Using a solar air conditioner

Those people who live in areas that experience severely warm weather during the year know how critical their air conditioning is. In some places, people rarely venture outside their homes during the summer. Instead, they turn on their air conditioner and enjoy the cool temperature throughout the day. Unfortunately, air conditioning is expensive. The energy required to operate an air conditioning unit is significant. It's continued use usually results in a high electric bill.

A solar air conditioner can be used to lower the cost of enjoying an air conditioned environment. They can be applied for residential or business use. In this article, we'll explain the basics of how a solar air conditioner works. You'll also learn how much they typically cost and how long it will take to recoup your investment.

How a solar air conditioner works

The energy required to power a solar air conditioner is stored within an array of solar panels. The system uses an antifreeze that is delivered to a chiller through a carefully-designed route. The parts include a pump, heat storage unit, dump radiator, cooling tower (to remove expended heat) and the chiller. Once the air has traveled through those parts, an air handler and set of fan coils distribute the chilled air into the home or office.

The technology behind solar-powered air conditioning units has been used in other countries for years. For example, they're widely deployed throughout Japan because of soaring energy costs. They're also used in hospitals, office buildings and hotels throughout the world.

The cost of a solar air conditioner

These units are not cheap. They require a sizable upfront investment. For example, the SolCool Millenia model is priced at over $3,500 (including installation). Other models can cost significantly more. That being said, the cost associated with repairing a residential air conditioning unit can often cost more than that. Like other solar paneling solutions, the investment is large, but the cost savings over the long-run can make the overall return on investment attractive.

How long before recouping the investment?

If you use a solar air conditioner for your business, it may take very little time to recoup your initial investment. This is largely due to credits offered by certain states to businesses that use alternative sources of energy. Each state has different criteria for the credits they offer. Some states may provide far fewer incentives to businesses that use solar energy. In those cases, it will require more time to recoup your investment. Because most states don't currently offer significant incentives for residential use of solar power, homeowners will recoup their investment primarily through ongoing energy savings.

Enjoying your solar air conditioner

It's important to note that a solar-powered air conditioning unit isn't designed to replace your current air conditioner. Instead, it's designed to operate a majority of the time, leaving your current system to provide cool air during the evenings or during times when the sun isn't shining. In effect, the solar A/C unit can be used as your main air conditioner (because it will operate most of the time) while your existing unit can serve as your back-up.

Your solar air conditioner will require periodic maintenance and a thorough check-up every couple of years. Occasionally, a part (such as the pump) may wear out, but they're easily replaced. Ultimately, these small, compact solar A/C units can be a welcome alternative to the expensive units most of us have grown accustomed to.