A clever upgrade that turns air conditioning units smart, the Tado Smart AC Control is a neat upgrade that can automate your cooling and even reduce running costs. It’s easy to configure and set up, and provides powerful and flexible controls. It doesn’t work with all AC systems and may not be ideal for portable air conditioning units.
- Makes air conditioning smart
- Clever energy-saving features
- Gives your more flexibility with AC control
- Doesn’t work with all AC units
- Not ideal for portable AC
- IntegrationsThe Tado Smart AC Control works with Tado’s app, plus you can integrate it with HomeKit for control through the Apple Home app. Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant control is available.
- ConnectionThe Tado connects with the app via Wi-Fi but it communicates with your aircon using IR, so needs line of site to it.
It’s pretty easy to take control of your heating with a smart thermostat but what about your cooling? With the Tado Smart AC Control, you can add smarts to your air conditioning, controlling how and when it turns on.
Communicating via IR, this system is compatible with a huge range of air conditioning systems, including fixed and portable units, although the level of control varies depending on the model that you’re using it with.
Arguably, Tado Smart AC Control works best with fixed installations, where they can operate without requiring an external vent, but the increased flexibility and more powerful control make this a useful add-on for air conditioning.
Design and installation
- Works with Wi-Fi
- Needs the right type of air conditioning system to work
- Straight forward to set up
Unlike the regular Tado Smart Thermostat V3+, the Smart AC Control (also V3+)doesn’t require the bridge to work. Instead, the system connects directly to your home Wi-Fi.
In the box you get the control unit, which is roughly the same size and shape as the regular heating thermostat (100 x 100 x 15mm). It’s powered via micro USB and can be mounted to a wall, or you can buy the optional stand instead.
Installation of the thermostat is straightforward and it can be added to HomeKit at the same time. Once you’ve followed the simple steps to connect the Smart AC Control to your home network, you get into the more detailed configuration of your air conditioning unit.
Here, you need to pick the model of air conditioner that you have; if yours isn’t listed, then you can select this option, take a picture of the remote control and enter the remote’s serial number into the app, which is what I had to do.
Compatibility is very good but not all air conditioning units are supported. The short rule is that you need a system where the remote control has an LCD that shows the current settings; if you don’t have one, then Tado will be unable to send the correct IR commands. Before you buy, check the Tado site for more information on compatibility.
Depending on the model of air conditioning you have, the system can support all of the modes that are supported, which can include cool, heat, dry and fan only. My portable AEG air conditioner supports all of these modes and they were all available for control through the app.
Finally, the system gets you to find a suitable place for your thermostat. Tado rapidly sends on/off commands, so you can hear your air conditioner beep when the Smart AC Control is within range. Once you’ve found a good spot, you just mount the controller.
- Automatic window and geofencing control
- Full control of the air conditioning controls via the app
- Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support
There are two ways that the Tado Smart AC Control can work: in Thermostat Mode and in Standard Mode. In Thermostat Mode, the Smart AC Control’s thermostat will turn off the air conditioning within the Acceptance Range that you set in the app. For example, if the acceptance range is 0.5C and you set the Smart AC Control to 20C, it will turn on when the temperature reaches 20.5C and off at 19.5C.
In Standard Mode, the Smart AC Control just sends the mode and temperature information to the air conditioner and lets it take control over the temperature. The latter mode is the preferred mode, as it offers more control; in Thermostat Mode you may lose some features, such as Dry mode, Fan mode and fan speeds.
Also, some air conditioning units don’t support Thermostat Mode, so you may not even get the option in the app. I didn’t for my chosen air conditioner, so I had to run in Standard Mode.
As with its smart thermostats, the air conditioning is run via a Smart Schedule. This lets you set the mode, target temperature and fan speed that you want at specific times during the day. Tado then takes over control of your air conditioning.
If you subscribe to Tado (£2.99 a month), you can have Geofencing automatically turn off (or down) your air conditioning when you go out, although it won’t work if you’ve manually set a temperature in the app. And, you can have Tado turn off your air conditioning when it detects that there’s an open window. If you don’t subscribe, both options are available but they come through as a push notification, requiring you to take manual control.
A subscription also gets you weather compensation, where set temperatures are adjusted based on the weather, so you’ll save energy by not trying to overcool your home when it’s cold outside.
Automatic control like this is useful, but it’s better suited to a full air conditioning system, properly installed. With a portable air conditioning unit, you need to have a window open to vent out the hot moist air, which can be a security issue.
It’s possible to have a hole drilled through the wall for the vent outlet or, in my case, I have a window adaptor connected to a sash window located on the third floor, which is out of reach of burglars.
If you do have portable air conditioning, you need to be careful, as Tado has no idea if the hose is in the right location or not. If you’ve pulled in the hose, for whatever reason, then the Tado Smart AC Control can turn on your AC, pumping cold air out of the vent and hot air out of the hose, just wasting power.
You can turn off the air conditioner manually when not in use: long-press the control panel or use the app (ideally, set the change to permanent to prevent a schedule change turning your AC back on). Alternatively, you can set the smart schedule to operate in blocks, all set to off. That way, you can manually set your AC to turn on when you want, and it will shut down when it hits the next time block, say overnight while you sleep. All manual changes can also be set to last permanently or for a specific time, say one hour.
You can use the thermostat to change temperature and fan speed, but cycling between modes is fiddly. Switching from cool, you have to cycle from the maximum to minimum temperatures (32C to 16C on my unit) before it switches mode. For that reason, I prefer to use the app and finetune temperatures from the thermostat if needed.
You can still use your air conditioner’s remote control or control panel, but the settings you make aren’t transmitted back, so Tado won’t know the set temperature or mode that you’ve set.
Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support are all available. With each, you can change temperature or mode easily enough. Changes, by default, are made until the next scheduled block at which point the Smart AC Control reverts to automated control. If you have previously set a change to be permanent, then changes made using your voice are also permanent.
HomeKit control gives you the option to adjust temperature and modes, although only Cool, Heat and Off are available. Temperature changes follow the setting you last made in the app: next scheduled change, time period or permanent. You can also use your Tado Smart AC Control in Automations.
- Works effectively
- Gives you control wherever you are
- There can be big differences between Tado’s temperature and your AC’s
Modes and control options will depend on the type of air conditioner that you have. With mine, I found that settings were applied accurately and quickly every time, no matter where I was. It’s a handy system, as I can turn on the AC an hour or two before I go to bed, turning a hot loft conversion into a cool oasis of calm.
Running in Standard Mode gave me a mismatch between temperatures: one night, with the air conditioning set to 20C, the Tado thermostat was reading 17.6C and the air conditioner’s thermostat was reading 21C. As such, you may want to adjust the temperature you set accordingly: setting 22C gave me about the right temperature overall.
As with most smart heating systems, it takes a while to get the Tado Smart AC Control’s settings and schedules exactly right for your home and system.
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Should you buy it?
If you’re a heavy AC user and want to automate your system to save money and make your home more comfortable, this is a great smart solution built specifically for the job.
If you’re a light AC user or you have a portable AC unit where you pull the hose in regularly, you’re probably not going to use all of this system’s advanced features.
Provided you have the right type of air conditioning unit, the Tado Smart AC Control turns it from a dumb system into a smart one that you can control with an app, Apple Home or your voice. It’s much more useful for fixed installations (either professionally installed or where a portable unit is permanently vented), as automatic control isn’t very useful if you’ve pulled in a portable AC’s hose. And, it all depends on how much you use your AC: heavy users will benefit from the level of control you get and energy-saving features; occasional users will probably be better off with manual control.
The Tado Smart AC Control should work with all air conditioning units that have a full-state remote control. That is, the remote has a screen that shows all of the current settings. Read Tado’s compatibility guide for more.
It can use the cooling mode of your air con and, if available, dry, fan and heat modes.
It has geofencing, smart scheduling, window detection and weather compensation, although you need to pay a subscription to get some of these to work automatically.