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

[box style=”rounded]Air conditioner – ?? – k?ng tiáo
Remote control – ??? – yáo kòng qì
Automatic – ?? – zì dòng
Cool – ?? – zhì l?ng
Dehumidifier – ?? – ch?u sh?
Heat – ?? – zhì rè
Fan Wind – ?? – sòng f?ng
High Wind Speed – ?? – g?o f?ng
Mid Wind Speed – ?? – zh?ng f?ng
Low Wind Speed – ?? – d? f?ng
Set – ?? – tiáo zh?ng
Mode – ?? – mó shì
On / Off – ??? – k?i/gu?n
Wind Speed – ?? – f?ng sù
Wind up/down – ??? – shàng xià f?ng
Economy – ?? – j?ng jì
Time Set – ?? – dìng shí
Blowing Direction – ?? – f?ng xiàng
Sweeping Wind – ?? – s?o f?ng
Cleaning – ?? – q?ng x?n
Display – ?? – shù xi?n
Strength – ?? – qiáng jìn
Sleep – ?? – shuì mi?n
Lighting – ?? – d?ng gu?ng
Cancel – ?? – q? xi?o
Power Source – ?? – diàn yuán[/box]

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.


37 thoughts on “Read Your Chinese AC’s Remote Control”

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

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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!!!

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.


    • 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”.

  7. 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

  8. 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! 🙂

  9. 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!).

  10. 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 🙂


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