Ever had those days where you spend all day sweating under the hot sun, and come home to an equally hot and humid home, and immediately head to the toilet for a cold shower? Uh huh, I know I have. Or do your kids regularly wake up in the middle of the night, run over to daddy and mummy’s room, and jump into bed with you, leaving their own bedroom door ajar and wasting hours of precious AC (aircon) and electricity? Yep, that would be us too.
When we first heard about Ambi Climate, a device that allows you to personalise your AC system to fit your family’s unique usage patterns and needs, we were intrigued. Say hello to a smarter AC with Ambi Climate, which harnesses the technology of artificial intelligence, promising to deliver maximum comfort with minimum energy wastage. Created by Hong Kong-based IoT startup Ambi Labs, it successfully concluded its Kickstarter campaign in June this year, exceeding its initial funding goal by a whopping 310%!
We’ve tested it out for ourselves, these past two months, so here’s sharing our honest review with you…
A couple of months ago, we received our Ambi Climate 2 set, which includes the basic unit, a USB cable and power adapter. We love its sleek and stylish design – in fact it fits right at home with all the Apple gear in our home! On the front of the unit is the Ambi Climate logo that glows in different colours depending on the state of the device. For example, it pulses with an amber light during set up, and turns a solid light green when everything is in working order.
Getting the unit powered up was easy enough, but setting up the AmbiClimate App on our phones was a little trickier, because we weren’t sure what type of AC remote control we had. Thankfully, the clever hubs discovered that that important bit of info is on a sticker on the back of the remote control. 😉
(In case you were wondering, Ambi Climate is compatible with more than a thousand models of AC across fifty brands. You can check if it is compatible with your AC on their compatibility page.)
Other than that, setting up the AmbiClimate app on Android (hubby’s phone) and iOS (mine) was not too difficult, with step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process of hooking it up to your wireless network and pairing it with your AC. Once set up, the App is pretty easy to navigate and use, definitely very user-friendly. You can better understand how to make the most of the App’s insights and analytics here.
There are five basic operation modes to choose from: Comfort, Temperature Control, Away, Manual and Off.
Feeling comfortable with your AC is not solely dependent on the temperature of the air blowing out of the AC unit. Factors like indoor humidity, room temperature, weather etc, do affect your comfort level as well. As the user inputs real-time feedback into the system, Ambi Climate is intelligent enough to “learn” your comfort zone (too hot / too warm / a bit warm / comfortable / a bit cold / too cold / freezing) with respect to the current climate situation in the room. Sensors on the device monitor multiple factors, and analyze them in relation to the given input/feedback. It then attempts to set an optimal AC setting for that environment. Over time, and with regular inputs, Ambi Climate‘s artificial intelligence then better understands your comfort level and adjusts the room temperature to the current room climate automatically.
This is our favourite mode for the Ambi Climate. We do find that the boys’ room temperature is more comfortable for them/us now, especially at night, because the temperature typically dips in the wee hours of the morning. Thanks to our Ambi Climate, the room doesn’t become an igloo anymore, the way it used to be, and our boys have actually been sleeping more often in their beds through the night ever since!
Most AC control for a set point temperature – which you determine via the remote control – by turning the thermostat on and off to match the room temperature.
This results in unnecessary energy consumption as the temperature in most rooms is normally not a constant, varying with humidity, sunlight, changes in outdoor weather, and so on. Your AC unit can overheat or overcool, simply to maintain the temperature that you have set on your remote control.
The Ambi Climate works in this mode to maintain the room’s temperature by adjusting the AC temperature appropriately, so that your thermostat does not need to do as much work. For example, if your desired room temperature is 20 degrees, the Ambi Climate automatically adjusts the temperature on your AC remote up and down so that the AC unit does minimal work to maintain the room at that temperature.
It stands to reason, then, that using this mode of operation would allow the user to save on energy consumption, which in turns saves on cost (and helps save the planet!). However do note that significant cost savings will depend on your aircon usage – for example, if you are running the aircon all day at 18 degrees, simply having the Ambi device will see you get 30% savings. On the other hand, if you are more sparing in aircon usage i.e. 24 degrees and only at night, the cost savings will be less significant and over a longer run. We use the AC mostly at night and during the afternoon naps for the boys; unfortunately we didn’t notice any significant change to our family’s electricity bill. Ah well…
With Away mode, you can maintain the temperature/humidity of the room at all hours, even when you are out of the house. This is certainly a useful feature for rooms which contain items that are sensitive to temperature changes, such as musical instruments, or if you keep a pet at home. In fact, when we were setting up our Ambi Climate, we considered using this feature for our music room, where the hubby’s precious collection of guitars and amps are. Since we do have a room dehumidifier in the music room, though, we chose to place our Ambi Climate in the kids’ bedroom.
This mode gives you back your plain old remote control features with no artificial intelligence used.
Besides these operation modes, a notable feature of the Ambi Climate is its AC Run Time and Average AC Set Points screens, which give you a summary of your AC usage over the past 4 weeks. It offers you the change to view and track your household’s AC usage patterns, and might give you insights on how to change certain habits of AC usage to reduce your energy bill.
For us, one of the best features of Ambi Climate is that it allows us to turn on our AC from outside the home – our first smart home experience! Using the App, you can set rules or timers for when you are out or asleep, and the system monitors and controls the AC accordingly. Using geolocation, you can even automatically switch on and off your AC based on your location.
We now use this function to set the boys’ room aircon to be turned off everyday at 530am. If they have run over to our room in the night, then this reduces the wastage of AC being used. And if they remain in their beds, since they wake up at 6am every school day, the room is still cool enough for that last half hour of sleep. This also means I can switch on the AC using the App when we are on the way home after a hot outing, so that their room is cool when we arrive, providing us with a blessed respite from the heat outside. 😀
Now that’s room service with a difference! Thank you, Ambi Climate.
We were sponsored an Ambi Climate Edition 2 unit for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received, and all photos used and opinions expressed are ours.