NJ AIR QUALITY BLOG

Inverter Air Conditioning Units – What Is All The Hype?

ByMarc Silberberg

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Summer Is upon us and that means checking your room air conditioners or central air systems to make sure they are in tip top shape. For those procrastinators, now Is the time to call in your HVAC professional to make sure that all is okay if you are fortunate to have a central air system. For those other folks it is much simpler and less costly if one of your units breaks down and you can either order a new one online or go to the store and pick one up.

We cannot know as consumers when the supply of units will be diminishing so even if your air conditioner system is limited to units please turn them on to check if they are in working order, especially if you leave them in your windows all winter long. In case you do need a new unit there is good news because inverter air conditioners are becoming increasingly popular these days. Some of us may never have heard of such a product so we will attempt to bring you up to date on this not so new option. Inverter air conditioners have been popular in other countries such as India where more than 85% of units sold in 2022 were inverters. In the United States only 10% of central air systems we’re using this type of cooling system. In fact, according to Josh Griffin, a HVAC expert, other parts of the world are way ahead of us in this area of technology and have been using inverter HVAC systems for years. If the U.S. government buckles down on conserving energy and your HVAC system falls below a certain energy efficiency number you may have to switch to an inverter system.

Now, we are not telling you to scare you or anything like that but if you are looking to upgrade, purchase a new system, or just buy an individual unit, inverter HVAC systems could be the way to go. Some HVAC contractors are fighting the trend and will discourage you from buying an inverter system either because of the cost or the fact that those HVAC professionals aren’t yet knowledgeable in this area. Sooner or later all HVAC companies will have to come to terms with recommending inverter systems to their clients.

What are Inverter Air Conditioners?

Many folks are not comfortable with the on and off system of not only individual units but even in central air systems. If it’s very hot in the home, then as soon as the air reaches a certain temperature the system will shut off and then the air warms up and it goes back on. Not only is this annoying to some of us but the on and off sound of the units, whether central or individual can be distracting and disturbing to light sleepers. The part of the air conditioner called the compressor that creates cold air by exchanging the heat from the refrigerant will begin at its full strength until it reaches the prescribed temperature and then shuts off. It will go on again when the room gets warm. This repetition is constant in a standard unit.

In contrast, an inverter unit has more stable temperatures because it is based on directions from microprocessors. There are more variables in this type of unit since the compressor is more innovative. The unit works on speed as well as the temperature of the home so as the home gets cooler the inverter unit will decrease the speed and when it gets warmer the speed of the unit increases as needed. Unlike standard AC units the compressor never totally shuts off so cold air is always circulating and depending on the temperature in the room or house that’s how the unit will work. Josh Griffin compares the inverter air conditioner to a modern light dimmer switch and a conventional air conditioner to the old fashioned on and off light switch. Sometimes you don’t need so much light in a room such as the kitchen since some sunlight may penetrate but you need some extra lighting to check your vegetables for bugs. On a cloudy day you might need more light when you’re frying eggs and want to see exactly the color that a certain particular member of your family prefers.

Your dining room dimmer can change the atmosphere from a formal dinner (less lighting) to a family potluck supper (brighter lighting). Most people would admit that a dimmer is definitely a necessity in today’s homes. A regular AC’s compressor goes on or off depending on the temperature of the home or room if it’s an individual unit. When the room has cooled down to what the thermostat is set, the compressor goes off totally and when the room warms up it goes on again with total disregard for any other variables such as noise and energy costs. The inverter system is more sensitive to temperature changes and slows down and speeds up rather than shutting on and off entirely.

Inverter air conditioners use slower and longer cycles when initiating the power of the compressor. It is a self-regulating system so that the home will not feel the varying temperatures as much as with standard AC systems. The home will enjoy comfortable cooling energy without noticing any major temperature variations.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of an Inverter Air Conditioner?

1: Inverter units cost more initially. For example, an individual inverter unit could cost $600 while a standard model will be $450.

2: If you are looking for a more energy efficient alternative, inverters could be for you. Since in a standard AC unit the compressor keeps going on and off it uses more electrical energy while the inverter can stay more consistent in the middle of the power circle and not turn off. Since the inverter does not use 100% of electricity all the time the energy use is less and could be between 20 and 40 percent less than a conventional unit.

3: As mentioned above, if you are sensitive to the sound of the AC going on and off, the inverter is a much quieter option and will not wake you up in the middle of the night both because of the heat variable in a standard unit and the noise when it turns on. The sound of the inverter is much like the hum of a quiet fridge which folks seem to be more comfortable with.

4: If you are looking for an AC that cools the room quickly, the inverter is a great choice. Some folks, especially in apartments, only turn on their units when they come home from work. This means that when you walk in the door from a splintering hot day you need the AC to cool you off as quickly as possible.

5: An inverter is environmentally favorable since it uses less energy and power.

6: If you are living in a year-round hot climate such as Florida you are constantly troubled by humidity which doesn’t disappear when you enter your home even if you have central air. Since the inverter unit runs all the time at a lesser speed ii will keep humidity low consistently.

7: Although you are paying more for inverters initially, they will be more economical down the road. Air conditioning costs can amount to half of your home’s energy usage and you will ultimately save money in the long run in addition to lowering the carbon footprint of greenhouse gasses containing carbon dioxide.

8: The right sizing is crucial especially with inverter systems. Since inverter ACs are more sensitive to different temperatures, if you purchase a unit that is too small the compressor will always be on full blast which upsets the sophisticated technology of the inverter.

To Buy or Not to Invest in an Inverter HVAC System

Unless we own unlimited funds, we are not running to call a HVAC company to install a new inverter system. However, many of us are wasting lots of money and electricity by running our HVAC systems whether for heating or AC. If you are planning to put in a new system in new construction the question could very well be. How much money do you have to buy and have your new HVAC system installed? If you are looking to replace a window unit and can part with the additional charges, then by all means go for it. For those folks who are taking estimates from different HVAC companies it’s prudent to ask about inverter systems. Spending the extra expense up front will get you more efficiency, quieter machinery and eventually save you money.

After you have researched different HVAC options and decide to go with inverter technology you still might be discouraged by the HVAC company you call for an estimate. Some contractors will not recommend these systems and it might be because they are not acclimated to them yet. It would be diligent for you to find another company at least to speak to before you decide against an inverter system.

Final Words

Most people prefer to go with what’s known and fear the unknown in many of life’s experiences. They would rather not take chances with new AC systems. However, there are other fairly updated AC’s such as mini split units which can double for central air in certain types of dwellings which have become popular. Add to this new technology is the inverter HVAC system which has been surprisingly around since the 1980’s.

For those folks who are looking for a solution to being either cold or hot with their AC, inverters could be the answer. Some folks, especially women, cannot take the freezing temperatures of traditional ACs in addition to the noise. One part of the night a woman can be wrapped up in her winter quilt and in another part of her slumber she will throw the covers off because she is hot. This type of uneven cooling is standard in most homes and can cause friction between family members. Who wouldn’t have an HVAC system that is consistent and that answers to even minor variations in room temperatures? Inverters will more possibly keep the temperature in the individual room or total home constant once the area has cooled down.

With better circulation, the air in your home will become cleaner and the humidity that tends to come up in the summer will decrease as well. This bodes well for people with outdoor allergies who come in from the hot summer heat to a home that’s humidity free with cleaner air. Inverter units come with excellent air filters that remove most of the imperfections which impede easy breathing by allergy sufferers.

If you are keeping your current HVAC system that’s great just make sure to keep it in up to date working order by calling your HVAC specialist sooner than later. Make sure to change your filters often to give you the most efficiency even if you have an older HVAC system.

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