Yes, your aircon can run on solar power!

As Australia’s ‘heat engine’ switches back on, air-conditioning systems are switching on across homes in the country as well, to beat the rising temperatures. For those dreading their utility bills again this summer, the biggest question has always been — can my aircon run on solar power? The answer, is YES!

Solar power for home can be used to power any appliance in your residence, be it your washing machine, or your toaster. But advances in technology over the past decade now allow us to utilise solar power for even for heavy-duty requirements like air-conditioning in the summer, or conversely, heating during winter. These usually comprise the greatest portion of our utility bills, but with a solar panel system, you can keep your electricity cost down, without sacrificing your comfort.

How much solar power will you need?

This depends on quite a few factors, such as the size of your AC unit, how much power it uses, how often and how long you run the aircon. To generate a quick estimate, first check the side of your aircon unit to know how much power it uses — this information is usually displayed in watts (W) on a label on the side of the unit. With this, you can calculate how many kilowatt hours (kWh) your aircon will consume on a day-to-day basis.  To calculate the kWh, simply multiply the applicance’s wattage into the number of hours you intend to run it, and then divide by 1000. Let’s say you have a window unit that uses 900W, and you run this for 8 hours — the kWh calculation will be (900×8)/1000 = 7.2kWh.

Now, if you know the electricity tariff, you can also use this figure to calculate approximately how much your AC is costing you, by simply multiplying your kWh with the power rate per kWh.

Equally importantly, you can also use your kWh figure to determine how much electricity your aircon will use on a yearly basis, and how many solar panels you will need to cover this requirement. Let’s say that two window units in your home used for eight hours a day over three months of summer add about 1,296 kWh to your total power consumption. Now, determining how many panels you will require depends on how much sunlight the panels will receive, where you are located in the country, the system design and efficiency, etc.

Let the experts help

If you find all this math and calculation intimidating, don’t let it scare you off. CEC approved installers like Solar NextGen (approved by Clean Energy Council) will be able to determine your electricity requirements and what is the best, most economical and efficient solar system installation for your purposes. Taking help from the Solar NextGen experts will not just give you the best solar deals but will ensure your power bills drop down to a minimum, or even zero. 

Already have solar panels but no AC?

If you have already got solar power at home, but haven’t installed an AC yet, or don’t use the solar panels to power the aircon yet, you can choose to end the struggle now. If you are worried that your current solar system may not be able to cover 100% of your utility bill if you run air-conditioning, CEC approved retailer Solar NextGen can also add more panels to your existing system.

How to improve cooling efficiency

If you’re wondering whether a modest solar array can run your home’s cooling needs through the summer, the answer to that is yes. But cooling efficiency depends just as much on what’s inside the house — vis a vis insulation — as the solar panels outside. If you have a home that is well-insulated and have chosen an aircon system with maximum electrical efficiency, you’re already off to a good start. If you combine this with a reasonably sized solar panel system, you can quickly recover the solar panel installation cost over time as well.