Published on December 6th, 2011 | by Nicholas Brown


Solar-Powered Air Conditioning for Cars

December 6th, 2011 by  

Solar-powered car -- not a car using the solar-powered air conditioning system discussed below.

Solar Powered Car (Corvair) — not a car using the solar-powered air conditioning system discussed below.

PolyU’s department of electrical engineering, in collaboration with Green Power Industrial, has developed an air conditioning system for cars that utilizes a photovoltaic solar panel to power the air conditioning system when the engine is off.

The solar panel is made of a flexible material so that it can conform to the shape of the car roof, and it charges a battery which, in turn, powers the standalone air conditioning system.

Traditional vehicles use the engine to turn the air conditioner compressor on via a clutch, and the alternator to power the fans. When the air conditioning system is turned on, the clutch (which is attached to the compressor’s rotor) is pressed by an electromagnet against a wheel that is always being turned by the engine (via a belt) and the clutch then turns,… and the clutch finally turns the engine.

One of the touted benefits of this solar-powered setup is reduced air pollution and reduced fuel consumption, because people tend to keep their engines on (in order to keep the A/C on) when waiting in parking lots for their child to get out of school, or maybe while a friend is grabbing a few things in a store, and so on.

Of course, when idling, your fuel economy is actually 0 mpg, since you are burning gas but not actually going anywhere, so all of it (except what is used for the air conditioning) is wasted and lowers your average fuel efficiency.

This system received two awards from the 39th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva this year and the developers of the system claim that they expect widespread deployment of it.

h/t | Photo Credit: Corvair Owner

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  2. Where More People Might Switch to Solar-Powered Electric Cars, and Why
  3. Solar Power for Electric Cars

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • Dare2Speak

    This would save the lives of infants left in cars by parents who have forgotten they have children in the rear seats. Indispensable.

  • This is cool! If ever this was applied to our transportatioon today, all cars will look like that. It’s like we’re in the car race. Oil companies are the richest so they will use all their money to stop the booming industry of the use of renewable energy

  • Kameno Lomka

    This is a great idea. I’ve been using a homemade solar power system for 3 years now and my electricity cost is reduced about 90%, which is huge. DIY systems are way cheaper and easy to construct, the money comes back after 1 year of usage.

    I have so many cells at home and I’ve never though I could put them on my cars roof and connect them with the gadgets. I’ll just add a second battery which will be powered by the solar cells and the battery will power my air conditioning, audio system, charger.

    If you need well researched construction instructions for a cheap but extremely efficient solar power system email me,

    • Drdjsinha

      Dear sir 
       I want to install a car airconditioner run by solar.
        Please inform me details of it.
        yours truly Dr D J sinha 

  • This is good. Be cool if all electrical gadgets in cars could be powered off a solar powered battery.

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