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Especially on scorching hot days, the increased use of air conditioning has the potential to put stress on the electric grid. Of course air conditioning is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the devices that are continually drawing from the grid. If too many rely on the grid, it won't be able to keep up, and that will cause temporary outages until it can get back on track.

But, if enough of us can rely on solar power for a few things, including cooling our homes, we can reduce the amount of power we need from the electrical grid. Here are a few things to think about if solar powered air conditioning is a possibility for you.

1. There are a few different kinds of solar powered air conditioners. (Source: Family Handyman)

  • DC units: Solar panels output DC power. So if the air conditioner fan and compressor have DC motors, they can use that power directly. Such units typically operate at 12, 24 or 48 volts.

  • AC units: These utilize the 120-volt AC signal from the power grid. They can operate directly from a solar panel, but the panel signal has to first pass through an inverter, which reduces efficiency.

  • Hybrid units: These use DC and AC signals. They can draw directly from the panels when the sun is out, and from the power grid when it’s not.

2. Your air conditioning will work the best when the sun is out, which is of course when you'll need it the most. But that means the converse is also true, and if there isn't enough sun (you live in a shaded area or a climate that has more clouds), it'll have trouble keeping up.

3. Even if the grid overloads and there's a power blackout, you'll still be "made in the shade."

4. A solar powered system can save you money: while it's a heftier up-front investment, it will reduce your energy bill. You can also tie it into your existing PV system to save on costs.

5. In addition to your AC unit maintenance, you'd also have to consider maintenance on your solar panels. While the panels are made to last up to 30 years, the elements can decrease that lifespan.

With any solar upgrades, make sure you're aware of incentives from both local and federal governments. Learn more about federal solar power tax incentives here.

Finally - the good news for electricians who are on top of the latest technology - solar powered devices are something your electrician can help you navigate, install and maintain.


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