How Many Solar Panels are Needed to Run an Air Conditioner or Heat Pump
Solar panels can be used to power just about any appliance in your home. From your oven and washing machine to your vacuum, there isn’t much that they can’t do. However, in the hot summer months, many of us would like to benefit from air conditioning in our homes, and the question of how many solar panels it would take to power one often comes to mind. Here is a little more information on solar panels and their ability to power air conditioning.
Powering Air Conditioning or Heat Pumps
The main issue that comes with powering air conditioning or heat pump systems is the fact that they use up so much electricity. The average air conditioner uses 1.3kw of power, and the average solar panel system ranges from 2kw to 4kw. So, if you decide to power an air conditioner or try and break-even on a ASHP, it is going to use up the vast majority of your solar energy.
Some air conditioners will even use as much as 2.5kw, meaning that the minimum power of your solar panel system would need to be 3kw just to power the air conditioning. Putting this into a little more perspective, if you had a 1kw unit and were running the smallest air conditioner (1.3kw), the solar panel would provide you with 5-7 units of power for the day.
This would be consumed by the air conditioner in a mere four or five hours. They are high demand items that require a lot of energy to keep running. There are some low power models that only use 600w, but these are few and far between. If you are able to find one of these low power models, they only use three or four solar panels in your array to run.
If we are looking at conventional air conditioners, however, solar panels aren’t quite ready to be used to power these and your home. So, when the summer hits, you may have to make a choice if you want your air conditioning to be run via solar energy.
About Solar Power Usage
When solar panels are discussed, we usually refer to the power that is produced by them in at least one of the following ways:
- Watts (w)
- Kilowatts (kw)
- Kilowatts per hour (kwh)
If we put this into an example, we could look at the average household. This would contain a family of four, and it requires a 3-4kw solar panel system in order to produce enough electricity to keep the home powered.
So, if we continue looking at the 3kw system, it will need to be around 226 square feet (sq. ft.) in size. This may sound like it is quite large and may be too big for your roof, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. To place it in different measurements, this equates to 15ftx15ft. This will easily fit on most of the rooftops in the UK. Each of the solar panels that make up this array will be around 17 sq. ft., and will also have an optimal output of around 345w.
As a result, each of the solar panels in the array will be able to provide you with an average output of 20w per sq. ft. Over the course of a year, this will equate to your 3kw system being able to provide you with a total output of 121kwh per sq. ft., or a total of 2,550kwh.
The total output of the solar panels that have been installed on your roof will also depend on several other factors. These include:
- The size of the system that has been installed
- The efficiency of the system (including material it is made from)
- The direction in which the panels face
If you want to get the most out of your panels, you should have them facing south at an angle of 32 degrees. This will leave them in their most efficient state for energy production.
Solar Panel Size Per KWH
Solar panels work by absorbing the light produced by the sun and converting it into electricity. As a result of this, it makes sense that the more surface area that a solar array covers, the more sun it can absorb. Therefore, the more electricity can be created.
You should expect the average solar panel system to produce between 9 and 11 kWh per sq. ft. each year. What this means is that if you have a 1kw system that covers a total of 86 sq. ft., you will be able to use around 850kwh of electricity per year. Alternatively, a 4kw system is likely to take up around 301 sq. ft. of space, allowing you to benefit from a comfortable 3,400kwh of electricity each year.
Want to Know More?
Have you found yourself interested in solar panels? If you want to know more then make sure you head to our marketplace where you can find our full range of products, each with the relevant information. Or simply give us a ring using the number at the top of this page and have a chat.