According to research done by Business Insider, by the year 2020 there will be over 24 billion internet-connected devices worldwide, which is more than 4 devices for every person on earth. Of course, it shouldn’t come as a shock – we have smartphones, watches, tablets and home assistants already. This article aims to look at the new wave of smart air conditioners that are hitting the market and quickly flying off shelves.
In a nutshell, “smart” air conditioners are part of the new class of home technologies that allow you to use the product with your home Wifi through your smartphone or tablet, so that you don’t even have to be home to adjust the temperature. Many of these products can also be used with other smart home devices like your Amazon Alexa or Google Home, meaning you can now control the thermostat with the command of your voice.
How These AC’s Work
Smart air conditioners are essentially normal air conditioners (window or portable) that are Wifi enabled. If you’re old school or your internet happens to be down, you can still use these units manually. The Wifi connection allows users to access their smart air conditioner from anywhere. Did you forget to turn the temperature down before leaving for work? No problem, you can change it on-the-go. But how?
Using a smartphone or a tablet with an iOS or Android operating system, you can download the compatible app for your smart AC – it will vary by the brand and model you choose. Syncing your unit will allow you complete access to its controls, whether you’re sitting across the room or across the country.
Some of these ACs (not all – make sure you check before assuming) can also work with your Alexa or Google Home Devices, so you won’t even have to use the app while at home. Alexa, set the AC to 70 and hold.
5 Benefits of Wifi Air Conditioners
- You likely already have everything you need in order to run a smart air conditioner – an internet (Wifi) connection and a smartphone.
- Smart ACs allow you to operate your unit from anywhere with a Wifi connection, meaning you can start cooling your home before you even leave work.
- Adjusting the thermostat on your smart AC unit remotely will help you to become more energy efficient. Life is busy and we often forget to change our thermostat settings before rushing out the door – but smart AC thermostats can be changed on-the-go.
- The ability to completely control your smart AC from anywhere will not only bring energy savings, but it will also bring cost savings on your utility bills.
- Maximum comfort can be achieved – no longer will you have to walk into a hot room to turn on the AC and then sit in misery as the temperature slowly adjusts.
Types of Smart AC Units?
Window air conditioners are popular because they are meant to fit within your existing windows, and they don’t take up any room within a room. Window air conditioners are a great choice for people with small rooms or apartments without a lot of extra floor space. Smart window ACs are regular window units with the built-in Wifi features that allow you to connect to your unit no matter where you are. Many of these models also dehumidify, with the water collection draining right outside so there’s no extra clean-up for you.
Portable air conditioners get their name from their ability to easily move from one room to the next. These units often resemble tower units on wheels, and though they sit on the floor of your home they still do need to be vented through a window using an exhaust kit. Many portable ACs also work as dehumidifiers – some will have a collection pan for condensation and others have a built-in evaporation system. The smart versions of these units can be accessed with your smartphone to keep your home consistently comfortable.
Wall Mounted (Thru-the-wall)
Wall Mounted Smart ACs work just like window ACs, except for that they are a more permanent solution, as you will literally have to cut a hole in your wall as part of the installation. Though the two types of units look nearly identical, they are not interchangeable as the location of their vents is specific to their location. There are exceptions that can be installed in either location, like the Friedrich Kuhl Series Smart AC, but for wall mounting, you will need to purchase a “sleeve” for the unit to fit into.
Mini Split System
A mini-split system is essentially an appliance that will fall somewhere between a window air conditioner and central cooling (minus the ductwork). Mini-split systems are built with two main components: an outdoor condenser and an indoor unit. These units are a more permanent solution to your cooling needs, and many of these units also include heating capabilities. Like the other systems we looked at, there are mini-split systems available with Wifi capabilities.
What to Look for in a Quality WiFi Air Conditioner
Control Functions (smart/wifi capabilities)
When it comes to smart ACs, there are two types in general: those that are Wifi enabled (ready to go) and those that are Wifi capable. Units with Wifi enabled are essentially ready to be hooked up, whereas Wifi capable models will need an extra component (like the FriedrichLink) that hooks you up to the Internet via your appliance. Other functions to look specifically for are whether or not the model can be accessed via an application on your smartphone or used with home assistants like Alexa or Google Home.
Cooling Area (Room Size – Sq.ft)
Each air conditioner is equipped with the mechanical components to cool a specific size area. To determine the area of the room you wish to cool, you will need to multiply the length of the room by the width of the room. For example, if you have a room that is 18 feet long and 12 feet wide, the area of the room is 18 X 12 = 216 square feet. You would likely purchase a unit like the Friedrich Kuhl Series that is made for rooms up to 250 square feet.
British Thermal Units (BTU)
BTUs are the universal unit with what air conditioners run on. The number of BTUs on an appliance represents the amount of heat the unit will be able to remove from the air (or in the case of heaters, how much heat can be put into the air). The higher the BTU on an air conditioner, the more area that unit will be able to cover. For instance, an AC with 5,800 BTUs is designed to cover up to 250 square feet, whereas an AC with 10,000 BTUs is designed to cover up to 500 square feet.
Energy Efficiency (EER Rating)
Energy efficiency in air conditioners is measured with EER, a rating that determines the cooling capacity to the power inputs (or BTUs to watts). So the higher the EER you see on a model, the more energy efficient that unit will be. Most of the units that we look at in this article have an EER between 10-12.
Noise Levels (dBa)
Most air conditioners will fall somewhere in the range of 55-70 dBa, depending on which setting you have the unit set to. This is pretty standard and can be considered to fall in the sound range from normal conversation to the noise of a hair dryer. Because the units are so similar in noise levels, companies often don’t market this feature. There are a few available (like this LG model that comes in at 44 dBa) that are so quiet that it’s worth mentioning. Look for this statistic if you think that the white noise of an appliance would bother you.
Size & Weight (dimensions of unit, lbs)
Perhaps the most important detail of your air conditioner purchase is whether the unit will properly fit where you intend to install it. For window units, the size of the AC can vary greatly depending on how many BTUs the unit has. Some of these units are lightweight and easily installed by one person, whereas some of the larger units are upwards of 100 lbs, like this LG model.
It’s important to make sure that your home’s electrical system has the correct voltage to support the air conditioners that you intend to use. According to Energy.gov,
“Smaller room air conditioners (i.e., those drawing less than 7.5 amps of electricity) can be plugged into any 15- or 20-amp, 115-volt household circuit that is not shared with any other major appliances. Larger room air conditioners (i.e., those drawing more than 7.5 amps) need their own dedicated 115-volt circuit. The largest models require a dedicated 230-volt circuit.”
Heating & Dehumidification Options
Some air conditioners, especially through-the-wall units, also have heating capabilities so that they are able to keep you comfortable all year long. Most units also have options for dehumidifying. Window units often drip condensation directly outdoors, whereas portable units will either have a condensation collection pan or (newer to the marker) an internal evaporation system, which means you’ll never have to deal with extra moisture.
It’s pretty standard for air conditioners to come with at least a one-year warranty. In fact, you should be leery if the manufacturer offers you less than that. The warranty will cover the cost or replacement of your appliance as long as you have followed the manufacturer’s instructions. Any misuse or error on the consumer’s part will likely void the warranty. For larger AC models, having a professional install your unit and keeping a paper trail of the transaction will increase the likelihood for any future warranty claims to be processed successfully.
6 Best Smart Air Conditioners Reviewed
1. Friedrich Kühl Series SQ06N10C
Best For Small Rooms
|Smart function||App control, LED remote|
|Cooling Area (max)||250 Sq. Ft.|
|Warranty||Yes – 1 Year Warranty|
What I love about the Friedrich Kuhl series is that they are super solid appliances that are made to last. One Amazon user describes them as “built-like-tanks” and for this small unit weighing 72 lbs I have to say I agree.
The thing that is a little tricky about the Friedrich brand it that they are Wifi enabled but not exactly Wifi ready. Say what? The appliances are able to function with your home Wifi as smart devices, but the FriedrichLink (which is what connects you) is sold separately. This is great if you’re just looking for a regular home window AC unit but can be frustrating to those looking to immediately connect if they did not purchase the link upfront.
Installation of the Friedrich SQ06N10C may be a little more difficult than the average window AC unit, but only because it is so much heavier. For an extra fee, Amazon actually allows you to add-on to your purchase “expert installation.” We found the extra fee to be fair, and because you’re allowing an expert to install it you can rest assured that you’re not breeching your warranty in any way with quick self-fixes.
Overall, this Friedrich model was way pricier than we would have considered for a smart window air conditioner, especially considering you have to purchase the FriedrichLink separately. But once in action, this unit performs on target for smaller rooms. It’s quiet, cool, and powered to run a complete 7-day program.
2. Frigidaire Smart Window Air Conditioner
Best for Small – Medium Rooms
|Smart function||App control, Alexa enabled, remote|
|Cooling Area (max)||350 Sq. Ft.|
|Warranty||Yes – 2 Year Warranty|
If you’re already using Alexa at home you can give her another task, because now she can manage your home temperature with this Frigidaire Smart Window AC. (Please note, Alexa not included with unit.) You can also use it with your smartphone or tablet, or manually if that’s your preference.
Not only is the Frigidaire Smart Window AC smart, but it’s also energy efficient. It’s EER is 12, and Energy Star has estimated it will only cost $60 per year when used seasonally (which they consider 8+ hours per day for three months). But perhaps my favorite feature of this model is the smart alerts – this AC will let you know when it is time to clean the filter or attend to other maintenance. Following these prompts will keep your unit running efficiently and will help you avoid any break-downs throughout the season.
The Frigidaire app that works with this unit (free to download on your smartphone or tablet) can clearly be described as a work in progress. When we looked at other reviews, it seemed that its functionality was hit or miss, and that is likely due to the many varieties of smartphones on the market, cell service and data plans and more. The company that works on the app is constantly updating it, and we find that it works well enough of the time to be worth it.
3. Kenmore Smart 04277107
Best for Medium – Large Rooms
|Smart function||App control , Alexa enabled, remote control|
|Cooling Area (max)||500 Sq. Ft.|
|Warranty||Yes – 1 Year Warranty|
When I was growing up in the 1980s nearly all of our home appliances were made by Kenmore, so I’ve really come to know them as a reliable brand that I can trust. The same can be said about their window air conditioners, and I’m really pleased that they now have an Alexa enabled version because it just makes life so much easier.
The Kenmore Smart Series has an array of appliances with BTUs ranging from 8,000 to 24,000. For the purpose of this article, we looked at the 10,000 BTU model (04277107) because it is ideal for a medium-large room. Its Energy Star rating says that it can cool up to 500 square feet, but we found that rooms around 400 square feet are best for this model if you want to achieve maximum cooling.
The Kenmore app is extremely easy to use and can be downloaded on as many smartphones or tablets as you like to control your smart AC. With the app you can completely control the device from anywhere, including setting up schedules for energy efficiency. According to the manufacturer, these devices use 9% less energy than the standard devices, which will add up to a lot over time.
The Alexa commands, on the other hand, are a little buggy. Users have found that Alexa will respond that she’s changing the temp, etc. and not actually do it. If this happens, a quick fix is to usually disable the command and then reenable it. They may be smart robots, after all, but they are still learning too.
4. LG 14,000 BTU Dual Inverter Window Air Conditioner
Best for Large – Very Large Rooms
|Smart function||App control , auto-restart option, remote|
|Cooling Area (max)||800 Sq. Ft.|
|Warranty||Yes – 1 Year Warranty|
Compared to most window AC units, this LG is a monster and weighs over 98 lbs. You might need some extra help installing this “big guy” in your window, but once in functioning order you will see that its size helps it cool rooms of up to 800 square feet.
One of the most surprising features of this LG model is how insanely quiet it is, especially for the work it puts out. Most AC unit manufacturers don’t market their unit’s dBa (or noise levels), likely because most fall in the same range of about 60-70 dBa. This LG unit comes in at just 44 dBa, which according to this chart is comparable to a babbling brook or a home computer.
The duel inverter is also a great selling point. Basically, what this means is that instead of reaching the desired temperature and turning off and cycling this way throughout the day, the unit is designed to adjust its fans and speed to consistently monitor temperatures. This process makes the unit 25% MORE energy efficient than the Energy Star requirements.
The only downside to this LG smart AC unit is that the app required for it (LG SmartThinQ) can only be described as moderately reliable. Users have complained about the Wifi antenna not always connecting but have found more success when they were able to place the unit closer to their Wifi router. The unit works well with both Alexa and Google Home, which is a bonus.
5. JHS A016-10KR/B1 Portable Air Conditioner
Best for Small – Medium Rooms
|Smart function||App control , Alexa enabled, remote|
|Cooling Area (max)||220 Sq. Ft.|
|Warranty||Yes – 1 Year|
JHS wasn’t a brand that I was initially familiar with, but the high ratings on this smart AC model intrigued me. This portable tower unit is relatively small and compact at 50 lbs and would be perfect for a medium sized room or small apartment.
My favorite feature of this smart portable AC is the built-in “auto-evaporation system” – a detail that allows the unit to dehumidify the room (up to 50.7 pints per day!) without any extra work for you. Twelve years ago, my first experience with portable AC units was when I was living in NYC and the unit would turn off every hour or so to let me know it was full of water. I then had to dump the excess water and restart the unit. This led to many nights waking up drenched in sweat. The auto-evaporation system, in my opinion, is worth its weight in gold.
The JHS app that works with the unit is very user friendly and most users have felt it is also very reliable. And because the unit is portable, you can easily move it from one area to another. The exhaust hose generously stretches to 59 inches from the window that you attach it to and swapping it out to another window will probably take less than five minutes total – a luxury that you don’t get with standard window air conditioners.
6. Frigidaire 12,000 BTU Cool Connect
Best for Large Rooms
|Smart function||App control, Alexa enabled, Google Home enabled, remote|
|Cooling Area (max)||550 Sq. Ft.|
|Warranty||Yes – 2 Year Warranty|
When I think about the brand Frigidaire I instantly think of refrigerators because they are famous for their great big stainless-steel double-door fridges – the focal point and pride of many American kitchens. But the Frigidaire company also has many other home appliances, and as their name might suggest they are kind of experts on “frigid air” – which brings me to this Frigidaire Cool Connect portable AC unit.
First of all, I love the style of this AC model. Its sleek design will fit nicely in any room without becoming an eye sore. The unit itself looks more like a fancy speaker than an air conditioner, and its delicate design might lead you to believe it could easily be knocked over, but it has a solid foundation and actually weighs 85 lbs (which is something to consider if you plan on moving it from room to room). The exhaust tube on this model is also covered in a subtle grey fabric, which is a nice touch and adds even more to the ambiance of this model.
The cooling capabilities for this AC unit are listed as up to 550 square feet, and we found that estimate pretty true to its word, making this unit a perfect choice for studio or one-bedroom apartments. It would also be an option for smaller rooms that are open to the rest of the home like an office or a den. The Frigidaire app allows you to add more than one smart appliance so that you can keep even a larger home cool and comfortable using these units together.
Compatible AC Options
Ambi Climate is essentially your new robot best friend (well, maybe second to Alexa). This smart controller is not an AC unit itself, but it will work closely with your AC unit to essentially make it smart and to ensure that the climate of your home is always to your satisfaction.
The Ambi Climate uses data such as your personal preferences, indoor temperature, humidity, amount of sunlight, and time of day and creates a completely custom setup just for you which means you can now maximize both comfort and energy savings.
You will need to have one Ambi Climate for each air conditioner that you’d like to control, which can get a little costly, but we think that once you have one, you’ll definitely be back for more. Ambi currently works with over 1,200 different AC remotes. Ambi also works with Alexa and Google Home. Now adjusting the temperature can be is easy as saying “Alexa, tell Ambi I’m feeling cold.”
Sensibo is another great option for a smart AC controller. It’s smaller than the Ambi and can be installed on the wall like a thermostat near the unit you wish you control.
Sensibo works with an app on your smartphone and literally senses you based on your location, meaning if will turn on the AC as you’re getting closer to the location and it will turn off the AC when everyone leaves the house. A little creepy? Maybe, but also totally cool (pun intended).
The Sensibo also features smart technology called Climate React. This feature will adjust the temperature based on influences like humidity and outdoor temperature, as well as your set comfort zone. And if the thought of picking up a power tool or screwdriver makes you panic, have no fear because Sensibo attaches to the wall with a heavy-duty adhesive that only takes 30 seconds.
Midea Portable Air Conditioner 8000 BTU Easycool AC
This Midea Portable Air Conditioner isn’t truly a “smart” AC or connect to one, as it doesn’t have Wifi capabilities. It does, however, have a FollowMe function that we found to be pretty clever and worth mentioning.
Essentially, the remote control has a built-in temperature sensor. When you have the remote control near you, the AC unit will automatically adjust its speeds and temperature to cool you exactly where you are – like it’s literally following you.
The only downside to this technology is that you literally have to have the remote next to you or in your pocket so that the unit can sense it. For rooms with multiple people, who gets to hold the remote?
Getting the most out of your Smart AC
Getting the most out of your smart AC will depend on one thing alone, and that is whether or not you’re actually utilizing the smart features. Fortunately, these smart units are not much more money than their manual counterparts but using all of their smart features will allow you to save money on energy costs over time and hopefully be more comfortable than you’ve ever been before while doing so!
For people that are already using smartphones and other smart devices the ease of using a smart AC will be second nature. The key will be to go beyond a set temperature and to really fine-tune your schedule so that your smart AC isn’t cooling while you’re away, and closely following the prompts to clean and maintain your unit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do smart wifi AC’s cost more than regular units?
Smart AC units tend to run a little more than their non-smart counterparts, but the difference is marginal. Most users find that difference is between $30-$50 more, and that when you consider the extra advantages of having a Wifi enabled AC it’s well worth it.
Which type of phone do I need to make it work?
Most smart ACs require that you have a smartphone with either an iOS or Android operating system so that you can download their personal applications.
Will it work with my computer?
Your smart AC is meant to work with other smart devices like smartphones or tablets. There are a few models, like the Friedrich Kühl Series, that allow you to access the controls through your computer using the FriedrichLink, but this would likely be more time consuming than just controlling the unit manually.
Is it ok to go bigger in size than recommended?
Using an AC with a larger BTU status than recommended isn’t a great idea because it will cool the room more quickly than needed but then quickly cycle off. The constant cycling will waste more energy than using a recommended unit and will probably cost you more financially in the long run.
Which type is the easiest to install?
Portable smart air conditioners are the easiest to install. Given their name portable, these units are meant to be easily moved within your home. Most of these units take only moments to install and are as easy as plugging the unit into the wall and opening a window to let the exhaust out. If you need immediate cooling, portable AC is the way to go.
What else should I consider before buying?
The most important factors to consider when purchasing a smart AC are whether or not it will fit in your space, if the cooling capacity is appropriate, and whether or not the unit that has an app that works with your current operating system. Beyond that, personal preferences like style, price and features should also be taken into consideration.
Smart AC units are here, and they will likely only increase in capabilities over the next several years. Depending on your home and current Wifi setup, there’s certainly a smart AC that will work for you, whether you’re in a tiny studio apartment or a large open loft. At Air Conditioner Lab we aim to give you all the information you need to make the best informed decision on your next AC purchase.
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