How can inverter be more efficient?


Hi,
I fail to see how inverter heat-pumps can be more efficient than fixed- speed ones.
I guess this boils down to another question: a heat-pump probably has a speed where its efficiency is maximum. Hopefully this is where fixed- speed heat-pumps are set to operate. Is that right?
If so, when the inverter varies the speed, it moves away from the optimum, and efficiency goes down.
It would seem to me, from a pure COP view point, and if my assumptions are correct, that a fixed-speed heat-pump would have the maximum efficiency. Now, comfort is also important, and off-on maximum heating a not as nice as sustained, adapted, heating.
But this is not what is advertised. All vendors claim that COP is better with an inverter, even though i assume there are lossses in the current-inverting circuitry. How can that be? The only way I can see that this would be true is if the COP increases as compressor speed decreases, but I was never able to find any information about that.
And also -this is presumably linked- why do smaller heap-pumps have a better COP than larger capacity ones?
Does anyone know the answer to this mystery?
Thanks you for your lights, Chris
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'd love to hear from the experts as well, but until they get back to us here's my guess:
I believe a heat pump (whether operating as an a/c or as a heater...) will have better efficiency when there's a lower temperature difference across it. In other words, if you've got an inlet temperature of 80 and an outlet of 70, the system is working more effeciently than if it's pumping out 50 degree air.
Now it'll have to work 3X as long (per cycle time) with the lower difference, but it'll be more than 3X as efficient, so you'll come out ahead.
A "regular", or fixed speed, compressor (and the rest of the system), will always be trying to give that 30 or so degree temperrature change to the air flowing through. (It'll cycle on and off, of course, to match the thermostat setting).
So that inverter system will just gently give you that five degree drop if that's all that's called for, and will be much more efficient for it.
As an analogy, think of the MPG you get in a car running at 90 mph versus 40 mph... While the rolling resistance increases on a pretty linear slope, the air resistance is exponential.

There you've got me... In fact, I'm in shock over the latest offering from Mitsubishi, where they have a new 9,000 BTU mini split (part of their "Mr. Slim" line) with a claimed...
    23 SEER.
--
_____________________________________________________
Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The optimum operating point is not fixed - it's dependant on the conditions at which the heat pump is operating at that particular time.
The advantage of the inverter is that it allows the controller to measure those operating conditions and then match the speed of the compressor and fans to that load.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

When a system cycles on and off the average EER is not the rated EER. So a unit that may have a lower EER and does less cycling can actually have a higher average EER. Than the unit that cycles more often.
Andy
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Gorsh I sure bet strormy will be proud of you.
wrote:

When a system cycles on and off the average EER is not the rated EER. So a unit that may have a lower EER and does less cycling can actually have a higher average EER. Than the unit that cycles more often.
Andy
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The inverter based systems start off at a dis-advantage in that the "electronics" will consume a few percent of the power.
BUT they have several advantages:
1) They maintain efficiency when operating motors at lower speeds. Your run of the mill 3 speel HVAC motor, for example, can have less than 50% efficiency. An "inverter" based fan motor can be 90+% efficient at all but the very lowest speed.
2) Induction motors have some compromises to enable them to start and these lower the efficiency at rated speed. (The rotor internal resistance is higher.) The "inverter" motor starts at low frequency and low voltage.
It's just a matter of time before the inverter technology complely subplants "tranditional" replacement motors for the air handlers in heat pumps and A/C. The distributors will only have to stock a literal handful of sizes and the user will "dial up" the speed he wants. The motors will run equally well at 120 or 240 volts.
Likewise, "inverter" designs can eliminate the need for power hogging contactors and relays. That will open the door for "smarter" thermostats that would only require a two wire connection to the air handler. Such thermostats with semi-independent control of fan speed and compressor speed can control humidity or optimize efficiency as the customer desires.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
John Gilmer posted for all of us...

Boy would this baffle idjits like Stumpy and his Lux in hand...
--
Tekkie - I approve this advertisement/statement/utterance.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.