Gadget Notes – I Teach Alexa How to Turn On and Off My Aircon

Date:  Jul 1, 2017

Today, I teach Alexa how to turn on/off my aircon.  She also knows how to set the temperature.  It is a simple task, but I am very happy that she can do that know.

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Imagine, you just wake up lying on the bed, feel very lazy, and first thing you talk to is Alexa.  You want to turn on the lights, turn on/off the aircon (may be feeling too hot or too cold), check out what time is it, play some music, listen to Audiobooks.  Oh ya, not in this demo, Alexa also knows how to turn on/off my TV (Cable TV), turn on/off my Apple TV, etc.

Let’s unbox the Tado Smart AC Control.

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You can buy this from Amazon.  Make sure it is Alexa certified.

https://www.amazon.com/Conditioner-Heater-Controller-Compatible-Android/dp/B010ACFKNE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498947927&sr=8-1&keywords=tado

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The Tado Smart AC Control can do much more.  But I only set it to work with my Alexa.  Because, I usually open my windows, toilet door, bedroom door during the day.  So, it does not make sense to turn on the location smart action, i.e. when you reach downstairs, automatically turn on the aircon.  I think that is not practical.  🙂  Or course, I can ask my helper to close the windows and door, but if I can ask her to do so, why not ask her to turn on and off the aircon?  Hahahaha

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Simple packaging.

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Things to note.  The USB cable is quite long.  Long enough to put the Smart AC Control at a high place that has a line of sight with the aircon.

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The international plug charger adapter.  The Smart AC Control needs only 5V, 1A power to turn on.

Like many of the IoT devices.  You need to download an App to install and configure it.  This is the tado app.

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The Smart AC Control box is very light, thin and small.

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If you hang the Smart AC Control on the wall, you can coil the cable here.  There is two cable exit point.  The USB goes into here to power up the unit.

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It does not come with a LCD screen.  But the surface is thin enough to see the LED pixel below.  So the surface is a screen itself.  You can touch to get info, and control the Smart AC Control.  Since I am using it only to teach Alexa how to voice control it, so these are not important to me.

I don’t hang it on the wall.  So, I make a simple Lego Stand to make it stand and point at the Aircon.

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You have to have a line of sight to the aircon.

Let’s install the Smart AC Control.  Just follow the steps to install.

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Now, this is a bit stupid.

After connecting to the WiFi.  The Tado AC Control needs up to 60 minutes to do the update.  So, I leave it overnight to update.  But I covered the bright LED light with a piece of paper.  So, the Tado AC control did install the updates, but could not proceed with installation because I covered the line of sight.

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Here is the explanation from Tado.

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Once the update is completed, the symbol changed to this.  It is time to add your AirCon.

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Mine is a Mitsubishi Electric Aircon.  And there are 39 sets of remote control signal.  So, it cycle thru all the 39 sets, and I simply have to hear if the AirCon responded or not.

Yes, the aircon trying to figure the best control signal for the infrared.

Then, 19 of them out of 39 responded.  Out of the 19 responded signal, I browsed thru it and found only 2 that does not come with “Heat” function.  So, Immediately, I know one of them or any of those remaining 2 are the signal.  So, I selected one of them, and everything works.

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I configure the Zone (or the name) of my Aircon to “Bedroom”.

So that I can say “Alexa turn on bedroom” to turn on my aircon.

OK, why I don’t set it to “aircon”?  Because in US, I think they call it “Air conditioning”.  There is no such word as “Aircon”.  So, Alexa always thought I am saying “Corn” is stead of “con” and she thought I wanted to add “Corn” into my shopping list.

Alexa has been really good in listening to my pronunciation.  But only few of such word she has trouble understanding me.  Con vs. Corn.  May be I should pronounce it as “Air-can’t”  hahahaha

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Now, it is time to integrate it into my home IoT.  Since I have already have a zone name called “bedroom”, now I just simply deselect the Phillips Hue lights and use bedroom as my Aircon.

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Once all configuration done, it is time to make Alexa work.  and it works!

This is my IoT strategy.

  1. Don’t go and buy everything on the first day.  First make the light work.
  2. Make sure you use the light every day.
  3. You can ask Alexa to turn on and off the lights.
  4. Then, add in the Logitech home hub to control your TV, Apple TV, FireTV, Speaker Bar, etc.
  5. Make sure you use Alexa to turn on and off the TV using Alexa.  Very convenient.
  6. Then, you invest in the AC Control.  And it works like a charm.
  7. Make sure you will use it every day.
  8. The key is to use it every day to help you.  Make you happy.  If you buy it to make it an white elephant, then, I suggest no need to buy.

By the way, Alexa can do much more.

You just have to see what Skill you can ask her to learn.  Also couple it with IFTTT, it can become very powerful.  My next project will be setting up some sensors using my Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc.  Not sure what is it yet, but come up with something.

 

 

 

 

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