Summer is here, and I want a smart air conditioner


It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the US, which also marks the unofficial start of summer (at least in my book). And summer means sweltering heat from which there is but one relief: it’s the cool, refreshing breeze from an air conditioner. And while there’s nothing exactly wrong with my current, window-mounted AC unit (which I got in college in exchange for a six-pack of beer in what might be the best trade I’ve ever made), after making the switch over to smart lights in my room, I can’t help but want a smart air conditioner.

Most of this just stems from pure laziness. I’ll admit that I was, for years, skeptical about the value of smart lightbulbs, right up until I bought a set on a deal and discovered the unparalleled joy in being able to turn off the lights in my room without getting out of bed. There are added benefits, too, like being able to automatically set lights on a timer.

And now that summer’s here, I want the same thing for my air conditioner, with all of its many additional features and modes. Imagine being able to switch from fan to actively cooling by just asking Alexa or Siri instead of getting up or finding the remote. Or being able to remotely turn on the AC when you’re walking up the block from the subway, so that your room is perfectly cool when you walk through the door. Or how about being able to turn off the AC when you realize that you’ve forgotten to turn it off on your way out?

Now, there are already a few ways to do something like this. One is smart plugs — some even with thermostats — that brute force the solution by turning on and off the entire outlet, but those don’t have the full feature set I’m looking for. There are glorified IR blaster solutions, but that seems like a step in the wrong direction and even clunkier than the outlet option (even if it means not having to replace my window unit). The best answer seems to be the current wave of new smart AC units that feature Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant support, but earlier smart AC units haven’t gotten the best reviews, plus the new ones are kind of pricey.

There’s also the fact that most of what I want to do is already possible with a standard remote control and timer, making this more of a “nice to have” rather than an actual need. But still, technology — and specifically smart home technology — is supported to make our lives easier and better, and for me, that would be a smart AC unit.

Or at least, it will be, once I find someone willing to trade me one for another six-pack.

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