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Solar AC Systems: How Do They Work?

    For billions of years, the Sun has been our planet’s primary source of energy. With technological innovations, we have been able to capture the sun’s power through photovoltaic cells and use it to fulfil our energy needs.

    One of the most energy-intensive pieces of equipment in any home is our air conditioning system. When it comes to energy expenses, air conditioning can account for a big part of your bill especially in summer when temperatures rise and you need to use it more often.  Solar-powered air conditioning prices can be much lower in the long run compared to other air-conditioning solutions.

    So, what’s the best solution to avoid paying too much for your power? Turing it off and trying to tolerate the heat is not the best option. One of the best approaches would be to install solar panels and get solar air conditioning. Solar panels as we popularly know them or Photovoltaic panels use sunshine to generate power.

    What is the process to get a solar air conditioning system? Let’s learn more about the technology behind it and see if it would be a suitable solution for your needs.

    How Does a Solar Air Conditioner Operate?

    A solar panel captures solar energy. It converts solar energy to electricity. This energy can be used immediately or saved in a battery. A solar-powered air conditioner then uses DC power to heat or cool your home, either directly or after conversion to AC (through an inverter).

    Rather than relying on power from the grid, a solar-powered air conditioner can produce and use its energy. It can, however, consume grid electricity if necessary.

    What is the process for installing solar-powered air conditioning?

    There are a variety of solar air conditioning technologies available. However, only a few would be suitable for the local household market.

    Solar photovoltaic air conditioners turn sunlight into electricity using a solar array. The air conditioning device functions similarly to a traditional split system however it is powered by solar energy. When the solar energy sent to the system is insufficient, the battery array is charged using conventional electricity from the grid.

    The need for solar-powered air conditioners is rising exponentially. 75% of households in Australia use air conditioning. The use of air conditioners makes up 6% of the total electricity usage in Australia and costs a whopping $29 billion annually.  This also emits 117 million metric tons of CO2 every year! Switching to solar-powered, energy-efficient air conditioning can help lessen our carbon footprint while also saving money. Solar energy currently only accounts for 9% of the overall electricity production in Australia, so there is room for improvement.

    Benefits of Solar Air Conditioning

    Solar-powered air conditioners might be costly, but they offer several benefits, especially in enhancing the value of your home:

    • Increases the property’s value
    • Peak load shifting lowers the total energy consumption.
    • Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

    Alternatives to Solar-Powered Air Conditioning

    There are a few different options available for solar-powered air conditioners. These are different depending on how the air conditioner is powered. Those include:

    • DC Powered Solar Air Conditioners
    • AC Powered Solar Air Conditioners
    • Hybrid-powered solar air conditioners

    Solar Air Conditioners Powered by DC

    DC solar air conditioners, also known as typical solar-powered air conditioners, use direct current (DC) energy, which means the solar panels are linked directly to the air conditioner. They can also operate off-grid because they are powered by solar-charged batteries.

    The downside of such a system is that a huge battery would be required to keep it working at night. The second method is to employ rectifier equipment to convert the alternating current from the power grid to direct current, which is then used to power the air conditioner. Even yet, having a solar-powered air conditioner defeats the purpose!

    Solar Air Conditioners Powered by AC

    Alternating current is the most often used type of solar air conditioner. A device known as an inverter is necessary to run AC air conditioners with solar electricity, turning the DC from the solar panels into AC.

    The inverter is a required component in this setup. The current powering the air conditioner drains the energy stored in the battery after going through the inverter. As a result, solar air conditioners powered by AC have the following advantages:

    These air conditioners can also be utilised as standard air conditioners when connected to the power grid. In addition, this air conditioner can run on AC power. Thus no additional equipment is necessary.

    Solar Air Conditioners with Hybrid Power

    Solar-powered air conditioners that use hybrid power can operate on both DC and AC simultaneously. These units can connect to both batteries/PV panels and the grid simultaneously. The unit can then choose to use the appropriate power source depending on the time of day and the power load. This has several benefits:

    • There is no need for extra equipment, such as an inverter, resulting in lower overall expenses.
    • They can switch between solar and grid power with ease.
    • They can work at all hours of the day and in all seasons.

    The biggest downside of this method is that if your batteries are not charged and positioned off-grid, it will not work at night.

    Last reviewed date: 01/01/2024

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