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What is Inverter Heat Pump Technology?

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Inverter heat pump technology is a new way to heat and cool your home. It’s much more efficient than traditional heating and cooling systems, and it can save you money on your energy bills. If you’re thinking about upgrading your HVAC system, inverter heat pump technology is worth considering. Here’s what you need to know about this new technology.

What are Heat Pumps?

The technology used by heat pumps can be traced back to scientific principles discovered in the 1740s. Heat pumps work by tapping into the ambient heat energy of the air outdoors and transferring it indoors. This heat pump technology relies upon heat transfer, a straightforward process by which internal energy from one substance transfers to another substance.

In an HVAC system, refrigerant is used to move heat. As a refrigerant progresses through its cycle, it continually oscillates between the compressor and condenser, moving from liquid to gas as it absorbs heat and releases it. This is similar to what your refrigerator does to keep the interior cool, pulling the heat energy out and creating the warm air you feel coming from under the refrigerator.  In the winter your heat pump cycle is used to warm your home by pulling heat from the outside air. The cycle simply reverses in summer, expelling heat to keep your home cool. 

What are Inverter Heat Pumps?

For years, HVAC systems, including heat pumps, were pretty simple. The thermostat dial on the wall determined at what temperature your furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump is turned on and off. The unit will turn on until the home is warm or cool and then turn off until the thermostat signals it needs to turn on again. Every time the heat pump turns on the system has to use energy to bring the refrigerant to the right temperature to restart the cycle. 

Inverter heat pumps, also known as variable-speed heat pumps, don’t turn on and off but instead run at variable speeds. As the inverter heat pump analyzes the conditions inside the home it adjusts its power output from 0% to 100% as needed.

How Do Inverter Heat Pumps Work?

Inverter heat pumps use variable-speed systems to provide more efficient heating and cooling. The variable-speed technology allows the system to adjust its power output based on your home’s needs in order to maintain a consistent temperature while using less energy than traditional furnaces or air conditioners. This is like a runner who keeps a steady constant pace rather than sprinting and stopping and then using energy to restart again.

Variable-Speed Blowers vs Variable-Speed Compressors

Let’s clear up some vocabulary confusion. Variable-speed blowers are a different thing than variable-speed compressors.

A variable-speed blower is also known as an air handler or furnace fan. This is located on your inside unit. Variable-speed blowers blow air through your ducts and slow up or down as needed for comfort.

Variable-speed compressors on the other hand are part of your outdoor unit. These are the workhorses of your heat pump. Variable-speed compressors when paired with a variable speed blower, provide enhanced comfort in your home.

Benefits of Inverter Heat Pumps

Variable-speed compressors make inverter heat pumps an excellent choice for colder climates that get below freezing, as they can efficiently extract more heat from the air than single-speed models. Additionally, variable-speed motors are also much quieter than traditional systems, allowing you to enjoy a comfortable home without the noise of your heating and cooling system cycling on and off. With better circulation, you have better humidity control and more air filtration which keeps your indoor air cleaner.

Energy Savings

With variable-speed systems, you can save energy by running heating or cooling cycles nearly all the time at lower speeds. On the other hand, single-speed systems are not as efficient since they require frequent stop and start, wasting electricity while functioning on full power when activated.


Maintaining longer heating and cooling cycles with your thermostat will ensure that the air in your home is consistently close to the desired temperature. This leads to a more comfortable atmosphere, lessening any hot or cold spots throughout the house. Single-speed heat pump systems have more temperature variability as they turn on and off. 

Humidity Control

During the warmer months, humidity can sometimes make your home feel much more stifling than a high temperature. Single-speed heat pump units will remove some of this moisture from indoor air via condensation. However, variable-speed systems are significantly better at limiting humidity levels in comparison to single-speed ones. Because they run for longer amounts of time, these heat pumps can extract more stickiness out of the atmosphere – so you’ll be able to experience true comfort.

Improved Air Quality

Home HVAC systems are equipped with air filters most often located near or in the indoor unit. Those powered by variable-speed technology operate almost constantly, ensuring that your home has a steady supply of clean air.

Carrier Inverter Heat Pump

Carrier literally invented modern AC so they have a lot of history building quality HVAC systems. Carrier’s inverter heat pumps come with a variable-speed compressor that allows the HVAC system to adapt to the needs of the home. By working at longer and steadier capacities, Carrier’s inverter heat pump is energy efficient and runs quietly. Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning are big fans of Carrier’s quality and reliability and their premium inverter heat pumps are a great option for homeowners looking for comfort, performance, and efficiency.

When to Choose an Inverter Heat Pump

Inverter heat pumps are a great option for anyone seeking to reduce their carbon footprint without giving up the luxury of a warm, cozy home. There are both ducted and ductless inverter heat pumps that are great options for the Portland area. Ducted units are just like air conditioners and furnaces, providing circulated air to each room through a network of ducts. Oppositely, mini-split (or ductless) systems consist of an outdoor compressor as well as an indoor condenser connected by tubes that carry refrigerant between the two components in order to bypass the need for ducts altogether.

Learn more about our heat pump installation and repair services.

Inverter Heat Pump Installation in Portland

Finding the right HVAC system for your home is crucial to your comfort — and for your wallet. Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning experts are ready to make sure that you have the best system for your home and lifestyle. Jacobs consultants will help evaluate your home to ensure you have a long-lasting HVAC system that will keep you comfortable in all seasons. We will guide you through the decision so you can avoid extra costs, fewer repairs, and enjoy a long-lasting system.

Our maintenance plans keep your heating system running like clockwork without any stress or hassle. No matter what you need we’re always just a phone call away.

About the Author

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Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.