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Solar Panels For Air Conditioner – How many do you need to run them

Homeowners have started investing in solar panels because it is a great way to save money on utility bills. They are taking advantage of the energy from the sun by installing a solar system. 

Did you know that a single solar energy system can generate around 250 to 400 W power[1]? Various home appliances have different power needs. So, the number of solar panels you should have depends on the number of appliances you use. 

For instance, the air conditioner is one appliance that nearly every household has. And Solar panels For Air conditioners are something you need to investigate Before you install a solar system, you need to know how many solar panels you need to run an Air Conditioner Unit.

We have discussed everything related to solar panels and air conditioners so you can know how many solar panels are needed to run an air conditioner. 

What Determines How Much Energy Does AC Consume?

Before determining how many solar panels are needed for installation, let’s discuss the factors that determine the energy consumption of air conditioners. 

Below are some factors that directly impact the energy consumption of an AC unit:

#1 Weather 

One main factor that determines the power consumption of an AC is the weather. If the weather in your area is hot, you will need more power so the AC can run for a long time. 

As the AC works by cooling air, it would have to work harder if the ambient temperature is 105F degrees than 80F degrees. 

#2 Location

After the weather, the location also influences an AC’s power consumption. Your central air conditioner unit will need more energy if you live in a hotter area. But if you live in a colder region, the central air conditioner power consumption will be less. 

#3 Building Type 

Energy-efficient buildings are known to consume less energy. For instance, if you live in a taller but compact building, it will be more efficient to cool than a spacious building. 

Similarly, AC power consumption will decrease if you have installed a roofline to protect your home from getting hot in the summer. In addition, double-glazed windows can also keep the home cooler, reading the amount of energy required by an AC. 

How to Work Out Power Consumption of AC?

It’s not easy to determine the power consumption of AC and how many solar panels are required to run it efficiently. That’s because, unlike other home appliances, AC units do not draw constant currents. 

The air conditioning unit has a compressor with motors for maintaining temperature. So, this unit’s solar power can either increase or decrease. For this reason, it’s essential to find the average current for the air conditioning unit. 

Tips to Determine the Number of Panels Required for AC

Almost all the appliances in the home can work on solar energy. Depending on the device’s watts per hour, you can calculate the number of panels required for most appliances. 

But the AC systems are slightly different because they are more complicated than the other appliances. As these systems cycle on and off, you need to determine the amount of power they use per hour by averaging their energy use. 

In addition, the central air conditioner units are not rated in watts. Instead, they are rated in tons because different units have different efficiencies. That’s why the electrical kilowatt rating is not accurate for these systems.  

An air conditioning system with a power rating of one ton can melt 2000 pounds of ice in 24 hours. In short, the more tons rating an air conditioning unit has, the cooler air it can offer per hour. The newer AC models have a rating between two to five tons. 

How Many Watts Does Your Air Conditioner Use? 

The rate of power used in an hour by the air conditioning unit is watts. By calculating the watts, you can easily predict how many solar panel systems and AC are needed. 

Many factors will play a part in how many solar panel systems you need: sunlight and weather conditions, type of solar panel system, energy efficiency ratio, energy storage capacity, and more. 

Here’s a quick overview of how many solar panels watts different-sized air conditioners might use. 

  • Central AC fan- 750 watts 
  • Central AC- 3500 watts 
  • Large window AC- 1400 watts
  • Small window AC- 500 watts 
  • Medium window unit AC- 900 watts 

Remember that it’s just an estimate of different AC system watts. You can calculate the air conditioning usage by calculating the number of hours your AC is running and the watts it uses. 

How Many Solar Panels Does Central AC Need?

It’s estimated that the central air conditioning system commonly needs 3500 watts. So, using 250 or 300 W modern solar systems for such air conditioner systems is advised. To operate this AC unit for 5 to 6 hours, you might need 15 solar systems. 

You can generate up to 3,750 W of solar panel energy with 15 solar panels. It is roughly equal to 3.75 kWh. This energy can keep a one-ton air conditioner running for a sufficient time. 

You might want to install three more solar panels to compensate for the central air conditioner’s fan consumption. You need around 18 solar panels to run a central air conditioner efficiently. 

How Many Solar Panels Does a Central Air Conditioner Need?

The window air conditioner is available in different sizes, requiring different wattages. So, it’s essential to know each system’s watts to determine how many solar panels they need. 

You can run it effectively on two solar panels with a minor air conditioning system. That’s because smaller window conditioners are 500 W. On the other hand, you might need four solar panels for a medium window air conditioning unit as it is 900 W. 

Similarly, you need six solar panels if you have a large window air conditioner, which is efficient for a 1440 W unit. 

Do I Need Additional Panels?

Solar panels use the sunlight and convert it into energy that keeps the home appliances running. An efficient solar system can run an air conditioner unit for 5 to 6 hours daily. 

For some households, it’s sufficient electricity, but some households have higher power consumption. Such homes need a much more efficient solar unit to keep the appliances running. 

So, before predicting the number of required solar panels, it’s better to determine the amount of electricity each appliance uses in your home. You must install more solar panels to keep the appliances running for a long time.

You can quickly determine the kilowatt-hours AC unit uses by dividing the number of watts by the number of hours the AC unit runs. You can get more cooling capacity by installing extra panels. 

Grid-Connected Homes

Grid-connected homes are considered to be the future. That’s because renewable energy can efficiently power these homes without putting any strain on the environment. 

Grid-connected homes are known to be better than other electricity grid power systems. These allow power to residential or commercial spaces with renewable energy by reducing extra electricity usage. 

If you don’t have grid-connected homes, you can easily switch to one without worry. This way, you can also do major cost-saving without much effort. 

You might not realize it, but air conditioner units produce more energy waste. Just think of when you leave the AC unit on during hot days so you can relax in your cooler home. The energy the AC unit utilizes during these wasted hours will increase the utility bill. Also, it’s harsh on the environment. 

But with solar panels, you can quickly reduce the excess cost. By installing solar panels, you can meet the energy requirement of your home without exceeding any bill. With a grid-tied system, you can have sufficient power for cloudy days and nights. 

Off-Grid Homes

Remember that your off-grid system will not use the utility system to create more electricity. With this system, you must use battery power banks to produce power. You can also produce power through the ever-flowing electricity used while the air conditioner runs. 

Every appliance in your home requires a certain amount of energy from solar panels to run efficiently. You can supply sufficient energy to each appliance using a battery bank that provides enough electricity. 

Installing solar panels in an off-grid system can be overwhelming. Plus, it can take a lot of time. But if you want to do it, consider installing more solar panels to offset the off-grid technologies. 

Before doing this, remember that while it’s efficient and doable, it is also costlier than creating a grid-connected home.

The number of solar panels required for off-grid and grid-connected homes is different. That’s why you must calculate the necessary number of solar panel to run a small air conditioner before installation. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Air Conditioners

Solar panels can help bring down the utility bill. But there are more benefits of using solar panels than this. Scroll down to check the advantages and disadvantages of installing solar panels in your home. 


#1 Budget-Friendly 

The main reason people consider using solar panels is that it helps in reducing utility bills. That means you can save more while getting the same cooling capacity. 

#2 Sustainable and Clean Energy

Many people prefer sustainable energy sources like solar panels. You can reduce environmental damage by completely switching to a solar-powered air conditioner. 

Solar air conditioners are gentle on nature because they emit less greenhouse emulsion. That means less toxicity in the air that we breathe. 

#3 Not Prone to Power Failure 

Power failure is common, but with solar AC units, you can eliminate this issue. You can enjoy uninterrupted cool airflow, whether the power outage is due to extreme weather conditions or something else. 

#4 User-Friendly 

Comparatively, solar AC units are easier to use than regular ones. 

#5 Incentive Programs 

Indeed, installing solar panels is costly, but you can take advantage of the incentive programs. The state and federal governments run these for solar energy users. The rates of these incentive programs might vary from state to state, but you can surely be rewarded for choosing solar panels. 

#6 Increased Home Resale Value

Lastly, installing solar panels can help you get better home resale value. Solar energy panels are considered a wise investment because they make the home desirable. Buyers are more likely to choose a home that comes with solar installation than one that doesn’t have solar panels. 


#1 It is Expensive 

While solar panel air conditioner systems reduce the electricity bill, these are expensive. To make your solar panel work, you need to purchase battery systems and inverters, which are costly. Also, the installation cost for the solar panel is enormous. It can be as high as $5000 to $15000. 

#2 Heavy Reliance on Weather 

Once you have solar panels to run AC, you must rely heavily on the weather. With climate change, the weather has become challenging to predict. So, if you like using air conditioner units throughout the year, solar panel air conditioners might not be for you. 

#3 Nightly Issues 

Along with unpredictable weather, there is also an issue with getting energy during the night. During the day, you can get enough sunlight. That means an unlimited supply of energy. 

But at night, the efficiency of the solar panel decreases, which will also reduce the air conditioner’s performance. 

#4 Prone to Damage 

Solar panels are prone to damage because they are installed on the roof. That means they have to deal with the harsh climate, including exposure to rain, dust, or snow. When a solar panel starts deteriorating, its performance also decreases. 

#5 Cleaning

Regularly cleaning solar panels is impossible because they are installed on the roof. If you live in an area where it snows, you need to find a way to clean the panels regularly. Otherwise, the snow might damage the solar panel more quicker than its age. 

#6 Tracking the Sun

The panels must face direct sunlight for a solar system to work efficiently. But many homeowners mount the position of solar panels, which makes it different to keep them aligned with direct sunlight. 

#7 Limited Power Supply

No matter how great the solar panels are, you can’t deny that they offer a limited power supply. An average solar panel can produce 200 watts of energy. Thus, it becomes essential to calculate the energy needs by considering the interior square footage and regular electricity use. 

Can a Low-Watt Solar Panel Run an Air Conditioner?

Unfortunately, you cannot run air conditioning units using a low-watt solar panel. That’s because one solar panel can be as low as 100 watts. In contrast, even the smallest air conditioner needs 500 watts of solar panels to run. 

How Many Solar Panels AC Can a 3kW Solar System Run?

If you have a one-ton air conditioner, it would need 1.3kWh. Also, a typical solar system can produce 2kW to 4 kW. That means a one-ton air conditioner can use around half the total power generated. 

In addition, air conditioners come in different sizes and have different energy consumption requirements. To run average single-room air conditioning units, you need 0.5kW to 1.5kW. So, with a 3kW solar system, you can efficiently run a single-room air conditioner without interruption. 

How Many AC Can a 10kW Solar System Run?

You can consider installing a 10kW solar power system if you have a more prominent family. This solar system is sufficient for 4 to 5 bedrooms with in-floor heating and duct air conditioning.

You need to install 37 solar system panels to create 10kW of energy. That means you need sufficient roof space to generate a maximum of 42 kWh daily. 


Depending on how many watts of AC units you need, you must decide how many solar panels to run an AC. If you want solar panels to run a small air conditioner, two solar panels can keep it running efficiently. But for a central air system unit, you need around 15 solar panels. 

In addition, you also need to consider the amount of power each panel can produce. For instance, specific solar panels can generate only 100 W, but efficient solar panels can generate between 250 to 400 watts. 

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