Hunter is a company known for commercializing ceiling fans over 130 years ago, and today the company is the only firm making smart home ceiling fans that work with Apple HomeKit. Hunter’s SimpleConnect line includes three ceiling fan models available in multiple finishes that are priced from $299.
Each Hunter ceiling fan includes a built-in LED light that makes SimpleConnect a 2-in-1 essential for HomeKit homes. This enables Siri control from Apple devices, Control Center access on iPhone and iPad, automation with other smart accessories through Apple’s Home app, and much more.
After testing Hunter over the last year, any other ceiling fan feels absolutely archaic. HomeKit control lets me turn the fan on and off, adjust the speed, and control the light remotely and conveniently, and I can automate mode switching based on time and location.
The built-in LED light is plenty bright for a bedroom environment (the Signal I tested and Apache include a single 17W dimmable bulb; Symphony includes two 9.8W dimmable bulbs). The fan speed is very impressive with either 50% or 75% ideal for most use (25% is pretty subtle while 100% is very effective at cooling but super fast). You never hear the motor and only the fastest speed creates serious noise from wind.
Hunter initially had connectivity issues with HomeKit that limited control to Hunter’s iOS app and the included remote, but an update back in June totally resolved this issue and HomeKit control has worked flawlessly. HomeKit automation requires an Apple TV (4th gen), Apple TV 4K, or iPad, and remote access through Apple’s Home app requires an Apple TV (3rd or 4th gen), Apple TV 4K, or iPad. SimpleConnect also works with Amazon Alexa, but no Google Assistant support yet.
I tested Hunter by replacing the existing ceiling fan in my master bedroom with the Signal model. This is a great upgrade if you own your home or you’re building brand new, but it’s possible for home renters like me as well with landlord permission as the installation is usually reversible before you move.
I’m computer savvy but I’m no handy man (changing a wall light switch is about my limit), but removing the old fan and installing the new unit took less than 90 minutes thanks to an experienced friend. Check out Hunter’s installation resources for an idea of what to expect.
One tradeoff with SimpleConnect is that the standard installation requires the wall switches for the ceiling fan and light to stay flipped on for remote control. You can cap off the wiring so the switches aren’t accidentally flipped off (this is also how Philips Hue lighting works) and you have a wall-mountable remote control for traditional wall control, but it’s not as elegant as traditional wall switches with on and off.
Even before you get to the benefits of HomeKit, SimpleConnect offers its own out-of-the-box smart features. The included remote lets you turn the LED ceiling light on and off and adjust brightness as well as toggle the ceiling fan between 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100 percent speed.
Hunter’s iPhone app lets you toggle both the light and fan on and off, choose between 10 levels of brightness and four fan speeds. You can also choose airflow direction (down for summer mode, up for winter mode), disable light dimming, and disable audio feedback when changing LED brightness and fan speed.
You can optionally log in to Hunter’s iPhone app to access more features including programming light and fan activities based on time, set separate sleep timers for both the fan and light, and even set the light to turn on and off randomly between evening hours on specific days as a security measure when you’re away.
Personally, I don’t spend much time in the main accessory app as it’s not especially pretty and Apple’s Home app offers the same control using HomeKit.
The real magic of SimpleConnect for me starts with enabling HomeKit. This lets you use Apple’s Home app on the iPhone and iPad to:
- Control light brightness between 0 and 100% with 10% intervals
- Control fan speed between 0 and 100% with 25% intervals
- Group light and fan control with other HomeKit accessories by creating Scenes
- Automate light and fan control based on time of day, location, sensor triggers, and controlling other accessories
Here’s where the 2-in-1 package comes too. HomeKit treats the Hunter ceiling fan as one accessory and the Hunter LED as a separate accessory since is a fan and the other is a light. This means you can turn add HomeKit-controlled lighting to a room without smart bulbs or smart wall switches, and Hunter requires no ethernet hub to operate.
Remote control works with Siri from the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV (fourth-gen or newer) so you can control both the ceiling fan and the ceiling light with your voice. This will also work with the HomePod when Apple’s smart speaker ships next year.
You can also control Hunter from Apple’s Home app on iPhone and iPad. If you set either the fan or the ceiling light as a favorited accessory, you can also access it from Control Center on the iPhone and iPad and in the Home app on Apple Watch. Simply tap to toggle between on and off, and press firmly to access the slider control that lets you select speed and brightness level. You can also change the fan direction from here.
You can optionally group the ceiling light with other HomeKit-enabled lights in your house to control all the lights in one room or throughout your house with a single tile and slider, but I keep mine separate as the master bedroom ceiling light on its own. I have two other HomeKit-connected lamps in my bedroom as well and asking Siri to turn off the bedroom lights will control both the Hunter LED and the two lamps made by another company without any manual grouping.
My absolute favorite part of SimpleConnect is the smart automation features that work with HomeKit.
Using the Home app on the iPhone or iPad, you can create scenes like Good Morning that turn off the ceiling fan, turn on the ceiling light, and even control other HomeKit accessories throughout the house. I also have a Good Night scene that turns the ceiling fan on at 75% speed, turns the ceiling light off if its on, and controls a few other HomeKit accessories.
You can activate scenes conversationally with Siri (just say “Good morning” for the corresponding scene), from Control Center when favorited, and from the Home app from the favorites view or from the specific room view.
Manually activating scenes is a convenient way to control multiple accessories, but setting up an automation is where the real magic happens. You can automate individual accessory control or automate a scene based on:
- location when someone arrives or leaves
- time of day like 10 pm or sunset
- other accessories being controlled
- or when a sensor detections or stops detecting motion
HomeKit and Apple’s Home app let you get creative about which accessories are controlled and when so there are countless ways you can put this to work.
My personal favorite automation using Hunter SimpleConnect and HomeKit is turning on the bedroom ceiling light and turning off the bedroom ceiling fan as part of my Good Morning scene. This works fantastic as an alarm clock and solves the problem of me often finding the bedroom fan on after my wife leaves home for work.
You can be especially creative when you add in other HomeKit accessories like additional lights, thermostats, and presence sensors, but this automation works out-of-the-box as long as you have the an Apple TV or iPad to drive the automation (HomePod will also be able to run automations when it launches).
Hunter offers three models of SimpleConnect ceiling fans with built-in LED ceiling lights and three 54-inch blades:
- Symphony ($299) in matte black, fresh white, or matte nickel
- Signal ($349) in noble bronze, satin nickel (pictured), or matte nickel
- and Apache ($399) in nobel bronze (a matte silver option is sometimes available)
If you’re in the market for a new ceiling fan, you’ll quickly notice that Hunter SimpleConnect models with HomeKit and Alexa are priced surprisingly competitively against basic ceiling fans without smart features.
Any model of Hunter SimpleConnect is an absolutely essential for anyone assembling a totally HomeKit house, and even HomeKit hobbyists can get started with just one unit and gain both a connected ceiling fan and connected ceiling light for a reasonable price.
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