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How many solar panels do I need for an air conditioner

In this article I will show you how to calculate how many solar panels I need for an air conditioner.

The heat arrives and with it, the increase in energy consumption due to the use of devices to keep the house cool, such as an air conditioner.

If we are thinking of saving money and reducing the consumption of electricity from the electricity grid, a good option is solar panels, therefore the question naturally arises

Before starting to develop the topic I want to recommend the following articles.

How many solar panels do I need for an air conditioner?

In recent years the global ambient temperature has increased, this is public knowledge and is due to the greenhouse effect .

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Temperatures have risen in many countries that previously did not have high temperatures, with the consequent demand for air conditioners to keep you cool at home.


Before starting to answer the question how many solar panels do I need for an air conditioner, we must clarify that the air conditioners we are referring to are normal, traditional air conditioners.

They are not air conditioners specially manufactured to work with solar panels, I make this reservation because many people ask if they are air conditioners different from the common ones.

The only thing we will do is use solar panels to generate the electricity they consume and in this way lower the costs of the electricity bill.


The answer to this question would be “it depends” and what does it depend on?

  • From the power of the air conditioner 2500w, 3000w, 3500w ect, that a power of 3500 watts per h or 3.5 kwh. remember that 1000w is equal to 1 kw
  • As long as you want to keep it running 
  • From the geographical area where you live 


What solar panels should we choose?

If you have space available on the roof and a tight budget, it is worth buying traditional solar panels of medium efficiency. Read about the efficiency of solar panels

If you do not have a lot of space available on the roof of your house you will have to buy efficient solar panels that produce the same amount of electricity as the other panels but with less space.

The most efficient panels reach an efficiency percentage of 21 to 25%


How To Ensure Your Solar System Can Handle AC – The Biggest Energy Saver In Any Home

Can air conditioning with solar panel be used ? In a word, yes. If your house is connected to the grid and your solar installation is net, it is possible to use solar energy to cool your house. Many houses already do this!

However, in another word: maybe. An air conditioning unit requires a lot of electricity. If you live off-grid and don’t have a backup power method, your solar / battery system will have to be quite large.

Let’s take a look at AC power requirements and typical solar production to see if solar panels for air conditioning  can really power them in every configuration.

Using solar panels to operate air conditioning units

The fact that we can all access unlimited amounts of electricity 24/7 is a beautiful part of our modern electrical grid. 

Do you need a light? 

Just turn it on. Wash your clothes at any time. You can even leave your air conditioner on all summer, no questions asked. You have to pay for all that electricity, of course, but it is readily available.

Air conditioning is one of the most energy consuming devices in your home than energy in your home. 

The average air conditioning unit uses approximately 2,000 kilowatt-hours each year. 

With an average of 10,812 kWh per year in the home in total, that’s about 20% of all annual electricity use!

Can a solar installation produce enough electricity to cover all the electricity needs of a house, including AC? You gamble!

AC units use a lot of electricity, but are not really compatible with a good size solar installation.

 If you are connected to the grid and have the roof space, installing enough solar panels to cover all your electricity consumption, including AC, is a very doable task and one that many homeowners have done before.

How big should my battery bank be?

If you are interested in AC for an off-grid solar installation, you will need to ensure that your battery bank and solar panels can comfortably handle all the electricity that the AC unit (and your other devices) requires.

With batteries, inverter, and solar panels, off-grid systems can be quite expensive, so try to reduce power consumption as much as possible, including limiting or discarding AC if that’s an option. But, if you have the space, money, and desire, your off-grid system can cover all your AC usage too!


Well let’s calculate how many solar panels an air conditioner needs

The main problem that arises with powering air conditioning systems is the fact that they consume a lot of electricity.

The average air conditioner uses 1.3kw of power, and the average solar panel system ranges from 2kw to 4kw. 

Some air conditioners will even use up to 3.5kw, which means that the minimum power of your solar panel system should be 4kw just to power the air conditioner. 

Putting this in a bit more perspective, if you had a 1kw unit and were running the smallest air conditioner (1.3kw), the solar panel would provide you with 5 to 7 kwh of power for the day.

This would be consumed by the air conditioner in just four to five hours. 

Are there low power air conditioners?

They are high-consumption devices that require a lot of energy to continue working.

 There are some low power models that only use 600w, but these are few and far between. If you can find one of these low-power models, they only use three or four solar panels in their array to function.


  • Air conditioning power consumption 600w = 0.6 kwh
  • 250 wh solar panels

To make it work we must buy 3 solar panels of 250 w = 750 wh 

That is, 0.75 khh  “It would be enough ” to make the solar air conditioning work, I say it would be enough because more precise calculations must be made where the loss of energy is considered when transforming from DC to AC.

Another thing to consider is that the panel will not produce electricity at its maximum power during all hours, either due to the decrease in the intensity of the sun or because the angle of inclination of the solar panels varies.

Usually 25% power is added to the system to ensure that this demand will be covered.

Calculation: We add 25%

0.6kwh x 0.25 = 0.15 kwh   o sea 0.6 + 0.15 = 0.75 kwh

If we look at the result we realize that the consumption will be satisfied with the 3 250w panels.

 So when summer comes around, you may have to choose whether you want your air conditioner to run on solar energy.


Can I control the air conditioning with a solar panel, independent of the grid?


The attic room in my old house from 1909 has already been insulated twice. On the south side there is a large window about 4 m high with a terrace. Only with the shutter closed all day can this space be livable in summer, otherwise the room heats up from 37 to 38 degrees.

In winter, with the least amount of sun, I easily get 20-22 degrees without opening a radiator. Can I install air conditioning controlled by a solar panel that is not connected to the electricity grid? The room should only cool down when there is too much sun. A new window would remove the winter heat.


An installation of photovoltaic panels initially supplies direct current. With an inverter, an alternating voltage of 230 volts is realized. There are low voltage air conditioners, but they are intended for small spaces such as cars, caravans, boats, …

Due to the high heat load and the corresponding cooling capacity, a complete air conditioning system operating at 230V is required. The photovoltaic system does not supply constant power, which is dependent on sunlight. The ideal operating temperature for photovoltaic panels is ± 26 ° C. In the heat of summer, the efficiency of the photovoltaic system even drops slightly.

Due to this non-constant flow of energy, the air conditioning installation will not function in the normal way. The control between the indoor and outdoor unit can also suffer from this. Inserting a battery seems to be a solution to provide the air conditioning installation with a more or less constant current without a system connected to the network.

Then it will first store the DC current from the PV panels in the battery. It can supply a constant current. Via an inverter, you will use 230V alternating current to control the air conditioning system.

On warm days you will have some buffering with the battery, the air conditioning installation can continue to operate without there being energy production from the photovoltaic installation. All of this must be calculated. The power of the air conditioner should be adjusted to the cooling load.

The battery has to adapt to that. And depending on those parameters, the photovoltaic plant must be budgeted. And it is also not obvious that, due to this deviant control, the usual guarantees in all parts remain in force.

For the installation of the air conditioning installation, it is better to turn to a recognized refrigeration engineer. Preferably also from a company that is in your home in the installation of photovoltaic panels so that the entire installation is under the same responsibility. Either way, it is still a very unusual and quite experimental setup.

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