Al Reifel: The Man Behind Our Inverter Technology

Al Reifel NORDYNE 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. NORDYNE Inverter Technology 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.

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3 comments on “Al Reifel: The Man Behind Our Inverter Technology”
  • Thanks for reading our article, Mike! I went back and could only find a reference to changing AC to DC, like you state is correct. Hope I’m not missing the mistake somewhere.

    Thank you for taking the time to let us know!

  • Mr. Reifel, I’m sure your system is wonderful. I was looking for information regarding my Miller induced draft fan running time and somehow got to this site. I feel the need to point out a misprint or whatever though it’s none of my business. An inverter changes AC to DC not the other way as stated in the article.
    Now I’ll try to find how to stop wasting my furnace heat.
    Please forgive my interference but I thought you would like to know.

  • Mr. Reifel,
    Your design is very efficient and very quiet and is the solution to many concerns and issues.
    My back story is I witnessed the Japanese stealing technology at a manufacturers trade show in Manhattan approximately 20 years ago. It is my understanding that they extended our engineering. I am proud to know that we now have access to similar technology.
    We recently installed a 4 ton heat pump, our first. I was a little concerned in regards to the start up since it has been a year and half ago that we were certified to purchase and install this product.
    I am happy to announce that the start up went off without a hitch and I am very impressed with the performamce and engineering of this unit ,as is the homeowner and builder. This unit , in my opinion, has seperated my company from all others and we should continue to reap this benefit in the future as this unit performs at the expectations of all parties. I am thankful to have the opportunity to sell and install Nordyne products. I feel a renewed energy for our industry !
    Thank you for your success and congratulations on your innovation !
    Bill Joyner
    Mechanical Technology,Inc.

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