A heat pump is a heating and cooling system that works efficiently to heat homes.
It does not use fuel to generate heat, rather it transfers heat from the outside air into its compressor and converts hot or cool air using a refrigerant chemical.
The cooling system absorbs heat from the air, while the heating system releases heat into the air.
The cooling system is activated when the thermostat is turned down and the heating system is activated when the thermostat is turned to higher temperatures
In order to maintain the temperature, the standard system has to cycle on and off repeatedly. This is very inefficient.
The Standard Cycle:
In a regular cycle, once the refrigerant reaches the thermostat temperature, the cycle stops completely. When the room temperature changes, the system has to restart to bring the refrigerant temperature back to the correct room temperature.
Each time the unit has to restart, the system has to consume energy.
The Inverter Cycle:
An Inverter Heat pump is a more efficient appliance that reduces the load and power requirements.
An inverter heat pump has a variable speed compressor or inverter. With a variable speed compressor the refrigerant cycle does not have to start and stop.
Instead of starting and stopping, the refrigerant continuously cycles at different speeds.
While the heating cycle would use a higher flow rate, the cooling cycle requires a lesser refrigerant flow rate
The inverter cycle automatically adjusts the speed of the refrigerant flow depending on the, room temperature. This eliminates the need for wasted energy caused by stating and stopping.
Pros and Cons:
The variable cycles of the inverter heat pump removes cold drafts as it cycle continuously, adjusting its speed to match the room temperature. A regular heat pump would experience cold drafts while waiting for the system to restart when the room temperature changes.
Also some inverter heat pumps are manufactured with noise reduction that would help contribute to reducing malfunctions of the compressor and other system components
You will usually pay more for the inverter heat pumps and there may be higher maintenance involved, due to their complex operating system.
However, the inverter heat pump is listed as an Energy Star appliance that qualifies for tax credits, depending on the model.
What to Look For
Consumers should look for a unit with a variable speed or multi-speed compressor.
In addition, consumers should be aware that the terms multi-speed and variable speed are also used to describe the blower speed.
The blower speed has benefits of its own that are unrelated to the compressor speed.
If the intention is to purchase a high-efficiency unit that will eliminate cold drafts, it should be noteworthy to make sure the unit purchased has a multi-speed compressor not a blower.