EFTM Smart Home: Ducted Air Conditioning with remote iPhone controls – EFTM

EFTM Smart Home: Ducted Air Conditioning with remote iPhone controls

Have you ever been out and about on the weekend when the temperatures started to jump and you realise you’re heading home to a hot box because you didn’t...
Actron Connect iPhone app

Have you ever been out and about on the weekend when the temperatures started to jump and you realise you’re heading home to a hot box because you didn’t want to leave the Air Conditioning running all day costing you money.  Imagine you could reach for your iPhone and turn your home Air Con on, and set the temperature ready for you to walk in the door.  Aussie company Actron Air has built a solution – Actron Connect.

When I started to look at what renovations we would do to our new home it was immediately apparent the existing ducted air conditioner was not working and needed to be replaced.    With the idea of trying to create a retrofitted “Smart Home” I certainly didn’t expect to come across a replacement system that would fit the bill – let alone one that is Australian made.

Actron Air is an Aussie family company who design and build their air conditioning systems right here in Australia – who said we didn’t do manufacturing!

Actron Connect iPhone app

Actron Connect iPhone app

Released just this week, Actron Connect is a new WiFi module which is an addition to the new Actron ducted systems they currently sell.  There is also some capability to retrofit some recent Actron systems, but for the most part this is a module which people installing an all-new ducted system would consider.

Your whole Air Conditioning system is just the same as normal, a wall-mounted control panel, an outdoor fan unit and the heart of the system up in the roof-space.  Actron Connect is a small black box which is wired to connect to the ceiling unit.  It can sit right alongside the ceiling unit or be wired to be more accessible.

Once professionally installed your setup process is pretty simple, install the Actron Connect app, register an account, then like many of these “Internet of Everything” type systems you make a direct WiFi connection to the unit, then configure it to find your home WiFi network.  Once it’s on your home network, the unit is accessible from anywhere in the world as long as you’re on the internet.

Actron Connect iPhone app - Zone controls

Actron Connect iPhone app – Zone controls

Via the Actron Connect app you can turn your whole unit on and off, control the fan speed and modes (Cool/Heat/Fan Only/Auto) and monitor the indoor temperature at the controller and in the zones (if your system has that capability).

On the Zone section of the app you can simply tap to turn on or off any zone, and also rename your zones so they are easy to recognise when you’re on the go.

Finally, other than the configuration settings, there is a timer which allows you to turn your system off after a set amount of time – this timer is not in any way liked to any pre-programmed schedules you might have – it’s simply a great way to set the system to turn off after a period of time, perhaps at night after you go to bed.

This is something that I’ve only just started using, but the idea of being able to control systems built into my home from any room in the house, let alone any place in the world is just mind-blowing.

For a look at how it works, check out this short promotional video I appeared in for Actron Air.

Why?  Yep, that’s a totally valid question, and for a lot of the ideas you’ll read about in this Smart Home series you’ll find that same question.   The answer is that there is great benefit in having a comfortable home environment right from the moment you walk in the door.  Sure you can set timers and programs on many systems, but if you think you’ll be home at 4, but are actually leaving earlier – the house won’t be cool when you get there.  With Actron Connect you can simply open the app and turn the system on so the house is ready for you at any time.

Likewise, and perhaps more importantly if you leave the house for the day or even for an extended period you really don’t want the air con pumping away and costing you money.  Actron pride themselves on their energy efficiency, but even that doesn’t mean it’s going to be ok to leave it running.  With this remote-controlled system you have the ability to grab your phone or login through a web browser and switch it off.

You’ve got a big investment to make in a whole new ducted system before considering this add-on which is around $500 itself.  But if you want to consider the convenience this offers and the long-term value it really is hard to think of putting in a system without the Actron Connect WiFi module.

It’s kinda hard, yet super impressive to think that this is a world leading idea coming from an Aussie company.

EFTM will have more great Smart Home ideas over the weeks ahead, including USB Charging, Remote controlled lights, Robot home help and home networking

Actron Connect WiFi Air Conditioning control
Date Published: 12/13/2013
An Aussie creation that allows you almost complete control of your home's ducted air conditioning system from anywhere in the world.
5 / 5 stars

Disclosure: I paid for the system, installation and WiFi connect module via installation company J&M Costa Enterprises.  I was paid by Actron Air to appear in the above promotional video.

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Trevor produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He has a weekly radio show on 2UE, as well as appearances across the country and regularly provides Technology Commentary to Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
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