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.
20 thoughts on “Inverter Aircon vs. Non-inverter Aircon: What’s the Difference?”
Thank you very much for sharing this information. I did learn a lot about this two types of air con. We we’re confuse what we will buy until I found this website. Thank you
Thank you for your article which is very helpful to understand the cost implications of conventional vs inverter air conditioning units. However what it did not factor in is the repair and maintenance costs of inverter units as well as availability and cost of parts as well as the need to skilled technicians to do this. Here is where the problem lies. There are not so many skilled technicians with regards to inverter aircons, their approach and recommendations and the resulting frequency of repairs can even cost the client even more. This leads to a shorter life span for inverter units. At least this is what is observed and experienced today and confirmed by technicians
How about replacement of motherboard of inverter which accdg to expert is prone to replacement
This is true to some extent. The inverter board is susceptible to damage especially in areas that are prone to power fluctuations. If you live in an area such as this, consider investing in a power protection device. This is not much of a problem if you live in an area with stable electricity.
hello, how come wattage are difference even though rated motor is the same? 1hp is equal to 746 watts. kindly share how you came up with your wattage.
Good question! Typically, appliance brands classify ACs not in watts, but in cooling capacity (kJ/hr) where 1.0HP = 9,495 kJ/hr.
That is why there is a discrepancy when you convert from HP to watts. Take note that a unit with the same horsepower rating may differ in their cooling capacity/or wattage depending on the design or features. So please convert from HP to kJ/hr instead.
As for where these wattage figures came from, I got them from the brands’ website.
Hi there. I enjoyed your article. But i’m a bit confused with my scenario.
I bought a carrier aura 1.0HP inverter window type. The EER from what i can see on the website is 10.8 – 10.7 and power consumption is on the range of 400-1120 watts
At the same time I bought a panasonic cw n820jph 0.75hp standard aircon that has an EER of 12 but it is a non inverter and has a power consumption of a fixed 616 watts.
So my question is that is it possible that the inverter loses out to energy savings or electricity consumption due to the lower EER? Or should I just look into its power input range of 400-1120 watts as it will be using less power when the inverter reaches the desired temperature?
Basically my conundrum is that the carrier aircon has lower EER than the non inverter panasonic aircon. But EER is usually used to tell people that its more power efficient… So power efficiency does not necessarily mean lower electricity bill?
Hi there! This is a really hard question to answer as I’m not sure whether the Carrier website had a typo somewhere as the range 10.8-10.7 is a bit weird. You can verify the EER of the Carrier model by looking at its rating label. It is somewhere on the side of the unit, however it be already obstructed if the unit is already perched up the wall.
Just another thing to note: for the Panasonic model, the 616 watts is not its “fixed” power consumption. This is the rated power input; think of it like an average power consumption. Like the Carrier model (and all AC models in general), the Panasonic model also has a minimum and maximum power consumption range, we just do not know it for now as neither the website nor brochures have its power consumption range. But it is safe to say that the rated power input of 616 is somewhere in the middle of that range.
Hope that helps! And feel free to ask for more clarifications!
I see. I appreciate your thoughts on the matter. The power input that can be thinked of as an average consumption makes sense. 🙂
Thanks a lot!
Which aircon has more efficient EER, a Room Air conditioner or Split type Air conditioner assuming they have the same capacity….
I’m just wondering if it’s more energy efficient to leave your inverter A/C on for the whole day at, say, 28 degrees temperature or just turn it off when no one’s in the room?
Hi Kris. Good question! While inverter air conditioners are more energy efficient compared to non-inverters, you’ve got to remember that they are still air conditioners that need a lot of energy to operate. Hence why it is still more energy efficient to turn off the air conditioner when no one is in the room. Hope that helps!
Hello. We recently bought a 2.5hp window type inverter for a 23 sq.m. room as recommended by an aircon specialist. Did we make the right decision considering it is not used 24/7 ?
2.5 Hp is too big for a 23 sqm. room. Usually, at your room size, it is advisable to use 1.5 Hp.
It would be useful to include a tab showing money amounts in different currencies as many readers are not from this country.
Excellent and very comprehensive article.
Regarding dehumidification: How does an inverter AC compare to a non-inverter AC? If the inverter runs at a lower output, that means that less coolant is sent to the evaporator coils. Wouldn’t this result in a higher evaporator temperature, thus condensing less water from the air passing through it?
Note that an air conditioner with a higher dehumidification rating can result in the user being able to have a higher room temperature with a “real-feel” (temperature/humidity index) level that may result in energy savings. A lower evaporator temperature condenses more water out of the air, resulting in a lower “real-feel” index level.