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If your home is suffering from warm or cold spots then individual room climate control may be just what you need. While the cost of an HVAC upgrade to achieve a zonal system can be exorbitant, there may be a cheaper solution … smart vents! Our top automatic vent pick is the Flair Smart Vent & Puck Sensor!

What is a Smart Vent and how does it work?

The main purpose of a Smart Vent is to regulate the temperature of a room by managing the incoming airflow from your central HVAC system.

Smart Vents detect airflow pressure and temperature and compare it to the ambient temperature in the room. Based on this information, the smart vents automatically open or close, to alter a room's temperature according to your preferences.

And this technology wouldn’t be smart without the ability to integrate with your smart home. Automatic Vents can be integrated and controlled using a smartphone app to adjust your settings and create schedules. This can be the same app that manages your smart thermostat.

9.3
Top Pick
A highly integrated smart vent

Flair offers some of the best Smart Vents on the market today.

Top Features
  • Intelligent airflow management which claims up to 30% energy savings for your home

  • Durable construction, made with steel

  • Compatibility with ecobee thermostats as well as voice technologies like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

The steel construction helps it stand out from the competition, along with a decent price tag. It boasts efficient power-saving technology, a great smartphone user interface, and wide integration with other smart home technologies.

Tech Specs

Communication915MHz Radio
Lights5 lights with unique signatures
Batteries2 C batteries, lasts up to 2 years
Power24VAC option through port
MaterialsIndustry-standard steel
Available Sizes4×10, 4×12, 6×10, 6×12
What we liked
  • The steel construction gives it an edge against plastic competitors
  • Long-lasting battery compared to competitors
  • Has to option to be wired instead of using batteries
  • iOS, Android, and even a web app option to manage your product remotely in many ways. The useability of the software is great, with a lot of functionality to take advantage of.
  • Built-in pressure and temperature sensors
What we didn't like
  • A “puck” is needed, which requires installation and configuration. This puck also is used as the thermostat for the Smart Vent.
  • Requires multiple pucks for multiple rooms
  • Though construction is steel, the battery covering is plastic
9.2
Runner-up
A powerful booster fan

While this booster fan does not directly manipulate a room’s temperature by opening and closing the vent, it can increase or reduce the airflow based on the integrated thermostat.

Top Features
  • Energy and noise efficient

  • Increases airflow to areas with poor air pressure

  • Smart thermostat which increases or decreases fan speed based on the set temperature

The AirTap from AC Infinity is a highly durable booster fan that increases or decreases airflow based on the configured temperature. It is different from the other smart vents in this list, in that it doesn’t open or close the vent. However, it can influence a room’s temperature by altering the airflow into the space.

The device is designed for high static air pressure with restricted movement so is an ideal choice for installation within your ducting system.

What we liked
  • Number of different sizes available to fit a wide range of vent openings
  • Integrated thermostat that can be programmed accordingly
  • Very quiet registering only 18 decibels
  • 10 fan speeds available
  • Backup memory in case of power failure so you don’t need to reprogram
What we didn't like
  • No smart integrations with Alexa or Google Home
  • Needs a nearby power socket

Keen offers a range of smart vents of different sizes to help you achieve zoned climate control.

Top Features
  • Efficient operation, claims to replace an expensive damper system.

  • Free year of premium Cloud services and customer support

  • Broad list of integration with other technologies including Zigbee, Nest, ecobee

  • High-speed Internet connection (DSL, cable, fiber, satellite)
  • Mobile device running iOS 8.0+ or Android 4.4+
  • Forced air central heating and/or cooling system
  • Keen Home Smart Bridge, Lowe’s Iris Smart Hub, or SmartThings Hub

Tech Specs

Item Weight2.85 pounds
Product Dimensions11.63 x 5 x 2.75 inches
Item model numberSmart Vent – 4×10
BatteriesRequires 4 AA batteries (included)
Battery Cell TypeAlkaline
Average Battery Life2 years
What we liked
  • Advanced control and intelligent algorithms
  • Neat and simple faceplate, replaceable and paintable
  • Batteries included with the Smart Vent
  • Competitively-priced with lots of size options
  • Compatible with two other hubs aside from its own-brand Smart Bridge
What we didn't like
  • Requires a Smart Bridge to work
  • Limited scheduling capability which doesn’t allow for more micro settings
  • Some users have had connectivity issues

Other Automatic Vents

Ecovent helps you balance temperatures throughout your home, via its intelligent smart vents.

Top Features
  • There are three aspects to the system. The smart vent opens and closes per room, smart sensors that check temperature and humidity, and a central hub that coordinates everything.

  • Wi-Fi and Ethernet compatibility, as well as integration with Zigbee

  • Ethernet-enabled feature of the hub makes it an access point for increased Wi-Fi spread and continuous connectivity for other smart devices

  • Central Air HVAC
  • Internet connection with a spare Ethernet port and WiFi
  • Smartphone/tablet (Android or Apple iOS are compatible)
  • Grounded wall outlets in each room for the wall sensors

Tech Specs

Connectivity915 MHz Wi-Fi encrypted network; Zigbee
Power5V, 15W maximum input. 5W Nominal consumption
MaterialsPrimarily PC-ABS polymer and polyoxymethylene
Dimensions1.44 x 5.09 x 5.48 inches
Warranty5 Year
What we liked
  • High-end technology for precision airflow regulation and intelligent monitoring of your HVAC system; claims 50% more air supplied during a test; floor and ceiling vents available
  • Very helpful UI with good customizability and access to service information
  • Great accuracy and silent operation along with 3-5 years expected battery lifespan
  • Ethernet port for wired Internet capability, providing a more stable connection than Wi-Fi.
  • Easy installation
What we didn't like
  • Significantly costlier than other competitors
  • Requires a hub and sensors which are relatively expensive
  • Limited compatibility with other sensors despite integration with Zigbee
  • The main target market is likely bigger homes or businesses
Top Features
  • Multiple sensors to learn your preferences for tailored and accurate comfort, even with changes to your pattern; also takes air quality seriously for clean and healthy air.

    That’s 12 sensors to monitor temperature, sound, humidity, even ambient heat to make the best adjustments to the home.

  • Cloud analytics and AI technology for advanced and intelligent operation

  • Replace not just wall but ceiling and floor vents, and works independently of a thermostat or other sensors

Alea Labs tries to take the Smart Vent technology to the next level with the “most advanced air distribution platform ever.” 

This product from Alea Labs is not just an automatic vent, but a whole sensing grid around the HVAC system that constantly learns from the occupants to best regulate airflow.

How to achieve room by room climate control in a Forced Air HVAC system

1. Zonal Heating System

A zonal heat system is a well-managed and very effective solution in regulating temperature in every room. This is for a centralized HVAC system, where you’ll have one thermostat per zone.

Cooled or heated air is moved through the ducts, then controlled through dampers and vents until the set temperature per zone is achieved. A control panel helps regulate them all by ensuring the correct dampers activate for the respective zone. But you can imagine all the work that needs to be done, not to mention the cost.

2. Baseboard Heaters

Baseboard heaters are very efficient in providing heat in an isolated room. It stays fixed on one side of the room close to the wall and floor and should be out of the way if planned well. Most of these can be controlled using a thermostat, whether by a built-in or external one, allowing you the convenience of room-specific climate control.

There are disadvantages though, in particular the energy bill!

3. Smart Vents

Another effective solution for zonal temperature control is with Automatic Vents. This is intelligent technology that complements thermostats. They regulate and balance the airflow from room to room, enabling fine-tuning of temperature per zone. They do this by using sensors and in turning opening or closing the airflow to a room where appropriate.

The convenience of these automatic vents is great for occupants, especially those who manually adjust vents or those who’ve given up on achieving the perfect room temperature. This option is much less expensive than retrofitting a central zonal heating system.

Difference between Smart Thermostat Sensors and Smart Vents

Smart thermostat sensors are only capable of relaying the temperature reading to the smart thermostat. For room to room control, there need to be multiple thermostats and zonal control. Without zone control, you won’t be able to avoid hot or cold spots within your home and will simply be blasting warm or cool air throughout the house. 

Smart Vents can control the cooled or heated air flowing through the ducts into specific rooms. This means it can make more granular adjustments to a room’s temperature.

Low Air Flow vs High Air Flow Rooms

Before investing in or installing Automatic Vents, it’s important to determine the airflow coming into each room.

Some rooms have high air pressure, as they are close to the HVAC unit or air handler. Smart Vents are useful in these circumstances as when they automatically close, that air pressure moves further up the ducting system, to heat or cool other rooms.

This helps balance air temperature within your home.

Managing Air Pressure

HVAC experts understand how important it is to manage air pressure within an HVAC system. This is a concern with vents as they can be closed manually to temporarily improve the temperature.

But this also adds the responsibility of balancing pressure buildup caused by too many closed vents. This could potentially harm the system. It’s even riskier if the vents are in a hard-to-reach area, prone to cause injury, and easier to forget re-opening.

That is why Smart Vents typically have in-built controls to ensure the pressure does not go so great to cause damage to the HVAC system.

Benefits of Automatic Vents

What Smart Vents do best is balancing the airflow through every room they’re in. They figure out how much air to let in, and the right time to close or open. This is particularly useful for avoiding big changes to your ductwork when problems are found. Or installing a comprehensive zone system. This means huge savings for a simple solution.

With Smart Vents, you have a workaround for installing zoned heating systems, baseboard heaters, or making duct adjustments. This makes them a cheaper alternative.

In many ways, Automatic Vents are more effective, too. Zoned heating systems without changes to ductwork can still struggle with airflow. Smart Vents effectively address multiple areas for improvement, while also looking out for pressure problems.

Smart Vents Features to Consider

Vent Size

There are usually a range of options to cover all standard vent sizes. Some manufacturers also have different options for floor, ceiling, and wall vents.

Best to double-check the exact vent size before ordering.

Pressure Monitoring

Smart Vents can monitor air pressure within your HVAC ducting system. Smart Vents employ pressure sensors so when they detect an imbalance, they open up to relieve some of the pressure and avoid equipment damage.

Temperature Sensors

Along with pressure sensors, smart vents also have temperature sensors that complement the in-room thermostat. With these sensors, smart vents can make quick and accurate adjustments.

Smart Thermostat Integration

Like mentioned, smart vents complement your smart thermostat, providing extra convenience together. Check for products that’ll allow you to control both devices remotely using the same app. Some of them can communicate together and share data for efficiency and advanced monitoring.

Voice control and remote control

Aside from smart thermostat integration, look out for automatic vents that combine well with major smart home ecosystems. You’ll be able to take advantage of the latest voice and remote control tech. Set schedules for your smart vents. Use smart speakers with them and use voice commands.

Power

Most smart vents are powered by batteries, meaning you don’t need a nearby power outlet or the task of wiring directly.

Common Questions Relating to Smart Vents

Should I be replacing all of my vents with smart vents?

In tests, Keen Home has achieved an 8 degrees variance between rooms with 8 Smart Vents in a home. You don’t need to upgrade all your vents to experience improved climate control. But you would definitely benefit from multiple Smart Vents.

Try to assess your current needs. You can install them in a couple of problematic rooms initially. You have the convenience of adding more later on.

What are the risks of smart vents?

Some professionals claim that manipulating airflow could cause problems and reduce the effectiveness of the HVAC system. This is why you’ll find many Smart Vents equipped with pressure sensors to monitor these risks. Some of us manually adjust our vents, so this is not a new problem.
Still, it wouldn’t hurt to hire experts to help determine your system’s pressure limit.

Do I need a hub?

Some Smart Vents need smart hubs or require a bridge to connect to your smart home network. Smart Vents are more useful with integration to a phone or smart home ecosystem.

Lots of major manufacturers require a compatible hub. Keen Home’s Smart Vent needs a Smart Bridge that opens it up to more features.

Do I need temperature sensors?

You can further improve your Smart Vents with additional sensors, but some have built-in temperature sensors and thermostats. 

This is an important consideration while choosing a Smart Vents. Some require separate sensors or read from a compatible wall-mounted thermostat, so check for these.

The Verdict

Smart Vents can be a great upgrade to your HVAC system and a relatively inexpensive one at that. 

For this, you get climate zones and more granular control over each room’s temperature. We hope you’re now more informed about how this could help improve the comfort of your home!

9.3
Top Pick
A highly integrated smart vent

Flair offers some of the best Smart Vents on the market today.

Top Features
  • Intelligent airflow management which claims up to 30% energy savings for your home

  • Durable construction, made with steel

  • Compatibility with ecobee thermostats as well as voice technologies like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Sources

medium.com

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