Post By
Samarth Gara

Can I run AC on Solar Power?

February 4, 2021

The use of solar panels has gradually become more and more widespread in many places of the world, where it was not considered an option not too long ago. Still, there are quite a few doubts regarding the efficacy of solar power and whether they are able to meet the power requirements for high load devices such as Air conditioners and Refrigerators. In this article, we will tackle those questions head-on and tell you the ways in which you can easily run air conditioners and other high power devices using your solar panel setup without having to spend a fortune. 

Air conditioners are widely used owing to the rise in global temperatures creating oppressive conditions during the peak of summer in the subcontinents. ACs are now common not only in homes but are also becoming more and more common in commercial establishments of various sizes including the micro industries. With the right solar panel setup, you can save a lot of money in running multiple ACs or continuously running ACs for hospitals, schools, and other public and private spaces. 

Especially in countries like India, the high temperatures witnessed during summer coupled with the high cost of running air conditioners, the conditions are ripe for higher solar panel setups which facilitates consumers to make significant savings in the long run.  

 

On-grid and Off-grid systems 

You can run air conditioners on both on-grid as well as off-grid solar systems. The only difference is that in on-grid systems you can run your appliances even when there is no electricity, which is not possible in the case of off-grid systems. If you are using an on-grid system, you should ensure that you install kVA inverters to handle high loads. It is also recommended to install a higher kW worth of solar panels if your expected AC usage is higher than average. In general, it is recommended to run air conditioners within a capacity range of 3 kW to 10 kW depending upon the number of  ACs you're expecting to run and their average durations. In the case of on-grid systems, you can easily support the running of multiple ACs in commercial office spaces or residences with electricity bills ranging from around 1 lakh to 5000-10000 respectively. Apart from this, one of the major reasons for setting up an on-grid connection is that you enjoy the benefit of net metering policies to avail  credit in your monthly electricity bills.

In order to run an on-grid system, you will require government approval as well as dedicated roof space to set up your solar panels. The benefit  of installing on-grid systems is that the government offers a lot of added incentives for users. This manifests in the form of subsidies which will help you to reduce your costs to a certain extent. You can get different rates of subsidy in different states. General conditions are that the system should be a grid-connected, battery-less, with you as a domestic residential consumer to claim the benefits. 

AC Wattage and Current Requirements 

When we talk about air conditioners as appliances consuming more power, we are referring to two main aspects which you need to keep in mind. Air conditioners and other such appliances have a high draw of initial current and demand higher wattage to start with. Here we will discuss the max wattage and the ideal maximum kVA panels that are required for ACs of different tonnage. 

In the case of a standard 1 ton AC which is used by most small establishments and residences, the max wattage requirement would be somewhere around 1300 watts or 13 kW.  For this kind of power requirement, we would recommend a 1.6 kVA solar power, assuming there is a 0.85 power factor. In the case of higher powered ACs such as 1.5 tons, a 2.4kVA solar panel can be used to match the 1900 watts or 1.9 kW requirements. If this is still not enough and you need to run a 2 ton AC, then you will need to have a 3 kVA solar panel for maximum power supply, as the wattage requirement will be somewhere around 2500 watts or 2.5 kW. 

Preconditions to setting up an On-grid Solar Panel System 

If you wish to set up a solar panel system to run your ACs, it is vital for you to understand the concept of solar net-metering which helps you to calculate any excess power that is being generated by your solar grid system. The two main conditions that you need to fulfill while 

setting up an on-grid solar panel system are as follows : 

 

  1. Ensure that the total PV capacity in the local distribution network does not cross 30 percent of the distributor transformer capacity. In order to understand this better, consider this example;a distribution network that is powered by a  250 KVA distribution transformer cannot have more than 75 kW of total solar PV capacity connected to itself. 

 

  1. The total PV system capacity that is being proposed cannot be more than the sanctioned or contacted load of the service connection. In case this rule is breached and the PV system capacity is higher than the sanctioned connected load, you will need to apply for service connection load enhancement. Only after applying for  this, your solar net-metering application can be submitted.  

 

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. How many solar panels do I need to run a 1.5 ton Air Conditioner? 

The number of solar panels that you require to comfortably run a 1.5 ton air conditioner depends upon the maximum kVA of the individual solar panels. However, as a general rule of thumb, we can recommend that you should get around 10 panels with a wattage of around 250 watts each. In the case of 1 ton AC, it is best to set up 6 solar panels with 250 watts each. 

 

2. What appliances can be used with solar power? 

Solar panels perform the task of converting light energy from the sun into electric energy that can be used by a whole gamut of different everyday appliances used daily. The transformed energy is then stored in batteries and used by the different appliances as per their requirements. It is fair to say that you can run almost any electrical equipment using solar energy which generally runs using normal electricity. These include things like lights, fans, TVs, computers, PlayStations, and many more. Some people seem to think that it is not ideal to run Air Conditioners and Refrigerators using a solar power system, but this is a myth that has been disproved time and again. 

 

3. How many batteries does it take to run an AC? 

Batteries are devices which store the converted light energy so that various household devices can utilize the energy  to run everyday functions. In most cases, off-grid solar panel setups require batteries to store the power, which can be used later when there is no electricity available. Most people would recommend  a 4 battery setup with 150 mAh batteries if you are running a 1 ton AC. This might change as the AC capacity increases to 1.5 or 2- tons. 

 

4. Can I run a 1.5 ton AC  on solar without batteries? 

This question generally comes from those who wish to set up an on-grid solar panel system for their residence. We would recommend you to figure out the power of your solar panel and measure the total amount of power that your AC needs  to function. In theory, you can run a 1.5 ton ac on solar without batteries, provided that there is enough power being driven from the solar panel into the appliance. It is important to mention that a 1.5 ton air conditioner consumes somewhere around 1.6 kW of power. We would ideally recommend you to go for a 2.5 or 3 kW power system if you are planning to run a 1.5 ton AC without batteries using solar power. Overall, it is better to go for a higher kW capacity as you will be running other appliances as well along with your AC, which will consume additional power and put higher stress on your solar panels. In short, it is possible to run a 1.5 ton air conditioner without using a battery, but you need to do adequate research about your power requirements and whether your panels are capable of meeting them. 

 

5. Why should you go for a solar AC module? 

There are a few important benefits that you will enjoy if you choose to go for a solar AC module instead of a DC variant. The first major advantage is that an inverter battery is not a mandatory requirement in the case of solar AC modules. Another reason for the popularity of AC modules is that the installation is very simple and straightforward and takes about 15 minutes or so. Other than that, you also have the panel wattage monitoring mechanism which enables you to always stay in control and fish out any irregularities if they should arise. The last thing to mention regarding the benefits of AC modules is that it gives up to more than 25 percent power generation as compared to DC modules. 

 

Conclusion 

In this article today, we attempted to answer the main question of whether it is possible and feasible for you to run your AC on a solar-powered system. We discussed numerous themes and sub-themes related to this topic in  this article and we expect that you acquired some valuable information that you probably were not aware of before. We dispelled the myth that it is inadvisable to run air conditioners on solar power setups and we also explained the reasons why it could prove to be a very good solution for a host of Indian families owing to the harsh summer conditions and the costs of running air conditioners regularly. 

Then in the following section, we had some discussions about on-grid and off-grid systems. We outlined their main differences and how they function and what additional requirements they have. Next, we addressed the questions surrounding the wattage and current requirement of air conditioners and which panels would be suitable for different air conditioners based upon tonnage considerations. With that, we bid you farewell and we wish you the best in your environmentally sustainable endeavors until we meet again. 

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