What an inverter in a refrigerator can mean in terms of power consumption

The first time I heard of an inverter, it was in relation with air-conditioners. We were planning on converting my study into a home theater, we were discussing air-conditioning and a cousin mentioned inverters. I can’t explain it in very technical terms; I only know that an inverter-equipped air-con unit can mean a lot of savings in terms of power consumption. In a country where power rates are horrendous, we don’t take the term “inverter” lightly.

The home theater project is at a standstill as it will require a lot of renovation in the house. But the information about inverters turned out to be very, very useful when we started looking around for a new and larger refrigerator. I need a unit with a large compartment for vegetables so that our week-long stock of veggies don’t get squished when forced inside a very limited drawer.

My first choice was a Samsung side-by-side twin-cooling unit. Why Samsung? Primarily because of the price. Samsung is affordable. My second choice is an LG because of its eco-friendly features. But because a new refrigerator is a major buy, we didn’t want to rush. Speedy and I checked out what else is there in the market and we saw the Panasonic NR-BY601VSPH with the “intelligent inverter technology.”

casaveneracion.com

According to the sales agent of Panasonic, it is the only company that sells inverter-equipped refrigerators in the Philippines. I don’t know how accurate that is, you never know with these sales agents who often just want to earn a commission, so we looked around some more.

We were at S&R yesterday and there was a Samsung side-by-side model which, according to the specs posted on it, is also equipped with an inverter. Then, I browsed the web for more information and found an LG model that also has an inverter.

Definitely, we want a unit with an inverter. But whether it’ll be a Samsung, an LG or a Panasonic, we’ll have to study and compare the features some more. And, of course, the price will be a major factor.

Connie Veneracion

I cook, I shoot, I write. But I don't do the laundry. I don't like housekeeping very much either... (more about me)

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50 Responses

  1. Lois says:

    out of topic: I love the ref magnets!

  2. Jhay says:

    I’ve heard about inverter air conditioners before. Maybe it’s time to seriously plan on getting one.

  3. Totiedm says:

    I’m also considering a bigger ref and recently found that Whirlpool also has an inverter model. Would be interested what you decide to get.

    • We saw the Whirlpool with inverter at S&R. It’s very expensive. :(

      • slowhands says:

        Power is definitely very expensive in the Phils. Motors in refs and aircons and water heaters are the highest wattage devices in most homes, and usually consume the most power. The ref motor power consumption is probably the largest single item. Inverter power controllers on motors do offer a modest savings in power consumption, with more complex control electronics. In a country with frequent brownouts like the Philippines, inverters must be very well designed to survive the spikes and surges that accompany the outages. I assume the designers of the inverter circuits knew this, but I’ll opt for tried and true simplicity over novel complexity.

        An frost free ref saves more power, since there is no ice buildup to hamper cooling. Most higher end refs in the Phils are frost free, but low-end, often not. I’d look for frost free too. Also crucial is simply efficient insulation around the box. Most refs have a power consumption rating on them for comparison, which does help you compare them.

        • Bryan says:

          I beg to disagree. No-frost refrigerators actually consume more power than conventional ones because the former have a heating element that prevents frost build-up inside the freezer.

          Thus, I believe that no-frost refrigerators are for those willing to pay a little more to MERALCO due to the added convenience of not defrosting the freezer every so often.

  4. chesca says:

    Hi! I’ve been looking into buying a new fridge as well and now that it seems that I NEED to rather than just want to, I’ve been researching like mad. My choices are just like yours plus the expensive Whirlpool (thanks to sales talk) so I’d be very interested to know what you ended up with and how you’re liking it. :)

  5. Janine says:

    Hi, I purchased a Panasonic inverter fridge three days ago. I love the look and the layout, but it has a high frequency noise that is really beginning to bother me. Does anyone else have this problem?

    • richard says:

      Hi, maybe our case is related. We bought a big panasonic inverter ref in oct 2010. After 9 months we heard a weird sound that sounded like a humming motorcycle that became louder overtime, it turned out to be the sound of a defective motor fan, unfortunatetely when we decided to have it replaced, the 1 year warrantry period had lapsed already, nevertheless, a replacement was made (fan motor at P1840 and service charge at P840) in november 2011. Ok na sana e, UNFORTUNATELY, the VERY same sound appeared again just last week till now…we believe this was the same annoying and disturbing sound that came from a defective fan motor. This really pissed me off since this would mean we will replace the motor fan AGAINNN?? DTI will be my next destination for complaints! FYI

      • Cleon says:

        I also purchased a Panasonic Inverter ref in 2010 and likewise encountered the same problem described above by mrRichard. Eventually, by late November 2011, the top cabinet of my Panasonic Inverter ref stopped cooling, but the bottom freezer was still ok. The household has been using said ref for only less than a year during that time, but its warranty had already lapsed because the refrigerator was bought much earlier for a brand new house that was occupied at a later date. I wrote Panasonic about it (cc: DTI) and, to their credit, they had my ref fixed at no cost. However, last night, less than I year after it was repaired, I heard the same noise again. And just tonight, when I got home, I discovered that the top cabinet stopped cooling again. Now I’m wondering if it’s a batch, model or design defect. I think it’s too much of a coincidence that we’re all experiencing the same problems. I may have to mention this webpage to Panasonic…and DTI too.

  6. Lazy says:

    Hi Guys! I came accross on this website while researching about the inverter ref. to cut it short, I planning to buy one today and our choice is the samsung digital inverter RT54QBSL, Hmm just wondering if any of you guys encountered any problem with samsung digital inverter ref. or heard something about any problem with it. About panasonic, hmm probably I stay out with that one.

    Connie did you get one already? which brand? ?

  7. Rey says:

    Want to know the Truth.. if you try to look Technical Specs of the refrigerators using inverter , you will found out that the refrigerant content of the inverter ref has MUCH LESS CONTENT compared to non inverter model.. FYI, REFRIGERANT is the cause why your food got Freeze or Chilled inside your ref..
    Yes its saves energy because it DECREASES ITS COOLING PERFORMANCE.. inverter also comes with its MAINTAINING TEMPERATURE SETTINGS if your ref reach the temperature you on.. meaning that the Compressor continuously running without having some rest.. MAS MABILIS ANG LIFE SPAN ng mga ganitong klaseng Compressor compared to my old non inverter ref that now on its 20th years of serving my family… that is why some Appliances brands like LG and SAMSUNG offers 10years warranty for its compressor dahil subrang mahal ng ganitong klaseng Parts… non sense po ang Inverter ref kung madalas na puno at madalas nakabukas ang ref mo dahil mahihirapan syang maabot ang MAINTAINING temperature nya… tipid yan kung gabi.. TIPID SYA DAHIL IT DECREASES ITS PERFORMANCE… and theres more behind inverters which i explain later.. Thanks

    • After 10 years, a fridge does not perform optimally anymore. It eats more power. Inverter or not. I’ve proven that already because my grandmother kept her fridge for about 20 years and couldn’t figure out why the electric bill was so high. Then, out went the old fridge, enter a new one, and the bill went down.

      So, longevity of a fridge is not necessarily a plus factor.

      P.S. Please stop posting comments using different names. I know it’s you because the question and answer purportedly between two people consisted of comments that had NOT YET BEEN approved and only the commenter himself would know the substance of the unapproved comments. Your IP address is recorded, so, don’t for one moment think that you’re so smart I can’t figure out that you have an imaginary friend agreeing with you — a friend who shouldn’t even be able to read your UNAPPROVED comment. So, that makes me very wary about your credibility and state of mind.

  8. Norla Serrano says:

    thanks for the info Rey.. Woo!! maybe that’s the kind of case Cleon had experience on his Panasonic ref, not just Decreasing its Cooling performance but actually STOP its Cooling after just 1year ( hehehe ) Now that’s more a lot of Energy saving…
    I am a Appliance Technical Supervisor and You might some point about inverter.. now what can you say about ADAPTIVE Defrost function which some Appliance Sales expert said to be the most Energy efficient which has Whirlpool and other American brand

  9. arlene almodiel says:

    unfortunately, we did bought a psnasonic inverter ref thinking that it’s the best (based on sales talk). after 2 yrs we encountered the same problem ( noisy motor n top shelf not cooling at all, then eventually freezer as well). we had it fixed thru d extrnded warranty. now, after a year, the same problems are happening. been wanting to complain to dti n panasonic. how should i gi abt it? shouldn’t panasonic do a batch recall if a lot of their clients are experiencing the same problems? tnx. hope u guys cn help. i’m a stay at hone mom n my business is doing cakes for all occassions so i really need a working ref. tnx in advance!

  10. Pat EDB says:

    We just bought the samsung digital inverter RT63QBSL. We’ve only had it for two days so I can’t tell you yet how efficient it is but so far, it cools well and feels good. I’ll report next month how our electricity bill reflects the change.

  11. acto says:

    Bought a panasonic inverter and it was delivered last night. First – there was grease sa isa sa mga trays nila. Where it came from, I dont know kasi hindi naman assembled dito sa bahay ang ref. When we opened it, naka styro and taped pa mga trays, so it cant be because madumi ang kamay ng nag-deliver and nag”assemble”. Grr. I felt unsatisfied right away. Pero, baka pwede naman hugasan lang – but the oily “feel” remained.

    And then – since the sales rep at SM and the delivery man were giving us different instructions on how long we have to wait before plugging the unit, we decided to consult the manual that came along with the ref. but lo and behold, it was for 4 different models, that doesnt include ours! what the heck!

    I plan to get a refund and buy another brand instead. So unsatisfied. I have read of the same “noise” complains even from their international counterpart. Hays.

    I am planning to get the samsung inverter.. anybody have comments about it?

  12. anna says:

    hi pat. i’m planning to buy a samsung digital inverter ref. how is yours so far?

  13. Marilou says:

    Hi, we’re planning to buy a new side by side refrigerator. Which is better ADAPTIVE DEFROST or the DIGITAL INVERTER? And what is the difference between the two?

  14. Al says:

    Hi, any reports on the electric consumption of digital inverters vis a vis conventional fridge? Thanks

  15. Compu LOL says:

    In order to understand why an auto no-frost and non inverter spends more energy than a manual frost and inverter, you have to know how a fridge operates… The cycle of evaporating/condensing a pressurized gas over a copper grid causes the actual cooling effect. On non inverter motors; the compressor only has two settings or “speeds”, on and off (or “full” and “none” obv). To achieve the target temperature, a sensor turns it on if lower than the threshold; and off when offshoots by another one. This is similar to what a regular resistance based, electric oven does. This wastes a little more energy than needed on the positive cycle, as electrical inductive theory says that current peaks higher at startup; but it’s of course unavoidable in that case. Nevertheless, on the average; the target temperature is maintained. Which really is more like a short range. An inverter just somewhat attempts to circumvent said startup limitation by being always on; but now working at a whole smooth range of different speeds. Therefore an inverter only makes sense if operated at partial load; ie, low to high-middle. Actually the lower the speed, the better; theoretical savings. So in the limit; if ran constantly at top capacity, an inverter will spend as much as a regular unit anyhow. And furthermore; energy wise, there shouldn’t be that much a difference as the energy spent to keep cool is basically the area of the plotted working cycle in any case. Inverters are merely a slight optimization; so don’t expect miracle savings, nor be deceived by dubious industry gimmicks and propaganda. If set, tuned and used correctly, a standard unit will be as efficient as an inverter one. The potential savings are so slim; as a matter of fact; that’ll take years for them to make a significant difference. There are also prone to more failure, as complexity increases too. They’re simply not cost efficient yet; IMHO. Make them cheaper and more reliable, and I’ll give them a shot. Also, frost creates in the evaporator as humidity from the air condenses over it. A no frost unit has to spend more energy in constantly heating the evaporator grid from time to time, in order to return the water into a liquid state. This is mainly a convenience feature as food will be kept cool regardless. If any, frost can only amount to a spurious and imbalance load in some rare runaway cases. You’d have to allow it to get like a half inch thick and kept food farther from it than usual though, to be an issue. Customarily; defrosting has been done with the use of regular timers or even manually. “Adaptive” tech is just a fancy umbrella all-catch name to several variable estimations based on indirect sensors and obscure algorithms; on such said timers! So finally, and to answer specifically your question; better for energy savings alone (ie energy efficiency), definitely the Digital Inverter. Now, better overall (&all things considered), the Adaptive Defrost. The latter doesn’t add much to the cost and saves a little more on the almost unnecessary action. The formers (DIs) on the other hand, are expensive and their comparative savings are more of a mirage. Most likely by the time you start paying off the “savings”, it’ll be time to buy a new model. So if I’d only have to pick one, it’d be the AD. Since I’d have to take the initial cost and money savings overtime translated from energy savings into the equation. Or If you can get a cheap DI unit to try; then by all means, knock yourself out!

  16. Compu LOL says:

    In order to understand why an auto no-frost and non inverter spends more energy than a manual frost and inverter, you have to know how a fridge operates… The cycle of evaporating/condensing a pressurized gas over a copper grid causes the actual cooling effect. On non inverter motors; the compressor only has two settings or “speeds”, on and off (or “full” and “none” obv). To achieve the target temperature, a sensor turns it on if lower than the threshold; and off when offshoots by another one. This is similar to what a regular resistance based, electric oven does. This wastes a little more energy than needed on the positive cycle, as electrical inductive theory says that current peaks higher at startup; but it’s of course unavoidable in that case. Nevertheless, on the average; the target temperature is maintained. Which really is more like a short range. An inverter just somewhat attempts to circumvent said startup limitation by being always on; but now working at a whole smooth range of different speeds. Therefore an inverter only makes sense if operated at partial load; ie, low to high-middle. Actually the lower the speed, the better; theoretical savings. So in the limit; if ran constantly at top capacity, an inverter will spend as much as a regular unit anyhow. And furthermore; energy wise, there shouldn’t be that much a difference as the energy spent to keep cool is basically the area of the plotted working cycle in any case. Inverters are merely a slight optimization; so don’t expect miracle savings, nor be deceived by dubious industry gimmicks and propaganda. If set, tuned and used correctly, a standard unit will be as efficient as an inverter one. The potential savings are so slim; as a matter of fact; that’ll take years for them to make a significant difference. There are also prone to more failure, as complexity increases too. They’re simply not cost efficient yet; IMHO. Make them cheaper and more reliable, and I’ll give them a shot. Also, frost creates in the evaporator as humidity from the air condenses over it. A no frost unit has to spend more energy in constantly heating the evaporator grid from time to time, in order to return the water into a liquid state. This is mainly a convenience feature as food will be kept cool regardless. If any, frost can only amount to a spurious and imbalance load in some rare runaway cases. You’d have to allow it to get like a half inch thick and kept food farther from it than usual though, to be an issue. Customarily; defrosting has been done with the use of regular timers or even manually. “Adaptive” tech is just a fancy umbrella all-catch name to several variable estimations based on indirect sensors and obscure algorithms; on such said timers! So finally, and to answer specifically your question; better for energy savings alone (ie energy efficiency), definitely the Digital Inverter. Now, better overall (&all things considered), the Adaptive Defrost. The latter doesn’t add much to the cost and saves a little more on the almost unnecessary action. The formers (DIs) on the other hand, are expensive and their comparative savings are more of a mirage. Most likely by the time you start paying off the “savings”, it’ll be time to buy a new model. So if I’d only have to pick one, it’d be the AD. Since I’d have to take the initial cost and money savings overtime translated from energy savings into the equation. Or If you can get a cheap DI unit to try; then by all means, knock yourself out!

  17. Compu LOL says:

    There’s always a catch; whether stated specifically or not. There’s no such thing as 0% credit interest payments… EVER!!!

  18. Maribel says:

    So which one did you end up buying, Connie?

  19. Maribel says:

    So which one did you end up buying, Connie?

  20. allandel says:

    here, here!

  21. Marissa M. Abelardo says:

    Hi, we are planning to buy either whirlpool neo ichill or neo conquest. Do you have any ideas about these products? Thanks.

  22. Nina, thank goodness for 12 months 0% interest payment schemes. Of course, it’s not really 0% as I’m pretty sure they raise the price to cover the interest… :-P

    Jon, it took me two days of reading to fully understand hahahaha

  23. Trosp says:

    Both later models air-con and ref have a thermostat that switches on/off the compressor’s motor once the set temperature is reached (minimum/maximum). And for the latest, which use inverter, the compressor’s motor speed is varied (slower/faster- thermostat controlled also) instead of just switching them on or off.

    Slower motor speed means lower energy consumption. Just like electric fan, slower speed means less electrical consumption. (The air-con in our bedroom is more on timer controlled mode – auto switch to electric fan after a predetermined time which is usually 15 minutes he he he.)

    But then, according to Wiki, check your requirement first before buying an air-con or ref with inverter. Application matters. Take note that the payback time, according to Wiki, is after two years.

    Additional info – I’ve commented this one long ago in this blog –

    “All the times, I thought that when you buy an air-con, you must always refer the capacity to its horsepower. But just last Monday, a consumer relation officer of an appliance store said in a morning TV show that if you want to buy an air-con, you must read its cooling capacity which is included in the pasted specifications label at its casing.

    To get the optimum air-con performance:

    Room Area x 500 = Cooling Capacity (choose the higher value in the specification and not the lower one)”

  24. Compu LOL says:

    There’s always a catch; whether stated specifically or not. There’s no such thing as 0% credit interest payments… EVER!!!

  25. Nina says:

    While browsing at the dep store the other day, i found an inverter type microwave oven. It’s the now thing in home appliance!

  26. Electricity is a very expensive commodity, that’s why! I still wish we can go solar or hydro or wind all the way.

  27. Chocolatier says:

    Sharp has an inverter refrigerator model SJ-WS320T-HS, its 13cubic feet, 132 watts. Costs 65K (minus 10% if cash). It has a hybrid cooling system to keep food from drying up, keep fresh and crisp. What also makes this attractive is that you can open the ref from either side (left or right).
    I was hoping to find a comment about this ref before I buy it. Thank you for the input.

  28. I already said that — is there really a need to repeat?

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