Window air conditioners are critical in homes without central air conditioning. But turning each unit on and off is a pain, and smart air conditioners are expensive. With a smart plug, you can make many air conditioners smart.

Why Make A/C Smart Windows?

iClever smart plug on top of the air conditioner plug, on top of the blue blanket.

Window air conditioners are expensive, often $200 to $500. They do make up for this cost by lasting for a long time — it’s not uncommon to see them running for five to ten years. The best way to cool multiple rooms in a house is to buy multiple units, one for each room. But it makes you run from room to room to turn them on when you get home. Later, you run to turn them off to save electricity. And when you get home, it can be hot in your house until you turn on the air conditioners and they don’t have a chance to cool down. But you may not want to drive them all day if you are away from home.

Some newer air conditioners have Wi-Fi options for voice and remote control, but buying a brand new air conditioner for this feature does not make sense if the old one is otherwise working fine and energy efficient. So, the next best thing is to make your stupid air conditioner smart by adding a smart plugin. With a smart jack, you use an app or voice control to turn any air conditioner in your house or apartment on and off. And you can turn them on remotely when you go home, so your house will be cool when you arrive.

Smart plugs are inexpensive, ranging from $15 to $30, and can be ZigBee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth based. Most of them work with Alexa or Google Assistant and you can easily control them from your phone. The best use for smart plugs is voice control and automation, but savings can also be made. But not all air conditioners are compatible with smart switches, so the first thing you should do is check if yours will work with smart plugs.

How to check if your air conditioner is working with a smart plug

Closeup of an air conditioner unit showing the mechanical power and speed of switches and a rotary dial.
Your air conditioner needs physical toggle switches or dials like this to work.

Smart plugs are great gadgets that work on simple principles. First, connect a device, such as a lamp or a coffee maker, to the smart jack. Plug the smart plug into an electrical outlet. You can now program and control the plug-in using the smartphone app.

When you disconnect a smart plug, it disconnects everything connected to it. In essence, this is the same as turning off a lamp or a coffee maker. When you turn on the smart plug, you are «plugging in a lamp».

But the same simple principle of cutting and restoring power limits the possibilities of intelligent connectivity. Not all appliances will work with a smart plug because some use an electrical switch. Electrical switches store the current on and off state on the board and this memory is lost when power is lost. Mechanical switches pass energy depending on their physical state, just like standard light switches.

The first thing you want to do before buying a window air conditioner smart jack is to examine the power buttons. Is it a soft button with an LED display? Or a mechanical switch that switches to different positions to turn such a switch or dial on and off?

Closeup of an A/C unit showing the electrical switch and LED screen.
The soft buttons and LED screen are generally an electrical switch and will not work with a smart plug.

If it’s a soft button, the device most likely won’t work with a smart plug. If it’s a mechanical switch, then you can make it smart. If you are still unsure, there is a simple test to check. Turn on the air conditioner, then unplug it. Wait five seconds, then plug it back in. If your air conditioner is turned on without pressing any buttons, it will work with the smart switch.

This will work for portable air conditioners as well. However, the same limitation applies: you want a portable air conditioner with mechanical switches — one that can turn on the moment you plug it in without any additional button presses.

Once you’ve determined that your air conditioner works with smart plugs, it’s time to get one. We have several recommendations for smart connectors, and if you don’t have a hub, you should consider one based on Wi-Fi. A thin Smart Plug, such as the eufy Smart Plug Mini, may fit best in your seat if your air conditioner plug is large and bulky.

RELATED: The best smart plugs

How to set up your air conditioner with Smart Plug

the window unit A/C is connected to a smart jack which is plugged into an outlet.

Once you have your smart plug, you’re all set — it’s a simple process. If you haven’t already, install your window air conditioner as usual. Plug it into your smart plug and it’s up to the wall. Then download and install the smart plug app.

The installation process of the app and smart plug depends on your smart plugs. Here are manuals for Kasa, eufy and Belkin smart plugs. It’s just a smart plug setup with any other device, and if you’ve done it before, you should already know what to do.

Once you’ve set up the smart plugin, you may want to integrate it with Google Assistant or Alexa.

When you connect a smart plug to your voice assistant, consider the name you give each plug and don’t forget to add them to a group or room. This will make managing them even easier.

Once you’re done connecting them to your voice assistant, you can create a routine to turn your air conditioner on and off automatically at specific times of the day or night. We recommend doing this through the Google Home or Alexa app, not the smart plug app. If you follow this advice with all your devices, then you will always know which application to turn to when you need to adjust the mode. It’s more convenient than trying to remember to use the Kasa app for smart timers, but the Philips Hue app for lights, etc.

Smart plugs are not the ideal solution for automation. You cannot control the temperature or speed, for example. And if your air conditioner is old enough, it wastes electricity or doesn’t cool the room; You should consider replacing it rather than buying a smart plug. But if your window air conditioner works fine and isn’t too demanding on electricity, and all you need is power on and off, then smart plugs are a great way to add voice and remote control, as well as automation, for less money than buying a smart one. air conditioner.

You can use the same trick to make other appliances smart. You can even install some smart fans to keep your home cool without air conditioning.

RELATED: Not all devices work with Smart Outlets. Here’s how to find out

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