How Many Solar Panels To Run An Air Conditioner? | Answered

How Many Solar Panels Are Required To Run An Air Conditioner

One of the best feelings that we experience during the summer is usually when we enjoy cool air breezing out through the air conditioning after a long hot day on a summer afternoon.

Although AC has undoubtedly become one of the most popular household names in the recent past, it releases tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is highly harmful to the environment and humans.

Additionally, running AC consistently for days may also end up biting on your pockets big time. Therefore, people often wonder: Can we use solar panels to power our AC? 

Yes, a solar powered AC works the same way as a standard one; the only difference is that it uses the sun’s energy to power the machine. It is also a better option for both being eco-friendly and cost-effective. Let’s find out more about solar powered AC units.

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need To Run An Air Conditioner?

The number of solar panels required to run an AC unit usually depends on its wattage. However, generally speaking, one needs between 1-5 solar panels for 100-watt efficiency since it’s the most common power distribution for measuring the power of solar panels for air conditioners.

If you select a 250-watt panel, a single solar panel should be enough to run the air conditioner. Contrariwise, it requires 3 solar panels if you choose a 100-watt solar panel.

1. How Many Watts Does Your Air Conditioner Use? 

AC CapacityHours in UseElectricity Tariff
1 Ton2 Hours $2.4
1 Ton3 Hours $3
1.5 Ton2 Hours $4
1.8 Ton5 Hours $5
2 Ton4 Hours $5
2 Ton10 Hours $8

To answer that, it largely depends on the functioning and actions of each particular AC model since they all differ from one another.

The most popular varieties are central air conditioner, central AC fan with disabled compressor, largest window unit, medium window unit, and smallest window unit. A central AC needs 3500 watts, and a central AC fan that comes with the compressor-off-capacity requires 750 watts of energy.

I. Calculating Manually 

To calculate the cooling capacity of an AC unit, you have to consider the calculations of the amount of heat energy it absorbs in the room to replace it with cool air. Therefore, to correctly calculate:

  • AC Wattage: it refers to the rate of power consumption per hour.
  • Hours in use: taking into account the number of hours the AC is running.
  • Electricity Tariff: establishing the amount of money that electricity provider charges per unit.

Henceforth, if calculated at an electricity rate of $0.12 kWh: 228 kWh x $0.12 = $27.36.

AC units usually come with different cooling modes, and therefore, you have a wide array of 1 ton, 1.5 tons, 2 tons, or even 3 tons of cooling to choose from the plate. For example, a 1-ton air conditioner uses about 991 to 1,333 watts, with energy consumption in a month between 92 and 122 kWh. 

II. Using A Wattmeter

Using A Wattmeter

Another way to accurately calculate the power consumption of almost every household appliance is by using a wattmeter.

All you need to do is plug the AC wire into the meter first and then connect the same to a wall socket. Thus, once the AC starts running, the meter will pop up the results. Monitor the outcome for about a week and make your final reading.

2. Number Of Solar Panels Required To Run An Air Conditioner? 

To understand this better, let’s take an example of a 1 ton AC. Installing a central AC will consume between 3kW and 5kW of electricity, and the solar panels will require to generate at least 3kW of energy for effective cooling.

At the same time, if you want solar panels that can power your AC, installing thirty units of 100-watt solar panels will be the best option for you [10 x 300w = 3,000w (3kW)].

Therefore, you must continue by dividing this consumption amount by the average energy a solar unit is likely to produce.

For example, suppose the production ratio in California is 1.6 and you’ll require 3,125w = 5,000kWh/1.6 = 3,125. However, if you live in Rhode Island, your requirement will be 4,167- 5,000kWh/1.2 = 4,167. Lastly, therefore, after calculating the number of watts required, you have to divide the outcome by each panel’s wattage.

Number Of Solar Panels Required For 3600 Watt Air Conditioner

In the case of 250-watt panels, usually, 15 solar panels suffice for a 3600-watt air conditioning. The collection of 15 solar panels is also adequate for running a central air conditioner because of its perfect measurement, depending on the watts and solar panels.

Therefore, one may compare it to the monthly costs of a 3600-watt air conditioner since it is affordable and perfect for small places. On the contrary, a 3600-watt air conditioner corresponds to a 1 ton AC which implies that 15 solar panels are enough to power a one-ton AC.

Number Of Solar Panels Required For 1-Ton Air Conditioner

Number Of Solar Panels Required For 1-Ton Air Conditioner

First off, you have to generate the wattage measurement that a 1 ton AC generally requires. It usually comes with a capacity of 3517-watts which implies that you have to supply 3500-watts to run it effectively.

Now, calculate the number of solar panels to get an idea of a somewhat proper estimation, and, as we discussed previously, solar panels (can be either polycrystalline or monocrystalline) that come with a 250-watts capacity require around 14 solar panels to run an AC.

Solar air conditioning systems ensure a cost-effective experience of 1 ton AC whereas the cost of a one-ton air conditioner is vast in general if powered from the grid.

Remember, the number of solar panels and their calculation always depends on the capacity, sunlight, and region where they will be placed. The system and function of the air conditioner can also differentiate the total number of solar panels. 

Number Of Solar Panels Required For 5-Star Air Conditioner

Let’s say, if the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of a 5-star AC is equal to 3.1, its power consumption will be 3517/3.1 = 1134.516w. Now, if the AC unit runs for 8 hours a day consistently, the total electricity consumption should be 1134.516w*8 = 9076.12wh.

Additionally, the battery, along with a charge controller, makes the solar panel energy self-reliant. Moving on, let’s assume that sunshine will be present in the specific area for about a minimum of 4 hours.

The value of current required = 221.04/4= 55.26 A.

Similarly, 80 Wp solar panels of Voc= 24 V and Isc = 5A are to be used. Thus, 11 solar panels of 80 Wp should suffice. Thus, 22 solar panels of 80 Watt are required to run 1 ton AC throughout the year.


Thus, to conclude, you will require dividing the power of AC required by the sum of total solar panels wattage. For example, if 1 ton AC needs around 1.2W of power to function, so 1200w/250w = 4.8 panels = 5 panels.

Similarly, you can also look at our article on number of solar panels to run a refrigerator, not only that solar panels is also capable of running computers. If you have any questions about using solar panels for air conditioners, you can let us know by using the comment section below.

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One Comment

  1. Hi how are you? My name is moustapha from mali , just over your website and Need some guidelines about solar and batteries for my personal use..
    I have 2 unit of ac of 410 a and one refrigerator of 220 as well one TV of 220. Advice me on the number of panel solar and batteries used.??

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