Air conditioning is almost a basic necessity in Thailand’s mostly hot and humid weather. Solar air conditioners are becoming more popular for their low running costs. They have also become more affordable to install than in the past. When making a choice for solar air conditioner Thailand installation, knowing the power requirements is critical. It ensures that you have optimal performance and efficiency from the AC.
You must know of the factors which determine how much energy is required to power AC. They include;
#1Types of Solar Air Conditioner
The first step in figuring out the energy requirement of an air conditioner is to determine the type that you want. A solar air conditioner is a broad term for air conditioners that are fully or partly powered by solar energy. This could be;
Direct Current solar air conditioner
This air conditioner is wholly powered by solar energy. Photovoltaic cells generate electricity from light energy. This energy powers the AC components directly without the need to convert to AC power. There is also an option of adding batteries to store energy for later use.
Since the power for a DC air conditioner wholly comes from the solar panels, you have to consider whether the solar panel is solely for the AC or additional appliances as well. If the air conditioner is rated 3 kWh, the minimum output of the solar panel would have to be 3.2 kWh. Power losses should be covered as well.
The most likely scenario is that the air conditioner will share power with other appliances. In such a setting, the energy requirements of all the appliances will have to be considered. The solar panel output will then be a total of all energy requirements in the house.
Hybrid solar air conditioner
This type of air conditioner draws power partly from solar energy and partly from the mains electricity power grid. Solar energy is prioritized to minimize running costs. The air conditioner draws power from the mains when the solar panels are not generating power. The mains power is most needed in the evenings and nights.
Hybrid solar air conditioners have very flexible energy requirements. A mandatory requirement for a hybrid solar air conditioner is that it must be able to draw power from the mains. This is 220Volts at 50/60 Hz in Thailand and many other countries.
#2 Amount of Sunlight Hours
Photovoltaic cells can only generate electricity when there is adequate sunshine. Peak power output coincides with the brightest and hottest time of the day. Likewise, power generation goes down in the evenings and nights.
The average hours of sunshine in Thailand is 11 hours, out of which 5 hours are peak sunshine hours. Solar energy is powering AC the entire time there is sunshine, so the solar energy wholly takes care of the AC.
A hybrid solar air conditioner can cut down on the energy bill by as much as 90% when in peak summer when there is strong sunshine for almost the entire 11 hours. Suppose the AC is switched on from 7 pm to midnight, that makes an average of 5 hours. Multiply these hours by the air conditioner’s wattage to get the estimated energy consumption in a day.
#3 Solar Panel Efficiency
The ability of the photovoltaic cells to convert light energy into electricity ranges from 17% to 22% in different solar panel brands. The average output of a solar panel is 250 Watts. To get the solar panels required, divide your total energy requirements by the wattage rating on a panel. A solar air conditioner with a power rating of 2kWh will need about eight conventional solar power panels.
#4 Solar Panel Size and Mounting Surface Area Available
Solar panels are typically placed on the roof for maximum exposure to the sun. The surface areas available for placing solar panels can have a limiting effect on the energy generation. Higher efficiency solar panels require less space than conventional solar panels.
The typical solar panel measures 5.4 feet by 3.25 feet (65 in. X 39 in.) which is about 17.5 square feet. For an air conditioner of 2kWh, you would require approximately 140 square feet. The good thing is that the sun’s angle is almost overhead Thailand roofs, which allows maximum utilization of the roof.
#5 Need for Energy Storage
Will the AC need energy storage solutions? This is an important consideration for a DC solar air conditioner. If it is to be used at night or cloudy days, the air conditioner will need to draw power from batteries. The size and output of the battery required, in turn, depends on the number of hours that the AC will be running without sunshine.
Knowing the energy requirements of a solar air conditioner is very important to have an optimally functioning air conditioning. It is also advisable that you consult with a solar power technician before making a decision.