Can photo voltaic panels run a warmth pump?

Residential photo voltaic panels can run any family software, from mini audio system to a big warmth pump.

The latter has gained recognition in latest instances, with many householders on the lookout for various family heating strategies within the type of geothermal or air-source warmth pumps.

On this article, we take a more in-depth take a look at warmth pumps, their power utilization, and the variety of panels it’s essential energy one.


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Can photo voltaic panels run a warmth pump?

Warmth pumps and photo voltaic panels — two sustainable options for residence consolation and energy technology.

The latter kind a part of modular photovoltaic (PV) techniques, starting from a number of watts to 1000’s of kilowatts.

Naturally, a industrial photo voltaic system with an influence output ranging within the 1000’s can simply energy a single warmth pump, however that’s not what we’re discussing right here.

You wish to know whether or not a residential photo voltaic array can energy a warmth pump. Certainly, photo voltaic panels can run a warmth pump, even probably the most highly effective ones available on the market. What determines this, although, is the dimensions and variety of panels you might have out there to you.

Now, let’s take a look at this in higher element by reviewing how a warmth pump works and the way a photo voltaic panel produces electrical energy.

What’s a warmth pump?

Warmth pumps are the way forward for HVAC techniques (Heating, Air flow, Air Conditioning). They’re reversible techniques that may cool or warmth your house.

A warmth pump is solely a warmth exchanger between the inside of your own home and the air outdoors. It really works like a fridge, with a compressor and a cooling/heating fluid.

Working principle of an air-heat pump — can solar panels run a heat pump?
Working precept of an air-heat pump.
Supply: College of Waikato

Warmth pumps are extra environment friendly than conventional air con items as they don’t generate warmth. As an alternative, they “transfer” warmth by way of their exchanger system. 

That mentioned, they nonetheless require electrical energy (800W to five,000W) to chill or warmth a house correctly.

What’s a photo voltaic panel?

A photo voltaic panel is an influence generator that converts daylight into electrical energy. You’ll discover photo voltaic panels starting from 20W as much as 600W.

You may join every unit to create a photo voltaic system with a a lot bigger energy output — the common measurement within the U.S. is 6kW.

Nonetheless, a photo voltaic panel’s precise energy output hardly ever reaches its most rated worth. It varies in keeping with the time of day and the seasons in real-world circumstances.

For a 6kW photo voltaic system in San Francisco, California, the ability output reaches a most of 4kW–5kW (10 am–2 pm).

The solar power output of a 6kW system in San Francisco, California — can solar panels run a heat pump?
The solar energy output of a 6kW system in San Francisco, California.
Supply: World photo voltaic atlas

What number of watts does a warmth pump use?

In the event you’re contemplating shopping for a warmth pump, be ready to search out little or no data on its energy necessities.

Fortunate for you, we’re about to offer you the formulation for calculating the variety of watts a warmth pump makes use of based mostly on its measurement and power effectivity.

The ability consumption —in watts — of a warmth pump is dependent upon two main elements:

  • Warmth pump measurement: This capability is rated in British Thermal Models (BTU). It varies from 8,000 BTU for the smallest fashions to greater than 60,000 BTU for centralized items.
  • Vitality effectivity: In your warmth pump label, you’ll discover two figures:
    • Seasonal Vitality Effectivity Ranking (SEER). 
    • Vitality Effectivity Ranking (EER). 

The upper these numbers are, the extra environment friendly your warmth pump and the decrease its electrical energy consumption.

Calculating the variety of watts a warmth pump makes use of

To calculate a warmth pump’s wattage, you’ll want its heating capability — in BTUs — and its SEER and EER rankings.

If the EER score is indicated in your warmth pump label, then comply with the equation under:

Whole Wattage = Capability (In BTUs) ÷ EER

In the event you solely have the SEER score, you then’ll want the next further calculation step to extract the EER score:

EER = −0.02 × SEER² + 1.12 × SEER

For instance, Comfortmaker’s Coastal warmth pump has a cooling capability of 28,000Btus (2.4 tons), SEER of 15 and EER of 12.5.

Its energy consumption is: 28,000/12.5= 2,240W

The identical cooling capability with a barely much less environment friendly unit (EER of 11) would end in an influence consumption of 2,545W. That’s a 13% enhance that may straight affect your electrical energy invoice.


We utilized our formulation for various warmth pump capacities with effectivity rankings starting from 16–22:

Warmth pump capability Energy @16 SEER Energy @18 SEER Energy @20 SEER Energy @22 SEER
1 ton (12,000 BTU) 938W 877W 833W 802W
1.5 ton (18,000 BTU) 1,406W 1,316W 1,250W 1,203W
2 ton (24,000 BTU) 1,875W 1,754W 1,667W 1,604W
2.5 ton (30,000 BTU) 2,344W 2,193W 2,083W 2,005W
3 ton (36,000 BTU) 2,813W 2,632W 2,500W 2,406W
3.5 ton (42,000 BTU) 3,281W 3,070W 2,917W 2,807W
4 ton (48,000 BTU) 3,750W 3,509W 3,333W 3,209W
4.5 ton (54,000 BTU) 4,219W 3,947W 3,750W 3,610W
5 ton (60,000 BTU) 4,688W 4,386W 4,167W 4,011W

What number of photo voltaic panels do it’s essential run a warmth pump?

The smallest warmth pump solely requires three x 500W photo voltaic panels to run appropriately. Bigger centralized items would want an entire 6,000W photo voltaic system 6,000W (12 x 500W panels) as a minimal requirement.

To calculate the variety of photo voltaic panels it’s essential run a warmth pump, you’ll have to collect the next data:

  • Your local weather zone. 
  •  The dimensions of the house you wish to warmth.
  •  Your photo voltaic electrical energy manufacturing potential
Climate Zone regions in the US.
Local weather zone areas within the U.S.
Supply: 2012 IECC – Worldwide Vitality Conservation Code
Local weather Zone BTU/Sq.Ft
Zone 1 30 BTU/sq.ft
Zone 2 35 BTU/sq.ft
Zone 3 40 BTU/sq.ft
Zone 4 45 BTU/sq.ft
Zone 5 50 BTU/sq.ft
Zone 6 55 BTU/sq.ft
Zone 7 60 BTU/sq.ft
BTU necessities in numerous local weather zones


San Francisco, California, falls beneath local weather Zone 3. You’ll want a heating capability of 40 BTU/sqft. For a 1000 sqft home, you’ll want a warmth pump with a heating capability of 40,000 BTU/h.

A 40,000 BTU/h warmth pump with an effectivity score of 20 (SEER) can have roughly 3kW of energy.

This warmth pump will solely run at full energy a number of the time. Let’s say it’ll run round 6 hours every day, relying on the skin temperature.

On this situation, it’ll use roughly 18kWh per day to warmth your own home throughout winter in San Francisco.

Calculate your photo voltaic power potential

We advocate utilizing our photo voltaic calculator to estimate your photo voltaic electrical energy manufacturing potential. You’ll solely want your tackle and the dimensions of your photo voltaic system.

You may apply the formulation under:

Variety of photo voltaic panels = Every day warmth pump power wants / photo voltaic power manufacturing potential

Throughout San Francisco’s winter months, you may anticipate to provide 3.45kWh per day for each kW of photo voltaic panels. Consequently, to cowl your warmth pump’s electrical energy wants, you’ll want 5.2kW of photo voltaic panels — 18 / 3.45 = 5.2kW.

That’s equal to 11 x 500W photo voltaic panels (5.5kW).

Notice to our readers: All figures are common values. A number of exterior elements can affect the power consumption of your warmth pump —outdoors temperature, home thermostat temperature, and so on.

Closing ideas

Heating and cooling account for round 65% of all home power use within the U.S. Extra particularly, house heating is near 30%.

A warmth pump is thought to be probably the most environment friendly HVAC know-how. It will probably lower your power invoice by an element of two–3.

Warmth pumps are highly effective home equipment, starting from 800W to greater than 5,000W, however like most home home equipment, you may energy with photo voltaic panels so long as you might have the suitable quantity out there.

As a rule of thumb, a warmth pump wants between 3–12 500W photo voltaic panels.

Lastly, do not forget that warmth pump power use is dependent upon exterior elements corresponding to outdoors temperature, home temperature, and time of the yr.

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