Only a few hundred years ago, no-one would have dreamed that you could control something without even touching it. A remote control would have been regarded as an instrument of black magic or witchcraft. Nowadays, they’re so commonplace that it’s not unusual to have at least half a dozen different remote control devices around the house. Your air conditioner remote is a godsend in the hotter months of the year, allowing you to easily adjust the temperature with minimal effort. You tend to take it for granted…until it stops working. Knowing how to differentiate between air conditioner remote controls that you can fix yourself and ones that need expert help can save you money, and possibly your life.
How air conditioner remote controls work
Most air conditioner remote controls rely on infrared technology (IR). A remote control emits pulses of infrared light and those pulses are detected by a receiver, usually situated on the air conditioning unit itself. The infrared beams of light are invisible to the naked eye. The limitation of infrared technology is that it can only be used over a relatively short distance and in the line of sight. An IR remote control device won’t work if there’s an object blocking the beam. The signal can also be disrupted due to the presence of other types of electronic equipment in the same room.
Like any electronic device, there’s ample opportunity for things to go wrong and for problems to arise with your remote. Here’s some of the common problems:
Common air conditioner remote control problems
There are a number of common problems that arise with air conditioner remote controls.
Battery problems and their impact on your display
Most air conditioner remote controls are battery-operated. It’s inevitable that your batteries will go flat at some stage. Unfortunately, it’s usually at the most inconvenient time, and when you’re relying on your air conditioner the most. Generally speaking, you can tell if your remote control has flat batteries because it will not have a working display.
Alternatively, a battery problem can be present if the display appears faded or the air conditioner is slower than normal to respond to its signal when you push a button. Replacing the batteries is your first port of call in tracing and potentially solving the problem. It’s also the cheapest solution!
You should change your air conditioner remote control batteries regularly. To do so, you’ll need to have the correct batteries available (usually AAA or AA) and replace them correctly (so that they’re pointing the right way) before re-fitting the battery cover. All batteries in the remote control should be replaced at the same time.
If you’re unsure as to the location of your batteries in your remote control, you should consult your user manual. Some remote controls have the battery compartment at the rear of the device, whilst others have a battery compartment that’s well-concealed beneath a sliding cover on the front of the device.
If you’ve replaced the batteries in your air conditioner remote control with fresh batteries and that doesn’t solve the problem, it may be a symptom of something more serious at play. That’s when it’s time to consider getting a professional involved. It may be that your remote control has developed a problem that has adversely affected the infrared signal to and from the receiver. This can occur if the remote control has been dropped onto a hard surface or otherwise damaged.
If your air conditioner remote is hardwired as opposed to battery-operated, you need to exercise extreme caution. Only a qualified professional should attempt to dismantle it. You could risk electrocution if you try to do it yourself.
Error codes in air conditioner remote control displays
If your air conditioner remote control is displaying an error code or a fault code, you need to pay immediate attention. It’s giving you a vital clue as to the existence and nature of a problem that it’s detected. Often, error codes are displayed as a number. You can usually interpret the code by referring to your user manual in the troubleshooting section.
Modern air conditioner remote controls are quite complex pieces of electronic equipment. They’re designed to protect you in the event of a more sinister problem. For that reason, the remote control may appear to have ceased to work. The reality is that there is a fault somewhere in the air conditioning unit that requires immediate attention. If your air conditioner remote control has ceased to work, it could be because there is a mechanical or electrical problem associated with your air conditioning unit and it’s protecting you from that fault. That kind of fault can potentially cause damage to the air conditioning unit or a fire. It could even be a problem that could potentially expose you to a risk of electrocution.
Moisture and air conditioner remote controls
Like any electronic device, an air conditioning remote control isn’t particularly fond of moisture. If you’ve got young kids, you’ve probably experienced first-hand the attraction that remote controls hold for them. Chances are you’ve even discovered your remote, phone, keys or other important objects in the toilet bowl. Naturally, water and remote controls don’t mix.
Even if you don’t have young children, your air conditioner remote can be damaged if exposed to moisture. This can commonly occur if you spill a drink on the same surface that your remote control is sitting on. If your remote control gets wet, you should remove it from the source of moisture as quickly as possible and dry the outside of the device. Remove the batteries and tip out any liquid from the inside of the remote control. You can dry any visible signs of moisture with a hair dryer on a cool or just-warm setting. Some suggest packing the remote control in a paper bag of dry rice to absorb any liquid. You should leave it in a warm, dry environment for several days before reassembling the remote control and attempting to use it. If you’ve allowed sufficient time for your remote control to dry out, you re-assemble it and it still doesn’t work, you may need to replace it.
Replacing your air conditioner remote control
If your air conditioner remote control has passed the point of no return and needs to be replaced, you really should consider obtaining a genuine replacement as opposed to a cheaper and inferior generic or universal remote control. The reason for this is that you need to avoid voiding your warranty by using a remote control device that’s not approved by the manufacturer.
Operator error – Getting your air conditioner remote control settings right
Many problems associated with air conditioner remote controls are actually caused by operator error. In other words, unfamiliarity with the buttons and functions. If you’re in the habit of only using a few of the buttons on your air conditioning remote control then you’re not getting your money’s worth from your air conditioning unit. You’re probably missing out on the benefits that come from familiarity with its full range of functions and settings. They could include the following:
• A timer so that you can set your air conditioner to come on or switch off at a particular time.
• A button or buttons that allow you to control the intensity of the airflow (and noise) from your air conditioner.
• Humidity control, which extracts moisture from the room.
• Buttons controlling the blades or flaps on the air conditioner which consequently affect the direction of the airflow.
• A button relating to the motion-detecting capability of your air conditioning unit so that the unit turns off when there’s no-one in the room so as to save energy
• Other functions that assist in maintaining the energy efficiency of your air conditioner.
Inadvertently pushing the wrong button or pushing buttons on the remote control in the wrong sequence can cause problems. Reading your air conditioner user manual is the best way to familiarise yourself with all that your air conditioner is capable of and how to use it properly.
If you’re experiencing problems with your air conditioner remote control, help is at hand. Contact our friendly and responsive team at H & H Air Conditioning on (07) 3276 1800 in Brisbane or (07) 5477 1777 on the Sunshine Coast.