For those of you who have been looking to lower your monthly electricity bill while also doing some good for the environment, it’s common to wonder “Can solar power run air conditioners?” The answer is, “Absolutely!”
Anyone living in a hot and humid environment will know how much of a lifesaver air conditioning can be. A good quality air conditioner doesn’t just let us feel more comfortable in our own homes but can also help reduce the chance of heat stroke, heat-induced headaches, and even dizziness.
Despite all of the benefits that come along with that nice cool breeze, air conditioners do have three rather large downsides:
Running an air conditioner certainly isn’t cheap; in fact, it can often represent 50% of your electricity bill. It’s easy to understand why it can be such an expense as it commonly runs for extensive periods of time, keeping us cool during the day and comfortable on those hot and humid nights. AC’s also need enough electric power to operate the pump, condenser, compressor, and expansion valve alongside the peripheral components.
Due to their heavy use, AC’s don’t do wonders for the environment as they produce relatively high levels of CO2 emissions. This is due to their manner of operation, wherein they need to cycle air around the system continuously and use refrigerant coolant to produce that cold breeze.
Depending on where you live and the AC unit you have, the price you pay per kWh will vary. Most central air conditioners use three to five kilowatts per hour. So when you use these models for nine hours, you will have a total energy consumption of 27 to 45 kWh.
Combatting Costs with Solar Power
Earlier, we answered the question “Can solar power run air conditioners?” with a definite yes, and it is actually one of the best ways to combat the downsides of air conditioner use. Below, we’ll take a detailed look at both the advantages and disadvantages of using solar power to run your air conditioning unit.
- Incentive Plans
Always check your local and national government websites for schemes incentivizing solar power use. Many previous and current projects related to solar power are that the government gave away free solar panels or heavily subsidized their procurement and installation. With solar panel’s high costs, being eligible for one of these grants will significantly reduce this initial cost.
- Long-Term Lower Operating Costs
Switching to solar will help you start saving today! While there is the high start-up cost of switching to solar, when factoring in product price and installation, it will save you money from month one to the future. With most solar panels offering warranties of 20 years, you know you’ll gain this money back and then some in the long-term.
- Environmental Impact
It’s no secret that air conditioners are electricity-draining machines since we typically use them continuously for prolonged periods of time. Switching to solar power helps take some of the strain off of Mother Nature by reducing our need to rely on non-renewable energy sources.
- Home Resale Value
Not only can you save a considerable amount of money on your monthly bills and help planet earth but you can also make a bit of extra cash through increasing the value of your home. The International Finance Corporation ran a study on solar home improvements and found that every $1 of annual energy savings can add $20 to the value of your home. This connotes to $1000 annual saving through solar energy, which is very achievable and can add as much as $20,000 to your home’s resale value.
- High Initial Cost
In the short-term, solar panels and their installation are relatively expensive. This is mainly due to the lack of demand resulting in slower consumer market development.
While this is currently the case, the prices of solar panels continue to drop every day. Specifically, that is more than 60% price decrease since 2010.
- Weather Dependent
This comes down to your home climate; if you’re not in a regularly sunny region, then you’ll likely see little benefit from solar panels and won’t get your money’s worth for a very long period. Solar panels also don’t charge at night, making it important to have reasonably sized batteries that can power your air conditioner while you sleep. This too increases the overall price.
Cleaning your solar panels can be a time-consuming and challenging task, especially if they’re mounted on your roof. If possible, it’ll be a lot easier for you to have them pole mounted on the ground. However, this will take up considerable land area.
- Limited Power Supply
If you want to cover the electrical cost of your air conditioner fully, you may need numerous solar panels. Typically, a 250W solar panel has a dimension of roughly 1.6 x 1 x 0.04m.
So, to generate enough power to run an average central air conditioner hour-for-hour with no battery, you would need 12 to 20 of these panels. This is typically why they are roof mounted.
Can Solar Power Run Air Conditioners: Our Final Thoughts
If you are looking at the bigger picture and planning ahead, solar power is definitely a worthwhile investment. You will not only reduce your electricity bill each month or add value to your home, but you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint helping the planet to stay “alive” a little longer than predicted.
It is entirely possible to run your air conditioner throughout the year with zero running costs. All you require are enough panels or a large enough battery, and the sunshine. Even partially supporting your air conditioner with solar power will save you little extra money each month that you could use to reinvest in additional panels.