When you’re looking for a way to use solar power for your air conditioner, having access to a solar panel for AC unit carbon calculator can help you measure the amount of panels you’ll need.
The best way to find the correct solar panel for AC unit for a residential home or office is to determine the size of the air conditioner and calculate the number of solar panels required for optimal function.
But, since solar panels come in a number of sizes, and people live in areas where sunlight hours are limited, it can be tricky to measure.
The best rule of thumb is that for every ‘ton’ of cooling capacity, you’ll need about 1200 watts of solar panels.
But, it’s important to understand that there are different size ac units, and understand that the solar panel for ac unit measurement for an RV may be able to be powered using 10W panels.
Keep reading to learn more.
Solar Powered Air Conditioner
Traditional air conditioner units are generally expensive to install and use up a lot of electricity, increasing the cost of running these units over time, especially during hot, humid weather.
A solar-powered air conditioner cuts down on these operating costs by making use of the natural power of the sun.20 When installing a solar-powered air conditioner, it is not necessary to cover the entire roof of the house or office with solar panels.
The easiest way to determine how many solar panels are required is the watts usage of the AC unit must be established, the watt output of the panels. For instance, a solar panel for ac unit should produce 300 watts to power a solar ac unit that uses 900 watts.1
Hybrid Solar Air Conditioner
Because solar panels only work when the sun shines directly on them, there is the concern that solar-powered AC units will cease to function when the sun isn’t shining as brightly because of cloud cover.
A hybrid solar air conditioner addresses this problem by operating in two different modes. When sunlight is adequate, the system functions as a direct DC system. During cloud cover, the system functions as a hybrid DC unit with the help of an inverter.2
Portable Solar Air Conditioner
A portable solar air conditioner is a relatively new invention. They are popular for outdoor use and most models will run for six to eight hours on a single charge.
If the portable solar air conditioner is used indoors, it can be plugged into an outlet. For outdoor use, a solar panel is included with the unit.
Off-Grid Solar Air Conditioner
An off-grid solar air conditioner functions in the same way as off-grid solar power systems for homes and offices. It makes use of solar panels and a PV system, including batteries and inverters, to run the AC unit.
Best Air Conditioner for Solar Power
With the noticeable move to greener energy consumption, comes the frequently asked question – what is the best air conditioner for solar power? The below table highlights some of the best air conditioner brands for solar power options in 2022.3
|Solar AC Brand||Features|
|SolAir World||Offers 100% off-grid systems. SolAir also sells solar panels.|
|GREE||GREE manufactures one of the most popular hybrid solar air conditioning systems in the world. This unit requires no battery bank. They do not however sell solar panels.|
|LEZETi Hybrid Solar AC||This brand’s hybrid air conditioner runs directly on DC power when connected to a solar panel. The unit does not require an inverter, backup battery or charge controller.|
|Lennox||The Dave Lennox Signature Collection air conditioners can all be connected to solar panels for increased energy efficiency.|
|HotSpot Energy||HotSpot Energy offers hybrid air conditioning units. The company sells hybrid inverters that convert any AC unit into a solar-powered AC unit.|
Solar Panel for AC Unit Breakdown
Solar panels for AC unit installations are increasing in popularity when it comes to smaller homes, condominiums, and even RVs.
How Many Solar Panels To Run AC Unit?
There are three different types of solar-powered air conditioners:
- DC solar air conditioners (Direct current solar air conditioners)
- AC solar air conditioners (Alternating current solar air conditioners)
- Combination of grid electricity and solar power
When it comes to calculating how many solar panels are needed to run the different types of solar-powered air conditioners, it depends on how much power the air conditioner uses.
As an example – a 100-watt solar AC unit will require anything from one to five solar panels. Since most AC systems use around 1,200 watts, the required number of solar panels is 5.
Read More About: Solar Panel Carbon Offsets: A Greener Way to Go Solar
Portable Solar Powered Air Conditioner
A portable solar-powered air conditioner needs batteries and solar panels as well.
For a 5,000 BTU portable AC unit, 800 watts of grounded solar panels and 4 100-amp hour lithium phosphate batteries are required.4
Solar Panels for AC Unit
To calculate the number of solar panels for AC unit to function efficiently, the following factors should be considered:
- Desired solar panel size
- The estimated times that the air conditioner will be in use
- Whether extra batteries will be required
- The surge number and power required by the AC unit
- Required kilowatts of the AC unit
- Energy generated by each solar panel
Before any calculations are made, the following information must be noted:
- Air conditioner wattage (consumption per hour)
- How many hours per AC unit will be running
- The cost of electricity per AC unit
The average air conditioning unit watt usage is indicated in the below table:
|Size of AC Unit||Watt Usage|
|Small unit||500 watts|
|Medium unit||800 – 1000 watts|
|Window unit||1,440 watts|
|Mid-sized unit||2,800 – 3,000 watts|
|Large unit||3,800 – 4,100 watts|
The most common air conditioning units and the number of solar panels required to power them are indicated as follows:5
|Air Conditioning Unit||Number of Solar Panels Required|
|Central air||30 x 100W solar panels|
|Large window unit||20 x 10W solar panels|
|Medium window unit||10 x 10W solar panels|
|Small window units||5 x 10W solar panels|
|Avg. daily PV production (kWh)|
|÷||Avg. sun hours/day||÷||Temp. losses||÷||Inverter efficiency||÷||General system derate factor||=||PV array size (kW)|
Solar Powered Air Conditioner Window Unit
Solar-powered air conditioner window units come in small, medium, and large-size options.
Solar Power for Window AC Unit
Solar power for window AC unit has different requirements when it comes to the number of solar panels needed to make them function properly.
The number of solar panels required also depends on the size of the room that needs cooling. An example of this is as follows: A 5,000 – 6,000 BTU window AC unit would work well for a 250 to 350 square feet bedroom. The calculation to determine the number of solar panels required for this size bedroom looks like this:
Window AC unit of 5,000 – 6,000 BTU uses around 500 watts an hour and would require 900 – 1000 watts of solar power. The required solar power can be obtained from 3 x 300-watt or 4 x 250-watt solar panels.
How Many Solar Panels To Run Window Air Conditioner?
Window AC units have power ratings assigned to them to simplify the calculation of the number of solar panels required. The power ratings are usually indicated as follows:6
|AC Unit (Window)||Rating|
|GE 6000 BTU||535 watts|
|Frigidaire 5000 BTU||450 watts|
|LG 6000 BTU||520 watts|
|Haier 6000 BTU||455 watts|
Therefore, to calculate the number of solar panels needed to run an air conditioner is determined by the watts required by the window AC unit, the production of watts per solar panel, and the efficiency of each solar panel.
This calculation is laid out in the following table. But remember, that running an ac unit will need to account for surge, which means that you can estimate about four times the number of solar panel for ac unit listed.
|AC Unit||Watts per hour||Number of panels (10W)|
|Central Air||3,000 – 5,000||30 – 50|
|Large Unit||1,800 – 2,500||18 – 25|
|Medium Unit||1,000 – 1,800||10 – 18|
|Small Unit||500 – 1,000||5 – 10|
DIY Solar Powered Window Air Conditioner
- Determining how much energy a portable air conditioning unit consumes
- Evaluating the output of different solar panels
- Determining the number of solar panels to run the portable AC unit
- Determining the battery needs for a rechargeable portable AC unit
- Determining the type of solar charge controller and inverter required.
- Performance testing
If the portable AC unit is determined to require 0.335kW an hour, and a 100-watt solar panel generates at least 0.554kW/hours of energy per day, 1x 100-watt panel will be required for every hour the AC unit is running.7
Solar Panels for AC
Solar thermal systems are also used for cooling purposes. Solar thermal systems harness the heat of the sun to power the refrigeration process in an AC unit.8
Can a 100-watt Solar Panel Run an Air Conditioner?
While a 100-watt solar panel can produce an average of 500 Watt-hours per day, it cannot run an air conditioner.
Solar Panel for AC Unit: Estimated Power Use
However, if the 100-watt solar panel for AC unit is connected to a large battery, it is technically possible for a 5,000 BTU air conditioner to run for at least 1 hour on the energy that is provided by the solar panel. This is not advised, however.
The following table indicates the estimated amount of solar power required to run different AC units for 8 hours per day:9
|AC Unit Capacity||Estimated Solar Power Required Over 8 Hours (Watts)|
|5,000 BTUs||500 Watts|
|8,000 BTUs||900 Watts|
|12,000 BTUs (1 ton)||1400 Watts|
|18,000 BTUs (1.5 tons)||2000 Watts|
|24,000 BTUs (2 tons)||2800 Watts|
|36,000 BTUs (3 tons)||4000 Watts|
|48,000 BTUs (4 tons)||5500 Watts|
|60,000 BTUs (5 tons)||7000 Watts|
How Many Solar Panels To Run 1.5 HP Air Conditioner?
Considering that a 1.5HP AC unit equals around 1100W, and factoring in sun hours in the given area and how long the AC unit will be running, it would take about 4 solar panels to run the unit for a couple of hours.
The number of panels will increase with the number of hours and depends on the orientation and layout of the house or building.10
Solar Panel for AC Unit Factors
Several factors influence the efficiency of solar panels, which is why most of the figures are estimated when calculating the required number of solar panels for different AC units. These factors include:
- The angle of the solar panel
- The type of solar panel
- The climate and weather conditions, and the environment.
- The age of the solar panel
- The installation of the solar panel
Read More About: Carbon Footprint: Solar Panel Manufacturing In 1 Simple Explanation
How Many AC Can Run on 10kw Solar System?
A 10kW solar system produces around 11,000 – 15,000 kilowatt hours of electricity on an annual basis. As is the case with all solar panels, those installed in states that get a lot of sun will produce more electricity.
This type of system will cover the energy usage of an average American household every year, depending on the energy consumption average per state.
A 10kW solar system generally requires 37 solar panels and can power a total of 2 AC units and other appliances at the same time.11
How Many Solar Panels To Run a 5000 BTU Air Conditioner?
The generally estimated watts required to run a 5000 BTU AC unit for 8 hours a day is 400 – 600. Calculating the exact amount of required solar power depends on sunlight per day and the energy usage of the unit itself.
For instance, if a 5000 BTU AC unit uses 3000 Wh of energy every day, a solar system would have to produce 3 kWh of energy per day. The number of solar panels required to generate 3 kWh per day is directly related to sunlight that reaches the solar panels.
Solar panels are rated under Solar Irradiance conditions which are measured in W/m² (Watts per square meter). Standard Solar Irradiance for testing is 1000 W/m², therefore a 100 Watt solar panel generates 100 Watts of power when it receives 1000 W/m² of sunlight.
However, because the sun’s power ebbs and flows with the seasons and the climate, it is best to estimate the sunlight energy using historical data. If a city or area receives an average of 6.54 peak sun hours per day, the following calculation applies:
System Rating (Watts) = Energy Production (Wh) ÷ Peak Sun Hours
System Rating (Watts) = 3000 Wh ÷ 6.54 Peak Sun Hours
System Rating (Watts) = 458.7 Watts
How Many Solar Panels To Run 2 Ton Air Conditioner?
Around 10, 325 Watt, solar panels are required to run a 2-ton AC for around 8 hours. The below table indicates the solar panels needed for different run times:
|Run Time||Power Usage||PV Plant Size|
|2 hours||4 kWh||800 Watt|
|5 hours||10 kWh||2 kW|
|8 hours||16 kWh||3.2 kW|
|12 hours||24 kWh||4.8 kW|
|20 hours||40 kWh||8 kW|
|24 hours||48 kWh||9.6 kW|
How Many Solar Panels To Run 3 Ton Air Conditioner?
It would require around 15, 325 Watt solar panels to run a 3-ton air conditioner for 8 hours a day and around 22, 325 Watt, solar panels to run the AC for 12 hours a day.
The below table indicates the solar panels needed for different run times:
|Run Time||Power Usage||PV Plant Size|
|2 hours||6 kWh||1.2 kW|
|5 hours||15 kWh||3 kW|
|8 hours||24 kWh||4.8 kW|
|12 hours||36 kWh||7.2 kW|
|20 hours||60 kWh||12 kW|
|24 hours||72 kWh||14.4 kW|
How Many Solar Panels To Run a 4-Ton AC Unit?
A 4-ton AC unit would require at least 20, 325 Watt, solar panels to run for 8 hours per day, whereas to run the unit for 12 hours a day, a minimum of 30, 325 Watt, solar panels would be required.
The below table indicates the solar panels needed for different run times:
|Run Time||Power Usage||PV Plant Size|
|2 hours||8 kWh||1.6 kW|
|5 hours||20 kWh||4 kW|
|8 hours||32 kWh||6.4 kW|
|12 hours||48 kWh||9.6 kW|
|20 hours||80 kWh||16 kW|
|24 hours||96 kWh||19.2 kW|
How Many Solar Panels To Run 5 Ton AC Unit?
At least 25, 325 Watt, solar panels are required to run a 5-ton AC unit for 8 hours a day, whereas to run the unit for 12 hours a day, a minimum of 37, 325 Watt, solar panels are needed.
The below table indicates the solar panels needed for different run times:13
|Run Time||Power Usage||PV Plant Size|
|2 hours||10 kWh||2 kW|
|5 hours||25 kWh||5 kW|
|8 hours||40 kWh||8 kW|
|12 hours||60 kWh||12 kW|
|20 hours||100 kWh||20 kW|
|24 hours||120 kWh||24 kW|
Solar Powered Air Conditioner for Shed
Solar-powered air conditioners can also be utilized for outdoor spaces such as sheds. Shed solar-powered AC units allow for workshop spaces, and as such, they can be located anywhere on the property without being limited by distance from the main house or building.
Solar Panel for AC Unit
The type of solar panel for AC unit used in sheds is a photovoltaic panel that is permanently fixed to the roof.22 Along with solar panels, the shed solar system will also require a charge controller, inverter, fuse box, and batteries.
It is important to note that the shed’s roof must be large enough to add several solar panels.14
Solar Powered AC Unit for Camping
Camping in the US is synonymous with RVs. Solar-powered AC units can be run via an RV as well using the same solar system that provides power to the TV and other electronics.
Solar Powered Air Conditioner for Camping
Adding a solar-powered air conditioner to an RV for camping purposes must include the consideration of the overall power usage and the size of the RV battery bank. The inverter must supply enough power to run the AC for a specified number of hours.
Portable Solar Powered Air Conditioner Camping
There are several options when choosing a portable solar-powered air conditioning unit while camping. These include:
- Portable solar-powered room air conditioners
- Roof-top tent air conditioners
- Evaporative coolers
- Swamp coolers
- Dual hose cooler units
How Many Solar Panels To Run an RV Air Conditioner?
In general, a 15,000 BTU RV AC unit needs 3,500 Watts to start up and requires 1,500 Watts while running. The solar panels collecting sun rays and sending them to the battery bank will need to provide at least 1,500 Watts of power. This totals a minimum of 9, 200W solar panels.
Solar Air Conditioner
Solar air conditioners and solar-powered air conditioners are often mixed up, however, they are two different technologies.
A solar air conditioner is a solar thermal system that requires a solar thermal panel to activate the refrigerant in the AC unit. A solar-powered air conditioner requires PV panels, batteries, and inverters to power the system and keep it going when there is no adequate sunlight.
Solar Powered Air Conditioner Prices
The average cost of installing solar panels in the US, without energy storage, is around $3,060 per kilowatt. This equates to around $15,300 for a 5 kW system and around $30,600 for a 10 kW system.
The federal tax credit will lower this estimated cost, however, and additional incentives may be applicable depending on location.15
Disadvantages of Solar Air Conditioner
There are some disadvantages to solar air conditioner systems. These include the following:
- Solar air conditioners cost more than traditional AC units
- Solar air conditioners require a lot of maintenance
- Some climates are not ideal for solar air conditioners
- Some solar air conditioners are complicated to install
- Solar air conditioners are not widely available, compared to traditional AC units.16
Aside from these disadvantages, solar power air conditioning units offer reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced electricity expenses, far fewer power outages and 100% off-the-grid options.
Using the above-mentioned calculations and methods to install solar-powered air conditioning options and find the best solar panel for AC unit options will go a long way in highlighting the advantages of solar-powered air conditioners, which outweigh the disadvantages.
Frequently Ask Questions About Solar Panel for AC Unit
Solar Panel Air Conditioner, How Do They Work?
Solar panel air conditioner systems work by connecting the solar thermal panel to the condenser unit and allowing the sun’s power to drive the refrigerant in the AC unit.
Solar Powered AC for Car?
It is possible to power a car’s AC system with a PV panel and battery system that powers the motor that drives the compressor. A charge controller mu?st be included to prevent PV panel energy loss.
Solar Powered Air Conditioner for Car?
Newer model cars have built-in PV panels on the roof to facilitate solar powered air conditioner systems. These cars include Toyota Prius Plug-in, Nissan Leaf, Hyundai/Kia, Audi A8 and Fisker Ocean.
Solar Powered Air Conditioner for Van?
The compact Bluetti AC200 system is popularly used for vans and RVs as it allows the AC unit to run all day.
Read More About Solar Panel for AC Unit
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