Can’t afford a smart fan or purifier? This smart home hack levels up dumb devices

amazon air quality monitor
(Image credit: Future)

When regular devices just don’t cut it, smart fans and purifiers are an excellent way to beat the heat and keep the air quality in your home at a healthy level. 

Whether it’s managing the temperature or purifying the air, these smart devices mean you'll have far fewer hands-on interactions with your air quality devices. 

Smart ideas

This is the first in a regular series of articles exploring smart tech that exists to make your life easier. Read them all here.

Some of the best fans and best air purifiers are smart devices that allow you to set timers or integrate with smart assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant to provide further smart features.

This includes controlling your fans and purifiers remotely so your home is nice and fresh when you arrive, or reacting to environmental conditions without you needing to step in.

However, they can be pretty pricey devices, and you may well have a perfectly good fan at home already you don't want to go to waste. That's where smart devices can help retrofit your home appliances.

 Smart vs. retrofit dumb

I’ve currently got a Dyson Hot+Cool Formaldehyde, but it’s fairly expensive. Plus, as my apartment has water ingress and has really struggled to handle the extreme temperatures (relative to the UK’s climate, at least) in recent months, I need multiple fans to keep the flat feeling as fresh as possible. 

Buying multiple smart fans isn’t exactly in my budget, and annoyingly the Hot+Cool Formaldehyde won’t actually turn on automatically when low air quality or high temperatures are detected. So, to help keep cool, I thought I’d try to smarten up my dumb fan.

Meaco 1056P fan in bedroom

(Image credit: Future)

First up, you’ll need an air quality monitor. There are quite a few of these available online, but the only one I can personally vouch for is the Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor. It’s petite, and its simple design means it won’t stick out in your home – plus, it integrates seamlessly with Alexa, which is my current smart assistant of choice. Everything from setup to air quality tracking can be handled in the Alexa app, and you can set up routines based on the readings from this neat little device.

If you've got a smart fan or purifier that just isn't reactive to air quality changes in your home, that's all you'll need for this retrofit, but for those with fully dumb fans, this is where the second part of this hack comes in - the smart plug. 

It’s worth noting, you’ll need a fan or purifier that turns on as soon as it’s powered or has a toggle button you can leave pressed down – many radial fans still use these. This means when the automation triggers the smart plug to turn on, the device will start operating without needing any manual intervention.

All you need to do now is plug in your fan or air purifier to the smart plug and set it up in your smart home ecosystem, then set up an automation to turn on the device whenever the air quality monitor detects high temperatures or low air quality and you’re all set. 

Tapo P125M smart plug with LED button on left hand side

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Outsmarting your dumb fan

You can regularly get smart plugs on the cheap, especially during annual sales like Prime Day and Black Friday, but generally speaking, they’re no more than $25/£20/AU$30. It’s a good idea to look at multipacks, too, if you’re planning on setting up a full-blown smart home; there are lots of creative ways you can make use of them. Including an air quality monitor, this little hack should cost less than $100 / £100 / AU$100.

Since I started automating my air quality management, there’s been a marked improvement in my health. I’m sneezing far less often, and spending less time battling with various fans and apps just to manage my home.

Considering many smart fans and purifiers will set you back considerably, this solution could end up saving a whole lot of money - plus, it’s less wasteful than throwing out your dumb devices! 

Josephine Watson
Managing Editor, Lifestyle

Josephine Watson (@JosieWatson) is TechRadar's Managing Editor - Lifestyle. Josephine has previously written on a variety of topics, from pop culture to gaming and even the energy industry, joining TechRadar to support general site management. She is a smart home nerd, as well as an advocate for internet safety and education, and has also made a point of using her position to fight for progression in the treatment of diversity and inclusion, mental health, and neurodiversity in corporate settings. Generally, you'll find her watching Disney movies, playing on her Switch, or showing people pictures of her cats, Mr. Smith and Heady.