Are you able to energy an AC with photo voltaic panels?

AC items are pricey to run, which is why many individuals are turning to photo voltaic panels to offset this appreciable expense.

Should you’re one of many 85% of American households that personal an AC, it’s price figuring out this equipment accounts for 16% of your electrical energy invoice.

From 2021 to 2022, the value of electrical energy elevated by 15%. Due to this, it’s possible you’ll already be spending greater than $ 1,000 a yr to run your AC.

Fortunately, there are answers to scale back your electrical energy invoice, like putting in a photo voltaic system. At the moment, greater than 3 million American houses are geared up with a photo voltaic system.

On this article, utilizing easy calculations, we exhibit how photo voltaic panels can energy an AC.  Moreover, we offer a desk that will help you dimension your photo voltaic system based on your AC unit’s energy.


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How a lot vitality does an AC use?

Air-con items are essentially the most power-hungry home home equipment, with bigger fashions reaching greater than 7kW.

Usually, to find out the quantity of vitality an equipment makes use of, you need to multiply its rated energy by the variety of working hours:

Power (kWh) = Energy (kW) x Time (hour)

Sadly, this components doesn’t apply to ACs. These items hardly ever function repeatedly at full energy. As an alternative, their compressors comply with a working cycle (ON-OFF) the place their length will depend on a number of elements, akin to:

  • Desired room temperature.
  •  Exterior temperature.
  •  Room dimension.
  •  The AC’s effectivity.

Subsequently, in contrast to an electrical fan, you’ll be able to solely estimate the quantity of electrical energy an AC makes use of.

The next desk summarizes the common month-to-month vitality use for various AC sizes:

AC cooling energy Beneficial room dimension Common Energy Common Month-to-month Power Use for brand new AC (supply: EnergyStar)
5,000BTU 150sqft 500W 30kWh
9,000BTU 350-400sqft 850W 55kWh
12,000BTU 450-550sqft 1061W 65kWh
18,000BTU 600-1000sqft 1500W 85kWh
24,000BTU 1400-1500sqft 2660W 170kWh
28,000BTU 1500-1900sqft 2950W 220kWh

Notice to our readers: The cooling energy of an air-con unit is measured in British Thermal Models BTU/h (BTU). The upper this determine, the upper the cooling capability.

AC items additionally include an Power Effectivity Ratio (EER) score. This score is the ratio of an AC unit’s cooling capability to its energy.

EER= BTU / Energy (W)

The upper the EER, the extra environment friendly your AC is and the decrease its vitality use.

Are you able to energy an AC with photo voltaic panels?

Photo voltaic panels are modular energy techniques, and industrial photo voltaic farms are generally manufactured from tons of of items. Naturally, they’ll haven’t any downside powering an AC.

Nonetheless, you wish to know whether or not a residential photo voltaic system can energy an AC.

On this half, we will likely be learning two kinds of home photo voltaic techniques:

We’ll overview their specificities and discover out if they’ll energy an AC.

Are you able to energy an AC with a grid-tied photo voltaic system?

Photo voltaic panels are modular energy techniques, with industrial photo voltaic farms generally manufactured from tons of of items. Naturally, they’ll haven’t any downside powering an AC.

Nonetheless, you wish to know whether or not a residential photo voltaic system can energy an AC. So, let’s take a look at two kinds of home photo voltaic techniques:

We’ll overview their specificities and decide whether or not they can energy an AC.

Associated studying: Grid-Tied Vs. Off-Grid (What are the important thing variations?)

Are you able to energy an AC with a grid-tied photo voltaic system?

In a grid-tied photo voltaic system, your photo voltaic panels and family electrical system connect with a utility firm.

This configuration means that you can self-consume your photo voltaic electrical energy day by day and promote the surplus to the electrical energy grid. 

If there’s inadequate daylight, the utility grid routinely takes over and powers your home equipment.

Now, you’ve seen that an AC unit’s energy varies from 500W to 3000W. Consequently, you’ll want a photo voltaic system with related energy output.

Keep in mind, photo voltaic panels are variable energy turbines. In different phrases, their energy varies relative to the time of day and yr, climate, and outdoors temperature.

Right here’s an instance utilizing a 500W photo voltaic panel in Los Angeles. Utilizing International Photo voltaic Atlas, we sourced the next common hourly energy profile:

The power profile of a 500W solar panel in Los Angeles.
The facility profile of a 500W photo voltaic panel in Los Angeles.

The common energy output of a 500W photo voltaic panel between 9 AM and 4 PM is 200-366 watts. Consequently, in a grid-tied configuration, a 500W photo voltaic panel can’t immediately run a 500W AC unit (5,000 BTU).

Subsequently, do you have to wish to energy your AC totally with photo voltaic, you’ll need to oversize your photo voltaic array. Within the instance above, a 1kW photo voltaic system will likely be sufficient to run a 500W AC unit.

Should you determine to not oversize, then you’ll be able to depend on your native utility grid to take over when your photo voltaic vitality has run out.


Operating an air-con unit with a grid-tied photo voltaic system is possible so long as your photo voltaic system is not less than 2 instances extra highly effective than your AC.

Are you able to energy an AC with an off-grid photo voltaic system?

An off-grid photo voltaic system is a stand-alone energy generator. Usually, it combines photo voltaic panels, an inverter, and batteries.

Crucial a part of a grid-tied system is the quantity of vitality that the photo voltaic panels present. Conversely, in an off-grid system, the emphasis is positioned on panel vitality manufacturing and battery storage.

Subsequently, a photo voltaic battery’s dimension performs a big function in an off-grid configuration.


Will a 500W photo voltaic panel run an 850W AC in an off-grid photo voltaic system?

Based on International Photo voltaic Atlas, a 500W photo voltaic panel in Los Angeles produces 2.4kWh per day on common (1.9kWh throughout winter months and a couple of.6kWh throughout summer time months).

You’ve seen that an 850W AC unit makes use of a median of 55kWh monthly (1.84kWh per day). This determine is under a 500W photo voltaic panel’s day by day manufacturing.

In the long run, the photo voltaic panel’s most instantaneous energy is all the time under the AC’s working energy. Nonetheless, the photo voltaic panel’s whole vitality manufacturing exceeds the AC’s vitality utilization. Consequently, the battery will be capable to run the AC unit for essentially the most half. 

A 2kWh battery will do an incredible job working the 850W AC on this configuration.


In an off-grid configuration, working an AC unit with photo voltaic panels is possible so long as you could have the appropriate battery dimension. On this setup, the photo voltaic panels cost the battery, which powers the AC unit.

What number of photo voltaic panels do it’s essential energy an AC?

You’ll want as little as 1 x 400W photo voltaic panel to energy the smallest AC unit. Fairly spectacular, proper? 

For our calculation, we contemplate a photo voltaic panel’s common day by day whole vitality manufacturing fairly than its instantaneous energy.

To find out a photo voltaic panel’s day by day vitality manufacturing in kWh/kWp (PVOUT), you’ll must enter your location in a photo voltaic calculator, akin to International Photo voltaic Atlas.

For instance, in Los Angeles, on common, a 1kW photo voltaic system produces 4.8kWh per day, making the PVOUT 4.8.

Apply the components under to find out the variety of photo voltaic panels you’ll must energy your AC:

Variety of photo voltaic panels = AC day by day Power Use(kWh) / (PVOUT(kWh/kWp) x photo voltaic panel energy(kW))

The next desk lists the common variety of 400W photo voltaic panels you’ll must energy an AC — from 5,000 to twenty-eight,000 BTU — within the ten most populated states:

5,000 BTU 9,000 BTU 12,000 BTU 18,000 BTU 24,000 BTU 28,000 BTU
California 1 1 2 2 3 4
Texas 1 2 2 2 4 5
Florida 1 2 2 2 4 5
New York 1 2 2 2 4 5
Pennsylvania 1 2 2 2 4 5
Illinois 1 2 2 2 4 5
Ohio 1 2 2 2 4 5
Georgia 1 2 2 2 4 5
North Cal 1 2 2 2 4 5
Michigan 1 2 2 2 4 6

Remaining ideas

Putting in photo voltaic panels to energy an AC is the easiest way to avoid wasting in your electrical energy invoice.

With a median levelized price of 6 cents/kWh (over 25 years of use), photo voltaic vitality is extremely aggressive towards utility electrical energy (16.6 cents/kWh in 2022). 

The commonest air conditioner dimension is 24,000 BTU. We calculated that you just’d solely want between 3-4 400W photo voltaic panels — relying in your location — to energy this AC.

Ought to you could have any additional questions on this subject, please attain out to us within the feedback part under or comply with us on Twitter.

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