Air Conditioner Uses Just 600 watts, 3 or 4 Solar Panels

Home Design Find
By Susan Kraemer
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For homeowners considering solar in hot climates, the back of the solar panel is key to solar efficiency. Solar panels need to be cool to work most efficiently.

And that’s where the Coolerado’s novel approach to air conditioning comes in:
Air conditioning accounts for an astounding 50 percent of the summer peak power load in California. But the energy cost of A/C is a hidden cost for home buyers. Nobody really looks at an air conditioned home and sees the hundreds of thousands that it can cost over the years to stay cool.

Like a refrigerator, an air conditioner works by piping a chemical refrigerant through cycles of compression and expansion. The refrigerant absorbs heat from cool interior air and releases it to the hot air of the great outdoors.

Heat naturally flows from a hot area to a cold one so an air conditioner has to mechanically compress the gaseous refrigerant into much hotter liquid form and pump it through outdoor coils from which it can release the heat it has absorbed. A typical air conditioner can use 6,000 watts.

That takes a lot of energy, usually from a fossil-fueled power plant.

But let’s say you are considering putting your own power plant on your roof. You have decided to go solar. Instead of putting in another 6 KW of solar power on your roof to power a traditional energy guzzling air conditioner, take a look at a completely different kind of air conditioner to go with your solar installation: The Coolerado can cool 3,000 square feet with just 600 watts of power; or just (depending on watts) 3 or 4 solar panels. That’s one-tenth the amount of power the traditional air conditioning system needs.

This novel air conditioner forms a synergistic combo with solar. Solar panels work most efficiently in cool weather. (That is why panels in foggy places like San Francisco can be surprisingly effective in generating solar electricity.) The Coolerado exhausts air to the outdoors in the process of sending cooled air indoors.

So you can use the moving air to cool off the panels, relatively speaking: solar panels can get as hot as 150 degrees on a hot sunny day, but the fan blowing air exhaust from the Coolerado can bring them down to about 110 degrees, making them produce electricity more efficiently than un-cooled solar panels in the same climate.