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Switching to solar energy is one of the best ways by which you can contribute to improving the environment. If you’re planning to install a solar panel system in your home, you might be wondering if it is sufficient for your 5-ton air conditioner.
A 5-ton AC unit typically needs 6000 watts of solar panel energy, given there is irradiance of about four peak sun hours in the day. Twenty solar panels rated at 300 watts each would be ideal for running this type of AC.
You will also need 500Ah of battery storage for each ton per hour of running without natural sunlight. In the daytime, when there is sufficient sunlight, a 200Ah battery is enough to ensure the supply of surge currents.
Here’s everything you need to know about solar requirements for a 5-ton AC.
How Much Electricity is Required to Run Your Air Conditioner?
Air conditioning units get rated per their efficiency. Since all ACs are different, using electrical kW ratings would be an unjust comparison of their cooling capacities.
To put it simply, this means that two AC units, even if both are rated at 5kW, will not necessarily have the same cooling capacity. Their efficiency plays a significant role here.
It is therefore essential to define a ton of AC cooling power. This refers to the cooling capacity required to melt 2,000 lbs. of ice in precisely 24 hours. So, the higher the AC tonnage, the more air volume can be cooled each hour.
A 1-ton AC’s cooling capacity is rated at 1.2kW of power. Assuming 4 hours of running time, the AC unit would consume 4.8kWH of energy.
Likewise, we can calculate the energy needs of a 5-ton AC unit:
4.8kW x 5 = 24kWh
Why Should You Assume 4 Hours Running Time as a Standard?
Air conditioning is usually turned on when it is the hottest. Typically, this time happens to be the four hours around noon in most regions of the world.
Luckily, or coincidentally, this time frame is also the same period when the sun’s energy is the highest. As a result, the solar panels produce their maximum output during these four hours.
Therefore, we base our calculations on an average of four hours.
How to Calculate the Solar Panel Requirement for Your AC
For the sake of calculations, let us consider solar panels of 300 watts each.
The power output of the solar panel depends on the following factors:
- The efficiency of the solar panel (typically between 20% to 22%)
- The orientation of the solar panel (i.e., its direction and angle)
- The area of the solar panel in square meters
- The irradiance in kWh/m2/day
A solar panel of 300 watts will generate approximately 1.2kWh of power each day with about 4 hours of peak sunlight.
You can use a simple formula to calculate the number of solar panels required to run your AC unit.
The number of solar panels needed = the energy required by the AC / the energy generated by the panel.
In this case, it is 24kWh/1.2kWh. Therefore, you need 20 solar panels rated at 300 watts to run a 5-ton AC.
How Much Battery Storage is Required for a 5-Ton AC?
A 5-ton AC provides excellent cooling. However, if you want it to run smoothly, you need to ensure that it gets plenty of solar energy and also has plenty of battery backup.
Say we need to run a load for (24 minus 4, which equals) 20 hours. For this amount of time, we need a total stored energy of (only if we consider a constant load of 6,000 watts):
6,000 𝑊 × 20 h𝑟𝑠 = 120,000 𝑊h = 120 𝑘𝑊h
For a 48-Volt DC system: (120 kWh)/ 48V = 2500 Ah, meaning you will need a 2500 Ah battery size.
This battery needs charging on your solar panel system, meaning that during those four hours of peak daylight, you’ll need an extra 120kWh energy (i.e., 30kW) to store the appropriate amount of energy to smoothly run the 5-ton AC during the nighttime.
If you plan to use your 5-ton AC at night when there won’t be any sunlight, you would require 2500Ah of battery storage for every hour that you keep it running. Not only is this amount notably huge, but it is also impractical.
If the AC unit only runs during the daytime, a battery of 200Ah would be enough to fulfill the extra surge currents. Moreover, it would also partially compensate for the reduced solar output when clouds cross over the panels.
You need to be careful while selecting an inverter, though.
An efficient inverter is perhaps the most vital part of an off-grid arrangement. Now, no inverter is 100% efficient. However, you still need to pick a model with a decent efficiency rating.
It is necessary to find a robust inverter since an inefficient one could lose about 50% of the energy generated or even more.
What Influences Your AC Power Consumption?
A variety of factors can influence your AC’s power consumption. Let us run through some of these.
1. Number of People in the Room
Let’s go back to the basics: people emit heat. Therefore, the more people within a room, the higher your AC consumption rate is as well.
If you compare a room with seven people and one with 17 people, the room with 17 people will definitely require either multiple AC units or one extremely large AC unit to provide adequate cooling.
2. Number of Electrical Appliances
While it may sound unusual, the number of electrical devices in the room has a major impact on the cooling power of your AC.
If your room has multiple electrical devices, the AC unit will have to work harder to cool the space compared to a room with very few devices.
3. Number of Windows in the Room
The primary purpose of windows is to let air into and out of your house. However, they have a significant influence over AC power consumption, too.
Windows allow breezes to enter and keep the house cool during summers. In winters, though, you lose a lot of heat via your windows, increasing your AC needs regarding heat. You may also use more energy during the warmer seasons if the airflow isn’t too great and extra cooling is required.
4. Outdoor Temperature
Depending on the temperature outside of the house, an AC unit may need more or less power to keep a room cool.
If the external temperature is high, your AC will use more power. However, when the temperature outside is low, the AC will require comparatively less power.
5. Your Location
If your house is under any shade, it will naturally not be very warm, and your AC needs will go down.
If your home is very exposed to the sun with no cover to lower the external temperatures, you will have comparatively higher cooling needs.
How Can You Lower Your AC Power Consumption?
Here are some tips and tricks to help you reduce your AC power consumption:
- Ensure insulation as an insulated house will not let cool air escape. If there is enough cold air in a room, the AC unit will require less power to maintain these temperatures.
- Clean the ducts and vents regularly.
- Try to buy energy-efficient air conditioners.
- Replace the air filters regularly as clogged and dirty ones make your AC work harder.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is a 100-watt solar panel enough to run an air conditioner?
No, a 100-watt solar panel would not be sufficient to operate an air conditioner.
Even the smallest portable ACs come with an average power rating of 500 watts. Home ACs draw much more power by comparison.
Most ACs need a lot more power and cannot run with just a 100-watt panel or even a few such panels.
2. How many air conditioners can run on a 5kW system?
A 5kW solar system can ideally generate about 20kWh of energy in a day, which should be sufficient for small- to medium-sized houses. These solar power systems come equipped with a system monitor and an inverter.
This type of system can power two 1.5-ton, 15,000 BTU AC units. Likewise, it can also power a 2-ton split air conditioner for about 9 hours, given that the weather is suitable.
This 2-ton split AC unit can technically run for almost 11 hours on a 5kW solar panel system.
3. Can solar panels power a whole house?
Indeed, solar panels can power an entire house. However, many considerations will also come into the picture.
A lot of people have gone completely off-the-grid, so it isn’t impossible to manage daily life needs with just solar energy. It does require some serious thought and effort, though.
If you want to be completely dependent on solar energy and no other sources, you’ll have to think about how much energy your house uses and the amount of sunlight it receives. Even then, you’ll need multiple solar panels to shift your whole home to solar power.
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