The Heavy Environmental Cost Of Air Conditioning
Americans spend a phenomenal amount of money on cooling their homes every year. Energy.gov estimates that as much as$11 billionof our hard-earned salaries goes toward powering air conditioners. Given that around87 percent of us have air conditioners in our homes, it should be no surprise that the average cost to run it comes to almost $300 per household a year.
This figure represents around 12 percent of the total domestic energy expenditure.
Not only are air conditioning costs hurtful to our personal finances, but their high energy demands are also terrible for the environment. The heavy energy use of air conditioning in the United States alone contributes an estimated 140 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year.
At a time when working toward becoming carbon-neutral is at the forefront of domestic and international policy, the massive energy consumption required for the simple task of keeping us cool in our homes needs to be addressed sooner rather than later and solar air conditioners could be the solution.
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How Much Does Air Conditioning Cost Window Vs Central Air
There are a few factors that will impact how much running an air conditioner will cost you, including the rate you pay for electricity, how often you use the air conditioner, the size of the air conditioner, and its associated power usage.
Every modern air conditioner should have a nameplate that displays the amount of power it draws when in use. This number should be in watts . You can use this to roughly calculate how many kilowatt hours your air conditioning system will use on a given day. This calculation will help you prepare for solar.
Lets say that youre planning on running your air conditioner only at night, for eight hours. You can calculate how many kWh the air conditioner would use during that time by multiplying the power usage in watts displayed on the nameplate by eight hours, and then dividing that number by 1,000 to generate a kWh estimate. To calculate what this will cost on your electricity bill, you can simply multiply the kWh usage by the rate you pay for electricity.
Below are some examples of what calculating your air conditioning usage could look like, depending on system type and location.
Air conditioner usage examples
So, to generate 4,000 kWh in Massachusetts, you would need roughly 3,333 W . To generate the same amount of electricity in New Mexico, you would only need approximately 2,424 W because New Mexico receives more sunshine throughout the year and has a higher production ratio.
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How Is A Hybrid Solar Air Conditioner Different From A Standard Heat Pump
A hybrid solar ac unit has the ability to operate in two modes, as a direct DC system when the sun is shining, and as a hybrid DC unit by means of an inverter whenever the sun is not shining. If the PV panels are dedicated to cooling only, the PV array does not need to be connected to the local utilitys grid power.
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 , 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.
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How Rv Solar Works
Before we get up to our necks in numbers we first need to get a good understanding of how RV solar works. Below is a diagram showing the flow of electricity throughout an RV solar system.
The solar panels charge the batteries but the batteries supply power to everything. The batteries are directly wired to the 12 volt DC side of an RVs electrical panel and therefore supply power to 12 volt DC electronics directly. The batteries also supply power to the 120 volt AC side of an RVs electrical panel to supply power to 120 volt AC electronics air conditioning included. However, an inverter is between the batteries and the 120 volt AC panel. The inverter receives 12 volt DC electricity from the batteries, transforms it to 120 volt AC electricity, and sends it on to supply power to the 120 volt AC panel.
So therefore the air conditioning as well as all 120 volt RV electronics should be wired to and able to be power by the inverter and batteries. With this said, the question how do I power an RV air conditioner with solar? is not a wiring or installation issue. All AC and DC electronics should be able to be powered by the batteries. The problem lies in the size of the solar power plant, reserve battery capacity, and inverter wattage.
Ac Solar Air Conditioners
They are also known as inverter ACs. This type of ACs needs an inverter to convert DC to AC energy.
You can also add batteries to this plan to store excess energy.
The beauty of this option is that its cheaper than a majority of the DC options. With this option, you can still power the AC by pulling electricity from the grid on overcast days.
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How Much Battery Power Is Required For Solar Ac
It depends on the amount of sunlight, the voltage of the batteries and the amount of power your AC needs to run.
Check the wattage needs of your AC. It should be listed on the small metal label on the back or side.
Calculate how many kWh you need per day. One expert gives this example, you need a solar air conditioning unit to run for 8 hours a day, kWH can be estimated by multiplying the Wattage marked on the air conditioning unit by the number of hours, in this case 8, then dividing by 1000. That equation will give you the number of watts you need per day.
When you start working with a local solar power company, it will do a calculation to determine the amount of battery power youre going to need based on AC size, hours of use on the hottest days and the number of hours of daylight is typical where you live.
And while solar panels can generate some energy on cloudy days, the volume is less. Therefore, your climate will be considered. Youll need fewer batteries in Denver with 115 days of sun, for example, than you would in Houston with just 90 days of sun.
You Can Attach A Solar Panel Directly To An Air Conditioning Unit
You can buy an air conditioning unit that runs on direct current electricity, instead of alternating current , the type of electricity that powers the main electrical grid. Since a solar power panel produces DC electricity, you can use it to power your air conditioning unit directly without needing an expensive inverter to convert the electricity to AC.
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Car Battery & Rooftop Pv Cells
In a normal combustion engine, an AC compressor is belt-driven off the alternator. This compresses a refrigerant gas into a liquid form fed into a condenser that removes heat from the refrigerant and pushes it along onto the expansion valve or orifice tube, turns it back into a gas, and passes through a drier to remove moisture.
This gas is then transferred to an evaporator that eventually pumps cooled air through the vehicle cabins air vents.
A solar-powered AC works in exactly the same way, except that instead of the compressor being driven off the cars engine, it is electrically powered by a battery that is kept charged via the rooftop PV cells. Most cars are fitted with lead-acid batteries, but one of the newer-generation deep-cycle or lithium-ion batteries might be even better.
Y. Lethwala and P. Garg of the Bhagwan Mahavir College of Engineering & Technology of Surat, India, experimented with an auxiliary car air conditioning system using solar energy and published their findings in the International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology .
The study contains a modified circuit diagram of an auxiliary solar-operated automobile air conditioning system. They used a typical lead-acid battery connected to the solar panel with a charge controller before branching out to the alternator, the DC motor and air conditioner/compressor, and the condenser fan.
Where It Works Well
Not surprisingly, the potential for solar to work well has been mostly tested in hot and sunny climates, such as in the already-mentioned Middle East.
An example of whole-community adaptation to renewable energy resources is Masdar City. Established in 2006 just outside Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Masdar is building the worlds most sustainable city in the heart of one of the worlds largest reserves of fossil fuels.
Their EcoBus, introduced in 2018, uses roof-mounted solar panels to power auxiliary systems together with enhanced glass for maximum reflective capabilities and minimization of heat conduction .
It is perhaps significant, though, that their transportation strategy starts with neighborhoods that provide all basic services within walking distance, based on the principle that it is more sustainable to walk to the store or café than to use a vehicle.
It is also no coincidence that Masdar has mounted this solar technology on a bus rather than on a smaller passenger vehicle.
This is in part because their Personal Rapid Transit system discourages private transport in and around Masdar City itself and, in part, because the solar panel technology needed to power an air conditioning system takes up quite a lot of space on the roof of the vehicle.
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Picking The Right System
If you live in a major city, then an on-grid system is probably the best choice for you. This is because you have a broad array of solar companies to choose from. Equipment and installation charges are also competitive, being reasonable, and affordable in most cases.
After a one-time investment in the beginning, users of on-grid solar systems can save on their electricity bills in the long term. Net metering programs also mean more savings.
Those living in remote areas are better off with an off-grid system. Many city dwellers also make this choice as they can pick and choose every aspect of the solar panel setup. Off-grid systems require a significant investment in the beginning, especially if you want to power more than an AC.
Ultimately, the amount of control you want and the amount of time, effort, and money you can invest in your solar power system decide whether an on-grid or off-grid setup is the best for you.
Is Your Rv Battery Bank Big Enough
With an air conditioner taking 150 amps, 150 Ah would be needed for extra things every hour the air conditioning is being used without the sun shining.
The battery bank is required to be significantly larger in use during cloudy weather or at night.
For instance, rather than having at least 300 Ah, it would need at least 700 Ah. This allows the battery to last during nighttime and cloudy hours.
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How Many Solar Panels To Run Air Conditioner
You cant deny the great feel of cool air conditioning in your home, especially in the Summer.
But, this cool air comes at a price. The cost of running an air conditioner can drain your pockets.
Its only natural to wonder if you can use solar panels to power your AC. Your next question would then be, how many solar panels to run an air conditioner?
In this guide, well answer this question to help you keep your air conditioner running without having to break the bank.
Powering An Air Conditioner With A Solar Generator
As you know by now, the main issue with powering air conditioning is the fact that they use up a lot of electric supply. On average, an air conditioner uses 1.3kW of power and the average solar panel system that is being manufactured ranges from 2kW to 4kW. Little wonder why you shouldnt power an air conditioner amongst other appliances all at once, especially when the solar generator is running at on 2kW or below.
A critical look at power consumption for air conditioners shows that your solar panel system would need to be 3kW just to hit the ground running. This is because some air conditioners will even use as much as 2.5kW . Hence, you want to be on the safe side of power consumption, especially if you will be combining its usage with other electrical appliances. In any case, the others should be appliances that consume less power.
Although there are some low power models that only use around 600W, only a few are being manufactured. If you are able to acquire one of the low power models, they only require three or four solar panels in your array to run. This should easily fit onto an average house roof.
You should now have an idea of what type of solar power configuration you need for your air conditioner. You should also bear in mind the cost implication is directly proportional to the quality of each model the solar panels have to offer.
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Lezeti Hybrid Solar Ac
The LEZETi Hybrid Solar AC is manufactured by Thomas Edison Solar. Although it’s a hybrid air conditioner, it runs directly on DC power from a solar panel. This means you don’t need an inverter or charge controller, and the unit has a high efficiency because the power doesn’t have to be converted to alternating current. You also don’t need a backup battery, as the unit is hooked up to your main electricity source for low-light use.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need To Run An Ac
It depends on the wattage of the air conditioner. But in general, you need 1-5 panels for a 100 watt. It is the most common power distribution system to measure the power of panels for an air conditioner.
If you select a 250-watt panel, then a single solar panel is enough to run the air conditioner. Contrariwise, it requires 3 solar panels, if you choose a 100-watt solar panel.
Normally, an air conditioner comes with 1500-watt. In this case, you need a collection of 6 solar panels of 250-watt capacity. You have to consider both the outdoor and indoor units to get a proper estimation.
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Pros And Cons: Find The Best Solar
Now that you know how these solar panels work to cool your home, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each option:
|Type of Solar|
|– Do not require an inverter if used as a standalone system||– Cannot be connected to home energy system without an inverter- Requires a battery bank to store energy for cooling at night or in low-light settings|
|AC solar air conditioner||– Works seamlesslywith existing power grid||– Always requires an inverter|
|Hybrid solar air conditioner||– Can lead to higher cost savings without installing a whole home energy system- Does not require a solar battery, as it can be supplemented with your grid power supply||– Can limit the number of appliances you run at one time- Can be more expensive than other types of solar panel systems|
Connect Battery Bank To Electrical Panel
Finally, youll need to connect wiring to your battery bank and then run additional wiring to your RVs electrical panel, or through an inverter before tying into the AC side of your panel.
Throughout the wiring process, its a healthy practice to use a multimeter to check wire polarity and mark wires appropriately for future reference.
This will help you troubleshoot any issues that arise down the road and reduce the likelihood of failures on your initial tests.
It should be noted that messing around with electricity is no laughing matter. If you dont have electrical experience, I recommend seeking professional assistance in this stage of your solar installation.
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Does A Solar Powered Air Conditioner Really Work
We require our air conditioning units most when the sun beats down on our homes and heating up the indoor environment. This heating happens due to the vast amounts of energy given off by the sun, which are then transmitted through absorption and convection.
We are all familiar with this process, and those of us who live in hotter climates spend significant time and money on technology and house design that can minimize its effects.
With so much energy being absorbed by your building, it makes a lot of sense to harness it to cool the inside environment. This may seem like a novel idea, but in fact, solar-powered air conditioning is a growing market that may soon rival electric-powered air conditioning.
But how do solar air conditioners work, and how does it rank in terms of effectiveness and energy efficiency compared with a conventional air conditioner?
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