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The new Sensibo Air smart air-conditioner controller is a major advance over Sensibo’s earlier and very good Sensibo Sky product. The improvement is achieved in large measure by including a secondary sensor (called the Room Sensor) that augments the temperature and humidity sensors in the main unit.
The Room Sensor, however, can also detect motion (more on that later). In addition to targeting the specific space you’re occupying in the room, the combination of the Sensibo Air and the Sensibo Room Sensor will save energy by turning your self-contained air conditioner off when you’re not in the room.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart thermostats, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.
What using the Sensibo Air is like
After using the new product for several weeks, I can see that Sensibo has learned a great deal following the release of the Sensibo Sky. Refinements are apparent in both the app and in the hardware. The Sensibo Air is also compatible with a wider variety of window-mounted, portable, and ductless/mini-split air conditioners than the earlier product.
If your unit has a remote control, the Sensibo Air should be able to control it (the earlier Sensibo Sky required the air-conditioner’s existing remote to have a display). To be sure the Air will work with your unit, you can type in its make and model on Sensibo’s website.
The Sensibo Air is smaller than the Sensibo Sky, and like that unit, it can be mounted on the wall or set on a shelf within sight of your air conditioner. It depends on a USB power adapter, however, so the primary unit must be located within reach of an outlet. The Sensibo Room Sensor is slightly smaller and can likewise be wall mounted or set on any horizontal surface, but it runs on a pair of AAA batteries and communicates with the Air via Bluetooth LE. While the Air has an attractive industrial design, the Room Sensor looks a bit cheap—Sensibo would do well to take a page out of Ecobee’s design book on that score.
The Sensibo Air is efficient
Humidity levels play a big role in personal comfort, and the ability of both sensors to measure humidity allows you to control the level of moisture in your interior climate, not just its ambient temperature. Only the Room Sensor has a motion detector, though.
Setting the system up was a relatively quick process. The system connects to your Wi-Fi network and it has a single-band (2.4GHz) Wi-Fi adapter, which can be a problem if that spectrum is super crowded in your environment.
The trouble I had, however, was getting the Air to pair with my air-conditioner’s remote. I had to go through that part of the setup several times before the two would sync. You’ll need to download Sensibo’s app, create an account, and then link the Air and the secondary sensor to the app. The next step is the one I had trouble with: getting the Air to pair with my air-conditioner’s remote.
Once everything is installed, you can set up an impressive array of operational scenarios, from establishing a detailed schedule that keeps the room at specific temperatures at various times of the day and night, to simply having the AC kick on when you enter the room.
Geofencing is also supported, so that you can set your air conditioner to turn off when you leave home (with your cellphone) and turn on when you return. Sensibo also supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can monitor and control things with voice commands. The Sensibo Air itself does not have a user interface or any physical controls.
The Sensibo Air is a good investment
The Sensibo Air certainly isn’t the least expensive air conditioner controller on the market. Its $199 asking price is a full $50 higher than the Sensibo Sky; it also costs more than the Cielo Breez Plus that I reviewed in July. All that said, the Sensibo Air justifies is price tag with its build quality, feature set, and that very slick Room Sensor.
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The Sensibo Air’s killer feature is a remote sensor that detects motion as well as temperature and humidity, ensuring you get the most comfortable environment in the exact area of the room you’re occupying, and saving you money by turning your air conditioner off when you’re not in the room to need it.
- Secondary sensor that monitors motion as well as temperature and humidity
- Lots of air-conditioner control options
- Compatible with many brands of stand-alone air conditioners
- It will take a lot of energy savings to recoup the higher price tag
- Single-band (2.4GHz) Wi-Fi adapter
- No onboard controls or UI on the main unit
Jason D’Aprile has been writing about technology and entertainment since the early 90s from his secluded home in West Virginia.