by Gerry Wagner
Wireless control versus wired: As a proud Homo troglodyte (caveman), I thought that there was no debate…who wouldn’t want another wireless remote? Come on! A hand-held device the size of an eyeglass case that controls the climate in which you dwell … what could be wrong with that?
Well, maybe not a whole lot, but what if it’s not where you dwell but rather where you work (I’m talking pre-COVID of course when most of us went to an office building). A wireless remote could, and would get hoarded by the office “control-freak” (no pun intended) and end up in the possession of a singular employee with only selfish intentions.
My experience has been that most business owners and building owners prefer the wired controller for any number of reasons; none the least of which is the office nudge who will take a wireless control home with them every evening to insure no one can change their comfort setting.
There is one employee in most companies who has always preferred the wired controller option and it is the IT (Intellectual Technology) guy or gal. They understand better than most, the need to keep the tools of their trade (computer servers) cool even when it’s snowing outside. They can ill afford a wireless remote getting lost and / or being hijacked and temperature settings changed, either intentionally or otherwise, compromising their technology systems in turn, potentially losing precious data.
Rental property owners who pay utility costs often want a traditional wired controller so they have singular control over setpoint temperatures so that the tenant in apartment 3B can’t set the controller to 62°F all summer long and 80°F all winter long. The GREE wired controllers all have a “privacy lock” feature to prevent unauthorized access to the controls and tampering with system settings.
But are there any compromises or trade-offs when choosing one controller over another?
The GREE wireless controllers all offer a unique feature that the wired controllers do not and that is the I FEEL feature. This feature allows the remote control to be used as the indoor temperature sensor as opposed to the thermistor, internal to the high-wall mount, universal mount, console and ceiling cassette indoor units.
Frankly, I like this feature better as a diagnostic tool rather than a homeowner bell and whistle. I use the example of Mrs. Gillacuddy’s indoor unit which is not operating until we put the unit in the I FEEL mode … clearly indicating to me a faulty indoor air temperature thermistor (F1 error
code). The problem I have experienced with homeowners using the I FEEL option is they press I FEEL and then put the wireless remote in their pocket … and now what is it sensing? DON’T BE FRESH!
Although the I FEEL feature is unique to the wireless control, all the GREE wired controllers have an IR (Infra-red) receiver that allows the wireless remote to be utilized (I FEEL feature included) when paired with a wired controller … so, no trade-off there.
A common question from homeowners is, “can I program my GREE mini split for different setpoint temperatures when I’m at work and at night while I’m asleep as well as different settings for weekend?”
The answer is not with the wireless controller alone. The wireless controller unto itself, is not programmable however, when paired with a wired controller as described earlier, the wireless controller can be paired with a XK76 wired controller for full 7 day programmability.
The only clear advantage I have found from a function / feature standpoint that the wireless has over the wired controller is WiFi. Currently the GREE product here in the US, WiFi is only available with wireless controllers (and the addition of the WiFi kit with certain high-wall mount indoor units).
You may remember in my March, 2019 edition of this column I questioned the need for WiFi, facetiously equating it to putting a Pop Tart in a microwave oven because 60 seconds in a conventional toaster is just too long to wait.
Well, no matter what I think, the market has demanded WiFi capability and GREE has met that demand but only with the wireless control … but not so fast!
The new, soon to be released GREE XE72 wired controller will have WiFi capability.
So, the answer to the question of wireless versus wired is based more in application than features. Once you scratch below the surface, the features available in both GREE wireless and wired controllers are similar … some require a pairing of the two but neither having a clear advantage until you look at the application in which they will be utilized.
Currently GREE offers four different wired controllers, soon to be five with the XE72.
The caveman in me will always gravitate to the seemingly magical ability of the wireless control; but the Homo sapiens in me recognizes the need for the wired control.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gerry Wagner is the Vice President of HVAC Technical Training for Tradewinds Climate Systems. He has 38 years in the HVACR industry working in manufacturing, contracting and now training. You can contact Gerry by email: firstname.lastname@example.org and also please visit our website: www.twclimate.com
by Gerry Wagner