Some Internet of Things (IoT) devices just fit naturally into the consumer home app-cessory ecosystem. Light bulbs and door locks, garage door openers, and security systems.
Others, like Google's Nest Thermostat, have been used for years by tech-savvy early adopters as an obvious replacement for dumb or complicated thermostats that were nearly impossible to use.
These days, Nest has sold millions of thermostats and customers are saving big bucks through smarter scheduling of air conditioning and heater use.
A new smart ceiling fan from Big Ass Fans now connects into the Nest developer platform, aiming to reduce air conditioning use without any loss of comfort for homeowners.
Big Ass Fans' new Haiku ceiling fan is available with a smart technology called SenseME. Among other things, the fan — which starts at $1,045 (USD) — uses motion sensors to run only when the room is occupied, and its internal thermometers increase the fan speed when the temperature rises.
Now, owners of both the smart fan and the Nest Thermostat will be able to adjust their thermostat temperature right from the Haiku's partner app (Figure A), available on iPhone or Android.
Smart fan app.
"When you first set up the Haiku fan," explained Big Ass Fans' Alex Reed, "you'll tell it what temperature you feel is comfortable in the room." The fan will adjust its speed up and down as necessary to try to pinpoint an effective temperature for occupants.
Because running the Haiku fan, even at full tilt, uses so much less energy than a central air conditioning system, Nest and Big Ass Fans estimate users could save as much as 5% per degree increase on the Nest. Adding the Haiku fan to occupied rooms can then save significant amounts of money.
Based on user preferences, the fan can increase or decrease in speed as the temperature changes in individual rooms, attempting to keep the effective temperature — that is, the temperature that it feels like to occupants — within a specified range.
For the moment, the Nest/Haiku integration is still fairly limited. The Haiku app prompts users to adjust their thermostat temperature settings based on the fan's speed, with the fan adjusting its own speed up and down depending on how the temperature changes in the room.
Multiple fans can operate independently if they're in separate rooms or as part of a unified system.
"Ultimately, it makes sense that fans and thermostats have that ability," said Reed when asked about the partnership with Nest and how Big Ass Fans might work with other home automation platforms like Apple's HomeKit. "We're having a lot of conversations" with potential partners, he went on, noting that the biggest task for the company was to educate consumers on the advantages of ceiling fans.
"You could have accomplished this manually for decades, ran your fans and increased your thermostat set point," he said. "Now we can automate the process."
The Haiku with SenseME, which is made in the US, isn't cheap. It starts at more than $1,000 (USD) and goes up from there with add-ons like LED lighting kits. But, given the cost of energy and the cost of comparably luxurious ceiling fans, saving some money on air conditioning could make the Haiku an attractive proposition.
Orders placed today with Big Ass Fans should ship within 2-3 weeks as the company first fulfills its pre-orders. They can be purchased from the company's website.
Do you plan to purchase a smart fan? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.