Can a Solar Generator Run an AC Unit?

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, a solar generator can run an AC unit as long as it’s within the power output range of the solar generator. Small AC units are ideal for use with solar generators since most air conditioners require significant amounts of power to run.

On the contrary, most solar generators cannot run home air conditioning units because their power output isn’t high enough.

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: Can a Solar Generator Run a Space Heater? (W/ Run Times)

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.

An example of one such solar generator is the Titan. Its exterior is made of metal instead of plastic and it has two MPPT charge controllers within it to deliver faster solar charging times.

You can find the review of the Titan here for more details, specs, and features: Titan Solar Generator Review – The Best Large Solar Generator?

The Direction the Solar Panels Face

Solar panel on a wooden lodge
Solar panels achieve maximum output power when faced perpendicular to the sun with zero obstructions.

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.

It is best to find a solar panel with a kickstand, as this will ensure at least a decent angle towards the sun. If you’re mounting the solar panels on a rooftop, a rigid solar panel is your best choice.

Goal Zero’s Boulder series of solar panels have both a rigid construction as well as kickstands. You can mount them on your roof temporarily and then use it for a camping trip or something similar.

I recommend reading my article discussing the Boulder solar panels to learn about their construction and get an idea of which type of solar panel best suits your needs: 3 Stages of Camping Solar Panels from Goal Zero | Pure Power Solar.

Powering an Air Conditioner With a Solar Generator

Can a solar generator run an AC unit cover image
Most air conditioners are too large to run with solar generators. Using a powerful solar generator paired with a low-powered AC unit may work effectively if the AC’s wattage is below the generator’s rated continuous wattage.

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.

Similar: EcoFlow River 370 Review (Internal Tech, Features, and More)

Solar Generators 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
The Titan solar generator can output up to 3,000W of continuous power from its AC ports.

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.

Removable & Expandable Lithium Battery

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.

Large Battery & Powerful AC Inverter

It comes with a 2,000 watt-hour lithium battery plus a 3,000W high-efficiency pure sine wave inverter. Its battery is among the largest available today for a solar generator. Its durability is also top-notch as it works with an estimated lifespan of 10 years.

Recharges Fast for Its Size

It has an AC charger that charges at 600W (standard) and 1,200W with a second charger. You can be rest assured of the fact that it is extremely powerful.

With the Titan, they include one AC charger that will charge your battery pack in around four hours. You can also add a second charger to double the charging power (for when you have more than one battery).

The Titan’s solar panel input measures at up to 1,000W with one battery and up to 2,000W with two or more batteries. This means that you can recharge from solar panels alone in as little as 2.5 hours with one or two batteries attached.

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.

I recommend reading my review of the Titan solar generator to get a better perspective on what it can power and for how long. It is one of the most powerful solar generators in existence today: Titan Solar Generator Review –  The Best Large Solar Generator?.

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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Max Peters

Hi! I'm Max and I am passionate about off-grid solar technology and adventure! I'm using my knowledge of solar generators, solar panels, and everything in between to provide you with the best tools to keep you powered while off the grid. Read more about me here: About Max Peters."

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