FAQ: Best way to control a AC (2017)


(Eddy) #1

Hi there,

So what is the most elegant way to control a AC nowadays?
My setup is like this:

  1. tv in living room
  2. ac in a different room (shitty ac where the line of sight to the IR is strict)

I read about harmony hub… but can i control both my tv and the AC with 1 device?


Turning on air-conditioning with IR commands?
FAQ: How to Use SmartThings with an IOT Device that has an IR Remote
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Window Air Conditioners?
Could I use these (Broadlink) with ST to control my Mini-Split HVAC system?
Two Window AC units
#2

You probably won’t be able to control both with one harmony hub unless it’s a smart TV and isn’t using an IR remote or unless you use an IR extender. The IR extenders that work best are the ones that run via cable, and there are people that put them in several rooms that way, but then it means you have cables running along the walls (or you have to go to the trouble of running them through the walls) and many people prefer just to buy an additional harmony hub for the other room. This typically costs around $99 for just the hub at either Amazon or Best Buy, but it does go on sale occasionally for about $89. So definitely shop around.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N3RFC4Q/ref=asc_df_B00N3RFC4Q4998800/

There are some IR Bridge devices which communicate wirelessly between two of the bridges, but I haven’t found them to be very reliable and again, it’s usually just easier to buy a second harmony hub.

The reason for all of this, as I’m sure you already know but someone else reading this might not, is the IR has to be a line of sight to the device that it’s controlling. It doesn’t go through walls the way Z wave and WiFi do.

I like the harmony hub and use it at my house, but it’s not the most intuitive device when you use it with an air conditioner. You might instead consider the remotec ZXT-120. This is a device that will look like a Z wave thermostat to SmartThings, but has its own IR and is designed specifically for air conditioner control. It still has to be line of sight to the air-conditioner, but the interface is just a little more intuitive. There are a number of community members using it so you can ask more in one of those threads if you’re interested.

https://www.amazon.com/Remotec-Z-Wave-ZXT-120-Extender-Conditioners/dp/B00CJBBYS0/

There’s also a new inexpensive WiFi to IR controller, the zmote, that some community members are using, but it’s going to have the same issues as the harmony: it’s not a very intuitive interface for an air conditioner.

I would say if you already intend to have a harmony hub for the room the air-conditioner’s in, it’s worth trying that first, but if you’d rather have a more thermostat-like interface, you can consider the remotec. ( I haven’t heard of anyone specifically using the zmote for an air conditioner yet, but it’s another possibility.)

And if you’re having to buy a device just to control the air-conditioner, then maybe consider the remotec first.

Other options: smart air conditioners

I’ll also just add this for people who might be reading this thread later based on the topic title that there are some smart air conditioners and if you’re starting from scratch, I think I would look at one of those first as the most elegant solution. (The GE Devices available in the US have an IFTTT channel, And there are some Samsung devices but they are not available in the US yet.)

But if you already have an air conditioner that has an IR remote, either the harmony home hub or the remotec ZXT120 can give you good integration with SmartThings.

There are a couple of other retrofit wifi solutions, like the tado, and I had high hopes for those, but so far all of the community reviews have been bad on those. Hopefully if there are people using any of those successfully, they will also chime in. :sunglasses:


Mitsubishi Heat Pump wifi control?
#3

Oh, and if you do want to try extending the IR signal to a second room, here are some typical products:

This one is using wires:

https://www.amazon.com/BAFX-Products-IR-Repeater-extender/dp/B009ZGK6QS/

This is a typical wireless one, but the four star rating is misleading – – you’ll see a lot of reviews that say it just doesn’t work and then reviews that say it works perfectly. There are just a lot of individual factors that can cause problems for it. I think it’s worth trying, but buy it from somewhere with a good returns policy. We tried three different brands of these and just never could get one to work well.

https://www.amazon.com/BlastIR-Wireless-IR-Repeater-Sewell/dp/B01G9IGYI8/


(Eddy) #4

Thanks, couldn’t have ask for a more complete answer to my problem :slight_smile:


#5

Note I have updated the link to the community created code to go to a more current version.


#6

Hello JD,
I haven’t found a room/portable/floor AC unit that works with ST…except a Samsung model, only available in Korea. There are many WiFi controllerd AC units, but I’ve found no ST integration…yet! Do you have any advise on the matter? Thanks!


#7

The GE smart air conditioners have an IFTTT channel, so you can get indirect integration that way.

http://www.geappliances.com/ge/connected-appliances/air-conditioners.htm


(Eddy) #8

Any portables ones that you would recommend?


(Donald Kirker) #9

I’ve been using the Remotec ZXT-120 with my apartment’s in-wall a/c (it is basically like a cheap one like what you would find in a hotel room). The problem is… Mine is so cheap that really all I can do is on and off. The remote has a “cooler” and “less cool” control button, and there is a thermostat display (basically a two digit number) on the front, so I can set the temp. But, it has to be done in steps. I think I am going to need to create a custom DTH to be able to support changing the temp (and hope that none of the IR packets to the a/c are lost…). It also has fan and cool modes.

I think at one point Sensibo had a device that had extra sensors to actually read the state of the a/c unit like you or I would. But, they are no longer shipping that product and I am not sure if there is a way to get one. I was trying to see if there was a way I could just hack into the a/c’s control bus. But, I’ll probably be moving in a year to a place with REAL central a/c, and probably would go for something like an ecobee 3 lite. :slight_smile:


(Eddy) #10

Anyone have any experience with this?

Im looking for a cheap alternative than buying a harmony hub


#11

While the broadlink is less expensive, The only way to get it to work with SmartThings is to set up an additional android device as a go-between, so at that point the cost is equivalent and it’s much more work to set up. But you can search the forums for Broadlink topics if you want to see how other people have done it.


#12

One other weird but workable option…

There are a couple of air conditioner brands right now (July 2017) which have an Amazon echo integration, but don’t work with anything else, not even IFTTT. These include Frigidaire and Kenmore Smart.

Some people will set up an inexpensive android phone/tablet running LANnouncer sitting physically next to an Amazon Dot and then have the android device speak commands that the Dot will respond to. It’s a little MacGyver-ish, but it will work and for about the same money as the other controllers. So it might work for some people, particularly if those specific air-conditioner brands have features that you want.

You can also use any other text to speech device where you can set up a rule to make it say a specific phrase.

So a little goofy, but it is another option. :sunglasses:


#13

Writing a handler for the ZXT-120 will be quite problematic, since the module tends to change it’s supported Thermostat Modes and Thermostat Setpoint types according to the currently set IR codes, that should match supported AC models.

So, via just a configuration parameter change, the module reponds to Supported Get commands with diferrent bitmasks/supported types. Since the DHs are static it’ll have to support pretty much all Thermostat Mode and Thermostat Setpoint types at once, since the integrator has no way of knowing in advance what IR codes will be set or not…


(Eddy) #14

Hi so just a quick update what i ended up with
Now this is by no mean the “best” way to control an AC
But it did not cost me much. I ended up using a old phone (samsung note 4) which has a build in IR blaster.

Then i used the following:

  • Tasker
  • Pushover
  • IFTTT
  • Autoinput
  • A app on the google app store that can control my AC (any appl that has your ac IR frequency would work)

I tape down that phone to a place where the IR can have line of sight of the AC.
Then created a virtual switch on smarthings and created some recipes on ifttt (for google home assistant)
I have glued a contact sensor to the lip of the AC so that i know that its on, coz sometime the IR a/c doesnt respond (shitty ac)

It goes in that order =

  • click on switch > send to ifttt maker channel > pushover message to the phone > tasker intercept > launch AC control app > autoinput click on power button

Then i loop it, until contact sensor open (in case it missed it)

All in all, satisfied, delay is around 10sec, im ok with that,
You could technically reversed engineer this method by controlling the temp but im too lazy and did not bother, on/off was enough for me


(Mark) #15

@Ron has had a working device handler for the zxt-120 for a couple years now, and he keeps the code updated, see below.


(Donald Kirker) #16

Yup, I believe this is the one I was using. (There are a couple.) But, I am probably going to cut it back so that it only really offers up what my a/c unit supports (the little that it supports).


(Yves Racine) #18

Hi,

Flair provides an IR interface through their Puck device and it can support most popular manufacturers…

I’ve been using it with my portable cooler for more than a year now.

With my Flair-ST integration, you have access to several commands for fan and swing settings (if your device supports it).

And, you can use my zoned heating/cooling smartapps to automatically & properly turn the AC on/off using IR (not by cutting power) and set the right fan speed based on the indoor temp differential in your zoned rooms… If your A/C is not part of your active zones for your current schedule (ex. upstairs bedrooms at night), the A/C will be turned off automatically. My zoned heating/cooling solutions can also support the Remote ZXT-120 devices.

You need to check first if your device is supported by Flair of course. Flair supports more than 250 manufacturers/models.

Regards


#19

I had been looking for a way to integrate my window A/C units and after seeing this thread and doing some further research I came up with a fairly inexpensive solution that has been working well for me.

I am using these units as my IR controllers:

They are around 20 bucks, and I have one for each A/C that I want to control from smartthings.
I had seen people here talking about using an android app and an old phone to interface with the Mini 3, but I don’t have any old android devices, and it also looks like the app was having issues talking to the broadlink devices.

I found a little server program that you can run on a raspberry pi which will accept POST requests (from webcore / IFTTT) and send specific IR commands via the broadlink mini 3:

So my current setup uses a modified version of the simulated thermostat DTH that syncs via WebCoRE with a real-world temperature sensor (a nest thermostat) and triggers a piston to control my window ACs via the broadlink devices.

Here is the modified DTH:

And here is a piston example to illustrate how to send commands via webcore (and also how to sync the virtual thermostat with a real temp sensor):

You need to replace the url with:

http://YOUR_NGROK_URL.ngrok.io/command/YOUR_COMMAND_NAME

And the secret variable needs to be set to the secret that goes with that command in the server settings.

The readme on the github page for the broadlink server has a good explination of how to set things up and learn commands. It walks through sending commands via IFTTT, but since WebCoRE is able to make web requests now, I figured I would cut out the middle man.

Hope this helps someone, for me it’s been pretty flawless and was by far the least expensive way to get this working.

EDIT: Forgot to mention the DTH has a dewpoint number which I also calculate and sync via WebCoRE (dewpoint is a much better indicator of comfort than humidity, and I use it as part of the logic in controlling my A/C units). If anyone wants that piston as well I can share it. There is also a button labeled “energy saver” which links to the fan mode setting of the device (I use it with my webcore piston to simulate an energy saver mode that my AC units have).


(Eddy) #20

I use the exact same setup as of today, except i use home assistant to pass those commands.
Thanks for sharing