Urgent Alert

SmartAC™ switch device technical overview

Technical information for HVAC contractors

Device is the property of PG&E. Tampering with or disabling the device is prohibited by PG&E. For additional information, please call 1-866-908-4916.


Device may not allow air conditioner compressor to produce cool air for up to five minutes after power is restored to the air conditioner and load control switch.

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How does an LCS work?

Each air conditioner naturally cycles on and off to maintain a set temperature in the home. The Eaton LCS cycling device is a timer and switch used to manage the operation of air conditioning compressors on conventional residential systems, small commercial split systems, and package units/heat pumps.


The device cannot turn on an air conditioner. It can only open the circuit and keep the thermostat from turning on the air conditioner with the intent to manage/reduce electricity demand during peak load periods.


The utility meter sends a Zigbee radio frequency signal to the LCS. This establishes the maximum 30-minute runtime period for the device.


The air conditioner will continue to run during these high usage periods, but use less energy.


The device incorporates a circuit board and Zigbee communications module enclosed in a water-tight, high-impact poly-carbonate box. This box is usually installed near the air conditioning compressor. This device functions with central air conditioning systems and is not designed for window-style or small space units.


What happens when LCS devices are used?

Pacific Gas and Electric’s SmartAC Program helps manage electrical consumption during periods of peak load capacity from May to October. It also helps reduce the need to operate more expensive and less efficient powerplants. By easing the demand on the power grid, SmartAC customers can help keep California’s energy clean while keeping power reliable.

  • Pacific Gas and Electric will install a device known as an LCS (Load Control Switch) on or near a customer’s air conditioner or heat pump system. During periods of high demand, usually the hottest days from May through October, Pacific Gas and Electric may call an “event”. This means Pacific Gas and Electric will cycle your air conditioner or heat pump compressor off for defined intervals. The indoor fan will remain on circulating already cooled air. The SmartAC program is 100% voluntary.*

*The device contains a customized adaptive algorithm that realizes the run time of a compressor. When an event is called by the utility, the LCS will allow the compressor to run for a predetermined percentage of time for each hour the event is in progress. For example, Pacific Gas and Electric is using 50% true cycle strategy for single-family residences. This means the air conditioner will cycle in 15-minute increments during the predetermined period—50% on and 50% off. If the air conditioner is running 50 minutes of every hour, the device will allow the air conditioner to run a total 12.5 minutes every half hour. The device protects against short cycling and ensures compressor cool down requirements are met.


This device is a Load Control Switch (LCS) manufactured by Eaton. Eaton provides technology hardware and software solutions to electric utilities across the United States and Canada for the management of peak load capacity. The LCR6200Z communicates via Zigbee with the SmartMeter installed at the customer’s home.

Read a fact sheet about the Eaton LCR6200Z (PDF)

LED indicators and operation:

  • Load status - Red
    • LED off: load is not being controlled; appliance can run
    • LED on: load is being controlled; appliance cannot run
  • Network status - Yellow
    • LED off: No Zigbee network
    • LED blinking: Scanning for Zigbee network
    • LED on: Zigbee radio is connected to Zigbee network
  • Opt-out status - Green
    • LED off: switch is out of service or power disconnected
    • LED on: switch is in service and ready to receive control message

Eaton warning label:

Eaton warning label: There are no light indicators on the Eaton label.

This device is a Load Control Switch (LCS) manufactured by Tantalus, formerly Energate. The LC2200 communicates via Zigbee with the SmartMeter installed at the customer’s home.


Read a fact sheet about the Tantalus LC2200 (PDF)

Tantalus light indicator and warning label:

Tantalus light indicator and warning label

Does the switch affect servicing of the air conditioner or heat pump?

The installation of the SmartAC switch does not complicate the servicing of an air conditioner or heat pump. HVAC units function normally when the device relay is in its closed position.


What to do when replacing the AC unit?

If the AC must be replaced, disconnect the red, black, and yellow wires at the compressor contactor. The flexible conduit can then be removed from the old AC unit. Leave the conduit hanging from the bottom of the device. When the AC unit change-out is complete, please call the SmartAC program at 1-866-908-4916 for a disconnect/reconnect.


Does the device affect the wear on the contactor?

The compressor contactor connects the 240-volt supply to the compressor and causes it to start. The thermostat controls the compressor contactor by putting 24 volts on the coil of the contactor. When the thermostat detects the need for cooling, it connects 24 volts to the relay coil of the compressor contactor, causing the relay to close its contacts. Compressor contactors are simply relays that have been adapted for this purpose. Most compressor contactors are rated for at least 100,000 operations over the 10- to 15-year life of the compressor. The device reduces the number of compressor contactor closures/openings by a small amount. It does not impact the life of the contactor.


What happens if the electronics in the device fail?

The device has a normally closed relay that is wired in series with the thermostat. If the electronics in the device fail, the relay will return to its closed position and the air conditioning unit will operate normally.