Solar Powered Air Conditioners: A Comprehensive Guide
The Sun has been a source of energy in our cosmic system for billions of years. The history of humans using the Sun as an energy source is as old as mankind itself. It helps to grow food, for warmth, for fire, and for other uses across different continents. With the passage of time and advancement in technology though, we have been able to harness the immense potential of the sun in the form of photovoltaic cells and use it for much greater purposes.
The Sun’s rays can now be converted into electricity, and be used to power our homes and appliances at a fraction of the environmental impact as compared to conventional sources. In this era of sustainability, this serves as a major driver for the growth of solar power. What started as a niche application of this concept, has now turned into mass scale implementation of solar power.
One such application of this renewable energy source is in air conditioning, through solar air conditioners. These heating and cooling appliances can work by using the sun as an energy source. Reduced energy bills and minimal environmental impact are just some of the benefits which this energy source provides. Let’s read on and find out all there is to know about solar air conditioning.
Why We Need Solar Powered Air Conditioners?
The need for solar-powered air conditioners is vital considering how according to energy.gov, three-quarters of homes in the US use air conditioning which consumes about 6% of total electricity usage costing $29 billion annually and releasing 117 million metric tons of CO2! Switching to solar powered energy-efficient air conditioning can help decrease the load from the environment and save considerable amounts of money.
Currently, as of 2020, solar energy only accounts for 2.4% of total electricity use.
Benefits of Solar Air Conditioning
Additionally, while solar powered air conditioners are quite an investment, they come with multiple advantages:
- Increases the value of your property
- Saves on bills to make up for the initial costs
- With peak load shifting it reduces the overall energy demand
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
Solar Powered Air Conditioning Options
Even with solar-powered air conditioners, there are a few different options available. These differ based on the mode of power that the air conditioner is getting. Let’s see them below.
- DC-Powered Solar Air Conditioners
- AC-Powered Solar Air Conditioners
- Hybrid Powered Solar Air Conditioners
1. DC Powered Solar Air Conditioners
Also known as conventional solar-powered air conditioners, DC solar air conditioners run on direct current (DC) electricity, meaning that the solar panels are directly wired to it. They can run through the batteries, which are charged through solar power; therefore can run entirely off-grid. They use solar panels, photovoltaic panels to collect sunlight and turn it into electric energy. This type of air conditioner provides a few major advantages, which are:
- As a solar panel produces DC electricity, running such an air conditioner directly off the solar panel will not be a problem.
- DC-powered solar air conditioners are the go-to option for complete off-the-grid living and can be run with the minimal extra equipment cost, as in AC-powered air conditioners.
- They are easy to install and maintain.
The disadvantage of such a system is that you would need a hefty battery bank to supply power for night time operation. The other option is to use a rectifier device to convert the AC electricity from the power mains to DC and then run the air conditioner. Still, it defeats the whole purpose of a solar-powered air conditioner!
2. AC Powered Solar Air Conditioners
Alternating Current is the more well-known solar air conditioner. For AC air conditioners to run with solar power, a device known as an inverter is required, converting the DC from the solar panels into AC.
The inverter is an integral part of such a setup. Moreover, the solar powered air conditioner then uses up the energy stored in a battery after passing through the inverter. Due to this reason, AC powered solar air conditioners provide the following advantages:
- These air conditioners can also be tied up to the grid power and run as a standard air conditioner. No extra equipment is required since this air conditioner can run on AC power.
- The primary advantage of such a system is that you can run it with grid power and solar panels.
- If these ACs are tied to the grid, you can give excess electricity produced back to the grid and get credits for it by a process called net metering.
3. Hybrid Powered Solar Air Conditioners
Hybrid solar-powered air conditioners can run on both DC and AC at the same time, seamlessly. Such units can be connected to both the solar panels/batteries directly and to the grid at the same time. The unit can then use the appropriate power source according to the time of day and power load.
- There is no additional equipment required, such as an inverter, which means the total costs are also less.
- They can switch between solar power and grid power smoothly.
- They are very flexible to operate during all times of the day and seasons.
The disadvantage of this system is that if your batteries are not charged and installed it off-grid, it won’t work at night.
How Does a Solar AC Work?
A solar air conditioner combines solar electricity and air conditioning. In simple words, it takes energy from the Sun and uses it to power your AC to cool your space!
A solar panel is a device that captures the power of the Sun. It converts the Sun rays into electrical energy. This energy can then be used directly or stored in a battery. This is known as DC power. A solar-powered air conditioner then uses this DC power, either directly as DC or after conversion into AC (using an inverter), and heats or cools your home.
Furthermore, instead of using grid energy, a solar-powered air conditioner uses the energy of the Sun. It can use the grid energy, though, if needed. That can be done by making a few modifications to the air conditioner.
What Is the Cost of Solar Powered Air Conditioners?
Installation costs of solar-powered air conditioners can be a bit varied. The exact amount depends on the number of air conditioners, the number of solar panels required, and a few other variables. Additionally, it can be more economical to install a solar panel system for your home, which can also cover your air conditioning.
In addition, according to solarreviews.com, solar powered air conditioners can cost $2000 before installation while around $5000 including installation. However in some cases, though, this can gain you a 26% tax credit to bring your costs down.
Pickhvac.com provides a nice breakdown of total costs of solar air conditioning ranging between $4,300 to $11,000 for solar air conditioning. Other than this amount, other than the AC and solar panels and installation, also includes additional costs of wiring, inverter, batteries, charge controller
Best Solar Air Conditioning Brands
If you’re ready to take the leap and invest in a solar powered air conditioner, here are some brands that you must consider:
Make Your Solar Powered Air Conditioners Smart
Saving energy with solar powered air conditioning is one step; save even further with smart air conditioning!
Moreover, any mini-split, window, or portable air conditioner can be connected with a smart AC controller such as Cielo Breez . They can help you save up to 25% on bills. However, you can also control your AC from anywhere using your phone, set weekly schedules, enable geofencing or set other intelligent triggers for your cooling!
In conclusion, whether you utilize smart air conditioners, smart thermostats, or smart AC controllers, smart air conditioning promises comfort and savings.
Solar-powered AC’s can be a game-changer. With modern, efficient air conditioners, powering through solar energy is becoming more simple year after year. Considering environmental benefits, energy savings, and tax credit, solar powered air conditioners are an exceptional choice for heating and cooling requirements.