Can I run My Air Conditioner using Solar Power?
Why can't you put a single solar panel on your house and plug your AC into it? Couldn't the solar electricity from that single panel cool your house down when it's hot outside? And why do you have to get involved with trying to "sell" excess power to a utility company?
Maybe those questions will be answered someday, but for now there are plenty of complications for that single panel idea – including getting city and utility company permits.
However, lots of simpler new ideas for using the sun to help cool off your house are in the works, including an energy-efficient, so-called "Hybrid Climate System", developed by SunTrac, a Tempe company, along with other companies.
The new system involves installing a small single "smart" panel on a home's roof. The panel doesn't produce electricity as most rooftop solar panel installations do these days, according to Andrew Dobbins of Intelligent Design in Tucson.
Instead, the system adds extra pressure and heat to the refrigeration cycle. That heat can keep a two-stage air conditioner compressor at its low or first stage while cooling a house. The result is significant energy savings in costs of air conditioning – even up to 40 percent, according to the manufacturer. At the same time, homeowners don't have to get involved with selling excess power back to a utility.
The panel consists of several parabolic mirrored troughs. The light is focused on a copper pipe, coated with absorbent paint. A special sensor safeguards the effectiveness and longevity of refrigerants and compressors. In fact, the panel will rotate out of the sun once maximum temperatures are reached.
"The sun is doing a portion of the compressor's job," Dobbins said. He noted that he has been installing about 100 of the systems a year in Southern Arizona, including the Tucson area.
According to Dobbins, the federal and state tax credit involved in purchasing the new hybrid system, including the panel and a new compressor, will pay for the panel itself. There is a 10-year parts and labor warranty on the panel.
In fact, the panel will only work if a home has a variable speed or multi-stage compressor. So that would make it impossible in most cases to buy and install just the panel on an older compressor. The home's system will remain tied to the electrical grid.
Of course, there are other new solar-powered solutions for cooling homes on the market. Lennox Heating and Cooling has its Sunsource Home Energy system that comes equipped with its own system of solar panels that can be used for cooling or heating the home. Energy that's left over can power electronics and small appliances in your home or sold to a utility.
Because this equipment is solar-ready, buyers can get a tax credit on the entire price of the system.
There are also systems on the market that include smaller solar panels that can power a mini-split system for a smaller home. Some systems are still tied to the electric grid for times when the sun stops shining.
But whatever newer system you may be interested in be sure to research it thoroughly and ask lots of questions about how your new solar innovation is going to work.
About Intelligent Design Air Conditioning
Intelligent Design is a veteran-owned and operated business based in Tucson. Currently holding the highest customer rated position for Air Conditioning companies in Tucson, they specialize in: residential system repair and replacement, indoor air quality solutions, custom duct repair and design, custom homes and commercial service and replacement.
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