Can Solar Power Support Heavy Loads Like AC and Water Pumps
Increasing population, improving standards of living, and lowering costs of home appliances have all contributed to a power crisis in India. Frequent power cuts and increasing power tariffs add to the woes of consumers. The good news is that solar energy in India has gained popularity in the recent years. But can solar power support heavy loads like air conditioners and water pumps? Let’s find out.
Rising popularity of solar energy in India
A decline in the cost of ownership of solar panels has increased the acceptance of solar energy in India. Many schemes and subsidies for consumers have been rolled out by the government in order to encourage them to adopt solar technology for homes and offices. The advantage in doing so is the energy cost savings and minimal maintenance of solar energy solutions, which is the biggest reason for popularity of solar energy in India. The choice of going partially or completely off-grid, however, can be a daunting one for many consumers. The challenge most people face while making this choice is whether their heavy appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, water pumps, water heaters etc. work efficiently on solar power or not.
The basics of air conditioners, water heaters, and pumps
Appliances like air conditioners, water heaters, water pumps etc. require a higher wattage. An air conditioner, for instance, has three main power consuming parts – compressor, condenser and evaporator, for which it needs a high current. For example, a 1.5 ton AC needs 1.9 kW energy per hour to run properly. This consumption falls when the compressor is switched off as the room cools down to the set temperature. Similarly, water heaters need about 2-4 kW and a 1 horse-power water pump needs about .75 kW to work properly.
To handle this kind of load, the solar power generation system needs about 3 kW solar inverter for home use. But this much is good enough to run only one air conditioner, and more appliances means that the solar inverter for home must be capable to handle heavier loads. A 1 kW solar PV panel is capable of producing 4-6 units in a day. That much energy will be good enough to run the AC for 4-5 hours at most.
The Cost Factor
This much consumption would mean that your cost for installing a solar power unit for home use would increase a lot. Cost of 1 kW solar panels (only) in India is between Rs. 30,000-50,000. Add to that the cost of batteries, charge controllers and solar inverter for home that can support your requirements, and the costs may come to about Rs. 2-3 lakh. The fact is that this cost will pay itself off but only in the long run, and that means that you have to look for other options to get better results from your investment.
So, what is the alternative to solar PV for air conditioning
Solar thermal systems have a much higher efficiency compared to solar PV systems and there are air conditioners in the market that make use of solar thermal principles to cool your living space. Air conditioners that use solar thermal principles are efficient and offer a cost effective alternative to heavy-duty solar PV systems and ensure that you get the best value for your money.
Solar Water Heater
Solar PV would be an inefficient way to heat water. Instead, solar thermal solutions are far more efficient in heating water and keeping the costs at a minimal compared to the amount you may have to spend in installing PV arrays for using an electric water heater.
Solar Water Pumps
Solar PV is still the best way to run a water pump on solar energy. Whether you use submersible or surface water pumps, you can use it to pump water during the day or at night in any weather condition. The cost of battery may be a little higher, but since additional PV arrays are not required, the overall system cost remains almost untouched.
If you are looking for a straight answer to the question that can solar power run your air conditioner, then the answer is yes. However, in this article, we have tried to give you the advantages and disadvantages of running your heavy appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, water pumps and water heaters etc. on solar PV arrays. There are more efficient and cost effective alternatives to most of these applications that would not only help you improve the returns from your investment in solar energy, but also ensure the longevity of your home solar power system.
Solar energy in India is still in its nascent stages and there is a lot more than can be done at the policy and consumer levels. All it needs is a little guidance, a little incentive and we can begin to tap into an abundant source of energy for our homes and offices everyday.
At Brihat Energy, our solar engineers possess the technical expertise and the passion to ensure that each and every penny of your investment in solar energy gives you the highest return for a longer period of time. Whether you are looking for off-the-shelf solutions in solar energy in India, or solutions customised to your specific needs, we are always eager to bring you the best.