Air Conditioner Modes Explained in Detail

Without the modes of operation, an air conditioner cannot function. The modes help you select the type of operation from the air conditioner at any given time. This article explains air conditioner modes and when to use each one.

Air Conditioner Mode Explained

The following are operation modes you will typically find on an air conditioner, and what each one does:

1. Cool Mode

This operation mode is, perhaps, the most common of all of them. Most people purchase an air conditioner for the primary reason of cooling a house. Any other function is secondary or supplementary. Therefore, the Cool Mode is the most used one in an air conditioner.

When you press the Mode button on the remote control, the modes will appear and you can flip through until you find Cool. Set the temperature to a point a few degrees lower than the room temperature and select the fan speed. The compressor and fan will turn on and run at high speed until the internal temperature drops to the preset point.

2. Fan Mode

You get no cooling function in this mode because the compressor does not run. Only the fan circulates air; it is also called the ventilation mode of operation. It works best if the room is already cool but you need to keep the air circulating. One upside of the mode is that it saves energy since it does not need the compressor to function. 

But if you need to cool the room, the fan alone will not do the job, and that means turning on the compressor. As with the Cool operation mode, select the Fan mode using the Mode button. However, it is crucial to adjust the fan speed if you have not already done so. Set the fan speed using the Fan Speed button.

3. Dry Mode

This mode reduces the amount of humidity in a room. It works in much the same way as a dehumidifier does, and is ideal for humid areas or the monsoon season. The Cool operation mode does a lot in cooling the air, but it cannot efficiently reduce humidity, not like the Dry mode.

Press the Mode button on the remote control and select Dry. in this mode, the cooling function operates but stops at a certain point. After that, it does not provide additional cooling. Also, you cannot adjust the fan speed once you set the mode. It must continue running at a preset point until you choose another mode of operation.

4. Heat Mode

In this mode, the air conditioner reverses the cooling function. The air handler produces air to warm the room gradually while the outdoor condensing unit releases cool air. Not every air conditioner has this function; you must have a heating and cooling unit for the function to work. And those that do have it may only be in a supplementary measure.

The mode may be more economical in use than a heater when it comes to power consumption because it does not consume as much power as a typical heater. However, it may not provide enough warm air when the weather is icy. So in this case, a heater may be more beneficial.

5. Energy Saver Mode

In some air conditioner brands, it goes by the name Eco Mode and its function is to help conserve energy. But while the basic function is the same in all air conditioners, the mechanism may differ from one brand to another.

Once you select the mode on your air conditioner using the remote control or control panel, the air conditioner will run until the room temperature drops to a certain level. The compressor and fan will go off, which serves to keep energy consumption to the lowest point. Typically, the compressor goes off when the room becomes cool, but the fan keeps running. However, in this mode, the fan and compressor go off.

After some time, the fan resumes running to enable air intake. That way, the air conditioner can determine the current room temperature. If it is no longer as cool as it should be, the thermostat turns on the compressor again and the cooling cycle resumes.

6. Turbo Mode

The Turbo Mode is pretty helpful on hot days. It sets the air conditioner temperature as low as possible to help the unit achieve cooling within a short time. Different brands have different names for it; some call it Jet Cool or Jet Mode, some call it Power Chill, while others call it Quick Chill. Your user manual will let you know the name if it is not immediately clear.

If your air conditioner is the inverter type, the Mode will work by pushing the unit a little beyond its regular limit. For example, if your air conditioner is a 2-ton type, the Turbo operation mode makes it work as if it is 2.2 tons. In other words, it cools the room quicker than the usual cooling function.

However, if the air conditioner is not the inverter type, the mode of operation may not be so effective. The thing is, the Turbo function takes the air conditioner to the lowest cooling point, which maybe 17 or 18. Your air conditioner will eventually reach that point if you set it correctly. But it will not make the room colder; it will only take it to the coldest point in a shorter time.

7. Sleep Mode

This name is a general indication of what the mode of operation does across all brands of air conditioners. But you may find it bearing different names. Be aware that the basic function is the same. If your air conditioner has the Sleep operation mode, selecting it allows the unit to turn itself off gradually. It works best at night.

So, how does it work? The function allows you to set an increment time on the air conditioner for when you sleep. The unit will automatically increase the set temperature by one degree using the increment time you set until it goes off.

The thought behind it is that the outside temperature tends to get cooler at night. So, you will not need the air conditioner running at some point. Therefore, you use the unit but set it to turn off the more the night wears on so that you do not have to get up and turn it off manually. Not only does the function give the room a comfortably cool temperature while you sleep, but it also conserves energy and keeps you from being woken from your sleep.

8. Quiet Mode

Not all air conditioners have this function; otherwise, there may be no need to muffle the sound of a noisy air conditioner. However, if your unit has the function, it slows the running speed of the fan and compressor so that they do not make a lot of noise. Bear in mind that the function becomes effective only after the temperature in a room drops to the preset temperature on the thermostat.

9. Auto Mode

Manya air conditioner brands and types have this operation mode, where the air conditioner runs to achieve the set temperature. When it does, the function maintains that temperature. What it does is change the fan speed and compressor power to ensure the room temperature drops. Then, it may turn off the fan and compressor to help conserve energy consumption until the temperature rises again.

10. Follow-Me Mode

Some air conditioners have a function that allows the flow of air to follow you to any corner of the room. It may vary from one air conditioner to another; some have a sensor that detects human presence so that the airflow channels directly to you to avoid warm spots. Others have remote controls with sensors that draw the airflow to the corner of the room where the remote is.

Brands and models may have a few other modes that differentiate them from others. But they are the exceptions that the user manual for the particular brand will explain. This list contains the modes of operations that almost every air conditioner uses and what they do.

Air Conditioner Modes Symbols

The symbols that represent the modes of operation in an air conditioner are pretty self-explanatory. When you select a mode, the display on the remote control or control panel will display the corresponding symbol. This article lists the symbols with the appropriate descriptions.

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Air Conditioner Heat Mode Not Working – Quick Fix

If you find that the Heat operation mode in your air conditioner is not working, first, ensure it has the heating function. Not every air conditioner has it as some have only the cooling function. But if it does, yet it is not working, the heater may be broken, the mode setting may be wrong, the air filter may be too dirty, or there are other issues.

To begin, check the user manual of the air conditioner to see if the unit has both the cooling and heating function. If it does, check the mode setting. It may be that you choose the wrong mode. Press the Mode button until you select Heat. Then, give the unit some time to run.

If the heating function does not begin working, the problem may stem from a faulty heating element. Place a piece of paper in front of the air intake grille and see if it is pulled inwards. If it is, go to the vents and put your hand there; you should feel warm air coming out, no matter how little. 

Warm air tells you the heating element is working, but the outside weather may be too cold to allow for proper heating. But if there is no warmth at all, the heater may be broken. Contact an HVAC technician to check the unit and repair possible damages.

Sometimes, a dirty air filter restricts the flow of air from the air conditioner. Other times, it may be that the vents are not fully open or something is obstructing them. So, remove the filter and clean it, ensuring to do the same every month. If the filter is old, replace it. Also, clean the vents and ensure nothing is blocking them. If the problem persists, your air conditioner needs servicing. Contact the manufacturer or hire an independent technician for further assistance.

Which Mode Is Best for an Air Conditioner in Humidity?

The Dry mode of operation is the best to use when the air is humid; some also call it the dehumidifier mode. While the Cool mode operates much the same as the Dry mode, the difference is that the room does not lose as much humidity when in Cool mode as when in Dry. Also, the cooling function works better when in Cool mode.

The air conditioner acts as a dehumidifier when you set it to Dry. It draws the moisture in the air towards the unit, pulls it inside, and causes it to flow naturally to the evaporator, from where it flows into the drain pan and out of the unit. It is much like getting a glass of cold water on a hot day; condensation forms outside the cold glass when warm air comes in contact with it. Eventually, it will drip off the glass.


The modes of operation in an air conditioner give it its functionality. With them, you can change how the unit operates at different times of the day and year. In this article, we have explained the most common operation modes, but you may find uniques ones in different brands. Consult the user manual for an explanation of each unique mode and what it does. And if a mode stops functioning as it should, contact the manufacturer or hire an HVAC technician to service the unit.

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