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Inverter Heat Pumps: Definition and Operation

Inverter heat pumps guarantee maximum efficiency and minimal electricity consumption. How do they work and what benefits do they bring

In our previous blog posts, we have already addressed renewable energies being the theme of environmental sustainability in construction a trending topic for which new, cutting-edge, and high-performance solutions are constantly sought. In this scenario, inverter heat pumps represent a more sustainable alternative to traditional heat pumps. This system allows to increase energy efficiency and reduce not only polluting emissions but also costs on the bill, especially if combined with a photovoltaic system. Let’s analyze in detail this system for summer and winter air conditioning, let’s see what technology is at the base of its operation and what benefits it brings to the environment and to users.

What does an inverter heat pump mean?

Inverter heat pumps represent one of the promising advancements in green innovation, energy efficiency and performance.

The operation of the inverter allows to achieve maximum efficiency values by minimizing the need for electricity and noise emissions. This is because inverter heat pumps are able to perfectly adjust the thermal power to the individual heat requirement, unlike traditional heat pumps.

The latter are based on the technology typically defined as “on-off”. That is, the heat pump starts and reaches the maximum heating power, thus emitting very hot air and quickly heating the rooms. Once the desired temperature is reached, through this flow of very hot air, the heat pump turns off and then turns back on at full power when the air cools down. This is why this type of operation is called “on-off”. However, this continuous “on-off” causes the consumption of traditional heat pumps to be anything but reduced.

But now let’s talk about inverter heat pumps. How do they differ from traditional ones? The main difference between traditional heat pumps and inverter ones lies precisely in the technology used, which in inverter ones is no longer of the “on-off” type but modulating. The modulating technology of inverter heat pumps allows to automatically adjust the necessary power of hot air, without having to continuously turn the device on and off. The power output is no longer fixed but variable. The variation in power depends on the detected indoor temperature and the desired temperature.

It is easy to imagine how, unlike a fixed output power, the ability to modulate the output of hot air based on real temperatures allows for:

  • uniform and efficient operation;
  • optimization of energy consumption;
  • limitation of thermal fluctuations.

How does inverter technology work in heat pumps?

As we anticipated in the previous paragraph, what characterizes the inverter heat pump and makes it energy efficient is the modulating technology that underlies its operation.

Summarizing greatly the engineering behind this technology, we could say that the operation of an inverter heat pump is guaranteed by:

  • electronic control unit;
  • compressor.

The electronic control unit is connected to the compressor on which depends the production of cold or hot air. The compressor is in turn associated with the electronic system capable of calculating how much cold/hot air needs to be delivered to reach the desired temperature. The system operates at maximum power in the initial moments to reach the temperature set by the user as soon as possible. Once this temperature is reached, the heat pump gradually reduces its power, settling on a value very close to the desired one and therefore working at a minimum level to ensure the maintenance of the desired conditions.

Let’s remember that it is still a heat pump and that even the inverter variant performs its task thanks to the heat exchange between environments at different temperatures. In the case of heating, for example, the device takes hot air from the outside and directs it inside, raising its temperature through electricity. By avoiding the continuous “on-off” typical of traditional heat pumps, the electricity consumption is reduced by about 30-40%.

How much does an inverter heat pump consume?

While making an accurate calculation in this context is practically impossible as it will depend on variables such as:

  • volume to be air-conditioned;
  • desired temperature;
  • starting temperature;
  • type and model of the system;
  • reference climatic zone.

Let’s try to analyze the standard operation of this technology and simulate its consumption. We said that in the initial moments the system will operate at maximum power because the goal is to reach the desired temperature as soon as possible. In this phase, therefore, the inverter heat pump can consume up to 2 kWh, but how long it will work with these consumptions will depend a lot on the difference between the starting temperature and the desired one and on the model of the air conditioning system itself.

Once this initial phase is over, the system starts working at a minimum level and will tend to consume less electricity, dropping to around 0.5 kWh.

Summarizing the typical operation of an inverter heat pump in this way and remembering the premise made, we could say that its consumption, for about 8 hours of use, is around 5 to 6 kWh.

What are the advantages of an inverter heat pump?

From the description of the technology and the operation of this device, clear advantages have already emerged from its use, but let’s outline them together:

  • environmental sustainability: the inverter heat pump allows to air-condition the environments while reducing polluting emissions;
  • energy efficiency: the modulating technology at the base of these machines allows for very high performance coefficients and remarkable energy efficiency;
  • economic savings: this system also uses electricity for its operation, but thanks to the dynamic modulation of the operation based on the specific needs, it uses about 30-40% less than the traditional system, thus ensuring clear savings on bills. To further reduce costs, the ideal solution would be to integrate this system with a photovoltaic system that generates the electricity needed for the heat pump to operate;
  • flexibility: this system can easily switch from cooling mode to heating mode and vice versa with extreme flexibility and ensuring the same energy and functional performance;
  • ease of installation: heat pumps are extremely easy to install, do not require the preparation of flues which in turn involve specific checks and regulations to follow, and are also easy to maintain, requiring simple periodic checks or in case of anomalies and malfunctions.
The advantages of an inverter heat pump

The advantages of an inverter heat pump

To these advantages, we can certainly add the possibility of using renewable energy from 75 to 100% and the high environmental comfort. It is worth remembering that inverter heat pump systems represent not only an innovative air conditioning system but also a quiet one that avoids annoying temperature fluctuations by operating close to the desired temperature.

Valid and sustainable plant alternatives must always be supported by proper design, certification, or energy retrofitting.