Solar Air Conditioning
Sun Energy Cooling

Solar Air Conditioning systems are appealing economically and are already mature enough for office buildings. Smaller scale sun powered air conditioners for typical size homes will emerge commercially in the future

The motivation to install a Solar Air Conditioning System

Solar cooling (using sun energy to cool a home) is an appealing concept. In hot regions electricity bills soar during summer due to the conventional air conditioner operation.
Your first step might be to make your home less susceptible to heating. The idea is to “to make it hard for the outdoors heat to leak into the building” and to facilitate efficient heat removal from the building to the outside world. This is easier to implement in a new home and there are many ways to do it. (view my zero energy home page). For existing homes you may use better windows (view my page on windows tax rebate), and you can install a solar attic fan.

You may consider to replace your existing air conditioners with more efficient Energy Star rated conditioners.

The simplest way to save energy for home cooling is to set the thermostat to the highest temperature which still provides a good feeling.

Your next step however might be to install and use a Solar Operated Air Conditioner. My next paragraph describes the different types of solar air conditioners.

Types of Solar Air Conditioners

  • The most obvious solution is to use solar panels to supply electricity to existing electrical air conditioners. Considering the relative high price of solar panels, a better way is to use thermal transfer systems
  • Solar thermal cooling are using thermal collectors (similar to the solar water heating collectors to provide energy to drive chillers. Most thermal-cooling system use absorption cooling mechanism. In contrast to present day ubiquitous use of compressor based air conditioner, by the end of the 19th century most coolers used absorptive type coolers. In one end of this cooling system liquid is heated up, evaporates into gas, goes to the other end, expands, get cooled and become liquid again. The liquid can be water and the thermal collector must heat the water to at least 190 degrees F (88 degrees C), The normal flat plate collector is not providing this temperature, therefore a more sophisticated (and a more expensive) collector type such as vacuum tube solar collector can be used instead. Other liquids such as propane are also used. Usually, the solar thermal collector can also be used for solar hot water heating
  • Solar air conditioner using liquid desiccants; this method is still under development and it will take a couple of years to see it spreading into a residential use

Solar Powered Air Conditioner for a typical Home

Sun operated Air Conditioner are used mostly for larger size buildings, larger than the average size home. The industry goes toward down scaling the size of sun operated air conditioner to fit into the typical size home. The solar thermal systems fit better to new homes and make more sense if the collectors also serve for heating water

Did you find an interest in solar air conditioning? what about solar space heating?

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