Solar Air Conditioning

Published by 
Last updated: 
March 23, 2011

Solar air conditioning has begun to emerge as an energy savings option for residential and commercial property owners alike.

We’re going to give you some things to consider if you’re thinking of going solar.

The basic premise of a solar air conditioner is obvious; you have solar panels or modules as some call them that are placed in a southerly exposure. (Either on your roof or in the yard.) The electricity generated by the sun can offset a percentage of the electricity used by the air conditioner while it’s operating. But an added bonus is the electricity produced by the sun when the A/C is not operating and assuming it is greater than the consumption of the entire house can actually put electricity back into the grid, in effect spinning your electric meter backwards and reducing your electric bill.

Two ways to go

There are companies that specialize in solar technology that can utilize your existing air conditioner, which obviously would only be prudent if it were a newer high efficiency model.

There is also a major air conditioning manufacturer, Lennox Industries based in Dallas Texas who was the first to market a complete line of solar ac systems aptly titled SunSource.

Either way you choose there are a plethora of things to consider such as:

  • Home Owners Associations Rules
  • Local building codes
  • Where to mount? On roof or ground? (Roof most common provided it’s facing south.)
  • Load bearing capacity of roof
  • What’s the Return on Investment (ROI) for where you live?
  • If any additional cost to add to your homeowners insurance.
  • What happens if their mounted to roof and the roof needs to be replaced?
  • What are the tax benefits?
  • What’s the warranty?
  • Does the company that sold and installed the system service them?
  • What is the life expectancy of the equipment?
  • What is the cost for the ongoing subscription to online computer monitoring?
  • Do the panels need to be cleaned, if so, how, with what, and how often?

For sure there are other factors to consider but these were a few we asked ourselves when we considered installing one of these systems in our home. For us ultimately the ROI just wasn’t there.

If you’re considering solar a good starting point are the free ROI calculators that many solar companies have on their web sites. They’ll show you approximately how long it will take you to break even on your investment.

Ultimately only time will tell if solar and renewable energy products, servicers and manufacturers will stay the course and press forward with new clean energy products or abandon ship like so many have done in the past when the cost of cheap energy makes clean, green renewable energy unattractive to the masses.

Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

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