I am looking to buy a window air conditioner that I can integrate with Smart Things. Is there any specific brand of window air conditioner that is recommended for use with Samsung Smart Things?
There are several different approaches to be able to use automations to control a window air conditioner.
FULL OR PARTIAL INTEGRATION?
Some offer a “full integration” where if you separately change the controls on the air conditioner, manually at the wall, with the air conditioner’s own remote, etc then that action is also reported to smartthings so the status information stays up-to-date in the SmartThings app.
However, most only offer a “partial integration“ where you can send commands to the air conditioner from SmartThings, but smartthings won’t get status updates if the controls are changed in any other way. That will work for some use cases, but not all.
CONTROL THE UNIT OR JUST MIMIC THE REMOTE?
Some options, although not many at the time of this writing, give you control of the a/c unit itself. But many just substitute for the unit’s own remote control, usually with an IR blaster.
The second approach gives you a much wider selection of window air conditioners to choose from, because as long as the air conditioner has an IR remote, you can get something that can also send IR commands and it will work. However, this method may expose fewer features of the air conditioner itself, basically just the things you can do with its own button remote.
Also, this is where that full versus partial integration comes in. If you are getting integration with the window unit itself, you are much more likely to get status updates from it. If you are just mimicking an existing IR remote, you won’t get status updates if any other method of control is used for the unit, including manually pressing the buttons on it.
So both methods have pros and cons. You’re likely to get more information and more control if the unit itself will integrate, but you will have a much wider choice of brands and models to choose from if you go with the “mimic the remote“ method. Also the mimic the remote method will probably be less expensive even if you have to spend $150 or so for the mimic device.
There is one other plus for getting a fully integrated smart air conditioner, though, and that has to do with the limits of Infrared. IR requires a clear line of sight between the IR blaster and the window unit, which means you need one mimic device for each room. That can increase the cost of the project and limit the physical locations for the mimic device.
A NOTE ABOUT REMOTES
Remotes are typically either IR (infrared) or RF (Radio frequency, but can be any of many different incompatible frequencies).
If it’s an IR remote, you are limited to line of sight control, but it’s pretty easy to find a mimic device that can send the same commands.
If it’s an RF device, The signal will travel through walls, which can be a plus, but it can be much more challenging to swap out one remote for another, making the integration options trickier. Most of the mimic devices that you can buy for home automation are for IR remote, not RF.
Broadlink and Bond are the two popular exceptions. Each can mimic some RF remotes, although not all, so you have to do some research there.
Broadlink is a popular inexpensive remote mimicking device and you can get partial integration through IFTTT. There is a detailed discussion of using this method in the following thread:
Seeking advice on automating mini-splits (2021)
CLOUD SERVICE INTERMEDIARIES
Some smart air conditioners don’t have an integration with SmartThings, but they do have an integration with a different cloud service that can act as an intermediary. These brands won’t show up in the list of brands in the smartthings app, so you’ll have to do your own research.
The most popular intermediaries are Probably IFTTT (which now requires a paid subscription, but has quite a few brands) or Amazon Alexa Routines (free, has even more brands, and doesn’t require an echo device, but does require an Amazon account). Homebridge is another intermediary possibility for people already using apple’s HomeKit.
This can work well, but does sometimes introduces a little more lag and may have only limited features available. Also, some of these are full integrations and some are partial integrations.
So this can be a good option for some people in some situations, but does have limitations.
I think this approach is probably best suited when you are handling most of the smart features of the air conditioner either through its own app or through another platform, and you just want to be able to use SmartThings to create some specific one-way schedules for the AC. Or if you want to use smartthings presence just to turn the AC off when you leave the house, for example.
I’m not going to go into all the details of all the different possible intermediaries in this post, just know that that is an option for some setups, and feel free to ask more questions if you’re interested.
I would note specifically that GE makes a line of smart window air conditioners that have integration with alexa, Ifttt, and HomeKit, but don’t have direct integration with SmartThings. These come in six different sizes plus a freestanding unit, and are reasonably priced. (We have one in our own home and are considering getting a second.) If you like everything else about them, it might be worth considering one of the intermediary approaches for smartthings integration.
SPECIFIC SMART AIR CONDITIONERS WITH ST INTEGRATION
You can see which manufacturers are providing smartthings integration by clicking on the + in the upper right of the main screen for the smart things app, then choosing devices, and then looking under air conditioners.
Seeing a brand there does not mean the integration will work with all models or all features, so you will have to do more research, but it’s a place to start.
At the time of this writing for the US, the only smart AC manufacturer listed there is Samsung. The other brands listed there provide remote mimicking devices, not full air conditioners.
Samsung does list over a dozen different models, but as far as I can tell most of them are only sold through professional installers in the US. Again you just have to do some research.
As I mentioned above, if you are willing to use one of the intermediaries like Ifttt, then I think the GE smart window units are worth looking at and they are widely available including through Home Depot and Amazon. You can also write to GE and suggest that they add smartthings integration.
SPECIFIC SMART REMOTE MIMICKING DEVICES WITH ST INTEGRATION
There are several devices of this type where the manufacturer is offering a smartthings integration. You will see them in the smartthings app. The Cielo breeze is one example and seems to have very good reviews both on blogs and at Amazon. This brand includes the works with smartthings logo on the box, usually a good sign.
SCENE OPTIONS FOR OTHER METHODS
If you want a less expensive option, both tuya and Switchbot have IR blasters that have some smartthings integration. But they are not listed under “air conditioners” in the smartthings app, I think because the only integration you can get is by creating a scene in the manufacturer’s app and then exposing that scene to smartthings. It’s pretty limited. Either you have to set up a whole bunch of scenes for all the different possible setting combinations you might want to have, or you just have a really simple on/off scene.
There are a few people doing this, but it’s clunky, you get limited information, you get limited control, and I don’t think it’s what most people are looking for. But it’s a possibility, especially, if, for example your main use case is to turn off the air conditioner when people leave the house.
MATTER IN THE FUTURE
If you can wait, it’s quite possible that by spring 2024 there will be matter enabled air conditioners that will then work well with smartthings without needing intermediaries or custom code. But they aren’t here yet and there’s no telling exactly what features they will have once they arrive. But it’s definitely a device class where we may see more candidates in the future.
BTW, Tom’s Guide ran a round up article on smart window air conditioners in April 2021 which was quite good. it didn’t mention smartthings Integration, so you would still have to research that, but you’ll see that several of the brands I mentioned above are also covered in this article:
Our own choice for our house has been the GE, which works with Alexa, Google assistant, IFTTT, and HomeKit. But there’s no manufacturer-provided smartthings Integration, so it may not be a tight enough integration for you.
I’m curious to see if anyone posts to this thread who is using the Cielo integration. If it’s a good integration, that would look to me to be a top candidate, but I just haven’t heard one way or another on it. It looks promising:
You can control your AC using SmartThings app. It will give you the following controls:
- Turn your AC On/Off.
- Change your AC’s mode between Heat, Cool, Auto, Dry, and Fan.
- Increase or decrease the AC’s set point temperature.
The SmartThings app also shows you the current room temperature and humidity as sensed by the Cielo device.