If you thought that your conventional air conditioner was the only means of cooling your home effectively, an inverter air conditioner may have you second guessing your existing unit. Designed with efficiency in mind, inverter air conditioners not only maintain a comfortable temperature throughout your home, but they do it far better than a conventional unit. Though they may sound too good to be true, they’re really quite simple and that’s precisely why you’ll be seeing a lot more of these efficient units popping up in the future. To showcase exactly how inverter air conditioners differ from your traditional unit, we can break it down in a few ways.
Inverter air conditioner technology first made its debut in North America in the form of ductless mini-split air conditioners and eventually heat pumps, but quickly made its way into conventional air conditioning and heat pump systems. Within the market of air conditioners and heat pumps, inverter systems are considered to be some of the most efficient, even comparable to the efficiency of geothermal heat pump systems.
In some cases, inverter technology even beats geothermal. For those unable to create the trenching and wells needed for a geothermal system, inverter air conditioners, and heat pumps are the next best thing. Of course, the climate should be considered for practicality. In northern climates, for example, an air source heat pump may not function as well unless it’s designed specifically for cold weather.
How They Work
Much like a variable speed furnace, inverter air conditioners adjust their power to meet the minimum requirements necessary to cool your home. This way, no extra energy is wasted.
A typical conventional air conditioner will begin its cycle at 100% capacity until the internal temperature of your house reaches the temperature selected on the thermostat. Once this is complete, it will shut off until the temperature needs to be adjusted again. This can happen typically anywhere between 4 and 7 times within a 24 hour period on a particularly hot day.
An inverter air conditioner works differently. Unlike a conventional air conditioner, one with an inverter will cool down your home and maintain the temperature by running at a fraction of the capacity; just enough to keep the temperature consistent. This prevents the start-and-stop cycle that a traditional air conditioner suffers from and allows for much more efficient cooling.
When a traditional air conditioner begins and ends its cycle several times a day, it can have a negative impact on efficiency. For the unit to go from 0 to 100 multiple times a day it requires a great deal of power each time and that can show up on your energy bills.
In contrast, inverter air conditioners require much less power after they cycle on to keep the temperature consistent. Though it may seem like they would be more wasteful considering they’re running for much longer, it actually takes less power to keep it on then it does to stop and start again at 100% capacity like a traditional AC unit.
Think of it like two cars. Your traditional air conditioning unit is like a car moving on a city street full of stop lights, while an inverter air conditioner is like a car on a freeway—no stops required. The city street means a car will constantly be stopping and accelerating, wasting gas and energy. The car of the freeway, however, does not need to stop for lights or signs but can adjust its speed in order to make the trip most efficient. This is how traditional air conditioners run compared to inverter units. By slowing things down, an inverter air conditioner can save energy and leave your home feeling cool and comfortable.
Inverter vs. Conventional
Not only do conventional air conditioners and heat pumps drain power, but they can also provide uneven temperatures in your home. Because of the constant starting and stopping, certain areas of your house may not get the cool air it needs, leaving warmer spots, typically those furthest away from the vent. They can also be quite noisy, as the kicking in of the unit can be quite noticeable in an otherwise quiet home. An inverter air conditioner running in the background, however, is much quieter and not at all jarring.
In a head to head contest between conventional air conditioners and inverter air conditioners, inverters win every time. They not only provide consistent temperatures that leave your home feeling comfortable, but they do it quietly and efficiently. In this case, less truly is more.