Solar Air Conditioning

Solar Air Conditioners Hold Promise for a Sustainable Future

Many solar air conditioning units are not that much different than the electrically powered air conditioner as far as the internal elements. However, the very real difference is that once your solar air conditioner unit is installed, the power required to cool your home is absolutely free!

solar power air conditioning

Solar air conditioners are an area of solar energy that is ripe for future development. New technologies are being created that will eventually allow us to stay cool without using the enormous amount of energy that we currently use for traditional air conditioning.

Different Types of Solar Powered Air Conditioning

For most of us, our existing air conditioning units can be successfully converted to solar power to save on energy costs. There are some other ways of cooling the air using new technologies that provide some exciting possibilities for the future.

As our world transforms and begins to make the use of clean and renewable energy sources a priority, we will see more of these kinds of innovative solutions!

  • Photovoltaic Solar Cooling is the type that most of us would use in our homes, which uses solar panels to generate the energy needed to run your air conditioning system.

  • Passive Solar Cooling uses the design of a building to naturally heat and cool your home using passive solar energy.

  • Solar Desiccant Air Conditioning is an ingenious new way of cooling the air by using a material such as salt that will dry out the air, thus lowering the temperature. As the salt absorbs moisture, it becomes more liquid, so solar energy is used to heat the salt and return it to a dry state to continue its work of cooling the air. It is a renewable way of cooling the air without the higher energy consumption used by traditional air conditioners.

  • Solar Thermal Solar Cooling is often used in larger buildings, and uses solar energy to collect heat from the sun which then operates chillers which cool the air.

How Does a Solar Air Conditioning Unit Work?

As we just mentioned, the internal components of an air conditioning unit powered by the sun aren’t all that different than one powered by electric. However, solar energy is what powers the solar air conditioner as opposed to electrical power provided by your local power company.

The summer months are when the sun seems to shine the most and is also the time when the temperatures are the highest. Solar panels or tubes soak up the sunlight that shines down during the day.

That energy heats up the refrigerant, which delivers a high pressure gas to the condenser, then to the evaporator, and then to the compressor. The heat from the air has been removed and is then distributed as cool air into your home.

Any power that hasn’t been used during the day is stored in the backup batteries and used to cool your home during the night.

Benefits of a Solar Air Conditioning Unit

  • Significant energy savings once you switch to a solar power

  • No need to switch out your current air conditioner – simply install solar panels on your home (uses the same sub-panel)

  • Solar energy is free!

  • Clean energy – no risk of toxic chemicals being pushed into the home

  • Cash rebates are offered in many states for homeowners who switch over to renewable energy sources

  • You will definitely reduce your cooling costs, and may even eliminate them altogether

  • Increases the resale value of your home

Drawbacks of Using a Solar Air Conditioner

  • Just as with any solar powered appliance, if the sun doesn’t shine for several days in a row, it’s possible that the batteries won’t be able to store enough energy to get you through the cloudy days with uninterrupted service.

    In those areas of the world where cloudy days are more normal than sunny ones, a solar air conditioner may not be a viable option.

  • Depending on where you live, the cost to install the number of solar panels needed to cool your entire home may be cost prohibitive.

  • If your existing air conditioning unit is not energy efficient, this could limit the efficiency of your solar powered air conditioning system.

  • A solar powered AC unit will require cleaning just as an electrical one would, so maintenance is less, but still required.

How Much Does Solar Powered Air Conditioning Cost?

The cost of adding solar air conditioning to your home will depend on a number of factors including:

  • How efficient your existing air conditioning system is

  • Your square footage

  • How much of that square footage you want to cool

  • How energy efficient your home is

  • The number of solar panels required to produce the energy you need to effectively cool your home

  • The cost of the inverter and backup batteries

  • The cost of either professional installation or a do-it-yourself kit

These costs can vary from as little as a few thousand dollars for those who live in a smaller home who can "do it yourself", to several thousand dollars for larger homes and for professional installation.

Right now there are tax breaks and incentives in many areas to help you add clean renewable energy sources to your home. Check out the resources available in your area so you can enjoy cool, air conditioned comfort in the hot weather, without adding extra burden to the Earth or your electric bill!

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Many solar air conditioning units are not that different than the electrically powered air conditioner as far as the internal elements. The real difference is that once the solar air conditioner is installed, the power required to cool your home is absolutely free!

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