Are Inverter Air Conditioners Worth the Cost?
According to the Consumer Energy Center, nearly half of that utility bill you receive every month pays for heating and cooling your home. That explains why homeowners are always looking for new ways to cut down on those costs. In 1980, Toshiba developed the inverter air conditioner. Proponents claim this technology enables these units to save 30 to 50 percent on a home’s cooling costs. However, inverter air-conditioners can be considerably more expensive than traditional air conditioning. That raises a pair of questions: How do inverters work and are they worth the cost?
How inverters operate. Traditional air conditioners have only two speeds for the compressor: maximum and off. As a result, these units cycle on and off regularly in order to first reach, and then maintain, a desired temperature. By adding a variable frequency valve, inverter air conditioners are able to operate at different speeds. Once the room is at the desired temperature, the compressor runs at a much slower speed, which enables the unit to maintain that temperature without working too hard. By not constantly turning off and on, inverter air conditioners are much more efficient and use less energy. Also, experts say inverter air conditioners likely will last longer because there is less wear and tear on the components of the system.
Other inverter benefits. In addition to operating more efficiently, inverter air conditioners operate more quietly than traditional systems. That’s because traditional air conditioners are regularly turning on and off with the compressor always operating at top speed. The inverter air conditioner operates most of the time at a much slower speed in order to maintain the temperature in the room. Inverters also maintain a more precise temperature. Once a traditional unit reaches the desired temperature, it cycles off and the temperature warms again until the unit cycles on. There is no roller-coaster effect with an inverter air conditioner.
Inverter drawbacks. The major issue with inverter air conditioning is the cost. Depending on the length of time you will be in your home, experts say it is entirely possible to recapture the extra purchase cost through the monthly savings on your utility bills. However, considering that inverter air conditioners are between 20 to 40 percent more expensive than traditional units, spending the extra money – if it is available – is probably a wise investment. In fact, it’s a good bet you’ll get your money back – and more – during the average lifespan of a unit.