Review: Sensibo Air

Ever since we decided to get a heat pump in our house, I had my mind set on getting a Sensibo Sky. This is a device that makes your heat pump or AC smart and adds control via your smart phone. So, shortly after having the heat pump installed, we hid away the remote – and from then on basically only used the Sensibo app. Now, Sensibo has release a new version. So, should you get the Sensibo Air instead?

Here is the TL;DR version. Sensibo Air gives you the option to place a sensor elsewhere to trigger events based on temperature or movement. If you don’t have the option to place the device directly opposite to your AC I would recommend the Air regardless of it’s higher price, because the IR blaster works at a greater angle.

Now, if that version was a bit to short you can get full story here. The main thing that sets the Sensibo Air apart form the Sensibo Sky model is that it allows for external temperature sensors. Up to 8 actually, and one is included in the box.

Why would you want that sensor? First of all this sensor also doubles as a motion sensor, so if you want to automatically turn on and off the AC based on motion, you can now do that. Now, as for the separate temperature sensor, I imagine use cases will be a bit more specific. But the idea is, that you can trigger events based on temperature from other places. This is because you have to place the main device in a direct line of sight to your AC. After all, these devices use old school IR to control your heat pump.

For some, this might be useful when taking multiple stories or rooms into account. But take our house for example, the heat from the sun enters the room on the opposing end compared to the AC. This causes a delay as to the AC kicks in compared to what we’d like. The sensors actually confirmed this showing a full degree celcius difference between the two ends of the room. If you want to set up events, this might be useful to you so you can stay ahead of the game.

Despite testing this out a lot, I didn’t find that all that useful. Here are some reasons why:

You can only use one temperature sensor for temperature events. To me this means that if want to use more, you are basically only using them for the motion sensor part. Personally, I don’t use that at all.

Only the temperature from a single sensor is logged. The nerd in me feels this is a lost opportunity.

You do have to remember that Sensibo itself doesn’t really offer any proper smarts. It isn’t a thermostat that you set – instead, it sets the temperature on your AC – and it does only that. If you say you want the room to be 22°C degrees, and you primary sensor says it’s 25°C it’s not going to do anything about it. There is the very limited option of setting 2 events to perform specific actions (I would wish for way more). Heck, I would wish that I could say “When the temperature between sensor a and sensor b is more than .5 degrees, use a higher fan speed”. Beyond that, you can use schedules.

Use it with a service like Tibber though, and you can actually get smart heating based on a number of factors which does exactly what I described above – using forecasts, heat loss and the cost of electricity throughout the day. However, it will still only use one of the sensors for this.

You should also remember, these devices are “one way”, when you use the remote it will not be aware that you changed the state of your AC. So my advice it that you probably should hide away the remote.

All right, so this product didn’t revolutionise anything compared to the Sky model – but there is still one or two reasons why I still might recommend it over the Sensibo Sky.

First off, you can actually place it standing on a piece of furniture if you don’t want to wall mount it. This is practically impossible with the Sensibo Sky unless you put it on it’s side, which doesn’t look great.

Secondly, and way more important; the IR blaster works at a greater angle. This has been a major issue for me with the Sensibo Sky. I couldn’t have it flush with the wall, and still have IR reliably work with our AC because of the angle as the AC was placed on the adjacent wall – and it didn’t have the reach to put it on the opposing wall. The Sensibo Air on the hand hasn’t had any issues.

And then, there is where Sensibo truly excels, support. Their support has been awesome. Our AC has a feature that you can enable via the remote for air purification, and this wasn’t something they had in the app. But after asking, they were able to change the IR codes, and now it always has it enabled. I was given instructions to help them index the IR codes and after a while of going back and forth the developers found the signal and implemented it for me. Now, certainly I wish there were toggles for this in the settings somewhere based on my device – but they don’t, and then this certainly is the next best thing.

I feel that there still is more potential here, and maybe the feature set will be improved in the future. For now though, I can still easily recommend both the Sensibo Air and the Sensibo Sky. And in case you were wondering, it does have Homekit support.

I'm a webdeveloper based in Oslo, Norway. I currently work with web development at Nettmaker.

I would like to change the world, but they won't give me the source…

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