Kingtec Solar* has developed affordable solar-powered air conditioning in a relatively neat package. Here are some of the key details:
- Price: $2,895 USD.
- Cooling capacity: 16,000 BTU (4.7 kW of cooling capacity).
- Power consumption: 850 watts.
- SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): 22.5.
- EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measure of the BTUs of cooling capacity per watt of power consumed): 18.8.
- Weight: 200 pounds (This is tremendous for a window air conditioner of this size! But it does contain extra parts for the solar setup).
Why Solar Panels Are Not Integrated Directly into A/C Units
A/C units tend to be shaded by the roofs of houses, as well as awnings, so they are usually not exposed to direct sunlight, and they shouldn’t be. It is best that they are kept as cool as possible.
This single issue is a big one, but as long as the solar panels can be a decent distance away, this isn’t a problem.
Main Benefits of Solar Air Conditioning
Normally, to solar power an air conditioner, you would have to buy an air conditioner, then a separate inverter, separate batteries, solar panels, and hire both an electrician and a building contractor to set up the system for you, and that costs a fair bit of money.
Home solar power systems tend to cost $7 per watt in the United States (without tax credits), and around half of that cost is installation alone — this is because you have to hire contractors to set up the electronics such as the batteries, panels, etc. by hand.
However, for situations where it works, there are some big advantages.
The second benefit: Solar panels tend to generate more electricity at the same time that air conditioner power consumption increases. The fluctuating power consumption of air conditioners (caused by weather variation) is a problem for the electricity grid because power plants are not able to adjust their power production quickly enough to meet power demand spikes.
Cutting Your A/C Use
Finally, while this is a clever invention which can take advantage of economies of scale (due to factory production), unlike traditional hand-built solar setups, you can substantially reduce your air conditioner usage using simple measures such as closing window blinds on some windows, opening other windows to facilitate ventilation, and much more.
One of the greatest conservation tips of all is to use less energy (not reduce your standard of living, just turn things off when you aren’t using them — you don’t have to use them less to conserve energy), then go about obtaining energy from more sustainable sources, in general.
Photo Credit: Kingtec Solar
*This article was financially supported by Kingtec Solar (after it had already been written and published).
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