The best remote control for your needs and budget can help take your robot to the next level. These remotes can also be a great tool for DIYers to use to control their favorite appliances.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Remote Control

Before you start shopping for a remote control, there are some important points to know about how they work and what options are available. The following sections will outline these key features of remotes.

How They Work

Remotes can be broken down into two main types: Infrared (IR) and radiofrequency (RF). Each has its own benefits and considerations.

  • Infrared remotes use infrared light to send commands to your TV or set-top box. These remotes typically have either an IR receiver or transmitter and an internal battery that powers the unit. An advantage of using infrared is that it wont interfere with other devices that may be using the same frequency.
  • Radiofrequency remotes operate at higher frequencies than infrared remotes, allowing them to transmit much more data. This type of remote uses a digital signal to communicate with your equipment rather than an analog signal like infrared remotes. A radiofrequency remote usually consists of an internal rechargeable battery and an RF transmitter and receiver.

Battery Type

The majority of remotes on the market today use lithium-ion batteries because they’re lightweight, compact, and highly efficient. However, these batteries can be difficult to find in the smallest and most affordable remotes.

Some models instead use zinc-carbon batteries, which are less efficient but longer lasting. Alternatively, some remotes use a hybrid system that mixes the benefits of both lithium-ion and zinc-carbon batteries.

Size and Weight

When choosing the best remote control for your needs, consider both the size and weight of the device. Remotes can range dramatically in size and weight, so its important to choose one thats appropriate for your needs.

For instance, if you need only a simple remote to push in the back of a couch cushions or attach to a bicycle handlebar, something as small as a couple of inches long and ounces in weight might do the trick. On the other hand, if you need a hands-free operation for your vehicle or want to control multiple appliances from a single remote, a larger model with a heavier weight might be your better bet.

Functionality

Beyond just controlling your television or stereo system, a remote control should also be able to perform other useful functions, such as activating your garage door, starting your car, or operating your lawnmower.

For example, if you live in an area where thieves are a potential issue, you’ll probably want a high-quality lockable remote. Standard locks on most remotes dont stand up to much challenge, but a quality lockable remote can deter would-be thieves.

Programming

If youve ever tried to manually enter a lengthy channel number by pointing at your TV and pressing the buttons on your remote, you know how tedious this can be. Luckily, many modern remotes can automatically detect and fill in the numbers, making programming a lot easier.

However, even with auto-detection, there are still plenty of remotes out there that require you to manually enter each digit of a channel number. For these kinds of remotes, there are programs that can scan for channels and automatically populate a channel list for easy navigation.

Additional Features

While most remotes are designed to simply switch on your equipment and tune to the desired channel, there are a few that come equipped with additional features.

  • Volume controls on a remote allow you to adjust the volume on your stereo or television without having to get up and walk over to the sound system or the TV.
  • One or more lights on a remote can indicate that the remote is working or charging, or provide fault indication when the remote doesnt respond.
  • A built-in timer allows you to program a remote to turn off after a specific amount of time.
  • Memory function on a remote means that it can store up to three different channels or programs for quick access.
  • Operating modes on a remote can include one or more of the following functions: power on/off, timer, memory, scan, and channel up/down.