The Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Power Air Conditioners
Does it make sense to use heat to keep you cool? It might - if you're talking about using the heat of the sun to run the air conditioner that cools your home or office.
Since the broadcast of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" the issue of global warming has escalated to unprecedented heights. These days, nearly all consumers are at least aware of global warming, and with the media's push to "go green" many are now turning that awareness into constructive lifestyle changes.
As part of this growing trend towards environmental responsibility, many conscious consumers and businesses are looking to alternative sources to supply them with eco-friendly energy. Energy providers are researching new and improved ways to harness natural energy through wind and water, which unlike traditional fossil-fuel systems are renewable and plentiful. But the greatest potential source for natural energy comes from outside our planet, and offers near limitless energy supplies to world over - the sun.
We are now able to able to harness the energy of the sun and use it to power our homes and offices - including providing the power that runs our air conditioners. The concept of solar powered air conditioning is not new - such systems were used by the U.S. in the early 20th century. However, with the rise of electricity rates and the need to reduce energy consumption, there has been a steady increase in the demand for and use of solar ACs.
Advantages of Solar ACs
The cost of setting up solar air conditioning can be very high. But a family or business that opts for solar powered ACs can reduce long term electricity costs that make the initial expense worthwhile. Additionally, both the federal government and many state governments offer incentive plans to solar energy users. Rates vary state by state, so check with your state's energy department to learn about specific incentive programs are.
Increase home resale value
In addition to stabilizing soaring energy costs, solar energy panels are considered an investment. Many homeowners find that solar features add considerable value to their home, and make their homes more desirable in a competitive real estate market. Given two homes that are otherwise comparable, home buyers will reliably be more attracted to the house that offers solar air conditioning.
IFC, a consulting firm, ran a study that demonstrated solar energy can add $20 of home value for every $1 of annual energy savings. In other words, it's estimated that an annual savings of $1500 in electricity bills (due to solar energy additions) will add about $30,000 to the resale value of the home.
In short, adding solar energy for air conditioning use will save consumers money in the long-run. You might even make a profit through reselling unused energy back to the state.
If solar air conditioning sounds appealing, know that it does not come without drawbacks. It's best to know both the pros and cons before making a considerable investment in it.
Disadvantages of Solar AC
Solar energy panels for cooling have one obvious requirement - the sun. If you choose solar AC, you could have a significant problem on days where the skies aren't clear enough for the panels to soak up the sun's energy. While this is normally not a problem during the summer, in some areas it poses a considerable barrier since hot, humid weather can exist under cloudy, sun-less skies. This problem is magnified if you have a bad weather week, a bad weather season or a bad weather region.
Since panels can only contribute energy when there actually is sunlight, you'll need to have some sort of battery set up, capable of storing enough energy to get you through the day. But as you can see, solar powered air conditioning is simply not effective in areas that do not have many hours of strong sunlight.
Tracking the sun
For optimal efficiency, solar energy panels need to constantly be directed towards the sun. Ideally, panel adjustments should be made each season, but most solar panel owners usually mount them in a fixed position for the latitude of the area they're in, which means they are not optimally positioned for year-round use.
In addition to tracking, solar panels need to be oriented and cleaned. This is particularly the case in areas where it snows. If you plan on getting a solar powered AC, then you may want to consider placing your panels on the ground, mounted to racks or poles. Traditional solar energy systems are normally placed up high on a roof, but with snow and sleet, it becomes tricky and dangerous to clean if set up on a high, remote area of your home.
Solar panels put out DC power, which needs to be converted to AC before it can be used. Most systems now have the ability to convert DC power to AC, and then place the excess power onto the public utility grid. This resolves the energy storage issue, but it's advisable that you make certain your unit has this ability prior to setting it up. In addition, it's probably also best that you speak with a state representative and express your interest in solar energy.
Limited power supply
Panels don't put out a lot of power. For example, a panel the size of an average desk can provide about 200 watts, which is about as strong as two high-powered light bulbs. To see if solar powered air conditioners suit your needs, you will need to consider the interior square footage of your home and your regular electric usage, compared to solar panels' limited power output.
Aside from the issue of power storage, prospective solar energy consumers need to consider the costly battery reserve. Batteries are expensive, require maintenance, and don't last very long.
Solar panels are also vulnerable to damage from hail and falling tree limbs. They are also expensive to replace.
High set-up cost
Aside from battery costs and replacement panel costs, the initial set-up cost for solar energy systems can be considerably high. In the long run the system is worth it, particularly in areas where there is constant sun and a constant need for cooling. However if you don't want to wait for the long run, and don't want to invest a small fortune in the set up process, you may want to consider energy-efficient portable air conditioners.
A Smart AC Alternative
A lot of smart green consumers know that you don't have to empty out your wallet in order to get green energy. These days, you can have your cake and eat it too. In a hot climate, costly solar energy systems are not always a convenient option.
The smart AC alternative is the portable room air conditioner, which boasts considerable immediate and long-term benefits.
Benefit 1: Mobility.
A portable AC is a mobile cooling unit that can be moved from room to room depending on where you need it.
Benefit 2: Low Maintenance.
Portable room air conditioners provide immediate relief without the cost and time required with solar air conditioners. Having far fewer parts, mobile aircon units don't need to be maintained or repaired as frequently as solar energy units.
Benefit 3: Low Cost.
Portable ACs don't need as much electricity to power them. In this way they are competitive with solar powered ACs. However portable air conditioners don't have the high set-up cost or the problems of converting energy, storing energy, or being weather dependent. Plus, since mobile ACs offer spot cooling, you'll save money by not cooling empty or unused rooms. Your PAC unit goes right where you need it, and only where you need it.
Benefit 4: Effective Cooling
The majority of air conditioning units available today come with special ducting which ensures that any warm air is taken out of the room where the system is situated. This again helps to keep down the cost of cooling the room. This benefit is not available with solar air conditioners.
Click here to find the perfect portable air conditioner to ease your summertime energy crisis. Need help finding just the right product? Call our cooling experts today for guidance!
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