Smart AC buying guide: Everything you need to know

Chill out, yeah?

Smart AC buying guide

Smart thermostats are becoming a popular way to keep your temperature in check – and keep your energy costs low – but what about when you want to turn down the heat? Enter smart air conditioners, the (literally) cooler siblings to thermostats that'll also save you a few bucks on your bill.

Smart ACs aren't as universally needed as smart thermostats, mostly because they're more useful in warmer climates rather than cooler ones. If you live in Alaska or Greenland, we'll forgive you if you don't stay to read this.

But if you do want to get yourself a smart AC we appreciate it's not the most straightforward decision process, so we've put together a little guide to cover everything you need to know.

Smart ACs: Key things to consider

The first thing you're going to have to do is look at your home and figure out what you'll need. Unlike smart thermostats, which tend to be wall units you install to control your home's heating, smart ACs come in various shapes and sizes.

One of the most popular options is the window-based smart AC. These tend to be better at cooling rooms, but you will need to sacrifice some of that skyline view. These aren't too difficult to install; you just fit it to your window and plug it in.

A good measure to keep track of is BTU (British thermal units). When you're looking at a unit's BTU, don't forget to also get the square footage of the room you're looking to cool. If you can get 20 BTU per square foot, you'll be having a chill time.

If you're looking to cool a larger room, you may want to consider a portable unit. These tend to have you plugging a hose or something similar through your window, but they're movable so you can get the coverage you want in your room.

If you already have an air conditioning unit you're happy with, a better option may be to install a wall mounted AC manager that'll basically turn your existing AC units smart. These tend to connect to your existing AC unit via infrared, the same technology your AC's remote control uses to talk to it. If you're renting, this can be a good solution.


Smart ACs: The devices

We've outlined some of your best options for when you do decide to pull the trigger with smart AC. We'll be updating this guide with full reviews in future.

GE Smart Room AC

Smart AC buying guide: Everything you need to know

From $229, geappliances.com | Home Depot

GE's line of connected air conditioners is about as industrial-looking as you can get. They're plastic, they're grey, and they're frankly quite boring. But they're also all compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit. Even better, the three of them come in different power ranges.

While the models are largely the same, relying on three fans, they provide different amounts of cooling depending on how big your room is. The $229 model, for instance, will provide 8000 BTU while the higher-end $319 model provides 12000 BTU.

On the smart features, you'll get your standard ability to set the temperature or turn the AC on or off should you leave the home. You can even create cooling schedules should you not want to think about it at all. The universal compatibility with HomeKit, Assistant, Alexa and even IFTTT is really the big thing here though. It'll plug right into whatever scenes you want to create on any of those platforms.


Frigidaire Cool Connect

Smart AC buying guide: Everything you need to know

$299, frigidaire.com | Amazon

If the GE's are a little too plain for you, Frigidaire's Cool Connect is a little easier on the eyes. Its 8000 BTU should handle most rooms and the companion app will not only allow you to create your own cooling schedules and turn it off remotely, but will let you know when it's time to change filters.

One unique thing the Cool Connect has going for it is its two louvers, which are slanted upwards in an attempt to circularly distribute air around the room. The idea is to evenly cool the room, so you shouldn't feel any hot or cold zones.

As for smart home compatibility, you'll be in the clear with Google Assistant, Alexa and Samsung's SmartThings. Sorry, HomeKit users, you're all out of luck on this one.


Tado Smart AC

Smart AC buying guide: Everything you need to know

$179, tado.com | Amazon

Tado is one of the biggest names in Smart AC, and for good reason. It deftly balances the scale between affordable and feature-packed. It also manages to be one of the few products that's compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa and HomeKit all at the same time.

Its new device, the Smart AC Control V2, has just been announced. It works with existing air conditioners and the company promises that it'll provide even more efficiency and deliver even more savings than the previous generation.

The Smart Climate Assistant takes care of most of the work here. It adjusts the temperature based on the weather, and it'll sense when you're away from home and turn your existing AC on or off. Not only that, but it'll know when you're coming back home, so it'll turn it on and get your room cooled to the perfect temperature for your return.

There's also daily climate reports and monthly energy reports. In fact, Tado is so confident the Smart AC will save you money there's a 100-day guarantee. So if you aren't saving money after 100 days, you can get a full refund.


AirPatrol WiFi

$179, airpatrol.com | Amazon

AirPatrol turns your existing AC smart, and works with over 1000 AC units. All you have to do is plug it in and pair it to your AC to get going.

You'll be able to change your AC's temperature and fan speed. You'll also be able to sync your temperature to local weather reports and AirPatrol will let you know if the temperature is too high or low. AirPatrol WiFi can also tag up with AirPatrol's smart socket, so you can keep track of your energy usage in more ways than cooling. Though it's important to note that the AirPatrol WiFi can also keep track of your heating, too.

The AirPatrol is mostly designed for Europe, though there is a US version you can snag on Amazon. Speaking of Amazon, the AirPatrol is compatible with Alexa only.


Sensibo Sky

$119, Sensibo

If you need an affordable smart AC option, the Sensibo is your best bet. It starts at $119, works with any remote controlled AC and comes in multipacks should you want to smarten up every room in your home. Each Sensibo comes with built-in temperature and humidity sensors, so you can keep track of each room and adjust them more accurately.

The Sensibo will also automatically turn on and off when you need it. So when the last person leaves the house, it'll turn off, and when they return it'll switch on. You can even set seven-day schedules if you'd like. Sensibo Sky works with Alexa, Google Assistant and can even bake right into your best IFTTT applets.


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