Five Great Commercial Applications for Solar-Powered Air Conditioning
In the past, solar panels were expensive, and smaller heat pumps had no way to run using them without batteries, voltage regulators, and inverters. This cost and complexity has now disappeared, as lower-cost solar panels can now be plugged in directly to the outside unit of VRF condenser or split system. These systems now are ready to help insightful owners save money while helping to save the environment by avoiding the consumption of fossil fuels to run equipment with grid power. Five great applications of these solar-powered units are...
1. Data Centers According to industry estimates, air conditioning can account for up to 40% of a data center's total energy consumption. This is because data centers require large amounts of cooling to dissipate the heat generated by the servers and other equipment, and traditional cooling methods, such as air-cooled chillers or computer room air conditioners (CRACs), can be energy-intensive. Solar units can keep these current systems in place, and help supplement this ongoing heat load whenever the sun shines, which is often in towns where many data centers are now locating (e.g., Las Vegas, Albuquerque, and Phoenix).
2. Greenhouses/Grow Houses/Indoor Agriculture Although only a small percentage of fruits and vegetables are grown indoor to date (1-2%), greenhouses are a growth area, since they offer sustained honed-in lighting and temperature to increase crop yield. Mushrooms, floriculture and nursery, and cannabis (a huge growth area in the U.S. following the partial, or full, legalization of marijuana and its derivatives in most states) also need this tightly-controlled grow environment. Of course, this temperature control doesn't come without a cost, and that's where solar air conditioning (and heating) can help achieve a tight dead band temperature in parallel to existing systems.
3. Telecom Stations Power requirements for remote cellular transceiver stations has long been a challenge. And, the equipment needs to keep cool to keep functional. Solar air conditioners now are solving this need on hot sunny days, and solar-filled batteries help these units run when it's cloudy or nighttime.
4. Schools Post-covid, schools are adopting mandates to pump more outside air into classrooms to keep the air fresher and less germy. The problem is that the air is usually at a temperature far away from the target setpoint temperature of the classrooms. Solar air conditioning to the rescue. On sunny days when it's hottest, free-running solar mini split systems help defray, or eliminate, the increased cost of air conditioning, especially since schools are normally in operation in the same hours when peak sun is reaching the solar panels.
5. Warehouses Like schools, many warehouses run only single shift, and can be kept cool with solar units for less than running traditional rooftop air conditioners. In the southwest, evaporative coolers are the norm for cooling large warehouses. Solar units running in 'dry' mode, where less air flows over the indoor cooling unit's coil, can be leveraged to remove excess humidity inherently entering from these open-loop evaporative systems. This dehumidification mode for solar air conditioners requires very little power.
Where will you employ (and enjoy) the benefits of easy and inexpensive solar air conditioning for your building?