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?
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
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?
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.