Before becoming a card-carrying member of the solar community, I truly did not think of the solar industry as one that was saturated with gimmicks. However, the longer I have been immersed into the world of green energy, the more I have become acquainted with the many tactics people use to make their company stand out, or to make their sales quotas a bit larger than their partners. Recently, the topic of “solar powered HVAC” systems has become a common theme of conversation. The purpose of this short article is to highlight what a solar powered HVAC systems is, whether it is worth the investment, and other options to explore before making a purchase.
What is Solar Powered HVAC?
A solar powered HVAC system is an installed air-conditioning unit that is powered, primarily, by solar panels. For homeowners that do not have any sort of solar systems (PV) currently installed on their homes, a solar powered HVAC can offset some of your utility costs. The solar powered HVAC system is initially powered by the power that the installed PV panels generates. Excess power is then used to power other items in the home, and then finally sent back into the grid, assuming the PV panels generate that much power. The panels work in the same way as traditional PV panels, except the power goes directly to the associated HVAC system before anything else.
One of our solar experts stated, “It sounds like an easy way to add a few panels to your roof to offset the usage of your air conditioner or heat pump. However, it seems to be very limited in the amount of kWh you can add to this type of system.”
Is A Solar Powered HVAC A Good Investment?
The jury is still out on this one. For families that do not have any sort of solar PVsystem installed on their roof, a solar powered HVAC system is a good option to offset some of the utility demands of running a heat pump or air-conditioning unit. For families that already have a solar system (PV) installed, the cost of heat pumps and air-conditioning should already be accounted for in well-designed systems.
Many tenured solar installers will say that the Solar Powered HVAC is unnecessary, unless you are already in the market for a new HVAC system.
Most HVAC systems on the market today are already very energy efficient. Partnering them with a traditional solar PV system means the cost to run the air-conditioner would already be offset (again, assuming the system was well-designed using actual usage data points for system size design). Hence, the “solar powered” HVAC system is unnecessary and truly just add extraneous photovoltaic (PV) panels to a pre-installed roof array.
Additionally, with the cost of solar so incredibly reasonable, it makes sense for homeowners to invest in a full photovoltaic (PV) system that will offset their overall utility usage in the home, rather than something that will only answer to a percentage of energy usage.
Before jumping to the Solar Powered HVAC, it is worth exploring other options. You may find that the system is the ideal solution for your home and family. However, taking time to learn about other energy saving solutions is a worthy endeavor.
First, work with an Energy Adviser at a local, reputable, and licensed solar installer to learn what the costs and money savings would be to install a complete PV solar array on your home. There is still the misconception that the costs of solar are prohibitive for most homeowners. However, with a variety of financing options and historically low costs of the actual panels, most homeowners are surprised at how affordable going solar is. Furthermore, they are happy to learn how much money they can save as well.
Second, look into completing an energy analysis on your home. As homes age, things such as vents and windows leak. With time, appliances such as a refrigerators or air-conditioning units begin to work less efficiently, meaning they cost us more money to run. Often, an investment in new windows, sealing ventilation or new appliances is the solution.
With new advents in technology, and newly introduced appliances, it is really easy to get caught up in the fun. However, as consumers, it is important that we make smart choices with how we invest our money and what improvements we make on our home. As solar educators, we want people to understand all of the options that are available. However, we also like to ensure that the information people are exposed to is accurate. IF you still have questions, or want to learn how a solar powered HVAC system can fit into your home’s financial or energy saving plan, please reach out today.