How to get Sensibo into HomeKit
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The Sensibo Sky is a solid smart AC controller that can provide not only remote control of your heating and cooling, but some smarts as well through integration with voice assistants and IFTTT.
Sensibo doesn’t officially support Apple’s HomeKit, but they do unofficially endorse a way of getting it working. This is through an open-source third party extension to HomeKit known as HomeBridge.
There are some good HomeKit thermostats available, but I only have split system air conditioners. To manage my home’s climate holistically through HomeKit I needed a way to hook up my Sensibo Sky controllers. This HomeBridge plugin not only did the job, but works super well and offers a lot of configuration options as well to customize how your HomeKit setup looks.
What Is Supported?
HomeKit supports the essential thermostat functions of setting the desired temperature and whether you want heating or cooling. But the Sensibo Sky has a bit more to it, and this plugin presents those additional features in a way HomeKit understands. So you’ll not only get a thermostat accessory, but a humidity sensor and a fan control as well.
Those last two are optional, you can set a handful of options to hide those additional devices and force the fan mode to auto if you prefer to keep things simple. This was more useful in iOS12, but as of iOS 13 it’s worth keeping in mind that multiple accessories in one device are displayed in the Home app as a single tile by default.
You can leave them grouped or split them out so they show separately as you wish, and they’ll all remain available to Siri wether they are grouped or not. You’ll also see them in the status page regardless.
The plugin presents the thermostat functions correctly as a thermostat type device, so Siri will be able to understand a variety of phrasings and correctly understand what you’re talking about. You can, for example, refer to the Sensibo as an ‘AC’ whether that is in the accessory name or not.
Using these three accessories, you’ll be able to specify the target temperature, the AC mode (Off, Heat, Cool, or Auto), and the fan speed (0-100%). The temperature and humidity sensors will also display in your home status at all times, and can be queried by Siri, and use those values in automation rules as well.
What You’ll Need
Apart from having a Sensibo Sky setup and working, you’ll also need to have HomeBridge set up and connected to your HomeKit Home. HomeBridge is a free open source application that supports a whole stack of third party plug-ins to add unsupported devices to HomeKit.
In the past setting this up and running this system needed some good Linux knowledge and a suitable server to host it on. Now things are a lot easier thanks to the HOOBS project. Using their pre-built system image you can easily set up a Homebridge server in a few easy steps.
Running this on a an inexpensive Raspberry Pi is the best option as it will effectively be like any other smart hub, small and low power that you can set and forget somewhere out of the way.
Once you have HOOBS in place, you just need to add the Sensibo plugin through the easy-to-use web interface.
Setting Up The Plugin
From the HOOBS dashboard, click on the Plugin icon on the toolbar and search for the word ‘sensibo’. You’ll want to choose the first result, Sensibo Ac.
Click on the Install button and wait for it to complete.
Once installed, you’ll see the plugin configuration page where you can configure various options for how you want your Sensibo devices to be displayed in HomeKit. But first, the most important step is to go and get an API key for your Sensibo account so the plugin can authenticate as you.
You’ll need to generate a key to be used for HomeBridge. You can have multiple keys for different uses, which is good in the event you need to revoke one service without breaking any others you may be using. In the text box at the bottom enter a name for the key, like HomeBridge, and click Add API Key. Copy the long strings of letters that gets created into the API Key field of the HOOBS plugin.
You can leave the other options as-is and just click Save Changes on the left. HOOBS will restart and you should have your Sensibo devices now visible in the Home app.
While just the API key well get you up and running with default values, you may want to adjust how things work in HomeKit, and this plugin offers a number of optional settings you can add on the configuration page in HOOBS.
By default you’ll get a couple of extra accessories along with the AC, a Fan accessory and a dehumidifer. The later is a representation of the Dry mode you’re AC may have and allows you to activate that setting.
Additionally you can opt to seperate Humidity from the AC device as a seperate sensor, add a button to Sync the AC state for you if it gets out of whack (similar to the Sensibo app), a Climate React toggle switch, and even an Occupancy sensor based on Sensibo’s geopresence functions.
All of these are simply Yes/No options in the HOOBS configuration page, and are fairly self explanatory. Just remember to click Save Changes afterwards.
By making a modest investment in a Homebridge setup you can leverage all the features of your Sensibo Sky device in HomeKit, use it as sensor input for automation rules, and set your AC controls by Siri voice commands, as well being able to ask for the temperature, humidity and settings of the device.
While scheduled rules and geofenced operations are supported in the Sensibo App, being able to manage this all from the Home app along with your other HomeKit devices is far more convenient, and avoids you needing to wrangle with account sharing and multiple Sensibo accounts for other household members.
I’ve also found the Sensibo geofencing to be a little flaky when working with multiple people, so switching that to HomeKit has been a bonus. Of course, on top of those features, you’ll be able to include AC control in your scenes, and automate operations in conjunction with other devices and sensor inputs through HomeKit’s automation rules.
I’ve been using this solution for over a year, and it’s been rock solid, and definitely worth the effort to perform the initial setup.