Indiegogo is trying to making heating and cooling your house a lot easier. The company’s latest device, called Sensibo, sets out to make your air conditioner, smarter, simpler, and more willing than ever to save you money. Best of all, you can turn your old system into a smart air conditioner without any expensive new purchases.
Out with the Old? Not Exactly
Sensibo doesn’t try to replace your old air conditioner with an entirely new version – that sort of project would costs thousands of dollars and be out of the reach of most homeowners. No, this device is perfectly happy to work with your old HVAC system … as long as it can take it over. Sensibo is especially adaptable in this regard: It can turn free-standing, split, window-mounted and central air conditioners into a smart air conditioner. This makes it suitable for a small apartment, single room, larger house, and anything in between.
Those of you already dreading a complicated wiring project can relax: Sensibo uses a wireless disk that simply attaches to your air conditioner, where it can easily send IR signals to your AC signal. Of course, you will need an air conditioner that works via remote control, so Sensibo is most applicable for standalone and window mounted air conditioners that are new enough to come with remote features. It won’t really work with an older, wired heat pump hiding out in your garage.
In with the New: Sensibo Benefits
Sensibo is largely app-based, and that app intends to do a lot. It offers you full control via your smartphone or other mobile device, allowing you to change the temperature whenever you want and set up schedules that will let you cool or heat your home as you see fit and on the fly, make sudden changes based on the temperature of any particular day. There are also features that will allow the AC to turn off whenever you leave the room for an extended period, so you waste as little energy as possible.
Sensibo also carries extra benefits for the room where it operates. The device comes with sensors that can measure humidity, lighting and temperature and transmit the results to the app, allowing for more accurate schedule creation. The unit also promises to provide learning functions that will start to pick up on your habits and automatically control the system to match them, saving you even more. In fact, the company claims you can save as much as 40% of your current AC energy use with this smart air conditioner.
If you don’t like the idea of using a whole new app to control your familiar old HVAC system, the device does allow you to keep using your remote. It will still update the app with new information and offer you the advantages of learning algorithms, but you don’t need to learn a new interface if you don’t want to. However, if you have multiple AC units in multiple rooms it may be easier to buy multiple control units and manage the whole system through Sensibo.
Smart Air Conditioner Limitations
As mentioned, Sensibo only works with remote-control units that can accept infrared signals: Check your model and thermostat set-up to see if your system qualifies. If you cannot control your AC with a remote control already, it’s a bad sign. If you have an outdoor unit (fully outdoor, not a split unit), Sensibo probably won’t be able to work, either. Wireless signals also need to transmit clearly, so a lot of interference could spell trouble. Sensibo works across Android and iOS phones, and will also function with the Pebble smart watch if you are so inclined.
Sensibo was the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, and the device itself is expected to ship at the start of 2015. Prices are pleasantly competitive, however. The kit, which includes the hub and one “pod” (the one you put on the HVAC unit), only costs $99, with free shipping in both the United States and Israel. You can also pay $169 for a kit with two pods or just $69 for each extra pod you want. The company offers kits with up to five pods, eventually offering discounts for the larger packages.
Photo Credit: Furniture San Antonio