Hoping to outdo Keen Home at localized temperature control, tech startup Flair will bring a more flexible and more budget-friendly option to the smart air conditioning field. Flair's $40 Smart Vent works with the $60 Flair Puck smart room controller to adjust the temp of the room you're in to your liking.
That's standard for the smart vent systems we've seen, including Keen Home, Ecovent and the Linq Home Smart Vent. Flair hopes to distinguish itself by working with your wider smart home, all major smart thermostats, and even non-central heating and cooling systems. The Flair Puck has an IR blaster, so you can use it to control some window air-conditioning units and mini-split heating and cooling systems.
Flair has an open API, so you can connect it to a variety of smart-home gear on your own if you have the know-how. At launch, it'll have the following integrations built-in:
You won't need the vents if you don't have a central heating and cooling system, obviously. The puck acts as the brain of the system either way, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in as well as the IR blaster.
The puck uses geofencing with your phone and the Flair app for iOS and Android to set the temp accordingly when you come and go, and it uses the Bluetooth on your phone to know if you're in a particular room. This lets it go beyond mere home and away modes, with specific programs depending on who is where in your house.
That all sounds wonderful, but we've had trouble with geofencing before -- on the Quirky Aros window air conditioner for example -- so I'll have to see this room-by-room occupancy function well to believe it. It can also supposedly distinguish between different users and their preferences, but since it doesn't directly control the temp, just talks to the devices that do, I'd imagine it would have trouble being that precise with several different rooms and several different user preferences.
I'm certainly willing to be convinced, though, and all of Flair's promises sound great. I'm a little concerned about its responsiveness. By contrast, competitor Keen Home's vents are a recognized partner of Nest and on the Works with Nest product list. Flair's Smart Vents aren't there yet, they just use Nest's open API and communicate with Nest's cloud, the same way they'll communicate with any other smart product.
A Flair representative assured me the company is working toward Works with Nest certification, but until then, in the case of lost signal, the Puck will simplify things and do its best by talking directly to the vents.
Is it actually cheaper?
The Flair rep also said one Vent will work just fine on its own for a room with a sensitive occupant. Replacing all of your vents would help the system be more robust, but I'd imagine you'd need a bunch of Pucks as well. At that point, the $100 total cost of one Vent plus one Puck per room could actually end up being more than Keen Home's system.
Keen Home's vents are $80 apiece, but have the temperature sensors built in. You need a $40 smart bridge, but only one for the whole house.
The Flair Puck stands out as a unique offering, and an easy way to help those without central systems to smarten up their home's temp. It also has microapps so you can control compatible smart home gear like your Philips Bulbs right from the dial on the Puck. And the Puck senses pressure, humidity and ambient light in addition to occupancy and temperature. But since it's central to the experience of the Vent, it dampens the cost-effective angle.
Whether the Puck helps Flair heat and cool more efficiently, we'll see. US presales on the company's site launch today, with the products shipping this spring. Flair will launch internationally later this year, with the US price for the Puck converting to approximately £45 and AU$90 for our readers in the UK and Australia respectively. The Vent price converts to around £30 and AU$60.