Five Great Residential Applications for Solar-Powered Air Conditioning
In the past, solar-powered air conditioning had too much friction to make the juice worth the squeeze. System needed heavy and expensive batteries, cumbersome voltage regulators, and efficiency-lowering inverters. Not any more! System like Airspool now feature the ability to plug solar panels directly into the outside unit of a mini split heat pump to run off the sun during bright days, grid power at night, and a combination of the two (with solar always being used first) on days when it's a bit cloudy, or as the sun comes up or starts to go down.
What applications are best for this free (after the initiial investment) air conditioning from the sun? Well, you may likely come up with your own best use, but 5 common ones are...
1. Single-room cooling. Let's say you spend a lot of time in a room, such as in an upstairs bedroom or a home office, and let's say that it feels like a waste to run your whol 3, 4, or 5-ton heat pump full bore when you're not in 90% of the house. A solar-powered air conditioning mini split can keep such a room cool in the summer and warm in the winter using solar. And, and Arizona study found that for every degree you can increase the thermostat on your main unit, you can save around 2.5% of your electricity bill used to run that unit. Lots of opportunity for savings here.
2. Whole-house cooling. A 1-ton solar hybrid mini split isn't going to cut it for, say, a 2,000 square foot house in the heat of the summer. But, it'll make a nice dent this time of year, and may just be enough in the late spring/early fall. And, yes, it'll help take some of the load away from your main unit, thus decreasing your bill. If you work days, or are gone golfing or Costcoing as a pensioner days, turn the main unit off or to a warmer setting, and your house will be well on its way to comfort from your solar unit when you get home and crank the main unit back to a colder setting.
3. Garages or work sheds. Traditionally, you may have sweat it out for any garage or barn projects. Now, you can keep that space cooler all of the time for free. In many cases, a 1-ton unit is enough to hold your setpoint temperature in a garage.
4. RVs/cabins/cottages. You love your RV/cabin/cottage. And yet, it's not occupied literally 90+% of the time. Why not keep it cool and stop the innards from melting in the hot summer heat?
5. Off-grid living. There are a growing number of folks who either i) are cutting ties with their utility ii) never had any ties to their utility. Solar's a way of life for them. These systems can help keep your batteries from draining every time the a/c is turned on. Just plug in 3 ~500-watt solar panels, and connect to your inverter as needed for running when it's cloudy or nighttime.
Where will you employ (and enjoy) the benefits of easy and inexpensive solar air conditioning?