What is SOLAR AIR CONDITIONING? What does SOLAR AIR CONDITIONING mean?
What is SOLAR AIR CONDITIONING? What does SOLAR AIR CONDITIONING mean? SOLAR AIR CONDITIONING meaning – SOLAR AIR CONDITIONING definition – SOLAR AIR CONDITIONING explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
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Solar air conditioning refers to any air conditioning (cooling) system that uses solar power.
This can be done through passive solar, solar thermal energy conversion and photovoltaic conversion (sunlight to electricity). The U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 created 2008 through 2012 funding for a new solar air conditioning research and development program, which should develop and demonstrate multiple new technology innovations and mass production economies of scale. Solar air conditioning might play an increasing role in zero-energy and energy-plus buildings design.
Photovoltaics can provide the power for any type of electrically powered cooling be it conventional compressor-based or adsorption/absorption-based, though the most common implementation is with compressors. For small residential and small commercial cooling (less than 5 MWh/a) PV-powered cooling has been the most frequently implemented solar cooling technology. The reason for this is debated, but commonly suggested reasons include incentive structuring, lack of residential-sized equipment for other solar-cooling technologies, the advent of more efficient electrical coolers, or ease of installation compared to other solar-cooling technologies (like radiant cooling).
Since PV cooling’s cost effectiveness depends largely on the cooling equipment and given the poor efficiencies in electrical cooling methods until recently it has not been cost effective without subsidies. Using more efficient electrical cooling methods and allowing longer payback schedules is changing that scenario.
For example, a 100,000 BTU U.S. Energy Star rated air conditioner with a high seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of 14 requires around 7 kW of electric power for full cooling output on a hot day. This would require over a 20 kW solar photovoltaic electricity generation system with storage.
A solar-tracking 7 kW photovoltaic system would probably have an installed price well over $20,000 USD (with PV equipment prices currently falling at roughly 17% per year). Infrastructure, wiring, mounting, and NEC code costs may add up to an additional cost; for instance a 3120 watt solar panel grid tie system has a panel cost of $0.99/watt peak, but still costs ~$2.2/watt hour peak. Other systems of different capacity cost even more, let alone battery backup systems, which cost even more.
A more efficient air conditioning system would require a smaller, less-expensive photovoltaic system. A high-quality geothermal heat pump installation can have a SEER in the range of 20 (±). A 100,000 BTU SEER 20 air conditioner would require less than 5 kW while operating.
Newer and lower power technology including reverse inverter DC heat pumps can achieve SEER ratings up to 26.
There are new non-compressor-based electrical air conditioning systems with a SEER above 20 coming on the market. New versions of phase-change indirect evaporative coolers use nothing but a fan and a supply of water to cool buildings without adding extra interior humidity (such as at McCarran Airport Las Vegas Nevada). In dry arid climates with relative humidity below 45% (about 40% of the continental U.S.) indirect evaporative coolers can achieve a SEER above 20, and up to SEER 40. A 100,000 BTU indirect evaporative cooler would only need enough photovoltaic power for the circulation fan (plus a water supply).