Quick Tips: Smart Ceiling Fans
Summer is quickly approaching in some parts of the world. And while ceiling (and other) fans help keep us cool instead of turning down the air conditioning, wouldn't it be great if they adjusted themselves automatically? It's easier to do than you think, and this edition of Smart Home Quick Tips will show you the steps to get it done.
You've probably already had this thought, and also might have a partially-smart ceiling fan...or you might have upgraded it from its "plain" original form. But, you generally have two options: Buy a brand-new smart ceiling fan (very expensive) or upgrade your existing basic ceiling fan.
Ceiling fan upgrade options, both as gadgets that you fit into the ceiling fan's canopy and controllers that can replace a standard wall switch, tend to run $50 to $80 and are a bargain compared with the first option.
One extra option that has become recently available is a device called Bond. The Bond. (Couldn't resist!) Similar to a universal remote, The Bond learns the codes from ceiling fan remotes and then connects your ceiling fan to voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. The Bond will soon work with other smart home systems like SmartThings, too. It costs $100 and doesn't require any wiring, and can also control the fan's lights, if so equipped.
After you have your shiny new smart ceiling fan installed, or upgraded, you're ready for some smart home magic. You just need one more thing, either a temperature sensor or a smart thermostat...which you might already have in your smart home. One of these devices will help you create automations that run behind-the-scenes and will automatically set your ceiling fan's speed based on the temperature reported by the sensor or thermostat.
It's a bit challenging to fully explain how to do this on every home automation platform that exists. So in the video below, I explain it in Apple's HomeKit system because it's straightforward and simple to understand. You can easily adapt the example to your own smart home system or setup.
And then, there's the bonus video. Where I go into a little bit further of a "deeper dive" on automating ceiling fans. More specifically, if you turn on all of this automation, how do you temporarily turn it off without it being a real pain? Sometimes, "over-automating" our homes can become problematic, and so it needs to be done thoughtfully.
But, whichever way that you decide to teach your ceiling fan some new tricks, you won't know how you lived without it adjusting itself!