How large of a solar panel is needed to power a typical home central air unit?

Filed under: Self Reliance |

Question by dont rob me: How large of a solar panel is needed to power a typical home central air unit?
I would like to offset my air conditioning bills by purchasing a solar panel setup. I guess the questions that need answered are these:

How much power does a central air unit use? 220 Volts / 8 Amps Sound about right?

How large of a solar array will I need to power this non-stop during peak daylight/sunlight hours?

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6 Responses to How large of a solar panel is needed to power a typical home central air unit?

  1. 8 amps?? what a laugh,,, try closer to 20 and more when it suges on,,,,they do not a large panel like that,, you have to combine several together to get the juice required,, and you need a regulator plus a bunch of expensive batteries and then a converter to change the DC to AC

    March 4, 2014 at 8:43 pm

  2. You would need about 5.5kW to power a small central a/c which translates into about 350 square feet of panels. You would also need a battery with around 85 kwh capacity or more, an inverter to convert to alternating current, and a transformer to step the voltage up to 220v.

    March 4, 2014 at 9:25 pm

  3. It would probably be best to call a business that installs solar power and gives free in-home energy analysis’. You could try Sungate Energy Solutions. 1 (888) 9Sungate

    March 4, 2014 at 10:08 pm

  4. If your state offers “New Metering” look into installing a grid-tie system. You won’t need to rely on batteries storing the energy your panels produce and if you produce more energy than you consume one month the utility company will actually credit your account for that surplus. I would recommend Global Solar Center as a good starting point ( They will provide you with a free solar quote and inform you of all the incentives you’ll be eligible for, your estimated annual savings, payback period etc… They’ll provide you with all the info you’ll need to make a smart decision. Whether or not the system powers your entire central units consumption, at the end of the day you will be saving on your monthly utility bill. Your location will be a major factor as far as feasibility goes but you should definitely start by visiting that site.

    Morris D.
    March 4, 2014 at 11:02 pm

  5. You are not alone in wanting an answer to this question. My neighbors have been asking me whether they can power their AC units in the same way to a solar panel.

    First, your problem is going to be providing power at night when the solar panels are not providing electricity. Doing this will require a bank of high capacity batteries. Here is some detailed discussion about doing just that:

    Second, the amount of power required to generate the required current of 220 VAC @ 8 amps that you asked for is about 1760 Watts. Today, solar panels are selling for $ 3.50 per watt. You would need to purchase $ 6160 worth of solar panels and then find someone willing to install them. Finally, a 220VAC inverter would cost about $ 1500 on today’s market. As you can see the costs are rather steep to obtain a true off-the grid solar powered air conditioning system. Here is some discussion about what a 50 watt solar panel can do:

    The solution to your problem is going with a hybrid solar array. In this situation, you would have your power company install a reversible power meter on your home. Then you connect your solar panels to an inverter that produces 120VAC at the same approved wave length as the power company provides. During the day, power is sent back to the electric company and they deduct that from your bill. While you would not power your Air Conditioner directly from solar power, you would still be given credit for the solar power generated during the day. Several of my friends and neighbors are going this route because of its simplicity of design and ultimately its ability to be expanded to multiple solar panels at once by you.

    Good luck and I hope that you decide to go solar. I am not paid or compensated for my advice from any solar outfit or power company.

    March 4, 2014 at 11:20 pm

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