Did you ever wish you could just swipe a finger and preheat your plane without driving to the air­port hours ahead of a planned flight? Ever think of how many times in the past you made multiple trips to the hangar to preheat? I sure did. Those miles tend to add up if you fly a lot in the winter, and with my work schedule, winter has been the best time to fly.

Asking around on the forums, I learned the “go to” unit now was the SwitcheOn sold by Gallagher Aviation. I purchased a two-plug model. Four-plug models are also available. I have a steel, insulated hangar and had always suspected that weak Wi-Fi signals had been a problem controlling the prior units our airport’s users had tried. SwitcheOn seems to use a different sig­nal that, I think, is like a cellphone text. In my case, it seems to be the most reliable and simple choice by far.

If you want to know how it works, just go to the website for details. I call it magic – you know – like Bernoulli’s principle of wings creating lift. The SwitcheOn unit has a display showing if a channel is turned on or off, both on the app and on the unit’s display. That makes it a lot easier to check and see if it’s on or if you forgot to turn it off. The app on my phone that controls the unit also gives feedback when the unit responds, always being within a few seconds. Additionally, it gives you the air tempera­ture at the remote unit’s location, which is a nice bonus.

While the SwitcheOn unit has only been used at my hangar up until now, next fall I will use it at my business before it’s needed back at the hangar for the winter. I have a light and an electric motor at my business that I will be able to run remotely using the same SwitcheOn unit. This will save both electricity and time running back and forth to turn them off later at night.

It’s midwinter as I write this, and the more I think about the uses for this remote control, the more things come to mind: Christmas lights, a temperature monitor and light con­trol in the house if you go away for days.

So, what does this cost? It’s $250 for a two-plug unit, includ­ing the first year’s connection fee. After that, it’s $50 per year to extend the service connection. If you already have reliable Wi-Fi, the smart plug method is probably going to be cheaper, but in my case, this was more reliable.

Gallagher Aviation

Jim Curns has been around airplanes since the mid-1960s. After starting a business and a family, he learned to fly. He has owned ultralight, experimental, Cessna, and Piper aircraft.