The heat from the sun can be so unbearable at times that some of us will be driven to purchase an air conditioning unit even if it cost us an arm and a leg. Other body parts will come into question when one considers the electricity bill at the end of each month with the use of the air conditioner alone, since these units consume a considerable amount of energy to keep you cool.
Hybrid Solar Air Conditioner (HSAC) is one among other ways where solar technology is being incorporated in a cooling system. Among the methods are: Photovoltaics, absorption chillers and adsorption chillers. Absorption chillers and adsorption chillers are relatively expensive options. Also, where one would have thought to install photovoltaic panels to power a conventional ac unit, the alternative option would be to install Hybrid Solar Air Conditioner which would aid in decreasing cost and panel space.
The “residential friendly” solar cooler, similar to a Solar Water Heater uses evacuated tube collectors to harness thermal energy from the sun which is used to heat fluid (Refrigerant). The refrigerant is circulated through the system and undergoes heat exchange processes, similar to how a conventional ac unit works. This system is not totally independent of electricity as it still requires the use of a compressor. But, due to the assistance of the harnessed heat, the compressor uses less power since it has less work to do in compressing the refrigerant vapor as the heat from the solar thermal collector has done most of the work.
It is estimated that a system like this will reduce power consumption by 40-60 % and has a payback period of 10 years. Is it worth waiting 10 years? You can sit and think about how much you will accumulate in electricity bills in 10 years for your electric air conditioner and decide. In part 2 of this post, I will do a comparative analysis of the energy consumption and cost of a HSAC and a traditional split AC unit.