GoGreenSolar logo

Can Solar Power Your Air Conditioner?

Solar 101/
use solar to power your air conditioner

You want to run your air conditioner constantly on a sweltering summer day. But the tradeoff is a high electric bill. So, you might be wondering: can you use solar power or solar panels — free energy from the sun — to power an air conditioner?

The easy answer is yes – you can run an air conditioner with solar energy. However, there are a few different ways to achieve solar-powered air conditioning. Let’s discuss the various options and details.

Option 1: Solar-Powered A/C Units

The original solar-powered air conditioning units were essentially evaporative coolers. These coolers only work in very low humidity but can run on a single solar panel as they don’t require much electricity.

Now, newer AC units on the market can run with solar. These include small heat pump air conditioning systems that can heat or cool using the power from four or five solar panels. The downside of these models is the low cooling capacity (they can only cool a 250-square-foot area), and they only work while the sun is out (unless you add batteries or set them up to be hybrid solar and grid-powered).

You can also find larger solar-powered AC units — up to 10 tons — that can cool a standard home in the United States. These types of units take power directly from solar panels or the grid. The number of solar panels you need to run these units varies, depending on size and how much grid power you can supplement for the unit.

The issue with these “solar air conditioners” is that whenever you aren’t running your A/C, the power from your solar panels is going to waste.

Option 2: Install a Small Grid-Tie System to Power A/C

You may want to consider installing a small grid-tie solar system that can power your home’s A/C and other appliances or utilities. You don’t necessarily have to install a complete solar panel system for your home.

The number of solar panels you need to run your A/C would depend on the size of your air conditioner, the temperature you set your thermostat and how hot it gets in your area.

For example, a five-ton A/C unit uses an average of 2,700 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month. If you run it for four months out of the year, that would be approximately 10,800 kWh per year. The number of solar panels you need to generate that much power in a year depends on the sun exposure in your location, but you can estimate a system size of about 6kw to 8kw.

If you need additional power, you can still get it from the grid and pay for it like a typical electric bill. If you install a larger solar system, nothing goes to waste; the excess solar will power other appliances in your home, saving you even more money on your utility bill.

Option 3: Install a Complete Grid-Tie System

Suppose you want to save money beyond your A/C usage; consider installing a complete grid-tie solar energy system for your home. You can install enough solar panels to offset all the electricity you use in the summer and winter, helping you save money year-round.

Adding Batteries to Support Solar-Powered Air Conditioning

Solar batteries are quickly gaining popularity in the United States because homeowners need electricity even when the power goes out. Installing solar batteries allows you to run your appliances, including air conditioning, during a power outage.

Small solar battery systems are great for running low-power items like lights, cell phone chargers, laptops or refrigerators. But when it comes to air conditioning, you’ll need a much larger system. If your central air conditioner has a 40-amp or 50-amp breaker, you would need a solar battery system that’s large enough to power it. It is expensive, but it is possible.

A more budget-friendly option is to install a mini-split air conditioner that cools one to two rooms using a smaller solar battery system. A mini-split unit can save money by reducing your usage of central A/C.

The number of solar panels and batteries required to run a mini-split depends on the size of the mini-split, the number of rooms you want to cool, and the number of hours you want to run it.

Read: Choosing a Solar Battery Backup System For Your Home

Our Conclusion on Solar Powered Air Conditioning

A solar panel system allows you the freedom to run your air conditioner more often — without worrying about the electricity bill.

For expert advice on choosing the best solar panel system for your home, get in touch with the pros at GoGreenSolar. We have decades of experience designing solar and battery systems tailored to you and your home.

At GoGreenSolar, we walk you through the purchase and installation process step by step. We’ll assess all factors like your overall utility bill, the size of your existing A/C, the amount of space you have for solar panels, your desire for battery backup options and your budget. In the end, you’ll have an efficient solar power system that meets you and your family’s needs, keeps you comfortable and offers peace of mind in any situation.

Read this next

Solar Calculator

Solar Calculator

Use our easy solar panel calculator to get a quick estimate of how many solar panels you’ll need for your home.

Size My Solar Calculator
Free Solar Roof Layout

Free Solar Roof Layout

Our engineers use state-of-the-art software to conduct a PV analysis and draft a free layout of solar on your roof, included with our complimentary quote.

Get My Free Layout

Get Started With Solar

We’ll help you figure out your solar needs!

Fill out the form for a complimentary solar quote that includes a custom satellite layout and a breakdown of solar energy production, federal tax credit and energy offset.

Get free estimate