a woman in a room with her smartphone controlling her smart AC unit.

How to Turn Your Air Conditioner into a Smart Air Conditioner

Upgrade your air conditioner with smart devices for enhanced comfort, efficiency, and remote control. Discover top products and tips for a seamless transformation.

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With summer approaching and temperatures rising, having a smart air conditioner can be a game-changer for comfort and energy efficiency. Over the past few years, we have helped our readers learn what new technology they can use to ensure their smart home is cool 24/7 and save money on their energy bills. You don’t need to buy a new AC unit to enjoy the benefits of smart home technology; there are various devices that can upgrade your existing air conditioner into a smart AC unit. I put together this comprehensive guide on how to turn your traditional air conditioner into a smart one, complete with recommendations for smart devices that can help you achieve this transformation within minutes.

Why Upgrade to a Smart Air Conditioner?

Smart air conditioners offer numerous benefits. Upgrading to a smart air conditioner can significantly enhance your home's comfort and efficiency. Smart air conditioners offer numerous benefits beyond traditional units, providing advanced features and control options. Here are four reasons why you should consider making the switch or upgrade:

  • Remote Control: Manage your AC from anywhere using your smartphone.
  • Energy Efficiency: Reduce energy consumption with smart scheduling and automation.
  • Enhanced Comfort: Maintain the perfect temperature with precise control.
  • Integration: Seamlessly integrate with other smart home devices and systems.

Smart Devices to Upgrade Your Air Conditioner

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Upgrading your current air conditioner to a smart system doesn't have to cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Several devices on the market can give your existing A/C unit modern, smart capabilities by sending infrared signals, much like those from your A/C's remote control. These devices connect to the internet via your Wi-Fi network, allowing you to control your A/C remotely through a dedicated smartphone app.

In addition to remote control, many of these devices are compatible with Alexa, enabling voice commands to manage your A/C. Some devices also integrate with IFTTT (If This, Then That), providing extensive automation options. For instance, you can set your A/C to turn on when you're nearing home based on your phone's location, when the room temperature hits a specific threshold, or when motion is detected in your smart home.

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To use these smart devices, place them within sight of your A/C unit to ensure the infrared signals can reach it, plug them into a wall outlet, and connect them to your Wi-Fi. Here are some top smart devices that can help turn your traditional air conditioner into a smart A/C unit:

Smart Plugs

TP-Link Kasa smart plug
TP-Link Kasa smart plug

Plugging your AC unit into a smart plug can add smart capabilities to even the most basic air conditioner. Smart plugs allow you to control the power to your AC unit remotely and set schedules. Some recommended smart plugs include:

As with many household appliances, portable air conditioning units can be made more intelligent by attaching them to a smart plug. These plugs connect to your Wi-Fi and are controlled from your smartphone or with voice controls issued to a voice assistant or smart speaker. They can also be configured via IFTTT to switch on and off based on your location, room temperature, or local weather forecast. The key factor to consider is how the A/C unit is switched on. It will work with a smart plug if it starts working immediately when plugged into a wall outlet. However, a smart plug will not be effective if it requires a button to be pressed every time it is plugged in.

If A/C units are out of your budget for now, consider buying fans that switch on when plugged in and can thus be controlled via a smart plug. This setup lets your fans fire up when you're a block away from home, helping to take the edge off the heat when you walk through the door. Smart plugs can enhance your comfort and control over your home environment, even without investing in a full smart air conditioning system.

Using IFTTT and Smart Speakers

Integrate your smart AC with If This Then That (IFTTT) applets and a smart speaker to automate your cooling experience. Here’s how:

  • Location-Based Control: Use geofencing to turn your AC on or off based on your location.
  • Temperature-Based Control: Set your AC to activate when the room temperature reaches a certain level.
  • Weather-Based Control: Automatically adjust your AC settings based on the local weather forecast.
  • Voice Control:Use smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Nest to control your AC with voice commands.

Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Your AC into a Smart AC

Here are six easy steps to turn your AC unit into a smart one within minutes. We recommend identifying what you want to use as the controller and then implementing it. You might already have the controller in your home, like a spare smart plug or a smart speaker like Nest Hub Max or an Echo Dot.

  1. Choose a Smart Device: Select one of the recommended smart AC controllers or smart plugs that best fit your needs.
  2. Install the Device: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install and connect your smart device to your Wi-Fi network.
  3. Set Up the App: Download the companion app for your smart device and create an account.
  4. Configure Settings: Use the app to set schedules, geofencing, and other preferences.
  5. Integrate with Smart Home Systems: Connect your smart device with your smart home systems, such as Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit, for voice control and automation.
  6. Create IFTTT Applets: Set up IFTTT applets to automate your AC based on location, temperature, or weather conditions.

By following these steps and utilizing the recommended devices, you can easily turn your traditional air conditioner into a smart, efficient, and convenient part of your home. Enjoy the benefits of a connected home and stay cool this summer with your new smart air conditioner.

Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility find engine. It can help you find, buy, and connect any smart device. It can even help you find other smart devices or systems that are compatible with your existing smart devices, such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.

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