Before You Buy: 3 Reasons to Think Twice About a Smart Ceiling Fan

You‘ve probably seen the ads for smart ceiling fans promising an effortless, high-tech way to cool your home using voice commands. While that hands-free control sounds appealing, these connected fixtures also come with limitations around what they can actually automate. There are also some surprising connectivity headaches and costs you should consider before making an upgrade.

According to technology analysts, there are three compelling reasons you may want to avoid buying a new smart ceiling fan system today:

1. They Don‘t Live Up to the "Smart" Name

While brands market WiFi-enabled ceiling fans as intelligent devices, what smart features do they really offer? Basic app and voice control of the fan speeds and lighting. That‘s about it. You can already turn ceiling fans on/off from the couch using the remote.

The high-tech automation is lacking here compared to truly smart home products:

  • Smart thermostats automatically adjust temperatures based on room occupancy, weather forecasts, and your behavior patterns.
  • Smart lights brighten and dim based on schedules and ambient light conditions.
  • Smart locks unlock when you approach and send alerts about access.

Now back to ceiling fans. Do smart models tweak speeds based on room occupancy or temperature? React to other devices? Automate based on your daily routine? Generally, no. Voice assistants like Alexa simply provide mobile and hands-free access to basic functions that remote controls already handle.

There are exceptions like the Haiku H Smart Fan that detects room temperature shifts. However, most smart fans miss the "smart" mark despite the branding and extra cost.

2. The Cost Is Difficult to Swallow

Speaking of extra cost, here is a pricing comparison of standard ceiling fans versus smart ceiling fan options:

  • Hunter Signal 52-inch Fan – $159
  • Westinghouse Comet 52-inch Fan – $199
  • Big Ass Fans Haiku Smart – $329
  • Hunter Signal Smart 54-inch Fan – $469

As you see, smart models command a 100% or higher price premium. Now tack on the cost of getting a technician to install your new smart ceiling fan if you aren‘t comfortable dealing with the electrical work and mounting bracket yourself.

Most electricians charge $100-250 for ceiling fan installation. With parts and labor, you could pay $600+ for a connected model.

If WiFi coverage is spotty in the room, you may also need to reposition networking equipment or install a range extender to maintain a reliable connection.

Suddenly that voice-controlled convenience comes with a hefty long-term cost.

3. Connectivity Headaches Are Very Common

Speaking of WiFi, it‘s imperative for smart ceiling fans with mobile apps and voice control. Problem is, wireless networks can be flaky depending on household size and construction materials. Appliances and electronics also cause signal interference.

Here are the most common smart ceiling fan connectivity issues:

  • Stuttering video calls or streaming in the same room indicates insufficient WiFi capacity for another smart gadget.
  • Concrete walls, long distances from routers, and dead spots produce wireless "black holes" where connectivity falters.
  • Network congestion from the 40+ connected devices in the average US home makes adding another IP burden tricky.
  • Nearby appliances like refrigerators, microwaves, and ovens transmit electromagnetic frequencies that can disrupt WiFi flows.

Not exactly an ideal environment to add equipment that completely relies on wireless access, is it?

While ceilings fans don‘t consume much internet bandwidth individually, each smart device degrades the available network pipeline fractionally more. This interferes with everything from your video doorbell‘s performance to gaming latency.

If you are experiencing any of those WiFi, bandwidth, or interference problems above, a smart ceiling fan may not play nicely in your environment.

Smarter Alternatives Exist for Upgrading fans

So if smart ceiling fans come with automation limitations, connectivity obstacles, and inflated costs, what alternatives exist? Unless you must have those voice bragging rights, consider the following options to add mobile control to an existing "dumb" ceiling fan:

BOND Smart Fan Control

The BOND Smart Fan Control hub connects to your home router via Ethernet cable for a robust wired internet connection. This gives the device strong WiFi signal strength for sending infrared and RF commands to compatible ceiling fans in range.

The small BOND hub simply needs line of sight access to your ceiling fan. It can control fans up to 100 feet away through walls and floors when positioned correctly. This gives app, scheduling, and voice control via Alexa/Google services.

Here is a brief overview:

  • Works With Any IR/RF Remote-Controlled Ceiling Fan – No need to replace the actual fan if you like the current one. Just link the remote signal to BOND.
  • Supports Multiple Fans – A single BOND handles up to 30 ceiling fans independently.
  • Links to Other Services – Integrates with Nest, SmartThings, and IFTTT for expanded smart home automation capabilities.

With BOND, you avoid the headaches of swapping out ceiling fans and maintain broader smart device connectivity for under $120.

ProductBOND Smart Fan Control
CompatibilityWorks with any remote-controlled ceiling fan
FeaturesVoice control, automation, remote access
RangeUp to 100 ft, covers up to 2,500 sq ft

Enbrighten Z-Wave Plus Fan Control Switch

If your home already uses Z-Wave for smart locks, lighting, and other devices, Enbrighten makes a robust ceiling fan controller. This in-wall switch replaces your existing switch to tap into those Z-Wave automation routines through a hub.

Benefits include:

  • Redundant Mesh Network – Z-Wave devices act as signal boosters to fill in dead zones. Less chance of wireless interruptions controlling your fan.
  • No Hub Required – Works with SmartThings, Wink, Ring Alarm, and other Z-Wave controllers.
  • Built-In Range Extender – Boosts Z-Wave network coverage 150 feet.
  • Familiar Light Switch Design – Replaces your wall toggle with smart fan control.

There is some wiring skill required to install this controller. However, tapping into a proven smart home mesh network bypass potential WiFI headaches.

No need to consider shoehorning an incompatible smart ceiling fan into your environment. Instead, incorporate troublesome ceiling fan control into your proven Z-Wave devices.

ProductEnbrighten Z-Wave Plus Fan Control
CompatibilityRequires existing Z-Wave setup
FeaturesExtends Z-Wave range 150 ft
LimitationsNo light control, needs a neutral wire

Aubric Smart WiFi Canopy Module

If you don‘t mind putting some DIY wiring elbow grease into your existing ceiling fan, Aubric makes a clever smart controller. The Aubric WiFI module installs inside your ceiling fan canopy to interface with the motor and light controls.

This aftermarket ceiling fan "brain" adds app and voice functionality for under $30. It also works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and other IFTTT home automation platforms.

Consider Aubric If:

  • You Want Voice Controls on a Budget – At $30, this smart module costs 10X+ less than a nnew smart fan.
  • You Prefer DIY Installation – This isn‘t beginner electrical work but it is feasible if you have some wiring chops.
  • Your Fan Lacks a Remote Controller – Aubric taps directly into the fan wiring so no RF remote needed.

For less than a tank of gas, you can gain mobile app ceiling fan voice control. Now that‘s a worthwhile upgrade!

ProductAubric Smart WiFi Retrofit Kit
CompatibilityFits inside canopy, no remote needed
FeaturesVoice control, speeds, timers
LimitationsManual wiring installation


I hope this breakdown gives you a realistic perspective before you purchase new smart ceiling fan technology. In many homes, WiFi constraints, cost barriers, and automation limitations retard the benefits of upgrading.

Luckily alternatives exist to smart-ify your current ceiling fans at a fraction of the cost and hassle when connectivity cooperates. As outlined above in detail, aftermarket controller modules bring voice-controlled convenience to those favorable situations.

So before introducing possible Wi-Fi congestion headaches or settling for minimal smart features, explore your options. Repurposing current ceiling fans with platforms like BOND, Enbrighten or Aubric delivers mobile voice automation cheaper and easier in many instances!

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