Air Conditioner Efficiency: Inverter Compressor Technology

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When we moved into our home, the builder had already installed our air conditioning unit for our house.  I’ll be the first to admit that, other than when I’m trying to pull the weeds that have crept up around my air conditioner, I don’t think much about it.

A little while ago, one of our Facebook fans brought up the topic of “inverter compressor technology” in air conditioners and how that can result in greater energy efficiency. I looked up how it worked and thought it’d be neat to share this info with everyone again on our blog.  Here’s a quick briefer on the difference between traditional and inverter air conditioners:

Traditional air conditioners use compressors with two settings – on or off. The unit alternates between on and off cycles to maintain your room temperature at your thermostat’s setting. By starting and stopping the compressor repeatedly, the system uses more electricity, wears down its parts more quickly and creates a lot of noise. It also causes your room temperature to fluctuate up and down around your thermostat setting as the system continuously tries to correct itself.

Inverter air conditioners, on the other hand, have what’s called a “variable-frequency drive”. This allows the compressor to work at multiple speeds instead of just being on or off.  Inverter systems detect your current room temperature and either speed up or slow down the compressor to reach your thermostat’s setting. By eliminating the abrupt starts and stops found in traditional systems, inverter air conditioners are able to maintain a constant room temperature and as a result, use less electricity.*

If you’re ready to start shopping for an inverter air conditioner, make sure to consult with a professional on which size unit is right for your home. Purchasing a unit that’s too large or too small for the space you’re cooling will make the system inefficient, and you won’t be saving on electricity.

This technology can also be found in other cooling products, like refrigerators.

In Summary: Inverter compressor technology
(Pros) Energy efficient, helps reduce electricity costs, quieter than traditional a/c units
(Cons) More expensive than traditional a/c units

*Renesas. (2005). Inverter control microcontrollers: Making air conditioners quieter, more energy efficient and capable of fine-tuned temperature control. Retrieved June 23, 2011, from

James Lisbon
James Lisbon

Wow, it seems like a good thing that there is a setting where the compressor can change speeds.   That way it would seem like someone might be able to save on energy.   There seem to be different components in the unit, so they probably all have to work together so that things work right.