Air Conditioning Symbols and Modes Explained

Air Conditioning Symbols and Modes Explained

Symbols and Modes on an Air Conditioner

Have you taken a good look at a modern AC thermostat? If your like me, you don’t know what half of the symbols and modes on the air conditioner do.

Chances are, You are sitting on a goldmine of awesome settings if you just knew how to decipher them.

Honestly a thermostat can be confusing to look at and understand how to operate for anyone. So hopefully this brief guide can give you a little bit of the knowledge you need to operate your air conditioning system a little easier.

Air conditioner mode symbols

Some air conditioner mode symbols are very easy to identify but others are far from it. They range from simple fans and raindrops to pine trees in a forest.
How in the world would you ever know what a pine tree symbol on an AC it supposed to represent? Not exactly intuitive.

Fan mode in AC

fan-mode-in-acFan Mode symbol is simply a fan. The fan mode on an AC when set to the “on” position runs the AC fan continuously even when the compressor is off.

A few reasons you may want to use this are:
1.  Helps eliminate hot and cold spots in house. The fan blowing continuously will help move the air and keep the temperature more even as the AC cycles on and off.
2.  Helps thaw a frozen AC out faster.
when you have a problem with the AC freezing over, turn the fan on will help fall out the condenser coils quicker.
3. Air purifiers are installed in the system that need continuous air flow.

Auto mode in AC

auto-mode-in-acAuto mode on the AC, when set to the “on” position turn the fans on automatically when the AC is is in cooling mode.

Benefits of using auto mode on the AC include

  1. Lowers utility bill.
  2. Less humidity. Auto mode allows for the condensation to drain out, rather than be evaporated back into your home.
  3. Fewer filter replacements.

Cool Mode Symbol in AC 

The snowflake is the common symbol for Cool Mode in an AC. Cool mode on the AC is the default mode for an air conditioner.

It is the setting that you want to turn on when you need cool air flowing through your home. To operate simply , make sure that cool mode is on the “on” position and scroll up or down to choose your desired room temperature.

Air conditioner modes explained

Heat mode in AC

heat mode in acHeat Mode on a AC is represented by the Sun.
The heat mode on an AC is the opposite of cool mode.

Central heat and air systems incorporate both air conditioning and heating so that you can have cool air in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Heat mode on the AC operates exactly the way the cool mode does.
Simply place heat mode into the “on” position and scroll up or down to the desired temperature you want the air to be.

Dry Mode symbol in air conditioner

Dry mode on an AC operates the air conditioner as a dehumidifier while it is on. Dehumidifiers reduce the relative humidity inside of a house.

Some reasons you may want to use this setting are:
The weather is muggy but not too hot.

When the humidity is high, the temperature can feel much hotter than it actually is. During these times, dry mode on the AC will increase the comfortability of your home without the ac cooling.

  1. Lower utility bill.
  2. Helps keep condensation off of the windows

Sleep mode in AC

Sleep mode symbol on AC remote is a crescent Moon.
Sleep mode on your AC is an energy saving mode designed to raise the setting of the thermostat gradually while you are sleeping.

While the AC is in sleep mode,  the temperature of the house will rise every hour till the house is 2to 3 degrees warmer than when you went to sleep.

Plasma ion mode in AC

ion-mode-in-acIon mode on an AC turns on a built-in ionic air purifier that disperses plasma ions( ions that have both a negative and a positive polarity) throughout your home.

Reasons that you may want to use the plasma ion setting are.

  1. Reduces airborne bacteria and viruses
  2. Keeps dust out of the ambient air
  3. Improve air quality and reduces airborne household allergens

Turbo mode in AC

Turbo mode on your AC is the mode you want to use when you need the house to cool off quickly.

What it actually does is run your fan on full speed for approximately 30 minutes to move the cool air throughout the house faster.

Turbo mode or “quick cool” as it is found on many thermostats, is the most energy consuming mode on your AC. It’s the equivalent of pressing the gas pedal all the way down to speed up.

Timer in AC

The timer on an AC is used to set your AC to go on or off at a specific time.

When the AC is in auto mode, it goes on and off according to the temperature in the room.
But there are times when you do not want your air conditioner on regardless of the temperature in the room.

The timer on the AC can be used to schedule when you want your AC to come on or turn off.

Some applications for this are:

1.You want your air conditioner to be running a little bit before you get home
2. You have pets.

Tree Symbol on AC Remote

health-mode-in-acThe Tree symbol on a AC remote is Health Mode. Health mode on an AC is similar to ion mode.


 Health mode is put in place to help reduce bacteria and mold inside of your AC. This function not only helps clean the inside of your unit, it helps your unit deliver cleaner air.

Swing mode air conditioner

swing-mode-air-conditionSwing mode is a setting on some air conditioning remotes the controls the flaps on an air conditioner.
This function basically pushes Cool Air one direction then after about 30 seconds pushes it the other direction.

Eco mode in AC

Eco Mode in AC stands For Economy. This is the setting that uses less energy by combining different percentages of fan air and cooled air to achieve comfort in the home and still use less energy. Similar to the economy setting in a modern car, the cooling result is good but not intended to be the best.

FAQ: Understanding Your Air Conditioner’s Symbols and Modes

Q1: What do the symbols on my air conditioner mean?
A1: Air conditioner symbols can range from straightforward to perplexing. You might see symbols like fans, raindrops, or even pine trees. Each symbol represents a different mode or function, such as fan mode, cool mode, or a special feature like a built-in air purifier.

Q2: What is Fan Mode on my AC?
A2: Fan Mode is symbolized by a fan icon. In this mode, the AC’s fan runs continuously to circulate air, even when the cooling function is off. This can help even out room temperatures and assist in defrosting a frozen AC unit.

Q3: What does Auto Mode do?
A3: Auto Mode automatically turns the fan on and off based on the cooling needs of your space, helping to reduce energy use, lower humidity levels, and decrease the frequency of filter replacements.

Q4: How does Cool Mode work?
A4: Indicated by a snowflake symbol, Cool Mode is the default setting for air conditioners, designed to cool your home. Just select this mode and adjust the temperature to your comfort.

Q5: What is Heat Mode?
A5: Represented by a sun symbol, Heat Mode turns your air conditioner into a heater, providing warm air instead of cool.

Q6: Can my AC dehumidify my home?
A6: Yes, Dry Mode operates your AC as a dehumidifier, removing excess moisture without significantly cooling the room. This is ideal for muggy but not overly hot days.

Q7: What’s Sleep Mode?
A7: Sleep Mode, symbolized by a crescent moon, gradually increases the thermostat setting overnight to save energy while maintaining comfort.

Q8: What does Plasma Ion Mode do?
A8: Plasma Ion Mode activates a built-in ionic air purifier, improving air quality by reducing airborne bacteria, viruses, and allergens.

Q9: What is Turbo Mode?
A9: Turbo Mode cools your space quickly by running the fan at full speed for a short period. It’s great for rapid cooling but is more energy-intensive.

Q10: How does the Timer function work?
A10: The Timer allows you to set your AC to turn on or off at specific times, offering convenience and energy savings.

Q11: What is the Tree Symbol on my AC remote?
A11: The Tree symbol stands for Health Mode, which works to reduce bacteria and mold, ensuring the air blown by your AC is cleaner.

Q12: What is Swing Mode?
A12: Swing Mode adjusts the direction of airflow, alternately directing air to different parts of the room for more even cooling.

Q13: How does Eco Mode save energy?
A13: Eco Mode reduces energy consumption by optimally balancing fan air and cooled air, similar to an economy setting in vehicles.

Published by

Dennis Reed

Dennis Reed Owner and Author @