Tado Smart AC Control V3+ review: Simple, smart and cool

Quick verdict: The Tado Smart AC Control V3+ promises to save you energy while making your existing home air conditioner smart. It's a smart solution that certainly covers the basics of home heating and cooling well, generally irrespective of the air conditioner brand.

Pros

  • Simple setup
  • Good range
  • Easy voice integration
Cons

  • Geofenced features require subscription
  • Doesn’t replicate every AC remote button
  • Touch panel is cute but not particularly useful
  • Window detection can be iffy

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Tado Smart AC Control V3+

When you buy an air conditioner there are many factors to consider beyond your desire for cooler air. You can pay more – sometimes substantially more – for an AC unit that includes some level of smartphone, app-led connectivity. But, that might not be within your budget.

Equally, you might have an existing AC unit that works just fine but it's older and from an era when apps for AC's weren't a buying factor.

That's the precise use case that the Tado Smart AC Control V3+ tackles, adding smart features to simpler AC units with the promise of features such as voice control, app control and geolocation. It mostly lives up to those promises, with just a few quirks and a subscription barrier that are its real downsides.


Tado Smart AC Control V3+ review: Design

Tado Smart AC Control V3+ review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

For the asking price, in one sense you don't get a lot in the box with the Tado Smart AC Control V3+. It's a simple white square measuring 10cm on each side, 1.45cm tall with a microUSB power plug, and that's your lot.

The reality here is that this is smart design for most homes, because you're typically not going to want to have a big or bulky and obvious unit in play.

The front of the Tado Smart AC Control V3+ features a simple LED display with touch sensitivity, so you could potentially wall mount it as a dedicated remote for your home's heating and cooling systems. I'll say that in my year of testing the Tado Smart AC Control V3+, I've not bothered to do that.

Indeed, I've honestly only really ever used the touch panel for testing purposes, mostly relying on either the Tado app or simple voice controls to control the unit in my home. It's a nice feature to have however, because it means even if the AC's own remote is out of sight and your phone is flat, you can still perform basic heating and cooling tasks.


Tado Smart AC Control V3+ review: Installation

Tado Smart AC Control V3+ review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

The Tado Smart AC Control V3+ is controlled via the free Tado app for iOS or Android, and it's a necessary part of the installation process. First, you'll need to sign up for a Tado account and set your Tado Smart AC Control V3+ up on your Wi-Fi network. By the way, there's no support for wired ethernet connections. Lastly, set it up with your AC system. In my case it was pairing it with a Fujitsu air conditioner, but most makes that I could recognise sold in Australia were represented.

One caveat here is that the Tado app tends towards common AC functions such as heating, cooling, fan strength and louvre movement, but it doesn't automatically replicate every button you might have on your remote control. For some people that'll be fine because they just want the basics. But if you're a bit of a control freak you might find it doesn't cover everything you need. I've only been able to test it against a single unit and that may be more or less of an issue for more complex home cooling and heating setups. Although, it's not too hard to work around these issues.

The Tado Smart AC Control V3+ device itself works over infrared, the same way that your existing AC remote control does, and with the same potential limitations. Basically it needs a line of sight to wherever the IR receiver on your AC happens to be. I've tried placing the Tado Smart AC Control V3+ in some quite irregular places during my review period. Outside of the blatantly stupid, like placing it under a sofa cushion or in another room, it's worked without fault.

Again, if you did want the touch panel to work you'd need it in a more prominent placing. But it's potentially feasible that on the same wall as an AC unit might not meet your IR needs. The supplied power cable has some decent length to it, so you could play around with how it's placed to get optimal positioning in any case.


Tado Smart AC Control V3+ review: Performance

Tado Smart AC Control V3+ review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Once you've set up Tado, it's time to start using it. My own AC setup is remarkably simple, with a single system set in 1 room. But there is scope within the Tado system to control more complex cooling and heating requirements on a per-room basis from a single Tado Smart AC Control V3+.

The core of the app does of course revolve around AC management with a touch interface that allows you to control the parameters of your home's heating or cooling. This takes a little getting used to. While it's simple enough to select hot or cold, temperature, fan speed and so on, your expectation is probably going to be that it'll work exactly like your AC remote control. Press a button there and something happens, right?

Tado does it slightly differently, taking a more programmatic approach. As such, you select every parameter (cooling, fan speed, louvres and so on) and then hit a very small tick button in the upper right hand corner. It's not exactly obvious at first, and while you don't have to re-select if you just want to adjust 1 step, it does make it just a little slower than you might at first expect.

product review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

While that's the core of the Tado Smart AC Control V3+'s big selling pitch, it's not the only trick it has. There's also full support for Apple Homekit, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. This means if you've got the relevant smart speaker for your assistant you can also use the Tado Smart AC Control V3+ as a bridge for voice controls. It's a nice party trick, and genuinely convenient to be able to simply tell your assistant speaker to switch on the air conditioner, especially if (like me) you tend to only have a few preset temperatures and modes you prefer.

The Tado Smart AC Control V3+ also has inbuilt temperature and humidity sensors. It can use these to both give an indication of your overall air quality (dubbed "Air Comfort") as well as detect if there's a sudden change that might indicate an open window. If you're spending the money on power to cool or heat your home, you don't want it all vanishing out a window, after all.

Window detection is interesting but not always accurate in my experience. That may be a function of the way my rather old home operates, but I did sometimes get open window notifications when there'd been no change in status.

Experimentally, I could also "fool" Tado by opening some windows without it seemingly noticing that I'd done so. It's a measurement analysis ultimately, not a camera that's watching my every step or listening out for the creak of a window pane, so that's to be expected.

product review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Tado also collects data on usage as it goes, which means it can also provide metrics on energy savings and usage, which will vary not only on your actual circumstances, but also on how much you let the Tado Smart AC Control V3+ itself control your home or office temperatures. It's not really subtle about this, noting that its subscription Auto Assist package will – as per its claims – save more than using manual controls or schedules.

Auto Assist will cost you $39.99 per year or $4.99 per month. Auto Assist takes over some smart functions of the Tado Smart AC Control V3+, including automatic adjustment if it senses an open window, and the option to automatically change AC parameters when you're located away from home via geofencing.

The window management I've found to be a little hit and miss, but it feels a bit cheap to ask for a sixth of the asking price of the device per year, at least for the simple ability to switch the AC on before you get home. It's all basically travelling through your own home network, after all. You could get around this with a little scheduling work in any case, but I do struggle to see the real value of the Auto Assist subscription package.


Should you buy it?

  • Buy it if you want a simple way to enhance your existing non-smart AC equipment.
  • Don't buy it if you need a travelling solution and don't want to pay for the Auto Assist subscription.

The Tado Smart AC Control V3+ really only has 1 primary job, and that's to provide a Wi-Fi enabled bridge between your existing home cooling and heating gear and your phone or voice. On that score I can't really fault it, because it does make firing up my AC on the hottest summer days, or providing simple heating in the dead of winter, quite simple.

It's not flawless. It's distinctly a little slower than using the remote directly, as there's more steps to jump through. The subscription nature of its geofencing efforts are frankly a little annoying, as while the pandemic situation has meant few of us have been getting out quite as much of late. But, I can totally see the utility there for some comfort and energy saving options.


Tado Smart AC Control V3+ review: Pricing and availability

Price

The Tado Smart AC Control V3+ retails in Australia for $179.

Where to buy


How we tested

The Tado Smart AC Control V3+ was supplied for review by Tado. It was tested over a period of just under 1 year in my Sydney suburban home, taking in both summer and winter usage cycles for a single Fujitsu AC


Specifications

Smart AC Control
100 x 100 x 15 mm
Full packaging
174 × 174 × 70 mm
Weight
Smart AC Control: 76 g,Full packaging: 362 g
Power supply
5 V (USB),Cable length: 1850 mm
Power
16–24 VAC, 40VA max, 50/60Hz
Wireless connectivity
Via local Wi-Fi network with any 802.11 b/g/n, 2.4 GHz router. The quality of the signal depends on the building structure. The Smart AC Control controls your AC via infrared.

Sensors
tado° measures temperature and humidity. The temperature sensor accuracy is 0.01°C.
Material
The outer shell consists of polycarbonate (PC) and ABS plastic
Front
white / matte
Infrared window:
gloss black
Rear
light gray rubberised

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