Can an air conditioner run off solar power?

By Matt •  Updated: 05/02/22 •  7 min read

Due to the recent evident harsh weather conditions resulting from global warming, more people and institutions install air conditioners in their residences. Powering air conditioners will spike the electricity bills by at least 20%. For these reasons, homeowners are advised to use other accessible energy sources. The big question is can you run air conditioners using solar energy?

There are two forms of solar energy off-grid and on-grid. These two types of solar PV system requires a battery, an inverter, and a solar panel. Most appliances at home run on an off-grid system since the battery acts as a backup for when the sunlight energy is not available. 

Solar Inverter
Solar Inverter

Fortunately, an air conditioner can run both off-grid and on-grid PV systems. Using solar energy to power an air conditioner will reduce the electricity bill by 20%. By the end of this article, you will learn how to power your air conditioner using solar power. Stick around.

Can an air conditioner run off solar power?

Air conditioners require a constant supply of power to run efficiently. For that reason, homes and institutions with air conditioners pay bills higher than those without these devices. Since these devices are vital, it would be better to install a solar PV system to reduce the bills associated with air conditioners. 

Most offices operate during the day when the supply of sunlight energy is at its maximum. You don’t need to install a solar battery backup to run an air conditioner in that case. However, for homes, you might be forced to install a solar battery to power the device during the night. 

AC units require a large amount of energy to run for a whole day. For that the reason, you will need to buy powerful backup batteries and solar panels. It would be best if you also had a solar inverter to convert the solar energy into electrical energy, which powers the Ac. 

How many solar panels does it take to install an air conditioner?

Connecting an AC unit to a solar PV system is not a complicated process. You will need the proper wiring and knowledge about the setup. The problem arises when your solar panel is not strong enough to power an AC unit for even a day. How do you size a solar panel? 

If you are installing a 1 Ton AC unit, you need a solar panel rated 1500watts and a capability to hold power the whole day. Since most solar panels are rated 250-370watts, you might need about 6 250watts solar panels for a 1 Ton AC unit. The same 1 Ton AC, 500Ah solar battery capacity is needed per hour in case there Is inefficiency.

 Sizing solar panels for AC units is not done blindly and cannot be done the same way we do for other appliances. AC units run in AC, meaning some factors play a part in calculating the rating of an AC unit.

  • An AC unit is rated in efficiency and not in voltage and current. Due to the constant change in cooling capacity it is impossible to use the V×I formulae to get the wattage. For that reason AC are rated in Tons. 
  • Even two AC:s with the same wattage have different cooling capacity. Cooling capacity or Ton is the cooling required to melt 2000 pounds of ice in an hour.
  • The cooling capacity is also known as a short Ton and is usually 3.5kWh or 12000BTU/hr

A 3.5kWh means you need strong solar panels and solar batteries to sustain an Ac unit. That is why an AC unit will consume too much electricity. 

Can you run an RV air conditioner with solar power?

With the latest advancements in technology, most campers and RV owners opt to install solar power systems on their RVs. The free form of energy is helpful, especially when you are camping in sites that have no access to electricity.

Sometimes the temperatures in the RV are too much to bear. People are finding ways to incorporate an AC unit in their RVs. Installing an AC unit in an RV is possible. However, it is very challenging. 

  • You will need to know the size of the solar battery you need to power both the car and the AC unit. 
  • Finding the right size of solar Installation of the required number of solar panels to power, the AC unit might also be challenging. 
  • You will also need an inverter to accommodate the wattage needed to power the RV AC unit. 

A lot of calculation and thoughtfulness are applied while installing AC units in an RV. 

For a standard RV, you will need solar panels with at least 1600watts to power an AC unit. Since the space on an RV is limited, you can consider getting 16 100watts solar panels or a large solar panel with high wattage. 

How many ac can be run in a 3kw solar system?

A 1.5kw which is equivalent to 1500watts, can power 1Ton Ac. Therefore a 3kW which is equivalent to 3000watts, can power at least 2tons of AC.  Since most AC units have 1Ton, you can power 2AC units using a 3kW. 

What are the advantages of solar-powered air conditioning?

Apart from having an air conditioner on your rises, running an air conditioner using solar energy to power an AC has its advantages.

According to the federal government, American citizens use at least $29 billion on Air conditioners. If more people decided to use solar energy to power their AC units, the overall amount would reduce by 20%. 

This is advantageous  for the whole economy. But what advantages do individuals enjoy while using Solar energy to power their AC units?

  • Reduce utility bills

When you install a solar PV system to power your AC, you will escape the hefty electricity bills that you would have paid if you used electricity.

  • Utilizing more pure natural resources

Solar energy is harvested directly from the sun. It does not require to be cleaned or harvested in large plants to power your home. Since most solar power goes to waste, installing an AC unit will benefit the surplus free and clean solar energy. 

The government will also save the amount they would have used to eliminate the carbon emitted into the atmosphere. 

  • You save the amount you would have used to buy a solar battery

If you are using an AC unit to cool your home during the day, you don’t install a solar battery backup. AC units can run without a solar battery if the sunlight is surplus. 

  • There are minimal disruptions when using solar energy

Since it is possible to detect when the sun will be in surplus and when not to expect sunlight, you can install solar batteries to store solar energy fie when the sun is not reliable. 

 Powering an AC unit using solar energy is advantageous to both the federal government and individuals. More free and sustainable source of energy is utilized while more money is saved. 

Conclusion

Although it is possible to use solar energy to power AC units, a lot of though is put in place while doing so. You will need to know the size of solar battery, inverter and solar panel you will need for a 1Ton Ac. Positioning of the solar panels in case you are using more than 1 solar panel will also be considered so as to power the unit efficiently. 

Despite this challenges, using solar power to power AC units will be advantageous at the long run. You will save at least 50% utility bill each month. 

Matt

I’m Matt, a computer and electronic embedded system developer. Currently, working as an electronic engineer. In my leisure time, I do love to blog about technology stuff. Specially, new advance high tech devices. Portable solar systems are one of topic that I love to investigate. They are becoming more powerful day by day which keep me alert.