Solar AC Systems

As people continue to search for electricity that is more affordable, the potential of solar energy powered air conditioning continues to increase. Especially since the highest demands for cooling tend to coincide with places that have abundant sunlight. Solar energy’s intensity on the roof on the average single-story building is approximately ten times what the building’s cooling requirement is. Therefore solar AC can lower electricity costs for both small commercial and residential customers. Unfortunately, numerous current technologies are neither cost-effective or practical.

Solar-powered-AC-unitElectrically driven and highly efficient compressors are used by modern air-conditioning systems in order to generate refrigeration followed by cooled air.
Although very efficient, the systems run off of electricity, which is expensive as well, especially when demand is the highest during the summer peak times.

Using thermally driven chillers represents a less expensive option compared to air conditioning that is electrically driven. The chillers make use of solar thermal energy for driving them, and cheap natural gas can be used as a supplement. Double effect chillers are the most efficient of this kind of system. However, they require high temperatures (approximately 350F) for their driving temperature. These temperatures are beyond what the capabilities are of regular solar collectors. However, it is now possible thanks to new technology like the Chromasun MCT Panels.

Now that this is possible – Take a look at thermally driven air-conditioning and what their advantages are:

Lower Costs: Today there are high peaking electricity prices and low gas prices. Air-conditioning can be provided by thermally driven chillers at lower energy costs compared to electrically driven compressors. That is due to the fact that they use gas and solar for running them, instead of electricity. Therefore there is a reduction in demand charges and electricity costs are eliminated.

Solar Compatible: Efficient MCT panels are compatible with thermally driven chillers, which provides for improved environmental performance and significant reductions in gas consumption.

Baseload Capability: Either gas or solar can fire thermally driven chillers. When these two energy sources combine it means that the coolers are able to satisfy firm air conditioner load factors without needing any backup.

Reliable: There is a much longer design life and fewer moving parts on thermally driven chillers compared to mechanical vapor compressors that are electrically driven. Chromasun MCT Panels also are reliable, and provide an onsite source of energy that is sustainable and back up natural gas which isn’t prone to blackouts or demand limitations during peak summer times.

Efficient: More cooling is provided by double effect chillers that are solar driven compared to comparative photovoltaic systems. For a certain roof area, it is possible to supply the building with a lot more chilled water when a thermal approach is used. Waste heat can easily be harvested and used as DHW pre-heating or a ‘free’ pool wherever it is appropriate.


image credit:

How much money can I save by using a solar air conditioner?

It depends. Look at their efficiency when you are comparing units. Solar suppliers can assist you with comparing models and making a smart buying decision.

Truthfully, solar air conditioners are more expensive than conventional coolers are. It could cost a few thousand dollars, in addition to installation costs. However, solar air conditioning does come with long-term solar savings, which can make it a very wise investment choice.

Having an economic solar air conditioner also helps early technology control adopters with their energy expenses. The small industrial and light commercial sectors would be able to make use of the technology the best. In California, rooftop air conditioning electricity usage is 11.4 billion KWh a year. With a 75% projected energy savings, it is estimated that solar air conditioning displacement potential in the California sector is around 8.5 billion KWh per year. This corresponds to an approximate demand reduction of 5.5 GW, with a $1 billion a year consumer cost savings.