Solar Air Conditioning
With climate change negatively impacting world temperatures, it becomes costlier to make the indoors comfortable. While air conditioner manufacturers are continuously improving their products to make them more energy efficient, a few hours of air conditioning still adds a significant amount to the monthly bill. Businesses must maintain a reasonably comfortable temperature for customers and employees, which is why they have to keep the air conditioning on for all the business hours.
This is not only expensive, but all these businesses combined add a significant amount to our carbon footprint and consume our non-renewable fossil fuel resources. These problems are just a few of the challenges that solar air conditioning can solve. It is a way to enjoy the same comforts minus the energy expenditure and high electric bill. It is powered through the help of the unlimited sun. This article will examine this air conditioner alternative, explain how it functions, and discuss its pros and cons so that you can decide whether to make the switch.
How Solar Powered Air Conditioners Work
Just like refrigerators, air conditioners expel heat to the exterior so that the overall temperature can be reduced. This process is what makes the unit consume so much energy, and this energy comes from the outlet that is powered by the electrical grid. This is where a solar powered air conditioner excels over the traditional type. It uses the same mechanism for cooling except that its energy comes from the sun.
The way it does this is through solar panels or through solar thermal systems. The panels in a solar PV system absorb light particles or photons from the sun, convert those particles into electricity, and use that direct current to charge the battery. The battery then keeps the machine functional even during the night.
A solar thermal system absorbs the heat, instead of light, from the sun. This energy aids the compressor of the air conditioning unit to facilitate the refrigeration process. However, this type of system still uses electricity from the grid. However, since the compressor is drawing energy from the heat of the sun, the energy consumption is less than a regular air conditioning unit.
There is also another type of system called an absorption chiller that utilizes solar power to operate the machine’s fan and motor. This involves both a heating and cooling process and enables the water to evaporate and condensate to generate cooler air. This type of solar air conditioning can operate on solar power.
DIY Solar Air Conditioner
Going solar may require a major investment. This could be one of the reasons why people do not go solar at all as they do not have the money for a one-time investment even when it promises returns in the long run. Luckily, there is a way to build a solar ac in the comfort of your own home. How can this be achieved? Well, you will need to buy a few items, and you can get the rest from your garage. Of course, you will need a solar panel.
This can be bought in hardware stores or online shops. Just make sure that you are using quality panels and that you handle it with care so that it will not get any scratches. The next thing you will need is a battery operated fan. You can buy this in hardware stores as well. This is essential for your DIY machine and will be used as the driver of air within the container.
With the fan and the solar panels ready, you now must find a Styrofoam container. You will place the fan in the container and fill it with ice. To make sure the fan and wiring does not become submerged, you may have to place it on a stand or pedestal. The container should also have two holes in the exterior to allow for air exchange.
At this point, the solar panels must be connected to the batteries of the fan. Once the batteries are fully charged, you will have a fully functional DIY solar air conditioning system. This is a decent alternative when you are not ready to spend a lot on a manufactured system just yet. This could work to cool your room or a small area in your house. It cannot be expected to cool an entire home, though, or to replace a house’s central air conditioning system.
Another way to set up your own solar air conditioner is to install the solar panels on your roof and then hook them up to your main air conditioning system to reduce your house’s power consumption from the electrical grid. However, this will require more experience and a knowledge of solar panels and electrical wiring to be pulled off successfully. Therefore, you may need to consult with an electrician and a solar specialist for their help in installation.
Pros and Cons of Solar AC
Now that you understand how a solar air conditioner works, you may be interested in knowing the benefits and downsides to using one in contrast to an ordinary air conditioning system.
- Beneficial to the environment – Since air conditioners are some of the biggest consumers of electricity from power plants, you are effectively decreasing consumption by not using electricity from the grid. You are going to use free energy from the sun and contribute to the reduction of our dependence on fossil fuels.
- Cut your electric bill significantly – If you live in a tropical region, you may need to use air conditioning for the entire day. However, if you have a solar powered ac unit, you will not need to worry about your bills going up.
- Long-term savings – While the initial investment in a solar system may be significant, the savings over time is definitely worth it because the system will last 2 or 3 decades if taken care of.
- Tax incentives – Some states provide tax incentives through a discount or by allowing your solar system’s installation expenses to reduce your taxes.
- Going green – Solar based air conditioning units do not use chlorofluorocarbons like some regular units, so you are helping reduce the CFC build-up in the atmosphere.
- Dependent on the sun – Therefore, charging may take a while on days with limited light. However, if you position the panels at the right angle facing the sun, they can still absorb enough energy to power your unit.
- High initial installation costs – They are usually more expensive than regular air conditioning units. If you are going to install the panels on your roof, it can be even costlier. However, the return on investment is definitely worth it in the long run.
It is getting harder and harder to endure the heat with the global temperatures increasing. This usually translates to more energy consumption and, in turn, higher electrical bills. This is most true during the summer days. At some point in the future, air conditioning may not even be optional when the heat index becomes intolerable. Therefore, it is important that we find alternatives to ease the financial burden while still keeping the indoors comfortable.
Luckily, through the unlimited energy of the sun, we can enjoy the cool air without the financial worries. Solar power is one great solution to the challenges of increasing global temperatures, and the more people who go solar, the better it is for the planet and for future generations. Check out the types of solar powered air conditioners above, and determine which one will suit you best. Once you make the switch, you can enjoy practically free air conditioning for many days to come.