Can a Solar Generator Run an AC Unit?


Can a solar generator run an AC unit cover image

Solar generators are fast becoming a widely accepted source of electrical supply in many lands. This is not surprising.

Solar generators seem to be leading the race for dominance in electricity supply. This is due to its portability and the ease at which most models can be moved about in the event of outdoor activity. This component of solar energy is not without its challenges. They are quite limited in their storage capacity. In effect, the capability of most solar generators to handle watt-heavy electronic devices is hampered.

Generally, air conditioners (A/C) consume lots of energy, and it is only ideal when running on more powerful sources of energy. However, this does not totally put off the possibility of it being powered by a solar generator. To get a better understanding of how this works, we need to go to the basics of solar power usage.

Overall, you can use a solar generator to run an AC unit, however, the AC unit needs to be within the power output range of the solar generator. Unless you are willing to purchase a high-end solar generator (or battery unit) that is capable of significant and consistent output numbers, powering a full-size AC unit with a standard solar generator will not work.

There are a few models of solar generators that are currently capable of powering an AC unit, however, and I will discuss one of them below.

Similar: Your Next Solar Generator – The Complete Guide

THE BASICS OF SOLAR POWER USAGE

Whenever we are talking about solar power usage, we are discussing the power generated from direct sunlight. Basically, there are three units of measurement for solar power (and even other sources). They are Watts (w), Kilowatts (kW), and Kilowatt-hours (kWh).

To understand this classification better, we need to give it a practical approach. Taking an average house where a family of five lives as an example, a 3-4kW solar panel system is likely to be enough to take care of their basic electricity needs and keep the home powered.

If we are to keep working in line with a model of three to four kW, it will need to support around 226 square feet of solar panels in size. While this may sound like it is quite large and may be too big to be fixed onto your rooftop, you can actually find a way around the arrangement.

If you are able to get this done correctly, each of the solar panels in the array will be able to provide you with an average output of 20W per sq. ft. This is enough output to power an A/C  unit. In the same vein, it is also important to note that the total output of the solar panels that have been installed on your roof will also depend on a host of other factors. Some of them are as follows:

  • The size of the system: 

In the context of this article, the system refers to the solar panel and solar generator that has been installed. Essentially, they come in a variety of sizes, depending on the purpose for which it was purchased.

  • The efficiency of the system: 

This is usually a function of the material the solar generator is made from. Some brands of solar generators pride themselves in the fact that they make use of premium materials in getting their solar generators together.

  • The direction the solar panels face: 

Sunlight is of high importance to the proper functioning of a solar panel (obviously). Experts have discovered that if you want to get the most out of your panels, you should have them facing south at an angle of 32 degrees. This will leave them in their most efficient state for energy production for your solar generator.

POWERING AN AIR CONDITIONER WITH A SOLAR GENERATOR

As you know by now, the main issue with powering air conditioning is the fact that they use up a lot of electric supply. On average, an air conditioner uses 1.3kW of power and the average solar panel system that is being manufactured ranges from 2kW to 4kW. Little wonder why you shouldn’t power an air conditioner amongst other appliances all at once, especially when the solar generator is running at on 2kW or below. 

A critical look at power consumption for air conditioners shows that your solar panel system would need to be 3kW just to hit the ground running. This is because some air conditioners will even use as much as 2.5kW (although some run as low as 1.3kW). Hence, you want to be on the safe side of power consumption, especially if you will be combining its usage with other electrical appliances. In any case, the others should be appliances that consume less power.

Although there are some low power models that only use around 600W, only a few are being manufactured. If you are able to acquire one of the low power models, they only require three or four solar panels in your array to run. This should easily fit onto an average house roof.

You should now have an idea of what type of solar power configuration you need for your air conditioner. You should also bear in mind the cost implication is directly proportional to the quality of each model the solar panels have to offer.

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SOLAR GENERATOR DESIGNED TO POWER AC UNITS

The rise in demand for solar sources of electricity that are strong enough to power air conditioner units has pushed producers two steps further in their innovation game. The average solar generators in years past were not designed to serve the needs of heavy electric appliances such as air conditioners. To fill in this gap, companies manufacturing solar generators have stepped up the capability of their products such that they are able to power air conditioner units.

This didn’t happen as a result of a one-sided effort. Air conditioner producers also saw the need for them to tap into this new wave innovation by beginning the production of air conditioners with relatively low watt consumption. Let’s take a look at one of these models.

The Titan by Point Zero Energy

Titan solar generator front view

This is about the most versatile portable solar generator on the market today. The brand lays claim in having built it with one of the most efficient, quality components available in the solar energy industry. The Titan is designed to provide a reliable solar backup for any situation. Apparently, it is made to consistently and reliably take care of your air conditioner needs. Here are some of the major features that make it different from other solar generator models.

Features

  • It is equipped with a removable and expandable lithium-ion battery in case you want to increase its power capability. This innovative approach will expand your level of portability and flexibility with respect to what you can power with your solar generator. To do this, you only need to add more battery packs. It is amazing how easy and quick this model makes it for you to expand and replace your batteries. By separating the battery from the other components, you can easily carry each component.
  • It comes with a 2000 watt-hour lithium battery plus a 3000-watt high-efficiency pure sine wave inverter. The 2000 watt-hour lithium battery is one of the largest available in solar generators anywhere in the world. In fact, it is about twice the capacity of similar systems. To crown it all, its durability is top-notch as it usually works well with a life span of 10 years.
  • It has a fast AC outlet that charges 600 watts standard and 1200 watts with a second charger. You can be rest assured of the fact that it is extremely powerful. When compared with other solar generators within the same range, it is found to be twice as powerful.
  • The Titan as a brand is known only to make use of the best of equipment in its manufacturing process. This has earned them a reasonable level of reliability over time and an increased user base. Users have found that most solar generators use cheap, low-quality charge controllers that cannot step the voltage down to produce high amps. Due to this, most solar generators don’t allow for voltages over 30-50 volts. 
  • This has helped create an area of strength for Titan solar generators as they can accommodate up to 145 volts. This allows the solar generator to be more effective with power distribution. Solar panel wires will have exceptionally low amps running through them, making them cool to the touch when other brands (of a similar model of solar generators) will be extremely hot at this point of operation. It also makes wiring up your solar panels much easier and safer to use overall.
  • With the Titan, they include one powerful AC charger that will charge your battery pack in around four hours (other systems take up to 24 hours). You can also add a second charger to double the charging power (for when you have more than one battery.)

Is the Titan Ideal for Powering an A/C Unit?

Given the specification of Titan, it is not totally out of place to say yes. Although it is basically designed to serve as a substitute in the event of a power outage, it can serve as a source of power primarily for air conditioners that operate on low-watt demand. Therefore, users should consciously be on the lookout for air conditioners that are compatible with a solar system of Titan’s carrying capacity.

Other honorable mentions (solar generators that can power AC units):

CONCLUSION

The topic of solar generators with respect to A/C units is a complex one. People think they can power almost any electric appliance with their solar generator. They, however, get discouraged when they make the purchase of a solar generator, and they discover it cannot power their air conditioner system just because it is not powerful enough to accommodate the demands of the watt-consuming system.

If you do not want to find yourself in such a situation, there are several options open to you.

The capability of your solar generator and a host of other factors that make up a capable solar generator are to be examined before you choose to buy. Also, this option will only work if you combine it with low-watt-consuming air conditioners of a limited number.

  • Opt exclusively for solar-powered air conditioning systems

This is an excellent choice if you are just starting out on a mission to get air conditioners running in your facility/home. There are air conditioning systems specifically designed to run on solar energy. For most of these solar generators, you can barely use it for any other purpose. Therefore, you should keep in mind that you will need to look to other sources of power supply for the rest of your electronic devices.

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