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This $20 Gadget Is Already My Summer MVP

I’m forever indebted to the gadget that brought my ancient air conditioner into the 21st century.


The new apartment I moved into several months ago came part and parcel with something very old: a giant, Gold Star air conditioner that, judging by the dingy hue of its plastic body, has likely been on this Earth for about as long as I have. Despite its age, or maybe because of it, it is an effective beast and much larger than the tiny modern window unit tasked with cooling the bedroom. It’s uniquely capable of lowering the temperature of our open floor plan living space. It’s only major flaw is that it has no remote.

For the first few hot days of summer, I hauled myself off the couch and trudged across the room to turn its knobs, groaning all the while, until I remembered the pair of Wyze Smart Plugs I’d purchased for $20 on a whim but had never quite found a use for. And now, as I toggle the power to the AC’s outlet with the Wyze app from the comfort of my couch, I’m confident in calling this little plug the MVP of the summer already.

The Wyze Plug supports devices that draw up to 15 amps and 120 volts, and I wasn’t sure it would be beefy enough for my A/C, whose stats I had trouble scaring up. But the plug has been able to handle this power hungry appliance with ease so far. So far, no issues! In my research, I’ve run across concerns that directly unplugging an AC can be hazardous to its long-term health (as well as some assurances that it’s not), and have decided to take the risk since this bad boy is either invincible or already on its last legs. I may however unplug the daisy chain entirely should I ever leave the apartment for an extended period of time, out of an abundance of caution.

In addition to mere remote control, the setup affords me a few extra advantages. The Wyze app automatically tracks the amount of time a given outlet spends on, which makes it easy to track exactly how much we are using this power hungry beast. The Wyze app also has the ability to set scheduled off and on times, which I haven’t bothered to set up yet, but may yet mess around with.

If you’re contemplating a similar solution to a similar problem, there is one additional caveat: this most likely won’t work with newer units. Anything new enough to be controlled by built-in electronics instead of a purely mechanical knob is not likely to boot up when its outlet flicks off and on. Though it is also probably new enough to have its own actual remote.

But if you’re situation is anything like mine, this $20 hunk of plastic will be worth its weight in gold.

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