As the weather gets more unpredictable and generally warmer in the UK, many households have started to dream of air conditioning to solve sticky summers once and for all. While that sounds fantastic on paper, in-built air conditioning can be a huge expense, and it’s easy to opt for older models with fewer features to save a few pounds. But there are thankfully products out there that can upscale your portable air conditioner or in-built unit – like the tado Smart AC Control.
We had a chance to test out the Smart AC Control V3+ during a heatwave. The device promises to make your decidedly low-tech air conditioning unit into a smart home machine, automating when it turns on and off, the speed of the fan, and more to save on energy bills and keep the home at a comfortable temperature no matter what the weather is doing outside.
And for more on getting started, take a look at our guide to the best portable air conditioners.
Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reasons to buy
- Allows your ‘dumb’ air con to do more
- Potentially saves on energy bills
- It looks inconspicuous on the wall
Reasons to avoid
- Poor instructions lead to a difficult setup process
- Not all features are available for all air conditioner models
tado Smart AC Control V3+
tado° Smart AC Control V3+: is it easy to set up?
Starting with the least impressive thing about the tado° Smart AC Control V3+, it could be a lot easier to get up and running. The instructions provided in the box consist of four brief pages advising you to download the app, create an account and add your air conditioner unit (more on this in a moment), touch the display on the device, and how to turn it on or off.
If you have a strong Wi-Fi connection and a compatible air conditioner, you shouldn’t have any major problems with the first half of these instructions. However, you should be sure what kind of unit you have before adding it within the app (only those with infrared and a full display remote are supported). We tested the device in conjunction with the AEG ChillFlex Pro portable air conditioner.
You also need to position the AC Control, the air conditioning unit, and your phone all in the vicinity of each other for them to communicate with each other.
Managing functions using the touch display, however, is easier said than done. Once activated, you will see the current room temperature and two arrows (pictured). This isn’t much to go on, and in the end, we determined that reliance on the in-app controls is non-negotiable. Thankfully the app is pretty user-friendly and is where you’ll find all of the basic and more advanced features alongside each other.
There is absolutely no installation required for the smart panel, with two sticky tabs provided in the box to attach it to the wall without drilling. It’s powered with a USB cable provided.
tado° Smart AC Control V3+: how does it work?
Once everything is up and running, you can control your air conditioning directly from the app. The functionality will, of course, depend somewhat on what your AC can do, so. For example, it won’t suddenly work as a dehumidifier or heater if it couldn’t before. Options include thermostat mode, which will keep your space within a predetermined temperature range, or you switch to a standard mode for control over whether your machine is cooling, heating, dehumidifying etc.
The best feature, which will probably get the most use in an average household, is scheduling. This is pretty self-explanatory, allowing you to set times for when you want your air conditioner to begin cooling (just before bedtime, for example). As with any smart home product, it’s one of the automation features that makes all the difference.
You can activate geofencing to save even more energy, as the device will be able to detect when no one is in the house and prompt you to switch off your AC until you’re back home. Just make sure everyone has the app on their phones. This becomes automated with an Auto Assist subscription (£2.99 per month), and you’ll also be able to set your air conditioning to respond to outside weather conditions.
tado° Smart AC Control V3+: what does it work with?
In line with its promise to pimp up your indoor cooling system, there is full compatibility with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. Although unfortunately, we weren’t able to test this at the time of review, we found ourselves quite satisfied using the tado app on its own. But that will likely depend on taste and lifestyle.
A lot of the more advanced features are only available if you subscribe to Auto Assist. However, you can cancel anytime, so this might be good to try if you’re keen on things like geofencing and open window detection. You can also expand your system with controls in each room so, if you have built-in air conditioning and want different parts of your home at a different temperature, you can access multiple AC controls in the same app.
tado° Smart AC Control V3+: our verdict
Air conditioning may still be a luxury for most households in the UK but, with their inclusion getting more and more commonplace, it’s useful to know that there are add-ons to help more in-built and portable air conditioners integrate with the modern smart home. tado° could improve the panel itself for those who don’t like to rely on their phones, but the app was pleasingly simple and user-friendly.
Overall, we had a good experience with the tado° Smart AC Control V3+ and would recommend it for those familiar with smart home technology and find controlling their existing AC to be fiddly and cumbersome.