Solar Power Blog

Solar Air Conditioning: How to Stay Cool with Green Electricity (At Home and On the Go)


Believe it or not, that glowing ball of fire in the sky that we call “the sun” can actually be used to cool down your home with the right technology. 

It’s true: solar-powered air conditioning is a real thing that is happening right now, all over the world – in both small and large-scale applications.  

And while heat capture has long been a part of solar-assisted thermal cooling systems, modern photovoltaic (PV) electric solar panel systems can now be used to power every appliance in your home, from the toaster to your air conditioning system. 

Solar Air Conditioning for Homes

Costing United States residents approximately $29 billion annually, running the air conditioning at home is typically done at the expense of your energy bills. Although everyone loves to cool off on a hot day, some people find it hard to relax knowing that prolonged air conditioner use will increase a property’s electric utility bill at the end of the month. 

To reduce grid energy consumption, solar panels can be installed on a property to produce and use renewable power with no extra costs or carbon emissions emitted when the new electricity is generated. With photovoltaic (PV) solar technology more advanced, efficient, and widely available than ever, property owners can install cost-effective systems that are large enough to power not only the air conditioner but an entire year’s worth of home electricity. 

solar and air conditioning
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The best part about solar air conditioning is that each summer, both solar energy potential and air conditioning use are typically at their highest. Knowing this, homes producing tons of solar energy with the extended summer sunlight hours are less likely to see large utility bills from air conditioning use. 

Can solar panels power a whole-home air conditioning system? 

Yes, most solar companies will estimate the size of your PV system to include the power consumed by a whole-home air conditioning system. In fact, residential solar energy systems can power any electrical cooling system in your home including swamp coolers and portable air conditioning units. 

How many solar panels do you need to run an air conditioner?

The amount of solar panels you need to run an air conditioner (AC) depends on its wattage and runtime. Let’s say that running the AC at home adds about 600 kWh of electricity to your bills each month during the height of summer. In this scenario, you would need enough solar capacity for about 20 kWh or 20,000 watt-hours per day (600 kWh per month / 30 days). 

Across roughly 5 hours of peak sunlight per day, 20,000 watt-hours of power could be generated by a 4,000 watt or 4 kilowatt solar energy system (20,000 watt-hours / 5 hours of direct sunlight). To reach this capacity, you could install 16 high-efficiency 250-watt solar panels (4,000 watts / 250 watts).   

Besides installing solar panels, there are many other ways that you can save energy at home to minimize the amount of power necessary to maintain a comfortable interior temperature. Of course, to stay cool anywhere, we are now also fortunate enough to live in an era in which portable solar air conditioning has become a reality. 

portable solar air conditioner

Portable Solar Air Conditioning 

You read that correctly - portable solar air conditioners have officially entered the marketplace, although most stores and e-retailers have had a tough time keeping them in stock. Last summer, we introduced the Zero Breeze MARK 2 Portable Air Conditioner and our customers have reported back with nothing but positive feedback about the device.

Ideal for camping trips, afternoons out on the boat, and any other small indoor or outdoor use, the Zero Breeze Mark 2 is a portable AC unit that delivers tons of cooling power wherever you take it. Complete with a built-in battery and multiple ways to charge it, the Zero Breeze Mark 2 can be run on solar power as well as traditional electricity.

portable air conditioner with solar power

With solar panels sold separately, it is very easy to plug and play with the Zero Breeze Mark 2. For more information, please see our complete product guide which explores the pros, cons, uses, and value of this unique device. If you need even more power to stay cool all night long, don’t forget to pick up an extra Zero Breeze battery for extended product use time. 

Final Thoughts

So whether you are sitting at home or out in the elements, solar air conditioning can be used to stay comfortable this summer. By utilizing a cost and emission-free source of electricity, solar power and air conditioning together can create a perfect solution for anyone looking to minimize their monthly expenses or carbon guilt. 

Beyond air conditioning, you also may be surprised to learn about many of the other great solar-powered products that can help you save money and the planet this summer with a greener lifestyle. 

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