Last Updated Sep 28, 2017 · Written by Craig Gibson
As they look for more efficient and environmentally friendly forms of energy, researchers are increasingly turning to new ways to utilise solar power.
Since the summer months are when the most solar power is available and are also the months when we use air conditioning the most, solar air conditioning systems have the potential to reduce our conventional energy consumption enormously. There are now many commercially available solar air conditioning systems available.
But how efficient are they, and what should you look for when choosing a solar air conditioning system?
Currently, two types of solar air conditioning dominate the residential market:
Both of these types of air conditioning rely on solar panels to convert solar energy into electricity. One alternative is a system that uses the sun to directly heat water or another liquid. The heated liquid is then used to remove heat from a building via a heat pump. Other technologies exist as well, but as yet, hybrid and absorption solar air conditioners are the most affordable and efficient for the average domestic user.
You will need to work out what capacity solar air conditioner you need. Factors to consider include:
The size of your home: The larger the floor area, the larger capacity your unit will need to be. If you have a multi-storey home then may require a number of units for different zones, which will add to the total cost.
Ceiling height: If you have high ceilings your unit will need to generate enough cool air to maintain a comfortable temperature in each room.
Number of windows: Windows can account for up to 40 per cent of a home’s heat loss, so you need to account for this when choosing an air conditioning system.
As a general rule, work on the formula of 1-1.5 kilowatts of power per square metre - though your installer will be able to advise on the right unit for your home.
While understanding a little bit about the basics of solar air conditioning helps, it doesn't really answer the question, "Which solar air conditioning system should I choose?" That will depend on whether or not you are already utilising solar energy in your home and how much you want to invest in your system.
These are some of the available options:
All tradies who install air conditioning need to be licensed to carry this work out in your home
Anyone who works on or installs air conditioners needs to be licensed.
This is because air conditioners contain refrigerants. The Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) requires all installers and technicians to hold either a full Refrigeration & Air Conditioning licence or a restricted licence that allows them to only install split system air conditioners. A number of different tradies could undertake an installation for you, including dedicated air conditioning installers, as well as licensed electricians who can install any wiring that is required.
A range of factors will affect your quotes, specifically:
Air conditioning installers charge by the hour - expect to be charged anywhere from $60 - $120 per hour + GST for domestic jobs - depending on where you live.
Take the time to ask your installer all the right questions before you hire them. You want to make sure they are right for your job. Questions like:
Always get at least three written quotes before you decide to hire a business
The best way to ensure you choose the best solar air conditioning system is to get quotes from air conditioning installers who specialises in solar systems. They will know what is best for your climate and will be able to come to your home and assess your options.
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