7 Best Smart AC Controllers For Ductless Fans

ac smart controller

Sensibo

If you think that your last-gen ductless air conditioner doesn’t have a place in your smart home then prepare for a surprise. You can use a smart AC controller to run any ductless climate control unit right from your phone (as long as it originally came with an IR remote). It is cheaper and easier than getting a new air conditioner, making it the easy choice for savvy shoppers.

What Are the Best Smart AC Controllers For Ductless Fans in 2021?

cielo breeze plus ac smart controller Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Temperature/humidity sensor
  • WiFi not required
  • Easy setup
Price: $109.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
ambi ac smart controller Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Temperature/humidity sensor
  • Geofencing mode
  • Wide smart home support
Price: $149.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
cielo breeze ac smart controller Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Temperature/humidity sensor
  • Geofencing mode
  • Easy setup
Price: $68.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
switchbot ac smart controller Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Wide smart home support
  • Low price tag
  • Works with multiple IR devices
Price: $39.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
sensibo ac smart controller Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Temperature/humidity sensor
  • Geofencing mode
  • Easy setup
Price: $119.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
atomi ac smart controller Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Wide smart home support
  • Temperature sensor
  • Low price tag
Price: $19.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
smart ac controller Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Wide smart home support
  • Works with multiple IR devices
  • Low price tag
Price: $17.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Cielo Breez Plus

    Pros:
    • Temperature/humidity sensor
    • WiFi not required
    • Easy setup
    Cons:
    • Weak IR blaster
    • Mediocre tech support
    • No HomeKit integration

    Between its wall-mounted control panel and rich control suite, the Cielo Breez Plus really helps your ductless AC units feel like a fully integrated part of your home. If you are going for full smart home integration, you can control it via the mobile app and integrate it with Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, or SmartThings. Alternatively, you can pair your air conditioner locally with the control unit and use the enhanced features without the need for a WiFi connection.

    In either case, you will add loads of automation options to your AC unit. You can set a basic 7-day schedule or manually adjust power, fan speed, swing position, and operating mode. The coolest feature, though, is its so-called Comfort Mode, which uses its built-in temperature and humidity sensors to keep your space in your preferred temperature or humidity range based on user heuristics.

    Additionally, you can enable the geofencing feature to set your AC to automatically power on or off depending on if it detects your phone on your WiFi network. This does require you to actually be using the phone app, though. The only major shortcoming of this system is that its IR blaster only has a max range of 13 feet, so it does have to be positioned fairly close to the AC unit itself. Thankfully, you can use the included desk stand instead of the wall-mounted option if this is more convenient. And considering that this is an issue you’ll find with most of the smart AC controllers we reviewed, we have no issue calling the Cielo Breeze Plus one of the best.

  2. 2. Ambi Climate 2

    Pros:
    • Temperature/humidity sensor
    • Geofencing mode
    • Wide smart home support
    Cons:
    • Limited compatibility with non-LCD remotes
    • Geofencing can be finicky
    • No HomeKit integration

    The Ambi Climate 2 is an easy way to upgrade your existing ductless AC system into a fully integrated smart home appliance, allowing you to control it with a free smartphone app or using your choice of voice assistant. It has a versatile set of features that include custom rules and timers, multi-user geolocation, and its own AI assistant.

    No, that doesn’t mean that the Ambi Climate 2 will talk to you. But you can set it to learn your climate control preferences so that it can automatically change your AC settings to help you achieve your ideal temperature range. You can even give the system feedback through the mobile app if its built-in temperature and humidity sensors don’t match up with how you feel. And, of course, if you do want to talk to your AC, you can do so via Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, or IFTTT. You can pair this with multi-user geofencing, but several users report that it doesn’t always work as intended.

    Just note that the Ambi Climate 2 is only compatible with AC units with an IR remote that has an LCD screen. If your fan’s stock remote does not have an LCD screen, you will have highly limited functionality. And if it has no remote it won’t work at all. If you aren’t sure if your fan is compatible, you can reference this compatibility list on Ambi’s support website. Also, keep in mind that the unit has to be within line of sight of your AC’s IR sensor and at a max distance of 16 feet.

  3. 3. Cielo Breez Eco

    Pros:
    • Temperature/humidity sensor
    • Geofencing mode
    • Easy setup
    Cons:
    • Weak IR blaster
    • Mediocre tech support
    • No HomeKit integration

    The Cielo Breez Eco is a budget-friendly version of the Cielo Eco Plus that offers the same impressive feature set with minimal tradeoffs. The main difference between these two units is that the Breez Eco has a simplified IR unit that does not offer the same offline usability as the Eco Plus. Otherwise, it boasts the same easy setup and diverse feature set.

    In practice, this only matters if you prefer to use an LCD interface that is more like a traditional thermostat, as the Breez Eco still works just as well using the smartphone or web interfaces. And considering that you are looking for a smart AC controller, hopefully, you won’t object to using your phone to set up this device. The app allows you to create preferred temperature settings for different zones, set schedules, and configure geofencing. It also provides energy usage stats so you can consciously reduce your electricity consumption.

    The Breez Eco has built-in temperature and humidity sensors, which allow you to set temperature triggers to help your space maintain a comfort zone of your own programming. Additionally, you can connect to basically any smart home system besides HomeKit and issue basic voice commands. This unit’s IR blaster does share the same 13-foot range limitation as its bigger sibling but this is excusable considering the inclusion of both a wall-mounting kit and a tabletop stand. For most home setups, the Cielo Breez Eco is every bit as capable as the Cielo Eco Plus.

  4. 4. SwitchBot Hub Mini

    Pros:
    • Wide smart home support
    • Low price tag
    • Works with multiple IR devices
    Cons:
    • No temperature sensor
    • Tricky setup
    • No geofencing

    Don’t be off-put by the mostly Chinese documentation you’ll find for the SwitchBot Hub Mini. This value-priced smart AC controller works with a wide variety of ductless air conditioners from around the world and can even be used with other IR devices likes TVs and sound systems. So unlike other pricier units we reviewed, you can connect the SwitchBot Hub Mini to a number of IR devices at once (as long as they are all in the same room and within line of sight). This has its pros and cons.

    The basic concept of the system is that you use a smartphone app to pair the SwitchBot Hub Mini with various IR devices and then you manually identify which buttons are tied to which basic features. It is a little more involved than other setups but the end result is worth it. Once it learns a device’s inputs, you can create scenes that can be found and recognized by Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant. This way, you can set what happens when you say, “Alexa, turn up the fan. Unfortunately, since the SwitchBot Hub Mini doesn’t have a built-in temperature sensor, you need to make sure your fan has one, or else you can’t use commands like, “Alexa, set the temperature to 68 degrees.” You also won’t find native geofencing settings but you can probably create some using IFTTT.

    Ultimately, if you only want to use this to control your AC unit and nothing else, then you are probably better off with something like the Cielo Breez Eco. If, however, you might benefit from controlling more than just your AC, then the SwitchBot Hub Mini is a solid choice.

  5. 5. Sensibo Sky

    Pros:
    • Temperature/humidity sensor
    • Geofencing mode
    • Easy setup
    Cons:
    • Advanced features require a paid subscription
    • Weak IR blaster
    • No HomeKit integration

    The Sensibo Sky smart AC remote controller is compatible with a wide selection of AC units and smart home systems, making it a popular pick for a variety of users. However, with some premium features hidden behind a paywall, it is harder to recommend than, say, the Cielo Breez Plus.

    Once you set up a connection from the air conditioner to your iOS, Android, or web device, you can access the full suite of controls right from your device of choice. You can set a basic seven-day schedule or remotely control settings using Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri. The coolest feature, though, is probably the climate react mode, which uses built-in temperature and humidity sensors to keep your space in the temperature range that you specify.

    Unfortunately, some of the more sophisticated scheduling functions are hidden behind a subscription service that did not exist when this product first came out. You have to pay a monthly fee to use locational awareness (geofencing) mode that can toggle your AC unit when you arrive or leave. This is a shame considering other competitors offer this feature for free, but that said I was still able to make use of the basic functionality offered by the free service.

  6. 6. Atomi Smart AC Controller

    Pros:
    • Wide smart home support
    • Temperature sensor
    • Low price tag
    Cons:
    • Cannot be set to Celcius
    • Limited compatibility with LCD remotes
    • No geofencing

    The Atomi Smart AC Controller is a budget IR-to-WiFi adapter that enables most ductless air conditioners to use basic smart home functions that can be accessed anywhere in the civilized world. Once you hook its IR Blaster up to your home WiFi and do some basic programming, you can control your fan’s power, mode, fan speed, or temperature even when you are away from home. You can also monitor electricity usage, set a countdown timer, or set a 7-day schedule. But there is a catch.

    You only get this full set of features as long as your AC remote does not have an LCD screen. Units that have an LCD screen cannot have settings changed other than power. You can still set countdown timers or 7-day schedules but all other changes have to be made manually. If your AC unit has an LCD screen, you would be better off with the Ambi Climate 2, which only works with fans that have LCD screens.

    Aside from this compatibility requirement, the Atomi Smart AC Controller will work with almost any major AC brand. Pairing it with your AC allows it to work with Alexa and Google Assistant too, which is great if you just want to be able to change the temperature without getting up. It might not have the most bells and whistles out of all the smart AC controllers we reviewed but it certainly offers some solid utility for the price.

  7. 7. Smart WiFi-IR Remote Control

    Pros:
    • Wide smart home support
    • Works with multiple IR devices
    • Low price tag
    Cons:
    • Tricky setup
    • Weak IR blaster
    • Voice assistant support can be finicky

    Despite not having a brand name backing it, this generic Smart WiFi-IR Remote Control is a reliable way to add scheduling and voice control to your existing ductless AC system. It also works with other IR-compatible devices like TVs and streaming boxes, allowing you to control all of the IR devices within its line of sight using your preferred voice assistant.

    Setting up this WiFi-IR remote is a little more involved than other options, though. It only works automatically with a handful of devices. Otherwise, it has to learn which buttons on your AC’s remote are tied to which functions. Then you have to manually set up rules and functions. This means you won’t be able to set temperature triggers unless your fan already has a built-in thermostat. Doing something basic like setting a schedule for when your AC operates is pretty straightforward. Setting up DIY geofencing, however, can be a little more difficult. And while you can set these commands to be recognized by Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant, they don’t always work as intended.

    That said, it is hard to beat this unit considering the price. As long as you aren’t looking to do any particularly complicated commands, the Smart WiFi-IR Remote Control should work just fine for controlling your air conditioner.

​How Do Smart Controllers Work?

If you are interested in using a smart AC controller to improve the functionality of your existing ductless AC system, then it is important to familiarize yourself with the basic capabilities of this tech.

For starters, smart AC controllers are designed ot be used with air conditioners that come with an IR remote control. This is common with most mounted mini-split units, window units, and portable tower fans.

Basically, the smart AC controller acts as an IR relay between your AC and a WiFi-compatible device like a phone or PC. This way, you can control certain features of your fan using a smartphone or even a WiFi-based voice assistant like Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant.

It is important to note, however, that this tech is still limited by the capabilities of IR communication. This means that the IR blaster and the fan need to be in the same room with a clear line of sight between the two. This also means that you can typically only pair one IR blaster with one fan at a time. These limitations might seem harsh but there is no way around them.

Plust, shortcomings of IR aside, these smart AC controllers support a wide selection of features. With a few minutes of setup, you can have your ductless AC system working as efficiently as a Nest thermostat and for a fraction of the price.

Smart Plugs VS Smart AC Controllers

If you are looking for easy ways to adds more contorl over your ductless air conditioning system, then you've probably also come across smart plugs as an inexpensive way to integrate your air conditioner into your smart home. But there are some distinct limitations to using a smart plug over a smart AC controller.

The biggest limitation is that a smart plug can usually only turn a device on and off. Yes, you can get a rudimentary climate control schedule going by just turning your fan on and off throughout the day, but a proper smart AC controller can do so much more.

Specifically, most high-end smart AC controllers have their own temperature sensors, which means that you can set climate triggers to keep your room in your ideal temperature range. Many also allow for geogencing, which can be used to turn your fans on as soon as your phone is detected on your WiFi network.

There is definitely a price difference between these two smart home solutions but for most applications, it is well worth spending a little extra for a proper smart AC controller.

See Also

7 Best Smart Air Purifiers: Your Buyer’s Guide

5 Best Smart Air Conditioners: Your Buyer’s Guide

23 Cool Home Gadgets Available Right Now

https://heavy.com/tech/2019/07/smart-air-conditioners/

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