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Best Overall: GE AHP08LX Window Air Conditioner at Lowe’s
"The first smart A/C in the U.S. to support Apple’s HomeKit."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Kenmore Smart Room Air Conditioner at Amazon
"You can turn the air on and off, adjust the temperature, and set up custom schedules through the Kenmore Smart app."
Best Budget: LG Smart Window Air Conditioner at Amazon
"Offers window air conditioners with smart features that get the job done without a lot of extra cost."
Best Design: Frigidaire Smart Room Air Conditioner at Amazon
"Touch-sensitive buttons run along the top of the curved front panel, leaving its face clean and minimal."
Best for Portability: JHS Portable Air Conditioner at Amazon
"Allows for a combination of portability and 10,000 BTUs of cooling power, along with a full set of smart features."
Runner-Up, Best for Portability: Frigidaire Portable at Amazon
"Its unique cylindrical design also gives it a bit more style than the tall boxy shape that most portable A/Cs come in."
Best Smart A/C Control: Sensibo Sky at Amazon
"An affordable way to get a whole lot of smart cooling functionality."
Runner-Up, Best Smart A/C Control: Cielo Breez at Amazon
"An inexpensive smart A/C controller that can give your cooling appliances plenty of functionality and flexibility."
Courtesy of Lowe's
The core requirement for a smart air conditioner is Wi-Fi capability, so you can access and control the unit from anywhere using a mobile app. The GE AHP08LX model does just that, for only a bit above the cost of a comparable “dumb” air conditioner. Once it’s installed in a window and connected to your home Wi-Fi network, you can use the simple but effective GE Comfort app on your phone or tablet to easily turn the A/C on or off or adjust the temperature. You can also set up schedules to run the cooling at certain times, and they can be different for any day of the week.
But what makes the AHP08LX stand out most is its wide level of compatibility with major voice assistants and smart platforms. In addition to integrating with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, it was the first smart A/C in the U.S. to support Apple’s HomeKit. It even works with the free If This Then That (IFTTT) service for creating custom automation between your smart products and other devices.
Above all, the AHP08LX is an air conditioner, and it does that job well, too. The Energy Star-certified A/C’s 8,000 BTUs of cooling is ideal for many homes, rated for a medium-sized room between 250 and 350 square feet. Its design is fairly basic and industrial, but the smart features are what keep it looking squarely into the future.
Kenmore offers smart window air conditioner options for just about any room, starting with an 8,000-BTU model for modest spaces all the way up to a 24,500-BTU version for rooms up to 1,600 square feet. All models have three cooling speeds, three fan speeds, and four-way air direction for more even circulation through the room. It may get a bit loud at higher gears but in general runs nice and quietly.
Of course, the main draw to the smart A/C is being able to control these settings from anywhere inside the house or outside it. You can turn the air on and off, adjust the temperature, and set up custom schedules through the Kenmore Smart app, a decent mobile interface that can manage other Kenmore smart products as well. The Kenmore Elite also offers convenient integration with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and Echo speakers. This is done through the Kenmore Smart skill, though some users reported finding difficulty with setup and limitations to what Alexa can control.
With the numbers of options still fairly limited, you won’t find a huge variation in the price of smart A/Cs. But LG offers window air conditioners with smart features that get the job done without a lot of extra costs. Wi-Fi enabled versions are available for their 8,000, 10,000, and 12,000-BTU models, so you can choose which amount of cooling power is most appropriate for your room. All models are Energy Star-certified and include an auto-restart feature to get things back up and running after a power outage.
The Wi-Fi connection built-in to the LG appliance shows some tendency to be problematic, but this can happen to basically any smart A/C across the board, and for most homes, it works just fine. As part of the company’s LG SmartThinQ line of smart home devices, the same free app controls the air conditioner as well. It handles all the A/C’s basic functions, like the important one of getting your house cooled down before you get home. Google Home and Amazon Alexa virtual assistants are also supported.
While most other smart air conditioners hide their high-tech features within an uninspiring, plain A/C exterior, the Frigidaire Gallery Cool Connect actually looks like a piece of modern technology nestled in your window. Touch-sensitive buttons run along the top of the curved front panel, leaving its face clean and minimal, with a large LED temperature display shining through when you need it. Below the panel is a mesh grill and antibacterial filter, removable for easy cleaning. Air blows through it upward and in a circular motion to cool more efficiently. The 6,000 BTU model offers enough cooling for rooms up to 250 square feet, but it also comes in 8,000, 10,000, and 12,000-BTU sizes for larger spaces.
The Frigidaire Smart App for controlling the A/C is clean and minimal as well, making it easy to adjust the temperature, create schedules, turn on sleep mode, or set a timer. You can also integrate it with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant if you use those in your home. Some users had issues with the unit’s Wi-Fi connection dropping out, however, so it may call for a certain amount of patience and troubleshooting.
If you can’t (or don’t want) to install a window air conditioner, a portable A/C unit is the next best thing. It still needs to have an exhaust hose installed at a window, but you have the flexibility to shift it around the space or move it to a different room if you decide.
The Wi-Fi-equipped portable air conditioner from JHS allows for a combination of portability and 10,000 BTUs of cooling power, along with a full set of smart features. At a little over two feet tall and weighing 50 pounds, it’s a more compact unit than others out there, making it easier to roll around. In addition to air conditioning and a two-speed fan, it can also run as a dehumidifier to control the moisture in the room.
No matter where you put the unit, the free JHS Smart app gives you access to the A/C’s settings from anywhere. A standard remote control is also included if you’re in the room and don’t want to use the app.
Frigidaire’s Cool Connect portable air conditioner doesn’t just stand out because of its smart features. Its unique cylindrical design also gives it a bit more style than the tall boxy shape that most portable A/Cs come in. The form serves a function, too: the 12,000-BTU unit spirals air 360-degrees upwards to more quickly and thoroughly cool a room up to 550 square feet. It has a dehumidifier, and energy-saver and sleep modes, all of which can be controlled with the Frigidaire Smart App along with basic A/C operation. The included circle-shaped remote can also operate basic functions and attach magnetically to the top of the unit when not in use. Or, if you don’t want to use your hands at all, you can set it up to take commands via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
With its 78-pound weight, three-foot height, and very small wheels at the bottom, the Cool Connect portable A/C can be a little difficult to lug from room to room. But if you’re up for the extra effort of moving it and re-installing the exhaust hose in a different window, you have the option of bringing a modern-looking and smart-functioning cooling device to different parts of your home.
If you want to keep your existing air conditioner or can’t find a Wi-Fi-enabled version that meets your needs, there are ways to add smart features to a “dumb” A/C. Connecting it to a smart plug will give you the most basic control. But for more advanced air conditioning-specific tools, you’ll want a smart A/C control device like the Sensibo Sky, an affordable way to get a whole lot of smart cooling functionality.
Setting up the small Sensibo Sky device is simple. You plug it in and can stick it to the wall if you’d like. You pair it through your air conditioner’s infrared sensor—meaning your unit needs to support a remote control to work. Then you connect the Sensibo Sky to your home W-Fi and download the Sensibo app, available for iOS or Android (and as a web app if you’re not at a mobile device). The app is rich with features—besides basic A/C operation, you can create schedules and set up temperature adjustments based on your phone’s location or the weather around your house.
The Sensibo Sky is compatible with Alexa and Google Home, but it doesn’t stop there. Its open API allows for a number of community-built integrations with services that aren’t officially supported, like Samsung’s SmartThings and, indirectly, Apple’s HomeKit. You can also set up your own automated tasks through IFTTT.
Cielo WiGle’s Cielo Breez is an inexpensive smart A/C controller that can give your cooling appliances plenty of functionality and flexibility. The model with an LCD screen is customizable with your own photo, giving it an added personal touch. There’s also a Cielo Breez Plus version of the device with built-in controls and temperature display, as well as a cheaper Cielo Breez Eco with no display at all.
You connect your air conditioner to the Cielo Breez by telling it which remote your A/C uses. You can then keep using the remote as normal, with the Cielo Breez sensing and syncing with whatever the remote does. This is helpful for keeping accurate usage statistics that you can view on the Cielo Home app. The app, of course, handles the usual A/C controls and scheduling, with handy geofencing settings that let you set the cooling to kick in as you get close to your home. It also supports voice commands through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.