How Many Solar Panels to Run Air Conditioner?


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Image on Flickr by Dave Dugdale and license


Solar panels are a hot topic right now, seeing how most homeowners are looking to lower their energy costs and become more environmentally friendly. However, many people have difficulty understanding how many solar panels are required to run an air conditioner. What are the facts?


It depends on the wattage of the air conditioner and the solar panel. For example, a 1500-watt AC unit will need six 250-watt solar panels to handle the load. Other factors include the placement of the solar panels and surrounding weather.


If you’re thinking about using solar panels to run your air conditioner, you need to know the facts:

  • Too little solar panels, and you’ll be stuck in a sticky, hot mess. 
  • Too many, and you might be paying more than you thought. 


Below, you will find all of the useful info regarding how many solar panels to run an air conditioner.


How Many Solar Panels Are Required to Run Different Ton of Air Conditioners?

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There are two important factors to consider

  1. The wattage of the air conditioner.
  2. The size or wattage of the solar panels.

1) Know the Wattage Of Your AC Unit:

Before you can calculate quantity of solar panels you need, you first have to figure out the wattage of the AC unit. Each AC unit will have its specific wattage, depending on its size and functions.

However, the most common type of air conditioners and their respective wattage goes as followed:

Precaution to take:

Keep in mind that while these are typical wattage numbers for the air conditioner unit, it is not always cut-and-dry. It is important to know the exact wattage your AC requires to make sure to calculate the rise in wattage that occurs during the summer seasons. Since the AC will be running more regularly, it will require more power from the solar panels.

The air conditioner wattage is not the only wattage to factor in when deciding how many solar panels to run the air conditioner. You must also pay attention to the wattage that the solar panels provide, too.

Type of A/C Unit

Wattage

Best For

Central Air Conditioner

3500-Watts

Small and Medium Businesses/Homes

Central AC with Fan

750-Watts

Good-Sized Home

Window Unit (S/M/L)

500/900/1440-Watts

Various home sizes


2) Decide On Solar Panel Size or Wattage:

 

Most common solar panels wattage: 

There are several options when it comes to solar panel wattage. The most common number is 250-watt. This style is enough to ensure most home air conditioners run efficiently. However, there is also the option for 100 to 250, which is best for small areas. Larger numbers, like 400 to 450, are reserved for larger areas such as a big business complex.

 calculation:

To get a better understanding of how air conditioner wattage and solar panel wattage go hand-in-handy, consider this: If your air conditioner unit runs with 3600 wattages, you will need at least 15 solar panels of 250-watts or nine solar panels of 400-watts.


Is Inverter AC Best to Run on Solar Panels, Or a Normal One?


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One question a lot of people ask is whether their inverter air conditioner can function on solar power. The simple answer to this is yes, your inverter air conditioner will work on solar panels. In fact, it is highly recommended to do so. The two work together as a powerhouse!

Why? Because a DC inverter air conditioner is a far more energy-efficient AC unit than a traditional, or normal air conditioner. They are readily available to use with your solar panels. Combined, you will be saving tons in energy costs over the years.

How Does It Work?

Running your inverter AC on solar panels is a wonderful investment that helps your wallet and the environment alike. But how does it all work?

Using solar energy in inverter AC:

Well, first look at the air conditioner. Air conditioners notoriously require a high amount of wattage in order to operate and the respective compressors need a high current. Although the current will vary throughout the day, a 2 or 3 kW inverter can handle the load. This inverter is connected directly to the solar panels to regulate the current.

Not only that, but you should also note that air conditioners use a lot of energy to operate, too. Air conditioners that are greater than a one-ton air conditioner will likely need 3 kW or more to run efficiently. However, a common one-ton AC can easily last on 2 kW. 

So, an inverter AC is the best choice when keeping in mind wattage requirements and deciding to run on solar panels.


How Much Do Solar Panels Cost to Run Air Conditioner?

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There is no clear-cut answer when it comes to solar panel pricing. That’s because each area of the United States will have different costs. You must also take into consideration the efficiency and capacity of the solar panels. However, the average price for an average-sized home ranges from $11,000 to $14,600.

When installing solar panels, expect to pay around $13,000 after certain tax incentives in the United States. However, also keep in mind that smaller systems can easily land you at around $5,000 while larger systems can pass $40,000 easily. 

Most of the cost goes towards installation and the equipment necessary, such as an inverter.


How Much Do Solar Panels Save?

Yes, solar panels are quite an investment upfront - they aren’t cheap. But the payoff is well worth it in the long run. But how much do solar panels really save?

For most individuals, switching to a solar energy system cuts their energy costs by up to 75%. Of course, the savings have a wide discrepancy as it depends on the climate and area you live in.

Panel Output Factors

Knowing the wattage of the air conditioner and solar panels are key to success. But there are a few other key elements that can stand in the way of your perfect projection. Here are some of the common panel output factors to consider when deciding how many solar panels to run your air conditioner.

  • Hours of sunlight - The more sunlight, the fewer panels necessary. Remember - solar panels work off energy from the sun, so having access to plenty of sun rays will be beneficial. That said, consider your climate. If you live in a sunny area like Phoenix, Arizona, you will need fewer panels than in Seattle, Washington.
  • Placement of panels - Placement is also key. It does your solar panels no good to sit in the opposite direction of the sun all day. Ensure the solar panels are located in an area where they will receive plenty of sunlight to energize your air conditioner unit.
  • Type of solar panels - There are also different types to consider. For example, some solar panels come without grid lines on the front. They tend to absorb more sunlight than the conventional model. They are also more prone to fending off peeling in the long run, which means less cost in the future on maintenance.



Final Thoughts:

Figuring out how many solar panels to run your air conditioning unit doesn’t have to be a struggle. It all depends on how many watts your air conditioner unit produces. From there, you can base your number on the respective wattage of the solar panel.

Don’t forget to make sure that your solar panels are placed in an area of ample sunlight. And hey - just because the upfront price might be hefty, always remember that you will be saving up to 75% on your energy costs. It all equals out in the end!