I have a window mounted air conditioner that turns on and off by twisting a knob on the front of it, it's not a smart a/c, it's either on or off. It's not always convenient to get up and turn it on or off (for instance in middle of the night).

I was wondering if it would be safe to put it on a switch (light switch controlled outlet or a cord switch)?

I'm just not sure if the unit is likely to do any kind of shutdown procedure or if it just cuts the power when I turn the knob.

  • What's the nameplate amperage on the A/C? – ThreePhaseEel Aug 16 '16 at 17:48
  • @ThreePhaseEel It is 115V, 4.0Amp (the user could not seem to figure out how to comment here so I did this for him/her) – Ben Welborn Aug 16 '16 at 18:48
  • (From the desk of user: 276318) I think I made a mistake by originally posting this anonymously (between that and having no rep), I'm unable to comment, upvote or mark the question as answered. Thanks for the replies, everyone. – Ben Welborn Aug 16 '16 at 21:41

Assuming you're plugging this unit into a standard wall outlet, then just replace the outlet itself with a switched outlet. Better yet, get yourself the infamous "clap on - clap off" controller and you can control it w/o even raising your head off the pillow :-)

But, as Levi warns, air conditioners, to be precise, their compressors, do not like rapid on/off cycling. If you're going to use an external switch, be sure not to turn it on within maybe 10 minutes of turning it off.

  • 1
    Clappers have an average ratting of 200 watts per outlet. Almost every AC unit will exceed that. The OP's AC pulls ~460 watts : NOT RECOMMENDED. However, you are correct; if it has a standard 110v plug, it can be controlled by a standard switch. – Mazura Aug 17 '16 at 0:09
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    Also, the aircon will have very high inrush current, so even worse. – SomeoneSomewhereSupportsMonica Aug 17 '16 at 6:06

Sounds like you could utilize a regular wall receptacle controlled by a wall toggle switch (I would not consider a cord switch).

I would use a heavy duty receptacle and a wall toggle with a higher rating than "standard" (like 20 amp). I do that for household motor loads because they pull an initial inductive load that seems to stress and kill regular lighting toggles and cheap receptacles over time.


The device must account for power cycling when it is first installed or during power outages. The real question is are the components engineered to handle this on a more frequent basis?

Probably, but only the manufacturer could answer this definitively and good luck getting an answer! You might be lucky with an install manual (google the model number) but unlikely.

In the absence of manufacturer specs on this, you could infer that it is OK if the unit does not draw any power when off. Put it on a load sensor, and if there is zero load when the knob is off you should be fine. If it draws power when the knob is off, I wouldn't recommend it.

No electrical sensor? Go to the panel and turn off all breakers except the one with the AC. Unplug everything else on the same circuit. If your meter completely stops, you're all good!

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    I see what you're aiming for, trying to determine if the unit draws any keep-alive current aka vampire load. However those methods will not identify it, because they are not precise enough. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 16 '16 at 18:05

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