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Solar Powered Air Conditioner Worth It?

I need a new central air conditioner and am considering a model from Lenox that has solar powered hook up capability. I don't know the cost of this set up yet but if it isn't ridiculously expensive I'd like to know if anyone has had any experience with this option. I really like the idea of solar power, but I'm wary of buying the first model of something before the engineers have worked out all the kinks. Any thoughts?

Re: Solar Powered Air Conditioner Worth It?

The solar industry is still in diapers in the USA, I would be very cautious investing in a solar a/c system, in spite of manufacturers' impressive claims.

Tell your solar salesman to come back in 20 years.

Re: Solar Powered Air Conditioner Worth It?

Even if it is set up for solar power you still would need to provide the solar panels, inverter, connection to the grid, etc. to power it. Not sure how any A/C unit can't be part of a solar powered system.
It seems Lennox is just trying to get into the solar business. Hopefully they don't go the way of so many government subsidized solar companies.
I agree that the technology isn't quite there yet unless maybe you're in the southwest with lots of sunshine. The return on investment should be calculated over the life of the system, but remember the power provided from solar cells is always overestimated, especially for winter use with a heat pump.

Re: Solar Powered Air Conditioner Worth It?

Thank you for the responses, but I'm actually hoping that someone has experience with a solar powered Lennox air conditioner, or solar power and can weigh in on this topic.

Just my guess

Heat pumps and air conditioners require a hefty compressor, which requires a lot of power. Generally that compressor motor should be over-built for longevity, but to do that you lose a little efficiency. Most solar installations don't provide a lot of power so what may be going on is that Lennox is using a super-efficient motor and compressor, and it may not last as long as a conventional set-up. If you have enough panels, batteries, and a big enough inverter (lots of $$$) any A/C or heat pump can be run on solar energy so I'm not seeing any real advantage here. Personally, I'd pass unless it was highly recommended by a solar installer. Otherwise I'd let someone else be the guinea pig.


Re: Solar Powered Air Conditioner Worth It?

Sorry, no direct experience, but I have read about them a little.

Solar PV panels make DC power, inverters convert it into AC with 10% +/- lost as heat, then it powers your A/C which is probably converting it back into DC with another 10-20%+ loss. So if Lennox drove the A/C with DC power straight from the PV, that would be smart.

That's not what they do.

They seem to just ship 6 PV panels with built-in inverters to help run the A/C. Sounds like a gimmick... And almost pointless if you are already planning on installing a large PV system.

That's my plan. I'm going to get enough to power my entire house, this currently costs 7k-9k plus install, -30% federal incentive, -instant and recurring utility rebates, -other local incentives, and no sales or property tax. It should pay for itself in 5-6 years. Probably won't buy it this summer, but before the fed tax breaks expire in 2016.

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