NOTE- For solar PV powered AC units (DC powered & AC-DC hybrid solar air conditioners) please visit our partner HotSpot Energy.
The information below is about thermally powered (absorption) air conditioners.
A solar powered air conditioning systems is one of the most efficient and cost effective solutions for commercial air conditioning. Solar air conditioning employs time tested absorption chillers made by Yazaki.
Absorption chillers are powered by heat (hot water). Many thousands have been installed using gas boilers or by harnessing waste heat from generators or other sources.
Evacuated tube collectors are one of the most efficient and effective producers of solar hot water. Therefore, absorption chillers run very effectively with a proper solar thermal configuration.
The solar air conditioner / solar heater is powered by solar energy collected in the evacuated tube solar thermal panels (right). The thermal energy collected is then delivered to the solar powered chiller using a Corn Glycol (antifreeze) solution and a simple but carefully designed system of pipes, pumps, and controls.
In the winter, even at below freezing temperatures outside, our evacuated tube solar thermal collectors still produce an abundance of heat. The system can be designed so that this heat is then transferred into your building, either reducing or nearly eliminating the operation of your existing heating system. This means free solar air conditioning in the summer, and free heating in the winter.
See Diagram of Solar Air Conditioning / Solar Heating System for more information.
Absorption chiller air conditioners are not a newly developed technology. In fact, they have been commercially used in the U.S. since the early 20th century and are still very widely used to this day. Absorption chiller AC units are also very popular in Asian countries like Japan, where the high cost of electricity make them very desirable. Chillers constitute up to 40% of all installed commercial air conditioning tonnage. They are simple and dependable, using no harmful CFC (Freon, etc.) and some units actually operate without any moving parts.
When engineered to run on solar energy the absorption chiller AC units provide the lowest cost to operate and the best return on investment of any air conditioning system in the world.
Solar absorption chillers are very low in operating and maintenance costs, and consume little or no electrical energy. Essentially the only parts that use electricity are low amp fan motors and small pumps that move the thermal transfer fluid (Corn Glycol, a food-grade antifreeze) from the collectors to the chiller and then back up to the collectors. Inside the unit is another small pump that circulates the refrigerant. There is no "compressor" to consume power. All of these small electrical loads can run from solar PV panels if desired, meaning zero operational costs for the solar air conditioning system.
This has become an increasingly attractive system for commercial and industrial applications. Air conditioning is one of the most expensive operating costs that a business faces today. Absorption chillers are efficient, reliable, low maintenance – and even better, able to be powered using only the sun. Solar cooling has the direct ability to drastically lower your energy and operating costs.
Solar Panels Plus provides engineering, design, support to installers of solar air conditioning systems across North America. To learn more about this system, please Contact Us today.
Solar absorption chiller cooling is used on commercial applications where there is a significant and consistent cooling load needed (in excess of 10 tons). These applications are variable, and range from restaurants, industrial manufacturing facilities, office buildings, or any commercial structure requiring air conditioning.
SPP has provided solar absorption chillers in more USA locations than any other provider. SPP has a Yazaki certified installer on staff.
Solar absorption chiller applications are highly complex and are not "products" - they are "projects". With that said, nobody in the USA has more experience than we do, when it comes to designing and setting up a solar thermal powered air conditioning system.
4. Can the solar air conditioning system replace my existing system?
The SPP absorption chiller solar air conditioning and heating system is not designed to replace an existing system, but rather to sit alongside it and keep the current (legacy) system from operating a large percentage of the time. The solar HVAC system will not work at night or during times of extended overcast conditions. From a controls standpoint, the solar air conditioning system will be configured as primary and the legacy system will be set up as supplemental.
34. Can solar air conditioning systems be used for residential applications?
In a technical sense, for very large residential applications - such as apartment buildings, or very large residences (5,000+ SF), the system can be used. However, this system is designed primarily for commercial applications, as flat roof space, an area for cooling towers, fans, and absorption chillers, pumps, and piping is required. Most residences cannot support this.
35. What is the life expectancy of a solar powered A/C system?
The median life expectancy of the absorption systems is 23 years according to ASHRAE. There are few moving parts to wear out other than small, low cost pumps.
36. Who will install the solar powered A/C system?
An authorized Solar Panels Plus installer will install the solar portion and will have a Yazaki-certified licensed HVAC contractor with factory certification perform the absorption chiller commissioning.
38. What type of maintenance is involved with a solar powered A/C unit?
Typically the maintenance is the same or less than with a regular HVAC system. Any commercial system should have a biannual preventive maintenance check-up.