Air conditioning system is no new technology; in fact they have been in use since its invention in 1902. However the use of solar power on cooling system has made it cost efficient. Solar air conditioning is simply any cooling system that utilizes solar power or sun power. This can be carried out using three means; passive solar, solar photovoltaic conversion and thermal energy conversion. To understand how solar energy works it is good to know how the air conditioning system really works.
There are 3 components in cooling system: condenser, compressor and evaporator. The refrigerant is the center to the cooling of an air conditioner it helps moves in the air in the cooling system. The refrigerant is known to come in as a cool low pressure cool gas in the compressor, which utilizes electric power to compress it to a high energy hot gas. Then the fluid goes into the condenser where it scatters all the heat and changes it over into cold liquid under high pressure. Finally it goes into the evaporator from where it cools the room air, which is tossed out. The compressor uses the most amount of electricity to warm and compress the refrigerant.
Thermal energy system
The thermal energy system also known as the thermal hybrid energy system uses both the solar power and electricity thus the name hybrid. The most electricity consuming unit of the cooling system which is the compressor, compresses the reduced pressure fluid which gets heated later on. A solar collector panel can help in warming the fluid and therefore reduces the load on the compressor, which thus will lessen the electricity consumption. As compared with photo voltaic system, the solar collector panels in the thermal energy system are less expensive and are more productive in converting sun energy to useful energy. However their efficiency during the night when the sun is down is rather questionable, although they work at night using electricity.
Photo Voltaic system
Photo voltaic system can provide the energy for any kind of electrically powered cooling, welter conventional compressor type or adsorption/absorption type. Using photo voltaic system is not the best option when choosing a solar powered air conditioning system. You will need to install an inverter or inverter battery to make the system work with a cooling system. The inverters that can take the work load of an air conditioner are later very limited in the market, thus making photo voltaic system less possible to run an AC.
The Vapor Absorption type Of Solar Air Conditioners
One of the best and the least power consuming solar air conditioners are those that utilize vapor absorption. These cooling system do not utilize CFC as refrigerant, rather they work on water. For this reason they are harmless for environment. They additionally don’t have compressor, thus totally eliminating the most power consuming unit. It compresses of assembly of absorber, evaporator, condenser, heat exchanger that utilizes water and absorbent like NH3 to carry out the air conditioning. Since they contain no compressors they are generally silent. This system can work for hours after the sun is down, however their use at night is rather limited.
Solar AC are low in operating with low maintenance costs, it also consume little or no electrical energy. With the rise in energy cost, solar system has become the best alternative and it can as well play a role in the zero energy building design.