Solar energy is a great way to cut back on the amount of electricity you use and take advantage of natural energy from the sun. To generate solar power, you will need to install solar panels.
A single solar panel can generate between 250 to 400 W of power. How many solar panels you will need depends on how many appliances you are operating.
An air conditioner is an appliance that nearly every household relies on on the summertime. If you plan on installing a solar system, you may be wondering how many solar panels are needed to run an air conditioner.
There are many factors to think of before determining how many solar panels you will need to install.
What to know about powering an air conditioner with solar panels
Many people wonder if they can use solar panels to generate enough power to run an air conditioner. People are not sure if they can because an air conditioning system uses a lot of electricity.
There needs to be a lot of energy generated to keep an air conditioner running throughout a heatwave.
The good news is that you can use solar energy to power an air conditioning unit. However, many factors will play a part in how many solar panels you will need:
- Sunlight and weather conditions
- Type of solar panels
- Energy efficiency ratio
- Energy storage capacity
- Location of solar panel placement
- Geographical location
- Grid-tied vs off-grid systems
Figuring out how many solar panels you will need to run an air conditioner
Your air conditioner is responsible for a lot of power consumption. If you notice that your electricity bill seems to rise severely in the summer, you may want to consider solar energy.
Running AC units off solar panel systems could save you a lot of money when your next electric bill comes around.
To figure out how many solar panels you will need, you need to determine how many watts of electricity your air conditioning requires. When determining how many panels are needed, many people use an average of 1 to 5 panels for 100 watts.
One through five may seem like a large range, so you will need to consider how many watts the solar panel can generate. For example, if you choose a modern solar panel between 250 and 400 watts, one solar panel is enough to run 100 watts.
However, if they are weaker 100-watt panels, you may need 3 to 5 to run 100 watts.
Determining how many watts your air conditioner uses
The air conditioning watts are the rate of power used per hour. Once you determine this, you will figure out how many solar panels you need to run your air conditioner.
Let’s take a look at different sized air conditioners and how many watts they approximately use:
- Small window air conditioners – 500 watts
- Medium window air conditioners – 900 watts
- Large window air conditioning units – 1440 watts
- Central AC – 3500 watts
- Central AC fan- 750 watts
However, these are average air conditioning unit estimates. There is a way to calculate your air conditioning usage.
You will need to determine how many watts your air conditioner uses and how many hours per day it is running. It would help get a rough estimate of how much your electric provider charges to run the air conditioning.
Example of calculating how much power air conditioning uses
Let’s say your one-ton ac unit uses 500 watts of power each hour. If you leave it running all day, you will use 12 kWh or 360 kWh in a month.
If your electricity provider charges $0.13 kWh net metering, then you will be charged $43.20. (Multiply 360 kWh X 0.13).
Seeing how much money homeowners could save on their energy consumption each month is enough motivation to install solar panels to maintain cooling capacity for a much lower monthly rate.
How many solar panels does a central AC unit need?
The average central A/C unit is 3500 watts. Therefore, we recommend installing a modern solar panel system using solar panels that are 250 or 300 W.
If you want to provide enough solar power to operate this a/c for 5 to 6 hours each day, you will need to install a 15 solar panel system.
A 15-panel solar system made up of 250 W solar panels will generate 3,750 W, which equals 3.75 kWh. This is sufficient power output for a one-ton AC as well.
You will also need 3 more solar panels to compensate for the central air conditioner fan’s power consumption. This will put the solar system up to a total of 18 panels.
How many solar panels does a window air conditioning unit need?
There are different sized window air conditioners, and each one has a different wattage. To determine the amount of solar power usage each size unit will need, look at how many watts they require.
For example, a smaller window air conditioner won’t need a high number of solar panels to run. Typically, a small window air conditioner of 500 W only needs 2 solar panels to run.
You should double up to 4 panels to run air conditioners units for the window that are medium-sized. For example, a medium window A/C is usually 900 W.
However, if you use a large window air conditioner, you will need a solar panel system with 6 solar panels. This will be efficient for a 1440 W unit.
Should you install additional panels?
Solar panels are efficient for producing electricity using energy from the sun. The average output is enough energy to run air conditioner units for 5 to 6 hours each day.
For some households, this is enough electricity to keep them cool during the peak hours of heat each day.
However, some households have higher energy consumption and require a larger solar unit with higher efficiency. Therefore, when determining the exact number of solar panels you are adding to your solar system, it’s a smart idea to consider how much electricity all your appliances use.
Use the formula we discussed in the example above to determine the number of kilowatt-hours your AC consumes. You may have to install more panels if you want enough energy to stay running without seeing electricity costs.
Divide the number of watts by the number of hours you run AC to determine the kilowatt-hours your AC uses each day.
Depending on how much energy you need to keep up with your preferred cooling, you may benefit from installing more panels.
Are you an on-grid system or an off-grid system?
When you install the solar power system for renewable energy, you will have the option to be grid-tied or install an off-grid system. Each has its advantages.
When you use a grid-tied system, you will still be connected to the utility grid. This means you can still get efficient power at night and on cloudy days.
An off-grid system won’t rely on the utility meter to create more electricity. Instead, if you need more power to keep the AC running, it will convert dc from the solar battery bank.
The battery bank stores extra renewable energy from solar PV that you can use later.
If you use so much electricity and the battery runs out, many property owners who own an off-grid solar panel system will use a power generator to provide electricity.
Will solar energy run my AC during a power outage?
If the power goes out, you will not be able to run the air conditioner. This is because solar panel energy isn’t a backup solution for when the power goes out.
Local companies will need to perform work to get the power back on, and using solar energy could cause a hazard.
It could be hazardous for utility repair workers if inverters allowed households to use power while attempting a repair. If you want to keep certain appliances, like your air conditioning, running when there is now power, you will need a backup battery or a power generator.
Are there any disadvantages to using solar power for running an AC?
Solar energy has its fair share of perks, like saving money on energy production ratio and disadvantages. However, the installation of a full solar panel system can be costly.
If you are only using the air conditioner a few months of the year, this may be more money than you were looking to spend.
Since solar power relies heavily on the weather, you may not be able to bank as much as you were hoping for. This is especially true if you live in an area where there’s a lot of rain and cloudy days.
This is because they need direct sunlight daily to generate electricity to run your air conditioners.
The number of solar panels you install depends on how many watts your air conditioning unit uses and how often you run the AC. For example, a small window unit that uses 500 W that only runs for a few hours each day will only need 2 solar panels to stay running.
However, a central air system that runs all day will need a full system with a minimum of 15 panels.
When determining how many solar panels you should install, you will also need to consider how much power each panel can produce. For example, older solar panels may not be as efficient and may only generate 100 W, but a modern panel will likely be more efficient between 250 and 400 watts.
Before you decide on the right number of solar panels is the right amount to run your AC, you should also review your most recent electric bill.
This will give you a better idea of how much current you have been using to keep the air conditioner operating.