with greater energy efficiency because that can reduce the overall cost of running the air conditioner in the long run. All air conditioners come with a yellow sticker that conveys the unit’s Energy Efficiency Rating (EER). Higher EERs will have a lesser operational cost down the line when compared to other air conditioners with a similar BTU.
Finally, checking the unit’s warranty is a good way to measure the amount of faith the manufacturers place on their air conditioner. Get a unit with a long warranty that covers every aspect of the air conditioner.
Cautionary Tips for Smart Air Conditioners
The following tips for using smart air conditioners will help you avoid some common mistakes.
Window-mounted smart air conditioners have to be installed in the window frame. This requires you to cut a space for them in the window. As such, it’s incredibly important that your measurements are accurate. You need to maintain at least one foot of vertical clearance and two feet of clearance from either side of the window. If you get the measurements wrong, you’ll likely have to cut twice.
Portable smart air conditioners also require measurements. You have to install them next to windows or sliding doors so the ventilation tube can be placed outside the room while still keeping your room sealed from the outside world. If you get the measurements wrong, all the cool air will simply leak out of your home.
Do you already have a traditional air conditioner that you don’t want to get rid of? If so, there are various options available online to convert your regular air conditioner into a smart air conditioner. You might want to consider those.
I hope this article has helped you figure out which is the best smart vents or air conditioner for your needs. As you can see, you have a lot of different options to choose from, and a lot of factors to base your decision on. So go ahead and find the smart vent or air conditioner that best meets your needs. And have yourself a cool (and cost-effective) summer!