These days it seems like just about anything in your home can be turned into a smart device. This month I’ve covered bulbs and sensors, and even smart blinds. Wrapping up the year then is our favorite recent addition to our abode: Hunter Symphony Ceiling Fans with built-in Apple HomeKit compatibility. Check it out!
Back in 2009 we moved into our current home, a four bedroom split-level with ceiling fans in each bedroom. At the time one of the fans was in need of replacement, so we bought the cheapest we could at the local big box store. The remaining fans all needed replaced for aesthetic purposes, but worked otherwise fine. So we put off changing them out, as the cost was not a necessity, and other updates took priority.
Finally, after waiting, saving, and researching, we finally had the funds and justification for upgrading the ceiling fans. Part of my inspiration was the idea that these fans could become part of our ever-growing smart home. We purchased a set of four brand new Hunter Symphony Ceiling Fans, and went to work!
Swapping out a ceiling fan is not a hugely difficult task, though it can be quite helpful if you grab a friend, as there are certain steps where a second set of arms help immensely. Since we had some other electrical work needed in our home, we ultimately decided to have them installed professionally. Feedback from the installer is that they went in no different than a “dumb” fan, which is to say power, ground, and so forth — all the same wires you’d find in any other ceiling fan. And they attached to the ceiling box just like a normal ceiling fan. Build quality was noted as good by our tradesman, who recognized Hunter as a trusted brand for ceiling fans.
With the Hunter Fans in place, we had to remove some existing Lutron Caseta switches. Our electrician found that the fans did not like the voltage draw or something with the switches. This was fine, as we had wanted to eliminate the switches anyhow. In truth these fans don’t need a wall switch, as they come with their own remote (as shown above). With the remote you can control the lights and the fan, but only so long as the power stays on all the time. Hence we closed the circuit at each switch, and slapped on a cover plate. Then we used the top screw of the plate to retain/hold the bracket for the black controller that comes with each fan.
Although you can setup the Hunter Fans with their app, I opted to use the native iOS Home App instead, to see how it might work. Adding the devices directly to HomeKit as new devices was flawless, though I had to do a WiFi reset on the master bedroom unit before it would appear visible for adding. Once done, all the fans were accessible in the Home app for adjustments and very basic configuration. By default it added both the light AND the fan capability, such that each device shows up twice in total, accordingly.
One thing of note is that you do need to download the Hunter app, if you want to make deeper configuration changes. For example, changing things like the tone feedback requires their app. By default there is a single beep vs triple beep, when you turn the fan/light on or off. Our daughter did not want any noise on her Hunter Symphony, and the native Home app doesn’t have this depth of adjustment — but the downloadable Hunter app does allow for these types of tweaks.
Once you use the native app to configure allowance of light dimming features, which is turned off my default, you’re pretty much ready to go. Everything you need is included, even a set of LED bulbs came with the fans. You can adjust the fan speed in 25% increments, and the bulbs can be dimmed in 10% increments. We have found the two LED bulbs to be more than adequate, even in rooms where prior setups had a three bulb configuration.
As you would expect from a modern ceiling fan, operation is smooth and quiet, with he only real noise you hear being the wind itself pushing up or down. This is most noticed at 75% or 100% speeds, naturally. Compared to the fans this replaced, the Hunter Symphony is far superior, and obviously, far smarter. Even the modest $100 fan in my daughter’s room that had been replaced just 8 years ago pales in comparison to the quiet operation here.
Hunter’s SimpleConnect lineup offers a few color/fan options, though we opted for the same style across the board for all four units here. Some of their fans offer a single bulb, but roughly the same light output. Overall the experience would be the same regardless of which SimpleConnect device you opt for, such that you’re choosing aesthetics only, but the same functionality prevails.
You can use the Hunter app to control the devices, but the native Home app is far superior in every way, other than those deeper settings that I had mentioned. You also can utilize your Apple Watch to turn on or adjust the fan/lights, and of course, Siri works here, too! Because the fan is WiFi based, it also works with Amazon’s Alexa, though that is not a feature set that I tested here, sorry.
In the end, we’re happy to have spent the money for these Hunter fans. It has been great to be able to verify all the fans are turned on to keep air circulation going, even when we are away from home. (Note: your may need an iPad or Apple TV on-site to work as a hub in these cases, typically). It is also great to know that we can turn the fans on remotely, while still ensuring that the lights aren’t on unnecessarily.
If you’re looking to add or replace a ceiling fan, this 2-in-1 combo does a great job aggregating lights and fan into a single, smart device. If you’re dabbling in smart home goods, and a new ceiling fan is on your radar, I’m happy to say these devices are reliable, and worth your consideration!