How Many Solar Panels To Run An Air Conditioner

AC unit indoor

This brief article will go over how many solar panels it takes to run an air conditioner. We’ll go through the math breakdown, using 100-Watt and 300-Watt solar panels as examples with different sizes of air conditioning units while answering some commonly asked questions. Let’s jump right into it!

The Math Behind It

In these examples, we’ll use a 100-Watt and a 300-Watt solar panel to calculate how many solar panels it will take to run certain air conditioning units.

Solar Panels Need = Total Watt Hours / Sunlight Exposure Hours / Wattage

For example, let’s say we have ten 300-Watt solar panels sitting out in direct sunlight for 5 hours. We will have:

300 Watts x 10 solar panels x 5 hours = 15,000 Watt-Hours

By dividing 15,000 Watt-Hours by 3,500 Watts (power intake of an average AC), we get a little more than four hours of runtime for an air conditioner.

Let’s go through some more examples to get an idea of the different setups we can have:

AC Type Wattage Solar Panel Type Number of Solar Panels Required
2300 BTU Zero Breeze AC – Small Room 674 Watts 100 Watts 7 Solar Panels
300 Watts 3 Solar Panels
5000 BTU Toshiba AC – Medium Room 1465 Watts 100 Watts 15 Solar Panels
300 Watts 5 Solar Panels
8000 BTU Toshiba AC – Large Room 2345 Watts 100 Watts 24 Solar Panels
300 Watts 8 Solar Panels
15000 BTU LG Electronics AC – Apartment 4396 Watts 100 Watts 44 Solar Panels
300 Watts 15 Solar Panels
28000 BTU Frigidaire AC – Family House 8206 Watts 100 Watts 82 Solar Panels
300 Watts 28 Solar Panels

More AC Examples

Here are some more examples of how many solar panels it will take to run different air conditioning units. We will use 100-Watt and 300-Watt solar panels for our examples, but you can use solar panels with more or less Wattage than our examples, depending on your solar system setup.

How many solar panels do I need to run a 1.5 ton AC?

A 1.5-ton air conditioning unit can cool off a space that’s 600-900 square feet (a studio or a small apartment). For AC power consumption calculations, one ton of cooling is equal to a thousand Watts. So for 1.5 tons of cooling, it will take:

1.5 x 1,000 Watts = 1,500 Watts

We can simply divide 1,500 Watts by the number of Watts in your solar panel. In this case, it will take fifteen 100-Watt solar panels or five 300-Watt solar panels.

How many solar panels do I need to run a 2 ton AC?

A 2-ton air conditioning unit can cool off 900-1,200 square feet (a large apartment). For AC power consumption calculations, it will take 2,000 Watts of electricity to run a 2-ton AC unit.

Dividing 2,000 Watts by 100 Watts or 300 Watts for our solar panels will result in twenty 100-Watt solar panels or about seven 300-Watt solar panels.

How many solar panels do I need to run a 3 ton AC?

A 3-ton air conditioning unit can cool off a space that’s 1,500-1,800 square feet (the median size of an American single-family home). For AC power consumption calculations, it will take 3,000 Watts of electricity to run a 3-ton AC unit.

Dividing 3,000 Watts by 100 Watts or 300 Watts for our solar panels will result in thirty 100-Watt solar panels or about ten 300-Watt solar panels.

How many solar panels do I need to run a 4 ton AC?

A 4-ton air conditioning unit can cool off a space that’s 2,100-2,400 square feet (a large family home). For AC power consumption calculations, it will take 4,000 Watts of electricity to run a 4-ton AC unit.

Dividing 4,000 Watts by 100 Watts or 300 Watts for our solar panels will result in forty 100-Watt solar panels or about fourteen 300-Watt solar panels.

How many solar panels do I need for a 1400-Watt to 1600-Watt AC (a large window unit)?

In this case, we can divide the Wattage of our AC by the Wattage of the solar panels to see how many solar panels we need. If we’re using 100-Watt solar panels, it will take 14-16 solar panels. If we’re using more oversized 300-Watt solar panels, it will take 5-6 solar panels.

How many solar panels do I need for a 900-Watt to 1000-Watt AC (a large window unit)?

In this case, we can divide the Wattage of our AC by the Wattage of the solar panels to see how many solar panels we need. If we’re using 100-Watt solar panels, it will take 9-10 solar panels. If we’re using more extensive 300-Watt solar panels, it will take 3-4 solar panels.

How many solar panels do I need for a 3600-Watt AC (a central unit)?

The same calculation for this AC would apply. A 3600-Watt AC is usually a central unit that can cool down an entire house; it’s equivalent to a 3.5-ton AC. We simply divide the 3600 Watts by the Wattage into our solar panels, 100 Watts and 300 Watts in our example, to get a dividend of thirty-six 100-Watt solar panels or twelve 300-Watt solar panels.

Can I power an electric air conditioner with solar panels?

Yes, you can power an electric air conditioner with solar panels.

This setup isn’t complex or different from standard solar system setups. You can charge a battery bank with a few solar panels, and you can use the stored battery to power an electric air conditioner. Most electric air conditioners aren’t oversized, and they don’t draw too much power, so the process is doable.

Most electrical and portable air conditioners are under 10,000 BTU which can cool down a large room, so it all depends on what kind of an electric air conditioner you have.

How many solar panels are needed to run an AC on an RV?

Generally, air conditioning units for RVs have between 11,000-15,000 BTUs—an equivalent of around 3,200-4,400 Watts. Accordingly, you will need approximately thirty-two to forty-four 100-Watt solar panels or eleven to fifteen 300-Watt solar panels.

Wrapping up

As you purchase solar panels to power air conditioning units, remember that all of the math done behind solar panels and Wattage is theoretical. Unfortunately, the natural world has factors like clouds, atmospheric changes, and more that could hinder your calculations.

Usually, we take an average of around five hours of direct sunlight every day to power solar panels, but it could be more or less depending on where you live, the weather/climate, and what kind of solar system you have.

As these values could vary, so can your Wattage amount, so always think ahead and be safe rather than sorry when buying enough solar panels to power your air conditioning!

Ying Xu

Graduated from the University of Kansas with an Aerospace Engineering degree & served 4 years as an US Air Force officer. Experienced with basic survival skills, weapon system security,  technical disaster recovery, and system troubleshooting

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