Giving your dumb air conditioner a smart overhaul, the Sensibo Air Pro helps you keep your cool while also keeping an eye on your home’s air quality.
The smart home revolution has made it easier to manage a high-tech household but, realistically, it can be hard to justify replacing expensive household appliances just so you can control them from afar.
This is where internet-enabled sensors like the original Sensibo Sky come in handy. It hangs on the wall and mimics your aircon’s infrared remote, so you can control the air from your computer, smartphone, tablet or smart assistant. Better yet, it features built-in sensors for measuring the temperature and humidity, so it can automatically adjust the aircon during the day.
The original Sensibo Sky is handy for staying cool while managing your power bill, but these days people are also concerned about what they’re breathing. That’s where the new Sensibo Air Pro comes in, adding sensors to monitor air quality in your home.
Sensibo Air Pro first impressions
The palm-sized Sensibo Air Pro is smaller and has a more elegant design than the original Sensibo Sky. This means it won’t look too out of place on the wall, in line of sight with your aircon so the Sensibo can beam infrared commands at it.
There’s a tiny mounting slot on the back, so you can hang the unit on a screw in the wall. Alternatively, there’s a square of strong mounting tape in the box so you can stick the Sensibo on the wall. It casts a fairly wide infrared beam, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be on the opposite wall and might even be able to sit upright on a flat surface.
One complication is that you need to get power to the unit. There’s a recessed micro-USB slot on the bottom and it comes with a 120cm USB cable and AC adapter. This means you need to install the Sensibo within reach of a power point, which could leave an unsightly USB cable snaking across the wall.
Another complication is that you now have two devices vying for control of your aircon: the Sensibo and the old infrared remote. If you place the Sensibo near the aircon then it can pick up the infrared commands coming from the remote. This ensures that the Sensibo app can keep track of the aircon’s current status, even if someone turns it on or off with the remote while you’re out.
Its setup is pretty straightforward: download the Sensibo app, create an account, configure the Sensibo Air Pro and link it to your Wi-Fi network. Pointing your infrared remote at the Sensibo and pressing the ‘on’ button should be enough for it to figure out the make and model of your aircon.
From here, it can configure all the aircon’s controls, similar to a universal remote in the lounge room. This way you can send commands to the unit even when you’re away from home, and it can relay those commands to your aircon via infrared.
Of course, that relies on your aircon working with an infrared remote. The box says “make any air conditioner or heat pump” smart, but the fact is that not every aircon system can accept infrared commands.
If you have a split-system or portable AC unit then you’re almost certainly okay. But if you have central air conditioning or heating with ducts spread around the house, which is controlled via a wall panel, then you’re probably out of luck. It’s worth checking with the manufacturer if you’re not sure.
Thankfully, the Sensibo Air Pro setup worked with my split system first go, unlike when I tested the original Sensibo Sky when the initial set-up process failed to correctly identify two different split systems.
Remote access allows you to control your aircon from afar, such as turning it on using your smartphone when you’re almost home. Yet Sensibo Air Pro’s most useful features are linked to its sensors which can track conditions in the room.
Like the original Sensibo Sky, the new Sensibo Air Pro features temperature and humidity sensors. This lets you check conditions from your smartphone but, more importantly, it lets you create automations that adjust your aircon during the day. Responding to the actual conditions, rather than remembering to manually turn your aircon on and off, can keep your home cooler while also curbing your power bill. Sensibo also sells room sensors that can automatically turn the air on and off as people come and go.
Additionally, geofencing lets you control the aircon depending on the location of your phone. You could use this to automatically turn it on when you’re almost home or to ensure you don’t accidentally leave it running when you go out.
What makes the Sensibo Air Pro special is that it adds sensors for detecting carbon dioxide (CO2) and Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC).
The carbon dioxide detector can indicate where you have poor ventilation and low oxygen levels, as high levels of CO2 can impair your mental capabilities, make you ill and even be life-threatening. While it’s not specifically a carbon monoxide detector, Sensibo says it can also detect faulty or improperly used fuel-burning appliances like gas/wood heaters and stoves.
Meanwhile, TVOC refers to a somewhat vague collection of particles in the air. According to Sensibo: “Many VOCs come from electronic devices, cleaners and disinfectants, pesticides, air fresheners, paints and solvents, glue, new furniture and carpets, construction materials and plywood. VOCs can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and can cause difficulty breathing.”
Realistically, none of these is likely to be a major ongoing problem in your typical home. They’d be more of an issue in the workplace, where you really should have professional-grade ventilation and air quality monitoring.
It’s worth noting that it’s not a smoke detector and it doesn’t measure particulate matter in the air, so it’s not designed to monitor air quality issues created by events like nearby bushfires. Nor does it detect dust and pollen. That said, the Sensibo app can tap into pollution alerts for your area.
The app also can show you historical graphs for temperature, humidity, CO2 and TVOC readings in the room, plus it can send you alerts if they reach dangerous levels. It can also automatically turn on your aircon or a separate Sensibo Pure air purifier to improve the quality of the air.
Some advanced features require a US$2.49 monthly Sensibo Plus subscription. It can unlock advanced automations, AC statistics, health check, pollution updates, the ability to detect open windows and an auto shut-off feature when you leave the house.
Put to the test, the Sensibo Air Pro does a reliable job of controlling your aircon from afar, once you find the right place to install the sensor – which is especially important if someone might also be using the handheld remote while you’re away.
Creating schedules is particularly useful, such as setting the temperature in bedrooms at night, or in the living area when people get up in the morning and arrive home at the end of the day.
For some people, the best feature will be the ability to adjust the air according to the exact temperature and humidity in the room, as judged by the Sensibo’s built-in sensors. If your aircon isn’t very accurate and reliable in this department, or takes its measurements in an inconvenient location in your home, the Sensibo could make a big difference to the conditions in the room and your power bill.
SMART AC CONTROL WITH AIR QUALITY SENSOR – The Sensibo Air PRO is a smart AC controller with a built-in air quality sensor, designed to maintain an ideal temperature while continuously monitoring your air quality. Turn your existing home cooling or heating system into a smart connected device in just minutes.
HEALTHIER LIVING – Maintaining a high level of air quality in your home or office and boost your energy levels. Monitor the room for unhealthy air with a device that’s designed to sync harmoniously with your existing remote controlled air conditioner or mini split / ductless / heat pump system.
REDUCE COOLING COSTS – Sensibo Air PRO has smart climate features that work to maintain a consistently comfortable climate in your home. Replace hot and cold fluctuations while reducing cooling bills by up to 40%, while maintaining a good air quality at home.
Reacting to real-time conditions would also make it useful for automatically turning on the aircon for your pets when you’re not around.
The added air quality monitor features of the Sensibo Air Pro are very telling. For example, in my open kitchen/dining area, the CO2 levels sit steady at a very low 400 parts per million when the windows are open and/or the aircon is circulating the air. TVOC is also steady at a very low 9 parts per billion. Turn off the aircon, close the windows and you’ll see both of them slowly creep up.
The air quality degrades quickly if you light a gas cooktop without remembering to turn on the exhaust fan and/or open a window. With the Sensibo sitting only 20cm away from the pan, levels steadily climbed to CO2 504 and TVOC 193 over 30 minutes – although the readings wouldn’t have been as high elsewhere in the room.
While that sounds significant, both figures are still well within Sensibo’s definition of “good” air quality. CO2 becomes moderate at 1000 and high at 2000, while for TVOC it’s 500 and 1500.
Who is the Sensibo Air Pro for?
A Sensibo makes the most sense for people with very old and/or basic aircon systems which don’t offer remote access or let you create schedules. These features alone might make it worth the money if they will help curb your power bill in the summer, and perhaps the winter if you have reverse-cycle aircon which can heat and cool.
The extra air quality features of the Sensibo Air Pro are harder to justify, especially if you need to pay for the subscription. Realistically, CO2 and TVOC levels are not a major concern for your average person in your average home. I would have needed to cook up a feast with all the gas jets running and no ventilation to even hit moderate air quality – at which point anyone with an ounce of common sense would at least crack a window.
That said, if you have particular health concerns or there is something particularly unhealthy about your environment, then the Sensibo Air Pro might be a good fit for your home. Keep in mind, If you just need to monitor the air quality there are cheaper options, so it’s worth doing your research.
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Sensibo Air Pro
Controlling your aircon from afar, the Sensibo Air Pro can curb your power bills and help keep your air quality in check.
Value for money
Ease of use
Control aircon from afar (including smart assistant integration)
Create schedules and respond to current conditions
Monitor CO2 and TVOC levels
Detects TVOC but not smoke, dust and pollen
Some features require subscription
Doesn't support central aircon that lack an infrared remote