For billions of years, the Sun has been a power source in our solar system. The history of humans using the Sun as an energy began when mankind first appeared on Earth. It helps us grow crops, provides warmth, and create fire; all vital functions for different cultures across multiple continents. With new technology though, we've learned to harness the sun's immense potential through photovoltaic cells and use it for other purposes such as generating electricity.
We can now turn the Sun's rays into electricity to power our homes and appliances at a fraction of the environmental impact of traditional sources. In this era of sustainability, solar power is growing rapidly. What started as a niche application has now become mainstream.
Why We Need Solar Air Conditioners?
Switching to solar-powered air conditioners is not only more environmentally friendly, but can also help save you money. According to energy.gov, three-quarters of homes in the United States use air conditioning, consuming about 6% of total electricity usage and costing $29 billion annually. Not to mention that it releases 117 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere! Making the switch to a solar powered, energy efficient AC unit will decrease your load on the environment while helping you cut costs simultaneously.
As of 2020, solar energy only accounts for 2.4% of total electricity use worldwide. If we want to make a difference in the fight against climate change, switching to solar-powered central air conditioning or installing solar-powered window or portable air conditioners is a great place to start.
Benefits of Solar Air Conditioning
Although solar panel air conditioners have a high initial investment, they provide several advantages. Let's take a look at the main advantages.
1. Increased Property Value
Not only does solar panel air conditioning help the environment, but it also increases your home's value; buyers are known to pay more for homes with this type of climate control.
2. Saves on Electricity Bills
Solar-powered AC units can decrease your reliance on the main power grid by up to 50%, depending on your climate. This not only lowers your air conditioning bill, but also helps offset the initial high installation costs of solar panels.
3. Reduces Energy Demand
Solar air conditioners are beneficial because they provide a demand reduction during peak usage by shifting the load off of the main grid. This can help reduce power blackouts and brownouts that often plague areas with high temperatures and conventional AC systems.
4. No Greenhouse / Gas Emissions
Solar power air conditioning units are more sustainable than traditional ACs because they rely on renewable solar energy instead of harmful fossil fuels. By using solar ACs, we can lower our reliance on polluting greenhouse gasses that accelerate global warming.
Solar Powered Air Conditioning Options
Even with solar-powered air conditioners, there are still a few distinct options. The mode of power the device is getting dictates these differences. We will explore them further below.
- DC-Powered Solar Air Conditioners
- AC-Powered Solar Air Conditioners
- Hybrid Powered Solar Air Conditioners
DC Powered Solar Air Conditioners
There are a few major advantages to DC solar air conditioners, also known as conventional solar-powered air conditioners. These types of air conditioners run on direct current (DC) electricity, which means that the solar panels are directly wired to it. They can run through batteries, which are charged through solar power; therefore they can be completely off-grid. The photovoltaic panels collect sunlight and turn it into electric energy.
Some of the main benefits include:
- Solar panels produce DC electricity, so connecting an air conditioner directly to the solar panel will not pose a problem.
- If you want to live completely off the grid, DC-powered solar air conditioners are your best bet. They don't require much extra equipment and they're easy to install and maintain.
The biggest downside to this system is that you would need a lot of batteries to provide power for nighttime operation. The other choice is to use a rectifier, which changes AC electricity from the power mains into DC, and then run the air conditioner off of that. But doing so sort of misses the point of having a solar-powered air conditioner in the first place!
AC Powered Solar Air Conditioners
Most people are familiar with Alternating Current air conditioners. However, what many don't know is that in order for AC air conditioners to be powered by solar energy, you need a device called an inverter which changes the DC current from the solar panels into an AC current.
An inverter is a vital component of this type of system. Additionally, the solar-powered air conditioner then draws energy from a battery that it passes through the inverter. Because of this, AC powered solar air conditioners have the following advantages:
- You won't need any addition appliances because these air conditioners can run off of both standard AC power and grid power.
- The key selling point of this system is that you have the option to use grid power or solar panels.
- You can submit surplus electricity generated back to the grid and receive credits for it through a process called net metering if these ACs are linked to the power grid.
Hybrid Powered Solar Air Conditioners
Solar-powered air conditioners that can operate on both DC and AC are called hybrid units. They can be connected to solar panels/batteries as well as the grid, so they draw power from whichever source is most appropriate at any given time.
- There is no additional equipment, such as an inverter, which means less cost.
- Effortlessly alternate between solar power and grid power .
- These machines are available to use at any time of day or night.
The only downside to this system is that if your batteries are not charged, it won't power the lights at night if you're not using traditional electricity.
How Does a Solar AC Work?
Solar panel devices collect the energy from the sun and convert it into electricity, also known as direct current (DC) power. This solar power can then either be used right away or stored for later in a battery.
A solar-powered air conditioner uses either DC or AC (after conversion through an inverter) to heat or cool your home, drawing energy from the Sun rather than using grid power. However, if necessary, it can utilize grid energy.
Solar AC units rely on two types of energy collection: photovoltaic (PV) systems or solar thermal systems. Solar PV generates electricity with the help of photovoltaic panels, while solar thermal system use the sun’s heat to warm water. This heated water then changes the refrigerant into a gas that absorbs heat and provides air-conditioning in your home.
Factors to Consider When Shifting to Solar Powered AC
Several things to consider when choosing solar powered AC for your home.
The amount of solar panels you'll need depends on the location. For example, places that get more sunlight and have longer summer seasons will only require a few panels. Conversely, if your location gets less light, then you'll need more panels and a bigger battery to store energy from the sun.
Size of Your Home
The amount of solar panels you'll need for your home depends on the size of your house. Typically, larger homes will require more AC capacity and thus more solar panels to power all electric appliances. Most homes usually need between 10-20 solar panels.
If you live in an area with little sunlight, batteries are the best investment. If you want to be completely off-grid, Solar energy is a great option. Not only will it suffice for power at night and on cloudy days, but investing in solar panels now could greatly reduce your dependency on traditional forms of electricity so that you can save money in the future.
Is Switching to Solar Air Conditioning Worth It?
Solar-powered air conditioners can be a great option. With more efficient models coming out each year, solar powered ACs are becoming simpler to operate. In addition to the environmental and energy savings benefits, solar ACs also come with tax credits which make them an exceptional choice for heating and cooling requirements.
Solar-powered air conditioners are becoming more popular as people become more conscientious of their energy use and the environment. In addition to being environmentally friendly, solar AC's also offer a number of benefits, such as tax credits and reduced dependency on traditional forms of electricity.
If you're considering making the switch to solar ACs, there are a few things you need to take into account, such as climate conditions and size of your home. Our article has outlined everything you need to know about solar powered ACs so that you can make an informed decision about whether they're right for you.