How To Make Your Dumb Air Conditioner Smart

By Steve Hall

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Who would have thought even 10 years ago that you would be reading an article about how to make your air conditioner smart?

No one wants to have to dump their old air conditioner if they don’t have to.

The trend of reusing your older household items in a smart way is something that is growing even more rapidly than I had previously thought.

Recently I was discussing how you can reuse your old ceiling fans by using the Bond technology.

Well, it’s a little less dicey this time around because you can buy smart plugs! However, there are a few things to take into consideration and a few options that you have depending on your situation.

First, let’s dig into the reasons why you would want to consider even making this transition when you are perfectly happy with your current air conditioner.

SEER Ratings

The amount of energy and money you’ll save by making the transition to automating your air conditioning will probably shock you. Older air conditioners use a SEER rating of 10 or under. Today’s more efficient air conditioning systems have SEER ratings up to a rating of 23.

In the United States, the requirement is that residential air conditioning systems manufactured after 2005 have a minimum SEER rating of 13.

Window units are exempt from this particular law. It’s funny, while the SEER rating can be found on a yellow and black EnergyGuide sticker attached to the outside of the air conditioner, very few people seem to pay attention to it or care.

According to The Exhaustive Guide to Heating and Cooling Your Tiny Home, the SEER rating is commonly calculated on the average summer temperature of 83 degrees, which means if you live in an area where that is the average summer temperature, then the SEER rating is right for your home.

save money smart ac

Saving Money

Well, it seems like most people didn’t care about SEER ratings until lately. So I’ll bet you want to know how much money can you save by turning your old dumb air conditioner into a smart energy efficient one. Let’s suppose your older air conditioning system had a SEER rating of 9.

If you were to move to a SEER air conditioner rated 13, which is the lowest efficiency available then you would reduce your power consumption by about 28%.

There’s a very good chance that this could show you energy savings up to $300 per year obviously depending on your usage. So it is definitely worth at least considering.

Smart Plugs – Dumb AC

If you are like me, then you probably have at least one older air conditioning unit laying around your home. I actually have 3 window units that I’ve been running every summer in our humid New England home. So needless to say it’s been a little time consuming every time I want to turn them on and turn them off.

If you plug the ac unit into a smart plug you can turn it off and on using Alexa or Google Home. You could potentially also use your phone to control the unit through an app depending on the smart plug you choose. Here is a link to a few of my personal favorites over on Amazon. You can also check out my article about smart plugs that work with Google Home if that is a fit for your needs.

This is the easiest answer for most people that have standard window air conditioning units or portable air conditioning units.

Smart AC Controllers

How To Make Your Dumb Air Conditioner Smart 1How To Make Your Dumb Air Conditioner Smart 2

Smart AC controllers are for people who want a little more flexibility and control. These give you WiFi control and will save you on energy as well.

These smart thermostats are for remote-controlled air conditioners. They provide 7-day scheduling and location-based geofencing, which can be controlled through an app on your smartphone.

Yes, they are also compatible with Alexa, Google Home or IFTTT. One difference is that they work really well for split air conditioners as well as window air conditioners.  The hub also has a built-in humidity control in some cases.

There are a few companies that make these, for example, Tado, Sensibo, and a few others. As I mentioned these are definitely worth investigating if you are looking for something with a little more control.

Smart Air Conditioners

If you are looking to completely replace your air conditioner. Then you may want to consider getting a new Wi-Fi-ready connected room air conditioner.

They come with their own app for complete direct control of the unit. They typically have a SEER rating of around 12. Like the Frigidaire Cool Connect smart window air conditioner.

That particular unit has a clean air ionizer which removes pollen and other impurities from the indoor air which will help provide relief for those who have allergies like myself. In fact, I went out and bought one and have a full review for the Frigidaire Cool Connect that you check read for yourself.

There are also some really great options for portable air conditioners as well. One of LG Electronics newer models, the LG Electronics LP1415WXRSM offers 14,000 BTU’s and has a nice dehumidification function that mixes cool dry air with the warm air. Very ingenious indeed.

You can also read my full buyers guide for smart air conditioners to get a better overview if that is what you are looking for.

nest smart thermostat

Smart Thermostats

Some of you may not have to deal with the first world problems that are associated with the window and portable air conditioners.

If that is the case and you have central air conditioning, then what are you waiting for? Go out and get yourself one of the new smart thermostats like the Ecobee or a Nest.

Smart thermostats not only offer you more savings and comfort, but it also offers you plenty of really neat features. They can remind you when you need to change your air filter and track your energy usage. They have some really beautiful customizable faceplates and even offer system diagnostics.

These modern smart thermostats blow away traditional thermostats with regard to their overall functionality and usefulness. The Ecobee thermostat even comes with Alexa built right in and I can guarantee you will never want to go back to the plain old thermostats again.

How To Make Your Dumb Air Conditioner Smart 3

How To Make Your Dumb Air Conditioner Smart 4What About High Voltage 220V AC?

Just in case you were wondering. I do get asked about 220V AC and how to turn that into a smart air conditioning outlet. Well, the answer for this is a little costly, but may very well be worth it to you. We’ve found this Boss 220V Wifi Smart Plug that will do that trick for all of your 220V smart home needs.

It’s a bit more commercial-grade than your average smart plugs and is made to plug into 220V outlets specifically. Then you just plug your air conditioner directly into this and it works like a dream. If you’d like to check out more about the Boss 220V Wifi Smart Plug, you can find reviews and the current price over here on Amazon.


The way to convert your old air conditioner into a smart one is really up to you and is primarily affected by what you are trying to accomplish at the end of the day. Can you do this yourself? Absolutely!

Technically, most consumers can just get away with plugging into a smart plug and that solves the problem. It really depends on how much actual control you want to have over your AC unit.

I have found that it has saved me money over the course of the last year and I hope it saves you a bundle too. Please share this article around, check out my recommended tools page and subscribe to my youtube channel as well. You might also like my article on how to make your ceiling fan smart as well!

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Steve Hall

Steve Hall is the founder of this website, a certified technology professional and a smart home tech enthusiast fascinated by the power of connected devices.

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