Al Reifel: The Man Behind Our Inverter Technology

2006 was a year to remember. Federal efficiency minimums increased from 10 to 13 SEER, and manufacturers scrambled to reconfigure their product lines. While many companies were figuring out how to eke another SEER point or two out of their systems, NORDYNE was looking to shatter the efficiency ceiling. And it was all thanks to a self-proclaimed engineering madman named Al Reifel.

Reifel is the vice president of research and development at NORDYNE and has been part of the company since 1980. Reifel started his quest to reach 23 SEER by looking to the Asian and European markets where the cost of energy and the tighter living quarters placed more stringent demand on cooling efficiency. Using Japanese technology, he created a 23-SEER air conditioner – 77 percent more efficient than the government minimum and the most efficient air conditioner in North America.

This technology is found in our iQ Drive® air conditioners and heat pumps, which achieve 24.5 SEER and 22 SEER respectively. The key component in Reifel’s system is an inverter. Inverters change electrical current from AC to DC and are highly versatile when controlled by programmed logic. In the iQ Drive systems, the inverter varies the input frequency to the high-efficiency compressor and fan motor to control speed, and varies the voltage to control torque. When paired with a rotary compressor and an EXV, the inverter modulates the system from 40 to 118 percent of capacity based on the demands of the home. This is how iQ Drive systems achieve such high efficiency ratings and also why they operate so quietly – as low as 59 decibels.

Reifel’s quest for unheard-of efficiency levels isn’t over yet. He and his team continue to push the envelope for better performance, not just better efficiency. They consider all angles — including various fuel sources and smarter controls — to enhance performance, comfort and serviceability.

It’s the winning combination of Al Reifel’s vision and his team’s innovation that put NORDYNE ahead of the marketplace with inverter technology. In fact, while other companies introduce similar products today, NORDYNE has been perfecting the technology for five years.

To learn more about inverter-driven iQ Drive systems, visit or read our article in the RSES Journal.