How Many Solar Panels Are Needed to Run An AC?

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How Many Solar Panels Are Needed to Run An AC

On those blistering hot days, coming into a room with an AC can feel like an absolute lifesaver. But when you’re running electricity off of solar power, how do you know if you’ll have enough power to run an air conditioner? 

How many solar panels do you need to run an AC?

The number of solar panels needed to run an air conditioner is dependent on the wattage and capacity of the air conditioner you are using. The following table shows the most common air conditioning units and how many solar panels are required to offset the energy consumption.  

So, now that we know that the amount of solar power needed to run an air conditioner is dependent on the wattage usage of your AC, let’s keep reading to see how we can calculate the number of watts your AC uses to see how many solar panels you need to power it.

To understand how many solar panels you’ll need to run an AC, we need to keep in mind that for every 100 watts the AC uses, you will need to use at least one 100-watt output solar panel to power a small AC.

Type of ACAC WattageNumber of 100-watt solar panels neededNumber of 250-watt solar panels needed
Smallest Window 500 Watts5 solar panels2 solar panels
Medium Window 900 Watts9 solar panels4 solar panels
Largest Window Units 1440 Watts14 solar panels6 solar panels
Central Air Conditioner (fan only)750 Watts8 solar panels3 solar panels
Central Air Conditioner3500 Watts35 solar panels15 solar panels
Number of Solar Panels needed to run different Type & Different Wattage ACs.

Take a look at this YouTube video to get a solid understanding of how many solar panels are needed to run an air conditioner: 

How Many Watts Does Your Air Conditioner Use?

The amount of wattage your air conditioner uses is dependent on how you use it and for how long you use it. This will be different from model to model because of their cooling capacities. The bigger your AC’s cooling capacity, the more watts it is going to use.

First off, you need to understand that when an air conditioner is working, it absorbs the heated air and passes it over an evaporator coil. Inside the AC is a liquid refrigerant that is converted to gas, and this is what cools the air as it flows over the coil; this is its cooling capacity. This conversion of heated air into cool air uses power. 

The table below gives a good approximation of how many watts an AC uses depending on its cooling capacity: 

AC Cooling CapacityWatt Usage
1 ton1000 watts
1.5 ton1 500 watts
2 ton2 000 watts
3 ton3 000 watts

How Many Solar Panels Do You Need to Run a 1 Ton AC? 

So if we want to calculate how many solar panels you need for each particular AC cooling capacity, we need to divide the wattage usage by the solar panel wattage output.

1 ton AC = 1000 watt usage

1000 watts / 100 watt solar panel = 10 solar panels needed.

1000 watts/250 watt solar panel = 4 solar panels needed.

How Many Solar Panels Do You Need to Run a 1.5 Ton AC? 

1.5 ton AC = 1500 watt usage

1500 watts / 100 watt solar panel = 15 solar panels needed.

1500 watts/ 250 watt solar panel = 6 solar panels needed.

How To Calculate AC Watt Usage?

There are two ways we can calculate the number of watts that your air conditioner uses: 

  • Manual calculations
  • Using a watt meter.

How To Calculate Wattage Manually?

When calculating the cooling capacity of your AC unit you will need to consider how much heat energy it absorbs in a room to replace it with cool air. You need to correctly calculate:

  • AC Wattage – the rate of power consumption per hour
  • Electricity Tariff – the price that the electricity provider charges per unit
  • Hours in Use – how many hours you use the AC 

How To Calculate Watts Using a Wattmeter?

If you’d like to skip the manual calculation, then a great way to get an accurate reading of the wattage usage of your AC is to use a Watt meter.

It’s quite simple and effective to use a Watt meter. All you need to do is plug the air conditioner wire into the meter and connect the same wire to a wall socket. When your AC starts, the meter will show you how many watts it uses. To get the most accurate results, it’s always best to run this test for a week. 

Now that we know how to calculate the number of watts the AC uses, let’s look at how many solar panels are needed to power an AC depending on the wattage usage.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, an AC can be powered just as well by solar panels, in fact, it’s a great way to be more environmentally friendly. 

To find out how many solar panels you will need to run your air conditioner is based on dividing the power required of the AC by the total amount of solar panels together. A big part of telling how many solar power panels you’ll need to power an AC is also dependent on the quality of your solar panels and the weather conditions in your area. 

So, there’s no need to worry if it’s possible to stay cool and be environmentally friendly at the same time now that we know how many solar panels it takes to run an AC.


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