In the United States, almost 6 million new aircon units were shipped in 2020. And considering that the global temperature is estimated to be 1 degree Celsius hotter on average than in centuries past, the number of people buying air conditioners will continue to skyrocket.
But buying an air conditioner isn’t as straightforward a task as one would think. They come in various types with different technologies to suit consumer needs. Some are designed to be extra quiet, while others allege to have antimicrobial properties. All those are added bonuses that can make an aircon the perfect fit for you.
However, before you get caught up in the special features, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the two basic types of air conditioners —
- The inverter and
- The non-inverter.
An inverter aircon uses advanced inverter technology to control its internal compressor. This enables this unit to keep running with a consistent amount of energy, without needing to switch between turning the motor on and off. Inverters are designed to pace the flow of the refrigerant in the unit so it can easily adjust to maintain the pre-set room temperature.
What is a Non-Inverter Aircon?
Also called fixed-speed air conditioners, the non-inverter aircon has compressor motors that only run on two modes: on and off. The moment you power up a non-inverter unit, it will be running at max power until it reaches the desired temperature. At this point, it will automatically turn off. When temperatures rise again, the compressor will switch itself back on. As long as you keep your non-inverter aircon powered on, its motors will keep alternating in this cycle.
Main Differences: The Inverter and The Non-Inverter Aircon
The inverter air conditioner is made of a more sophisticated design. They are often equipped with PCBs that improve power integrity. This means that energy consumption is much lower and more efficiently used. In many models, a more powerful inverter’s power integrity is so effective that it still consumes less energy than a non-inverter with less horsepower. An inverter unit also has a sensor inside which adjusts the power intake, so it only uses what’s necessary. For this reason, inverter air conditioners are also a more eco-friendly option.
Inverter and non-inverter air conditioners have compressor pumps that work differently. The latter can sustain a controlled speed for longer, while the former can only do so for shorter bursts. In terms of how this affects your space, an inverter can maintain the same optimum temperature you set it at. Alternatively, since non-inverter compressors can only switch between on and off, there may be moments where the room gets hotter or colder.
Since non-inverter air conditioners have compressors that switch on and off automatically, they can get noisy. Plus, since this type of model’s compressor always starts at 100% power, you can expect a rather loud rumbling rather than an ambient hum. Inverters are not entirely noise-free, either. But the noise it creates is a lot lower and easier to ignore. Since the flow of people in a space is another important factor when buying an air conditioner, you’ll want to remember how busy spaces will often cause temperature fluctuations. The more this happens, the more an aircon will have to regulate itself. For non-inverters, this means a lot of noisy cycling.
First, because of the technology inside inverter air conditioners, they are typically more expensive. Depending on the brand and the power of the inverter model you’ve chosen, it may cost you several thousand dollars. On the other hand, non-inverter aircon units are much more affordable. Interestingly, though, installation for a non-inverter costs more, mainly because it requires a more aggressive approach. In the long run, though, since over 50% of an average household’s electrical consumption comes from the HVAC unit, the inverter’s more efficient system will cost you less on utilities.
Which is Better?
Ultimately, which unit is better depends on your lifestyle. If you’re somebody who doesn’t plan to use their air conditioner often or if you can only spend so much on a unit, then a non-inverter may be a smarter choice. However, if you’re planning on using your unit often and want to invest in updated technology, then an inverter will be a worthy splurge. Of course, choosing between an inverter or non-inverter is just the tip of the aircon shopping iceberg. If need be, don’t hesitate to get a professional’s help so you can get your ideal aircon stress-free.