Today we are going to discuss an older technology that is coming to the forefront of split air conditioning systems. First, the headline is not a reference to one of the greatest rock bands ever, today’s headline references air conditioning systems that convert the typical 240V AC (alternating current) to a 600V DC or direct current. This type of electrical power allows the outdoor unit of your air conditioner to do some amazing things.
When I say that this is older technology, mini-split or ductless air conditioners have operated this way for many years and the manufacturers of split systems are just now realizing the potential this type of operation provides. Okay, so how does it all work?
Gone are the days of contactors and capacitors, we are in the age of circuit boards that make the equipment start and run. Also gone are the days of outdoor units that only have one or two stages or speeds. The DC current set up allows for the outdoor unit to have anywhere from 60 to 700 stages depending on the brand of equipment selected. One manufacturer has a tag line that says, “our variable speed units are like having 700 different air conditioners in the backyard”. Normally I’m not a fan of tag lines and such but in this case, that couldn’t be a truer statement. Again, because of the DC current set up and another circuit board, these units adjust themselves in as little as 1/10 of a degree increments making for extremely accurate indoor climate control.
The two biggest benefits of an inverting outdoor unit are much better dehumidification inside the home and everyone’s favorite, saving money. Let’s start with the dehumidification. These types of units will typically run eighteen plus hours a day at very low speeds. Thus, the air is getting better circulation through the home, more air changes are occurring, and the slower moving air is getting dried out better by our indoor coil. Longer run times, especially in our climate zone, make for very comfy homes.
Let’s talk saving money. The SEER ratings on these inverters can go as high as 25 depending on the size of the unit. As a reminder, SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency rating and the lowest allowed by law is 14. The typical 240V AC unit will get a 16 or a 17 SEER rating. What does this mean in terms of dollars and cents? Simple. Every SEER point increase equates to around one hundred dollars a year in electrical savings.
Let’s take a look at a four-ton unit in an 1,800 sq. ft. home. Unit A has a 16 SEER rating and Unit B a 21 SEER so we have a five-point difference or $500 a year. That means if electricity costs remain the same that my inverter is going to save you $5,000 over ten years, not too shabby in this blogger’s humble opinion! By the way there are studies out there that say electricity is going to increase 30% over the next fifteen years so those savings are likely going to be even greater.
Alright, game over for today gang until next time, is it really a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll?
House Whisperer out!!
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