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How to Control Your Ceiling Fans in a Smarthome

  A haiku smart fan hanging from the ceiling
Big ace fan

A smarthome promises freedom from wall switches and pull chains. Instead, you get voice control and powerful automation. That's how it works with smart bulbs. Why not make the ceiling fans of your house smart?

Smart fans are another great comfort for your home. With a connected fan, you not only get voice and remote control, you can also add schedules and routines. You can add smart fans to your home in several ways: install a new one, convert an existing "dumb" fan, install a smart fan switch, or add a smart fan jumper.

The expensive option: Buy a new smart fan fan

  A Hunter smart fan that hangs from the ceiling.
Hunter fan

If you're looking for a fan that integrates easily with your existing smart home system, installing a new smart fan is the easiest option. Smart fans usually come in either Wi-Fi or ZigBee format. If you choose a Wi-Fi fan like Hunter or Haiku, you do not need a hub.

You will still typically receive a standard infrared remote control (IR) and access via a smartphone or tablet app. Wi-Fi fans usually offer the integration of Alexa and Google Assistant with voice control of both the integrated lighting and the fan. You need to install a dedicated app on your smartphone or tablet. And of course you run the risk of being disturbed if you have too many Wi-Fi devices in your network.

ZigBee fans, however, need a smart hub. Gardiner and Hampton Bay's most popular offerings are designed specifically for Wink Hubs. If you have more than one ZigBee Smart Home device, they will form a mesh network with the ZigBee fan for better coverage. Unfortunately, the integration of Alexa and Google Assistant usually does not include voice control of the fan – the voice assistants can only turn the integrated light on and off.

If you have a fan with IR installed Installing a smart fan in the same way before you remotely install it. When installing the fan, connect an IR module that also contains Wi-Fi or ZigBee radios.

The biggest drawback – besides installing the fan – is the cost. Smart fans cost between $ 130 and $ 640. It also introduces an additional root cause: The ZigBee radio of our smart fan has failed after four months, and neither the manufacturer nor the store wanted to fix the problem. The fan still works, but as a normal stupid fan.

Turn your current "stupid" fan into a smart fan.

  A smart Z-Wave fan module.
An intelligent fan module and a normal IR fan module almost identical. Hampton Bay

If you do not want to buy all the new fans, you may be able to convert existing fans. If your fan already has an IR module, you can replace it with an adapter with Wi-Fi or ZigBee radios.

If you have a real Wi-Fi or ZigBee fan, you'll see the same positive and negative results. For example, with the ZigBee Wink controller, your voice assistant can not control the fan speed. But with $ 50 to $ 70, adding radios to your existing fan is far less expensive than buying a completely new fan.

To add an intelligent module to your existing fan with IR, disassemble the fan by removing the IR module. and then replace it with the smart module. They usually have the same shape and size, but have an additional antenna.

If your fan does not have an IR remote, you may still be able to add a Smart Module. However, you should first disassemble your fan and check if there is enough space in the motor housing for an additional device. You should look at where the wiring of your fan is connected to the wiring of your home.

Replace your fan's wall switch with a Smart One

  Lutron Smart Switch, Wireless Remote, and Lutron App and Smart Bridge.

If you control your fans with a special wall switch (often found next to a light switch), you can bypass the purchase of a new fan or rebuild an existing one. Instead, you can replace your current dumb fan switch with a smart fan switch. Smart Fan Switches are available in the models Wi-Fi (Lutron Caseta), ZigBee (GE) and Z-Wave (also GE). They are usually between 45 and 60 US dollars. Often they need a hub to integrate with their smarthome system, which includes some Wi-Fi switches, such as Lutron's. This also increases the cost if the hub is not yet available.

Smart fan switches work a lot like smart light switches. You need to replace your current switch with the Smart Switch. In general, the smart version is larger and some require a neutral wire. You should therefore check whether both the required space and the wiring are available. If you have problems with the wiring of your home, you should hire an electrician. If you rent your house sooner than you own, make sure you install the switch.

Lutron Caseta switches have an optional wireless remote that works with the wired switch. You can do this elsewhere to simplify the control in several places.

After installation, you can continue to use the fan switch as usual. However, you can also connect to the switch through an app, Alexa, or Google Assistant.

Adding a smart bridge to prevent cable connections

  Connect the smart bridge for Google Home and Alexa.

You are charging You do not need to install a new fan, connect a new receiver, or replace a switch. If your existing fan has an IR remote, you can control it with a bridge. If you already own a Logitech Harmony, you can program it for most IR devices.

You can try typing your fan and model number on the Logitech Harmony Compatibility page to see if it is supported by default (five of the fans we tested) were not). Even if your fan is not listed, you can manually program an IR remote in Logitech Harmony. Once you've paired your fan with Harmony, you can control it through the Logitech app or use simple power on and off commands with Alexa or Google Assitant.

For a simpler and cheaper option, you can consider the Bond Smart Bridge goes for $ 100. Bond has designed its bridge specifically for controlling fans and also works with electric fireplaces and some air conditioners. The setup is simple: while the bridge is in scan mode, point your existing IR remote at it and press and hold the power button. Bond compares the code with its database and automatically programs the remainder if a match is found. The bridge acts as an IR blaster so it can replace your remote.

Bond contains an app, but admittedly is not very stable. In our experience, it often successfully sends a control command, but then complains that the command has failed. Thanks to the integration of Alexa and Google, you no longer need the app after pairing. You can use the Google or Alexa app or voice commands instead. And with Bond, almost every feature that your remote can perform is the voice. If you have properly grouped and named your devices, you can say "turn on fan" or "set fan to 60 percent" when an echo or Google Home is in the same room as the fan.

IR blaster bridges such as Logitech and Bond, however, are not perfect. If a physical switch controls your fan, disabling the bridges will not work properly – just like a smart light bulb when the light switch is off.

The Smart Bridges for fans also do not capture the current power state. So, if you turn off all devices in a room with a voice command, your smart bridge might send the Off command, even if the fan is already off. Since many IR devices use the same command to turn them on and off, the fan and lights can be on while everything else in the room turns off.

However, a bridge may be the least intimidating way to turn an existing fan into a smart fan. If you can install an echo and pair a smart lamp, you can probably install an IR Smart Bridge and couple a fan.

If your fan does not have an IR remote, you can either add a universal IR module and use it with a smart fan or install one of the above smart radios.

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