How to Connect your Air Conditioning System to your Smart Home with Smart Wi-Fi AC Controllers

June 25, 2021

 How to Connect your Air Conditioning System to your Smart Home with Smart Wi-Fi AC Controllers

Have you considered getting your current air-conditioner connected to your existing smart home tech? There are many ways you can now gain control of your air conditioning unit using existing smart home software packages like Google home, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomePod. Even if you have an old system, there are still ways you can connect your air conditioning unit to these services.

The Advantages

Connecting your existing unit via a Wi-Fi enabled controller gives you control over your existing air conditioning unit via an app or integration through Google home Apple home, Amazon Alexa. 

 You can control these functions via a smartphone app: 
  • Unit operation
  • Temperature control
  • Zone operation
  • Airflow
  • Geofencing location parameters
  • Scheduling on/off on certain days
  • Monitor operation of the unit remotely

Imagine you have kids at home during school holidays and you want to keep a handle on the power consumption at home. You can now log into your air conditioning system and turn it on and off without being at home.

Coming home late on a cold Winter's night? Turn the unit on when you leave work and have the house warm when you get there.

Your daughter's room is too cold and the rest of the house is toasty? You can adjust the airflow for her room right from the app, ensuring the whole house heats and cools at the same time.
 
There are many advantages to smartifying your air conditioning unit. It can really save big dollars in running costs and gives you complete control of how it operates.

Minimum Requirements

There are few things you need to have to allow your existing unit to operate using a smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controller. In order to connect your air-conditioner to a smart controller, we need to determine the unit model number. There are various smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controllers, some will operate with certain units while others won’t. All units have a compatible smart air-conditioner controller but you need to work out which is the best option for your unit.

If you’re new to smart home systems, you will need to ensure you have a compatible modem. Most of these devices require WPS configuration so ensure you have a reasonably modern modem to connect without issues.

Types of Units

Hi-Wall or Room Air Conditioners

These units generally use an infrared signal to control the AC unit which is emitted by a remote handheld controller. While some Hi-Wall units have a wired controller, most are operated via a handheld remote control. These units can be controlled using an infrared control system such as Sensibo. Sensibo is compatible is just about any air conditioning system that utilises infrared and a remote control

 Common Brands these unit are compatible with:

  • Mitsubishi Electric
  • Hitachi 
  • Temperzone
  • Daikin
  • Fujitsu
  • Panasonic
  • Samsung
  • Actron
  • Many more…….

Ducted Air Conditioners - Digital Communication

This is the most common form of communication used in air conditioning units that have been installed in the last 10-15 years. While there are some units that can still operate with basic analogue control, most domestic and light commercial systems will use some form of digital communication. Selecting the right smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controller means checking if the model number of your unit is compatible with the smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controller you want to use. Most brands are supported by the two front runners in the smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controller space, Airtouch and iZone.

Common Brands these unit are compatible with:
  • Mitsubishi Electric
  • Hitachi 
  • Temperzone
  • Daikin
  • Fujitsu
  • Panasonic
  • Samsung
  • Actron
  • Many more…….

Ducted Air Conditioners - Analogue Communication

The older units are not without the ability to become smart but there are limited options when it comes to which brand you can choose. We have tried and tested the iZone with older air conditioning units and have completed successful upgrades using this controller. This involves some re-wiring of the indoor unit to allow control of the unit, but it’s certainly achievable. The bonus is, when it finally comes time to replace your air conditioning system, the iZone can be upgraded to a newer module with minimal fuss and expense. The controls stay the same via the iZone controller you already have but you will have control of the new system you install.

Most units that have R22 refrigerant use analogue control. These include:

  • Temperzone
  • Actron
  • Alcaire
  • APAC
  • Plus older models of the common brands, generally 15+ years or older

Zone Requirements

Before smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controls were available, most ducted air conditioning systems had to be manually adjusted if airflow was uneven. Now with the help of these smart controls, you can adjust the minimum and maximum airflows you want in each room that is controlled by a zone motor. This level of user control saves frequent crawling through the roof to adjust airflow or costly visits by a service company to complete the adjustments for you. If 240 V zones are installed at your property, you will need to upgrade to 24v motors to allow correct operation and airflow control.

What Products are Available in Australia?

When you google smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controllers, most of the blogs and articles you will find are from America. Unfortunately, the products available over there are not regularly available here in Australia (at least not yet) and are often incompatible. Often these products are re-engineered for our market and introduced a few years later if they are successful abroad. That is not to say we don’t have a few to pick from ourselves! The main reason American products are not in Australia is the difference in the air conditioning market compared to the USA. Our air conditioning market closely mimics the Chinese and Japanese market more so than the American market. American air conditioning systems are catching up slowly but most of the technology from America is old compared to the Asia-Pascific products we can purchase in Australia.

Our three front runners when it comes to smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controllers are:

Airtouch

The Airtouch control systems by Polyaire are a solid and robust system. The Airtouch system comes in a few different versions, the top of the line is the Airtouch 4 and the base is a zonetouch zone controller which doesn’t control your air conditioner, only your zones and airflow. The airtouch 4 has the best looking controller on the market currently and the app is modern with great functionality.


Airtouch 4 Features
  • AirTouch 4 can control up to 4 ducted air conditioners and 16 zones across multiple storeys from 1 or 2 consoles in your home
  • Wall controller doubles as a tablet with app functionality
  • Adjust the airflow around your home in 5% increments using smart zoning 
  • Smartphone App. Google Assistant. Amazon Alexa. IFTTT (Apple not currently supported)
  • AirTouch 4 doubles as a hub for other smart home integrations and your favourite apps
  • Global control of your home climate. Wherever you are using the Airtouch App
  • Ability to control your unit with Voice when set up via Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa
  • Rooms can have individual temperature sensors to control temperature accurately. These sensors are optional, sold separately and you can add them on later as required 
Installation
  • Requires a qualified air conditioning technician to install this product
  • Requires compatible zone motors to utilise the smart zoning and airflow adjustments

iZone

iZone is an australian made product out of Western Australia. There are multiple versions of the iZone controller depending on what you are after in regards to features. The base model is the iZone Naked (2021 release) and the Nexus + is top of the range. Each version has app integration and allows full control of the unit and the zones as required. 

iZone Features
  • Made in Australia
  • iZone can control 1 ducted air conditioners and 14 zones across multiple storeys
  • Wall controller doubles as a tablet (Nexus only) and can integrate with the iZone compatible devices such as Smart Lights, Smart Power, Smart Security and Smart Irrigation to name a few
  • Adjust the airflow around your home in 5% increments using smart zoning 
  • Smartphone App. Google Assistant. Amazon Alexa. IFTTT and Apple HomeKit
  • Global control of your home climate. Wherever you are using the iZone App
  • Ability to control your unit with Voice when set up via Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Apple HomeKit
  • Rooms can have individual temperature sensors to control temperature accurately. These sensors are optional, sold separately and you can add them on later as required
Installation
  • Requires a qualified air conditioning technician to install this product
  • Requires compatible zone motors to utilise the smart zoning and airflow adjustments

Sensibo 

Supports any air conditioner with a remote control. This means most ducted air conditioners are not compatible with the Sensibo

Sensibo Features
  • Control your room air conditioner from anywhere. Monitor the temperature and humidity remotely using the app
  • Location based geofencing on/off control. Turn your air conditioner on automatically before you arrive, turn it off when the last person leaves using your phone's geo-location.
  • Give you  7-day scheduling, geo-fencing and filter cleaning alerts
  • Works with Amazon Echo & Google Home. You can use phrases like: 'Alexa, turn on the living room' and 'Ok Google, turn off the bedroom'.
  • Supports any air conditioner with a remote control. This means most ducted air conditioners are not compatible with the Sensibo
  • Sensibo is compatible in every country, and with any voltage and power outlet
  • Installation is quick and easy, only a few minutes to set it up

Installation

  • DIY installation by the homeowner
  • Must be installed near a powerpoint to power the device (USB power cable)
  • Can be mounted to the wall or placed in a cupboard

So What Will it Cost?

The cost to upgrade your existing air conditioning unit to a smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controller will depend on what controller is required. If you have a Hi-Wall or infrared controlled Room Air Conditioner, the Sensibo controllers are under $200 and easily installed. 
 
If you have a ducted system, the smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controller has a lot more functionality but this comes with a higher purchase price and set up cost. Depending on if you need the basic controller or the top of the line controller, price can vary from $500-$1500 to purchase the product, plus installation. 
 
The other major cost factor to consider is your zone motors. Upgrading zone motors may only be a few hundred dollars each motor but if you have many motors in your home, the costs quickly add up. 
 
We have found from experience, basic smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controller upgrades start around $800-$2,000. Upgrading the controller and all zone motors can be anywhere from $2000-$4000.

What Happens When the Unit Needs to be Replaced?

Don’t worry, it’s not wasted money. If you have an old air-conditioner that you are installing a smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controller too, you will be able to reuse the smart home Wi-Fi controller when the unit is eventually upgraded. 
 
These smart controllers can be installed to almost any brand of unit and when the unit is replaced, the controller just requires an upgraded Communication Module to suit the new unit. The cost to upgrade the controller to suit your new unit is only $100 - $300 depending on brand.

Want to Know More?

If you’re interested in upgrading your existing air conditioning controls to smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controllers, get in touch today and we can assess your needs and provide a solution. 

In a Nutshell

  • Most air-conditioners can be upgraded to a smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controller
  • The upgrade costs depend on whether zone motors are needing to be integrated and replaced
  • The smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controller can be utilised with a new system if you eventually upgrade
  • These controllers can be operated via mobile phone apps on most smart devices

Need help? 

T&K Airpower have been working to keep Adelaide and the Sunshine Coast homes smart for over 25 years. Do you want to upgrade your air-conditioner controller to a smart home Wi-Fi air conditioning controller? Give us a call and we will be more than happy to help. 

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