To say I love what I do at DRN would be an understatement, there are so many gadgets out there and sometimes things come out of the left field. It was hard to resist when the tado° Smart AC Control V3+ crossed my desk.
What is it?
The concept of the tado° Smart AC Control V3+ is simple. It is a device that hooks into your WiFi network and managed with the tado° app on your smartphone. In turn it communicates with your air conditioner via infrared signals.
As such it needs a direct line of sight to the unit it is controlling, and be within the operating distance for infrared signalling. Once it is set up, you could pretty much replace the bundle remote control and pack it away.
Simplicity is key. When in the off mode, the tado° is just a blank matte white square that measures 100x100mm. A gloss black line is the only thing that breaks the monotony and this is the infrared window.
There are two oblong openings on the top right corner of the unit, one on the top and one on the right side. These houses the sensors for temperature and humidity.
There is a matrix of white LEDs hiding under the blank front face, which will light up with information depending on the mode you want to set.
Power is supplied via a micro-USB port. Usually I would be up in arms about how it is not an USB-C port in this day and age, but this time around it was a bit of a blessing. My closest power point is directly below where I need to position my tado°. The idea of running a cable down the face of a wall in heavily trafficked area, with a USB plug sticking out into a walkway was unpalatable, and rightfully will earn me a death stare from Lady A.
The other option is almost 2.5m away on the other side of the TV. I easily got my hands on a 3m micro USB cable and ran it all the way back to the USB port on the power board and it was happy days all round.
The tado° Smart AC Control V3+ is mostly app driven, so head over to your smartphone’s app store and download it before continuing. If you don’t have an account already, create one to continue.
With a brand new unit, upon power on it displays a unique 4-digit code. This matches the little sticker on the unit itself and allows you to connect to the tado°’s internal wireless access point.
The first step is to create a home (location). The app picked up my location automatically and I could just accept what it had displayed for me. Next up, choose a name for the home and contact information including email address and phone number.
You then use a name for the device you are using to control the tado° unit. If there is an existing device already, you can tap on the name and the claim it.
Next time is to enable Geofencing, which will also need you to give the OS permission to always been running.
With that, the preliminaries is out of the way.
The next step is to add a tado° device. Assuming you have already powered on your tado°, if not, this is a great time to do so.
Using the app, it pops up the camera to scan the little QR code that is found on the sticker on the front (and back) of the unit. Alternatively you can key in the serial number manually along with the 4-digit auth code and complete the initial registration.
At this point it will attempt to connect to your WiFi network with your WiFi details, and the display will show two horizontal arrows. It will show a WiFi symbol when it has successfully joined to your network and a little tick and a globe when it has internet connectivity. It will then check for new firmware and update itself automatically.
Next up is to train your device by adding your air conditioner. Tado° states that in order for the V3+ to effectively work with your AC unit, the remote that came with your AC must have a display.
The tado° will ask a bunch of questions, including what the display of the remote control shows – current AC settings or only the measured temperature in the room.
You will also need to choose your AC brand from a very comprehensive list and provide a model number. If you can’t find a model number, no need to fear as you can take a photo of the OEM remote control with all the buttons showing and then it will automatically attempt to identify it for you.
You will need to point your OEM remote control at the tado° for the unit to learn the IR instructions, just follow the wizard and if all is well, it will come back with a green tick to say it has identified your AC model.
Once the tado° has identified your AC model, it will configure itself with the correct IR command set to work with your AC. This completes the setup process.
You can invite other members of the household now or later.
There is really no rocket science in the use of the tado°, the heart of it is the smart schedule and settings.
This is where the tado° gets the instructions to automatically adjust the climate in the room according to suit your lifestyle. Essentially all the settings you have on your bundled remote control is replicated in the app. You can set multiple time blocks for the Home mode, each with it’s own climate control settings. Additionally you can set a single scenario for the away mode, or turn off completely.
I did find it challenging to review the tado° Smart AC Control V3+, particularly when the lingering effects (benefits) of working from home was still in place until very recently. This means there is really no set routine for the home being empty.
Late summer Melbourne weather for what it is, it can get pretty hot and humid by mid-morning I find myself having to override the schedule and manually kick in the air conditioner just so I don’t end up braising in my own juices.
What is really nice though, is having the schedule optimised (even when when I have do lots of fine tuning for our habits and my variable travels) so that before the first person gets home, the air conditioner kicks in automatically and get the temperature down to a much more pleasant level. This largely depends on your Geofencing boundaries. The app recommends a radius between 200m and 500m as the optimal distance. Additionally you can also set your home Wi-Fi SSID which will improve accuracy and reduce battery drain.
A really nice feature is that if all the devices running the tado° app has left home and someone forgot to turn off the air conditioner, a notification is sent to the phone and an option to turn it off remotely.
Similarly if an Open Window is detected, your devices will receive a notification asking if you want to stop climate controlling your neighbourhood at your expense. The stay off duration can be between 5 minutes to 60 minutes.
These two latter features forms the Auto-Assist feature which is part of the tado° starter kit. If you didn’t get it as part of the starter kit then it is either a $4.99/monthly or $35.99/year subscription. The full feature set includes:
- Auto stops heating if no one is home
- Preheats automatically when you are home soon
- Pauses automatically when detected window open
- Monitors heating system (for applicable product)
- Reports on irregularities
There is also manual override on the tado°, so you don’t have to go looking for your phone every time you want to do something.
By tapping on the right side of the face (see annotation on photo), the display will turn on to show the current temperature and also the current mode the AC is set to. If the AC is off, then you can use the arrows to set the mode. Once that is done you then can set the target temperature again via the arrows.
To turn off the tado° via the display, simply place three fingers on the touch area and hold them for a few seconds. A circle animation will display and the device will send the turn off command.
It is easy to think that the tado° is a replacement remote control to a degree, but there are plenty of built-in smarts with the tado° Smart AC Control V3+.
The home screen of the app have just four cards:
- Air conditioning
- Air comfort
- Energy savings
Tapping on each will give various results and does require skills to be enabled. The Weather Adaptation is a core skill that is always active. The unit uses local weather information and adapts your climate control accordingly to maximise energy efficiency.
The air conditioning card gives the current temperature and humidity. There is an option to disable the unit infinitely until manually cancelled. Tapping on the chart in the top right hand gives a history of the temperature and humidity, as well as the local weather at the time. It is a handy, at a glance look at your home climate control versus the local weather outside. Also of interest to me is the corresponding drop in humidity when the air conditioner is running.
The air comfort card gives a status report on the current conditions where the tado° unit is located. It measures air freshness which is a correlation between outdoor air quality as well as the level of pollen during high pollen count periods.
Quality of outdoor air is measured against the current concentration of the six most relevant pollutants, these being:
- fine particulate matter (PM 2.5)
- inhalable particulate matter (PM 10)
- Nitrogen Dioxide
- Carbon Monoxide
- Sulfur Dioxide
Geofencing card allows you to manually set your status at home, or conveniently leave it on Auto.
Additionally the app will generate reports on Air Comfort as well as for Energy savings. The scorecards will provide feedback on your usage habits and allow you to further fine tune your energy savings.
No self respecting home automation device would be without integration into a wider ecosystem, and the tado° works with Google Assistant, Apple Homekit and Amazon Alexa. Additionally it can be enhanced by IFTTT as well as Home Assistant if you are savvy with that.
The Smart Schedule implementation is interesting, in that tado° really tried to simplified the process by setting the time blocks either for:
- Mon-Sun (7 days);
- Mon-Fri, Sat and Sun separate; or
- 7 individual days all with different schedules
To further reduce the pain of repetitive scheduling, you can copy and paste a schedule and then modify it to suit.
I ran into some issues with a few false alerts for Open Window detection. Where I located the tado° is in a pretty open area so that may have contributed to it. That said it only came up a few times over the past few months so it didn’t bother me. I would expect it to be more accurate if it’s in an enclosed space like a bedroom.
The cutout to fit the USB cable has a pretty tight tolerance, even for the supplied cable. There was no hope of my 3m cable to fit unless I was willing to do surgery on the unit.
This also meant I needed to double up on some thick double-sided tape to get it affixed to my wall within IR beaming distance and line of sight. Ideally a little notch wouldn’t hurt for me to hang it on a hook rather than relying on adhesives.
In my case, it is not a set and forget device. The reason being my odd work hours particularly with #WFH and still using home as a main base means I never leave or return to the house at the same times.
However when we do have it set up to work (mostly) with our habits, it has been immensely handy. Who doesn’t love coming home or going to bed knowing that the temperature inside is set to your personal Goldilocks zone? For me, now that the mornings are getting colder, I have set it up for a short period to warm up the dining area for breakfast before my kids wake up. And in the late afternoon when it can still get a bit too warm, it kicks in from after school to about dinner time as needed.
The tado° Smart AC Control V3+ has a RRP of $179.99 and is available from major online retailers. It is definitely a worthy outlay particularly when there is a deal at time of publishing on Amazon for AUD$125.
DRN would like to thank tado° for providing the review unit.
Wireless connectivity: Via local Wi-Fi network with any 802.11 b/g/n, 2.4 GHz router. The quality of the signal depends on the building structure. The Smart AC Control controls your AC via infrared.
Sensors : tado° measures temperature and humidity. The temperature sensor accuracy is 0.01°C.
Dimensions : Smart AC Control: 100 x 100 x 15 mm
Weight : Smart AC Control: 76 g
Power supply : 5V (USB), Cable length: 1850 mm
User interface : The LED matrix has 10 x 19 LEDs and has a size of 32 x 20 mm. Capacitive touch surface.