Energy efficiency is one of the most important factors that consumers are taking into account when buying a new aircon. Since air conditioners use 500W to upwards of 2,000W of power for hours on end, it will have a big impact on your monthly electricity bill. This is why home appliance manufacturers innovated the inverter technology into air conditioners.
While inverter air conditioners do save you electricity, they are usually priced around ₱10,000 more compared to non-inverter models of the same capacity. This begs the question: is the added upfront cost of an inverter air conditioner worth it?
In this article, we will give you some pointers on the differences between inverter vs. non-inverter air conditioners so that you can have a more informed decision when buying a new aircon. But first, we should understand how an aircon works, and how an inverter affects its operation.
- How an aircon works
- How a non-inverter compressor works
- What is an inverter compressor
- Inverter vs. Non-inverter Aircon: A Comparison
- Other benefits of an inverter aircon
How an aircon works
An air conditioner works by sucking in hot air from the room and then replacing it with cool air. It does this by harnessing the power of the evaporation process to cool – or, more appropriate – remove the heat from the air.
The cooling effect is achieved by continuously evaporating and condensing a refrigerant gas that runs through copper tubes inside the air conditioner. This gas is circulated throughout the aircon’s copper tubes by a device called the compressor.
The compressor is the most important part in the refrigeration cycle. This is why it is often called the “heart” of the air conditioner. With that said though, most of the electricity consumed by your aircon is due to the operation of your compressor.
How a non-inverter compressor works
To maintain the temperature inside the room, the air conditioner’s thermostat tells the compressor to either stop or start when it gets too cold or too warm. This is why you hear your aircon roaring back to life after a few moments of it being silent.
Additionally, non-inverter compressors use a simple, fixed speed on-and-off operation. This means that the compressor works at peak load until it reaches the temperature that you’ve set. After reaching the said temperature setting, the motor turns off completely; there is no middle ground.
Compressors use the most amount of power during startup. This means that there is a lot of energy wasted since non-inverter compressors stop and start multiple times a day.
This is where inverters come in.
What is an inverter compressor
Simply put, an inverter is a device that controls the frequency of the incoming electrical current that goes to the compressor; this allows the compressor to operate at variable speeds.
After reaching the desired temperature, the inverter compressor does not completely shut off. Instead, it operates at a lower speed to maintain the set temperature.
There are a lot of benefits that inverters give you, but the foremost is that it saves energy and therefore saves you money in the long run.
This brings us to two questions: (1) how much will an inverter aircon save you? And (2), is it worth the additional cost?
Inverter vs. Non-inverter Aircon: A Comparison
The upfront costs and the operational costs between a window type aircon and a split type aircon are drastically different, hence we will each have a comparison for both types of air conditioners.
Inverter vs. non-inverter window type aircon
For this example, we are going to compare two 1.0HP window type models from Sharp: AF-T1017CR (non-inverter), and AF-X10SCF (inverter).
|Cooling Capacity||9,360 kJ/hr
|Room Size||13 – 17 sqm.|
|Cooling Capacity||9.640 kJ/hr
|Room Size||12 – 18 sqm.|
From the cooling capacity, EER, and energy consumption figures, you can see that the inverter model is more powerful yet more efficient compared to the non-inverter model. However, it is also priced ₱10,000 higher compared to the non-inverter model. That’s a substantial jump in price – is this justifiable? Let’s take a deeper dive.
How much will a window type inverter aircon save on your bill?
To compute the monthly electricity bill for these models, we will use the following computation:
(Wattage ÷ 1,000) x Hours of use x 30 days x Power Rate = monthly electricity expense
Since the power rate is in kilowatt per hour (kWh) We need to divide the aircon’s wattage by 1,000 to convert it to kilowatt (kW).
|Model||Energy Consumption||Power Rate (kWh)||Hourly||Cost per Daily||Cost per Monthly||Cost per Yearly|
As you can see, the inverter model is 15% more efficient compared to the non-inverter model.
While this might not seem like a lot, you’ve got to remember that air conditioners have a lifespan of 10 years or more. Therefore, the initial investment you put down when you bought the inverter model will keep paying you back in dividends in the form of savings.
|Model||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4||Year 5|
By year 3, the additional upfront costs of the inverter upgrade will have already been paid for by the savings in operating costs. After that, the savings just keep piling on.
Inverter vs. non-inverter split type aircon
For this example, we are going to compare two 1.0HP split type models from Panasonic: Aero Series CS-PN9UKQ (non-inverter), and Aero Inverter Series CS-PU9VKQ (inverter).
|Cooling Capacity||9.000 kJ/hr
|Cooling Capacity||9.140 kJ/hr
You can see the same pattern here. The inverter model is more powerful yet has a higher EER and a lower wattage compared to the non-inverter model – the price jump is also ₱10,000. Let’s dive right in.
How much will a split type inverter aircon save on your bill?
|Model||Energy Consumption (kW)||Power Rate (kWh)||Cost per Hour||Cost per Day||Cost per Month||Cost per Year|
The difference is more pronounced; the inverter model is 22% more efficient compared to the non-inverter model. The additional ₱10,000 investment you’ve paid for the inverter upgrade will be recouped by the second year after you’ve bought your unit.
|Model||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4||Year 5|
Other benefits of an inverter aircon
Apart from the energy savings costs, here are the other benefits of having an inverter air conditioner:
Longer compressor lifespan
Compressors experience the most stress during startup. Since non-inverter compressors start and stop periodically, they are subjected to more stress compared to inverter compressors, and hence, the latter are usually more durable than their non-inverter counterparts.
You can see this reflected in the manufacturers’ warranty policies; most inverter models have a warranty of 10 years for their compressor while it’s only 5 years for their non-inverter counterparts.
For compressors, the noisiest part of the operation is during startup. Again, Since non-inverter compressors start and stop periodically, you will hear your air conditioner being and silent and then suddenly come roaring back to life.
This is different from inverters. After the inverter compressor reached the desired temperature inside the room, it maintains it by continuing to operate at a low speed; this emits considerably less noise compared to non-inverters.
While they cost more upfront than non-inverters, the savings in electricity and the longer-lasting motor of the inverter aircon will pay you back in dividends as the years go by.
I hope that we were able to provide you with insight regarding inverter air conditioners. I’ve also written an article that discusses the common misconceptions about inverter aircons. Go check it out!
I hope that we were able to provide you with insight regarding inverter air conditioners. Are you planning to switch to an inverter air conditioner soon or are you still unconvinced? Let us know by commenting below!
Miguel Mores worked for 5 years as a member of the product management team for a home appliance company in the Philippines. He started 101appliance to answer the most common customer questions that he has encountered during his time in the industry. He now works in the digital marketing field and manages a small online bookstore on the side.