Solar Air Conditioners

Updated: Jan 16

The COVID-19 global pandemic has disrupted our lives in unprecedented ways. We care about you and ask that you protect yourself and others by regularly washing your hands with running water or using an alcohol based rub and not touching any parts of your face with unwashed hands. Also maintain a distance of about a metre between yourself and others when in public, use a nose/face mask and if required by regulation, do stay home. Stay safe.

An air conditioner, or more properly, an air conditioner unit is a mechanical-electrical system that treats air in an enclosed area through a refrigeration cycle in which warm air is removed and replaced with cooler air.

The most important process in the operation of air conditioners is the 'refrigeration cycle'. In the refrigeration cycle, which is similar to what happens in a refrigerator, a pump transfers heat from a lower temperature source into a higher temperature heat sink. In other words, warm air is 'refrigerated' and then with the help of fans, pumped out and circulated in a closed space. This is the most common type of air conditioning.

Conventional air conditioner units when used as part of a central solar power system use up too much of the electricity generated. The average air conditioner uses between 1.3 to 2.5kw of power which in most cases is about 40-50% of the total power of the average solar system.

How Solar Air Conditioners Work

There are are number of different types of solar air conditioning technology, but the two that are found in the local market include:

1. Solar photovoltaic air conditioners convert sunlight captured by a solar array into electricity. The air conditioning unit works the same as a typical split system, but is powered by energy provided by the sun. When solar energy is not sufficient, conventional electricity charges the systems battery, often incorporated into the system, and at night when there is no sunlight, power is drawn from the battery to keep the air conditioner on.

An air conditioner of that type looks like this: