Read Your Chinese AC’s Remote Control

Problem: Chengdu in late autumn was delivering an ice-bath of still air as a group of friends sat in a room that was even colder than outside. Prognosis: the air-conditioner was set to COOL. Upon closer inspection, no one in the room could read the Chinese buttons on the AC remote, which further confused them on the thermostat readings. If you have any worry that this might happen to you, the following information will be of use to you.

note: if you’re using Firefox, install this plugin and you’ll be able to mouse over Chinese characters and see their English translation and pinyin romanization:

Air Conditioner Remote Vocabulary

Air conditioner – 空调 – kōng tiáo
Remote control – 遥控器 – yáo kòng qì
Automatic – 自动 – zì dòng
Cool – 制冷 – zhì lěng
Dehumidifier – 抽湿 – chōu shī
Heat – 制热 – zhì rè
Fan Wind – 送风 – sòng fēng
High Wind Speed – 高风 – gāo fēng
Mid Wind Speed – 中风 – zhōng fēng
Low Wind Speed – 低风 – dī fēng
Set – 调整 – tiáo zhěng
Mode – 模式 – mó shì
On / Off – 开/关 – kāi/guān
Wind Speed – 风速 – fēng sù
Wind up/down – 上下风 – shàng xià fēng
Economy – 经济 – jīng jì
Time Set – 定时 – dìng shí
Blowing Direction – 风向 – fēng xiàng
Sweeping Wind – 扫风 – săo fēng
Cleaning – 清新 – qīng xīn
Display – 数显 – shù xiăn
Strength – 强劲 – qiáng jìn
Sleep – 睡眠 – shuì miăn
Lighting – 灯光 – dēng guāng
Cancel – 取消 – qŭ xiāo
Power Source – 电源 – diàn yuán
A Hisense Remote

A Chinese AC remote control

A note on how thermostats work: you press the up or down button on your remote to choose the desired temperature. If your air conditioner is set to heat mode, it will continue blowing hot air at the wind speed you chose until the room reaches your goal temperature. We found 23 degrees Celsius to be perfectly comfortable for our small room, so we hit up on the remote until the number on the screen read 23. But then the number jumped back down to read 10, telling us what temperature the room currently was. Minutes later it will read 11 and then 12. After the display climbs on past 20 through 21, 22 and finally 23, get ready – the thermostat automatically turns the machine off, waiting for a reading below 23 degrees. With the machine off, heat begins escaping from the room and the room cools down again. Magically, the thermostat in the AC machine detects this and automatically resumes operation. The process repeats to keep us at a perfect 23 degrees.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen somebody say, “Why is it still cold in here?” and then turn their AC all the way up as high as it can go (up to 30 degrees). This doesn’t make the machine work harder. You’ll have to wait for the AC to do it’s job or turn up the wind speed. Equally inefficient is turning the machine off when the room is too hot because no one ever remembers to turn it back on until the room is too cold again. In this case the best option is to examine the number on the units display, telling you what temperature the too-hot-room currently is, and then set the thermostat for one degree lower. The machine turns itself off, and you can go about your TV watching or conversation as it automatically adjusts to keep you comfortable.

In Conclusion

You may notice that your Chinese friends become critical when you shed jackets and sweaters indoors as the temperature rises, citing that because the outside temperature is low you’ll get sick even if your immediate room is warm. Unfortunately, your AC remote will have no effect on them and you’ll have to address the problem verbally.

Any comments or suggestions to share? Leave them below.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

About Reed

Reed has been studying Chinese since 2001. He moved to Chengdu in 2005, and left to work in Yangzhou and Guangzhou, before returning in 2008. He is an entrepreneur in language tutoring and a freelance translator/voice-actor. Reed loves everything Sichuanese, from the cooking to the dialect.

37 Responses to “Read Your Chinese AC’s Remote Control”

  1. So turning up the number doesn’t turn up the heat?

  2. No, it just makes the AC stay on longer. The fan speed is what makes it stronger.

  3. Charlie

    what does 清新 do?

  4. I’m guessing it similar to the fan, but blows air through the heating and cooling parts to clean out the whole system. The e-how site shows how to do it manually.

  5. Very useful, I’ve just de-frosted my room, thank you!

  6. and can you put together a translation for a dehumidifier?

  7. how to make it be cooler and like snow cold plz.. mine is not working properly.

  8. Gracias!!! El verano en Beijing sin esta ayuda hubiera sido imposible! No se en que año de chino te dan este vocabulario jajaja

  9. Thanks so much.

  10. This was quite useful. Thanks!

  11. thanks alot that was really useful

  12. Hello – I am really struggling with my Gree air conditioning remote control – other than the on/off button I have no idea what the others are and my eyesight combined with my lack of knowledge of chinese characters make it really difficult to decipher even with your brilliant help above.

    • Charlie

      Hi Marion,

      The phrases above are pretty standard – that is, you should be able to figure out what is what using the guide above. Regarding your eyesight – try a magnifying glass? Sometimes the characters on remote controls can be very small.

  13. hey, i have a big struggle with unlocking the keyboard and to use the remote control, i have no idea about who locked that remote and i did pressed the – and + buttons simultaneously, but of no use and was useless and that remote still locked up, i pressed the mode button, never came with a result, i am turning so disappointed and helpless, I believe that is what we are getting from China!!!

  14. Hi, Thanks so much for the info.
    My Gree controller is a bit different, but you provided enough characters that I could work out which ones to press with a bit of trial and error.
    I am in Wuhan and it has just got cold.
    Your information was very useful. When I work out how to write in Chinese on my computer I will put my controls on this site.

    thanks again.
    Jo Peebles, an Australian in Wuhan, China

  15. ah!!! finally!! thank you! i was lost! it’s snowing outside and i couldnt figure this out…thank you soooo much!
    im saving this page as a book mark!

  16. Hi Am having a GREE split type air condition and having problem with it cannot cool as i confuse with written chinese writing. I only need step/procedure to make my air conditioner cool.


    • Charlie

      Look for the character 冷. That means cold. Sometimes you’ll have to switch between modes before you see that character illuminated, either on the remote or on the AC unit itself. On some models, they will show a snowflake icon instead of the actual character for “cold”.

  17. Thanks. Saved me on a cold day in China

  18. Thank you so much. I was freezing in here and you saved me!!! 🙂

  19. I mistakely lock my gree ac remote control…I don’t know how to unlock it..and is in chinese language .please help me ..send to me the unlocking key .tanks

  20. Thank you! This was my first lesson in chinese! Now I know one sign: fan. And all my ACs are properly set. Forever indebted. If I run into you in Guangzhou I´ll buy you a beer! 🙂

  21. This is so wonderful, thank you! I’ve been sweating bullets in here because I couldn’t figure out the how to set dehumidify or AC modes (and the only manuals I could find online were also in Chinese!).

  22. Cool (warm), thanks!

  23. Aloha
    Thanks for posting this – much more helpful than my college has been – and better than just guessing LoL

  24. This was quite useful. Thanks!

  25. what does 送风 do?

  26. Thank you, you’re lifesaver. Now my room in Beijing can defrost and hopefully my clothes will dry.

  27. Thanks. Saved me on a cold day in Shenyang

  28. Thank You! I almost froze to death…. Gov’t heat doesn’t turn on for two more weeks! This translation saved me! ?

  29. Thank you so so much! You have saved us on a freezing day in chengdu!!!

  30. I was freezing in my room for the past two days until I came across this.

  31. And for sixteen years I’ve been struggling….
    Because of my fried brain after arrival at a hotel it never came to my mind to do a search on how to operate these things,need a working aircon for that;-)
    Many thanks, i bookmarked this page 🙂


  1. Lost in Translation: AC/Heating Unit | Britney DeAnn's Photo Blog - November 5, 2014

    […] the link for the entire list and share this with all your laowai friends. Here’s my […]

Leave a Reply