The main pros and cons of refrigerators with an inverter compressor

The main pros and cons of refrigerators with an inverter compressor | Buying guide

The inverter compressor in the refrigerator has a reduced noise level and consumes 30-40% less electricity compared to conventional refrigerator compressors.

Not a single modern kitchen can do without the necessary set of household appliances, among which the refrigerator plays an important role. For the device to serve for many years, one should carefully approach its choice.

Today refrigerators are very different from those that were produced several decades ago, and the main difference is the compressor. In addition to the usual ones, there is another type – inverter refrigerators. To make the right choice and buy a quality product, you need to familiarize yourself with the features, the principle of operation, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of these models.

The main pros and cons of refrigerators with an inverter compressor

Why do you need a compressor in the refrigerator?

Many people know about the presence of a compressor in a refrigerator, but not everyone knows about its varieties. Modern production technologies make it possible to produce equipment with inverter compressors (such, for example, are available from Samsung or LG). This type is not yet so popular, but now you can buy it from the world’s leading brands. According to experts, the inverter motor has a great future.

The main pros and cons of refrigerators with an inverter compressor

The compressor is often called the heart of the refrigerator, and this is no accident – without a motor, its operation is impossible. It is this compact but powerful device that creates a pressure difference in different parts of the cooling system by reducing the volume of the refrigerant and its further movement through pipes designed to deliver cold to the chambers and remove heat from the environment.

Differences between an inverter compressor and a conventional one

Regardless of the type of refrigerator compressor, they are all divided into two categories – conventional and inverter. Conventional compressors are also called non-inverter, start-stop, or On / Off. Below is a description of how conventional and inverter compressors work in refrigerators.

How a conventional compressor works

Equipment equipped with conventional compressor functions as follows:

  1. The compressor turns on and works until the temperature in the refrigerator reaches the desired value;
  2. After the chamber has cooled down, the compressor is switched off;
  3. The temperature in the compartment gradually drops due to heat loss;
  4. When the sensor detects a decrease in temperature by 1-2 degrees, the compressor turns on again.

A conventional compressor always runs at the same speed, regardless of the type. Cooling occurs only when it is turned on. The speed of the refrigerator compressor motor is not regulated in any way, it either works or it does not.

Inverter Compressor Working Principle 

Refrigerators with an inverter compressor work differently: 

  1. The compressor turns on and runs at full capacity until the compartment cools down to the set temperature;
  2. After this cooling, it does not stop, but reduces the operating speed to a minimum, maintaining the temperature regime;
  3. If the temperature in the chamber rises sharply (if the door is open or you put something heated in the refrigerator), the speed of work increases;
  4. More intensive cooling takes place, when the desired temperature is reached, the compressor again operates at minimum power. 

The inverter compressor runs continuously, but its speed may vary. The more the temperature in the chamber differs from the norm, the more intensively it works. Accordingly, the refrigerator cools the chamber faster.

The main pros and cons of refrigerators with an inverter compressor

Any technique has its positive and negative sides. Also, inverter refrigerator compressors have their pros and cons. In short, from the advantages of inverter models: 

  1. Low noise level;
  2. There is no heavy load on the power grid;
  3. Profitability up to 50%;
  4. Long service life;
  5. Precise maintenance of temperature in the refrigerator. 

The disadvantages include:

  1. High cost;
  2. Sensitivity to power surges;
  3. High cost of diagnostics and repair;
  4. Problems with the availability, if necessary, of a replacement;
  5. Lack of qualified craftsmen. 

In this section, we will analyze in detail all the pros and cons of refrigeration compressors. If you want to know more about their types, see below. 


No. 1 – Low noise level

In reality, this is a controversial point. Inverter linear compressors are no quieter than conventional compressors. The only difference is that they can make clicks when turned on. Their noise level is the same as that of screw and spiral. Inverter reciprocating compressors are somewhat louder than linear inverter compressors but quieter than conventional reciprocating compressors.

The differences are noticeable when compared to conventional reciprocating compressors. Especially when comparing old and new models. The piston compressor vibrates more strongly, the vibration is transferred to the housing. Buzzing, rustling, and sometimes creaking often occur. 


If your refrigerator with an inverter compressor is loud, look down the back wall. The transit bolts may not have been loosened. Although the compressor itself works silently, with a rigid connection with the case, the slightest vibration can lead to resonance and extraneous sounds will appear.

No. 2 – Network load

The non-inverter type compressor, when switched on, puts a large load on the network because it operates at full capacity. In addition, it has a starting current that is 2-4 times higher than the rated power. At the moment of switching on, it heavily loads the electrical wiring. Because of this, the voltage may jump, the protective automatics in the network or electrical appliances may be triggered.

The inverter compressor works without shutdown. It provides a constant but low load on the power grid. It has no starting currents, so there is no risk of failure of protective automatics or electrical appliances. Inrush Current – Represents the current that is required to start an electrical or electrical device. It is several times higher than the rated current, as a result of which it is so important to take this parameter into account when selecting equipment.

No. 3 – Power consumption

Inverter compressors consume less energy than linear and reciprocating compressors. This is achieved due to the absence of on-off cycles. The absence of inrush currents is also a saving factor.When a conventional compressor starts to work (immediately at full capacity), it has to overcome the resistance of freon. After all, when the compressor is off, the refrigerant does not circulate through the system. To accelerate to the required speed, you have to resume the flow, and this is additional energy consumption.

In conventional reciprocating compressors, refrigeration oil is filled in the lower part (analogous to automobile oil, but excellent in composition and properties). When idle, it cools down, and its viscosity increases. During start-up, the compressor also has to overcome its resistance.

An inverter compressor constantly pumps refrigerant around the circuit. Only the speed will change slightly, depending on the temperature in the refrigerator chambers. He does not need to waste electricity and time for “acceleration”. The oil in the reciprocating inverter compressor cools slightly and remains fluid. Tests have shown that the linear inverter compressor: • More economical than linear by 10-15%;• More economical than inverter piston by 20-30%.• More economical than piston by 30-50%. 

No. 4 – Wear

Most of all, the piston and compressor valve are subject to wear. Strong metal production occurs at the moment of a start-up. Since the inverter compressor runs continuously, there is less wear on the parts. Accordingly, it has a longer service life.


Many people say: “My old non-inverter refrigerator has worked for 30 years and everything is in order, and the new inverter compressor broke down in 10 years.” The problem is not that conventional compressors are more durable. These are the features of current manufacturers. Any technique in our time is made so that it is periodically updated. Therefore, the life of a modern compressor cannot be compared to that of older models. If we compare the compressors released after 2000, then inverter compressors will work 40-60% longer than conventional ones.

No. 5 – Temperature conditions

Temperature differences in a conventional refrigerator can be 1-2 degrees between on and off cycles. Thanks to the use of an inverter compressor, the fluctuation does not exceed 0.5 degrees. The difference is small, it does not matter for the storage of most products. But if there are medicines, perishable fruits in the refrigerator, this is important. The use of inverter technology allows them to be stored in optimal conditions. 


No. 1 – High cost

The inverter compressor has a more complex design, it is more expensive than a conventional linear one of the same power. To ensure its operation, “smart” electronics are needed, which also increases the cost of the refrigerator.

Previously, the price difference between conventional and inverter refrigerators was very large. It gradually decreases, and the efficiency of the technique increases. Now, with the same power and volume of chambers, inverter models are not much more expensive than conventional ones.


No. 2 – Sensitivity to current

Inverter compressors are sensitive to voltage surges. If the refrigerator was just plugged into the network, or a lot of uncooled food was put into it, problems may arise.

In such cases, the compressor starts to run at full capacity to quickly cool the chamber. And with a voltage drop, the speed of its operation will increase above the maximum. This will lead to premature wear, the winding may burn out, etc.

Many modern mid-range and premium models have surge protection. If it is not there, you can install a surge protection circuit breaker or a stabilizer.


No. 3 – Repair and diagnostics

The electronics of the control board and the design of the compressor in inverter refrigerators are more complex than that of conventional refrigerators. In the event of a breakdown, it is more difficult to find the malfunction. To eliminate it, specific parts and spare parts may be required.

The terms and cost of repairs are 20-30% more. If the compressor fails, this is a big problem. The price of the inverter model is more than the start-stop by 30% or more. Therefore, it is important to follow the instructions for use of the refrigerator.


No. 4 – Choice and Availability

When there is a need to replace a compressor, the original is not always available. Sometimes it is necessary to supply a more powerful or reliable one, but the choice is limited. With a small assortment, sellers greatly inflate the price.

This is especially true for linear inverter compressors. They are not widely distributed, they are mainly used in LG and Kenmore refrigerators. Therefore, the easiest way to find a replacement is at service centers. But prices in such organizations bite.


No. 5 – Finding a Master

When repairing a refrigerator with an inverter compressor, especially a linear type, a highly qualified master is needed. Such models are rare, and many lack experience. And here there are two options – either pay good money to a specialist or hope that an inexperienced refrigerator will be able to figure it out.

Compressor types by compression type

There are 4 types of compressors used in refrigerators and freezers:

  1. Spiral;
  2. Rotary (screw);
  3. Piston (reciprocating);
  4. Inverter piston;
  5. Linear;
  6. Linear inverter.

They differ in internal structure, the principle of operation, maintainability, service life, vibration, and noise characteristics. Below we will consider all types of compressors for refrigerators.


Scroll compressor of refrigerators

Scroll compressor of refrigerators

Refrigerant is compressed in a refrigeration scroll compressor by the movement of one scroll inside the other. These compressors are characterized by high reliability, low noise, and vibration levels.

The problem with scroll compressors is that they are difficult to repair. The spirals are in a sealed chamber, and access to them is difficult. Such compressors are used in refrigerators and freezers of high-power, car air conditioners.

Rotary (screw) compressor of refrigerators

Rotary (screw) compressor of refrigerators

Working elements of the screw compressor of the refrigerator are two adjacent screws. At the inlet, they are supplied with refrigerant in a gaseous state. When rotating, the screws pump freon, compressing it. As the pressure rises, the gas temperature rises.

Rotary compressors are more efficient than reciprocating ones and are less noisy. But they have the lowest lifespan. Now they are rare. Only a few manufacturers install them on new models.

Piston (reciprocating) compressor of refrigerators

Piston (reciprocating) compressor of refrigerators

The cheapest and most common type of compressor. Gas compression occurs due to the operation of the piston and the alternating opening and closing of the valves. The piston is driven by the engine through a crank drive.

Reciprocating compressors are characterized by high vibration and noise levels. Their service life is longer than that of screw compressors but lower than other types of compressors. Manufacturers install them to reduce the cost of technology.

Inverter reciprocating compressor of refrigerators

For some reason, 99% of sites forget about this type of compressor. Although they are found in 80-90% of inverter refrigerators. Inverter piston compressors are slightly more expensive than conventional reciprocating compressors but much cheaper than linear ones.

By its design, this type of compressor practically does not differ from reciprocating. The difference is that the speed of rotation of the shaft in it is regulated by the electronic control board of the refrigerator. Accordingly, the piston stroke speed changes.

Linear compressor of refrigerators

There is no motor in the linear compressor. The piston is driven to compress the freon by electromagnetic force. The return stroke is provided by a spring. Due to the small number of moving parts, frictional losses are minimal.

According to LG statements from 2010, the average electricity consumption of refrigeration and freezing units (tested) for the year was:

  • With a linear compressor – 630 kW;
  • With conventional reciprocating compressor – 749 kW.

Thus, a reciprocating compressor consumes 18.5% more electricity than a linear compressor. But time has passed since 2010, technologies do not standstill. Now the difference is 20-30%, depending on the capacity and model of the compressor.

Linear Inverter Compressor of refrigerators

This type of compressor is the most efficient of all. Its energy consumption is 30-50% lower than that of conventional piston engines. It also features the lowest noise level, high reliability, and service life.

Generally, linear inverter compressors are installed in LG refrigerators, mid-range, and premium models. In recent years, Samsung has become more active in installing them in its equipment.

Should you buy a refrigerator with an inverter compressor?

A few years ago, the cost of refrigerators with inverter compressors was significantly higher than conventional ones. The price difference decreases every year. Inverter reciprocating compressors are actively used even in budget models.

The answer is obvious – the future belongs to inverter refrigerators. The difference in the cost of a conventional and inverter refrigerator quickly pays off due to:

  1. Low power consumption;
  2. Long service life;
  3. Decrease in service prices.

In this article, we have described in detail what an inverter compressor is in a refrigerator, the pros and cons of such equipment. We hope the post was useful to you. You can leave your questions and opinions in the comments. Don’t forget to share the post with your friends!

Scroll to Top