In our part of the world, warm weather tends to stick around for the better part of a year. So it’s no surprise people often wonder if solar energy can be used to run an air conditioning system efficiently. We look at the feasibility and benefits of using solar energy to power your air conditioner.

Can solar power air conditioning?

Can I run an air conditioner on solar power?

With powerful solar panels and a converter, you can absolutely run an air conditioner with a solar system. With solar technology continuously advancing, many locals are now integrating solar energy systems with their air conditioning units. This can significantly reduce your reliance on traditional grid-tied electricity, and lower your energy bills rapidly.

How many solar panels do I need to run an air conditioner?

The number of solar panels required to run air conditioning depends on several factors. These include your climate, energy consumption habits, and, what size and type of air conditioning system you have (e.g. split, ducted, portable). On average, air conditioning can use between 500 to 4000 watts of electricity per hour.

To calculate the number of solar panels needed, you could:

  • Determine your air conditioners energy consumption, and match it with the output of your solar panels
  • Or, divide your AC wattage by the solar panel wattage you intend to use. E.g. a ducted air conditioning system can use 3,500 watts of electricity per hour, and a standard solar panel wattage is 400W. This would be 3,500W / 400W = 8.75 (9 panels).

How many air conditioning units can run on a 6kW solar system?

A 6kW solar system typically generates between 18 to 25 kWh (kilowatt-hours) of electricity per day. This is dependent on factors like sunlight exposure and panel efficiency. The number of air conditioning units that can be powered by a 6kW solar system will depend on the energy requirements of each unit, along with the energy requirements of your home, too. It’s important to consult with your local solar installer, like us, to assess your unique needs and design a system to meet your requirements.

How many watts does an air conditioner use per hour?

The energy consumption of your air conditioner depends on the type and size of your system, along with its energy efficiency rating and the temperature you run it at. On average, residential air conditioners consume between 500 to 4000 watts of electricity per hour.

When it comes to types of air conditioning systems, there are four – split, multi-split, ducted and portabled. A split system includes two units, in two locations. An internal unit is installed in your room of choice, and it’s connected to an outdoor unit that contains a compressor via refrigerant pipes. A multi-split system is the same. But, there is more than one internal unit, meaning more than one room can be serviced. A ducted system distributes air conditioning to all desired rooms within a home, after drawing air in through fans and motors installed outside the home. Portable units are just as the name suggests, but these use the most amount of electricity than other air conditioning options.

It’s also important to understand how air conditioning units are rated for power efficiency. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and it’s applied to how much output a unit can manage, divided by the amount of energy required to run the unit. The higher the rating, the more efficient. A good rating is anywhere from 14 and above.

Keeping in mind that individual units can vary based on their SEER rating, usage, brand and model, you can expect the below average power consumption per hour for each type of air conditioning system:

  • Split system: 500 – 700 watts per hour
  • Multi-split system: 1,500 – 2,000 watts per hour
  • Ducted system: 3,000 – 3,500 watts per hour
  • Portable system: 3,000 – 4,000 watts per hour

Can you get a solar-powered air conditioner?

Yes! Solar-powered air conditioners are available in the market today. These innovative systems use solar panels to generate electricity directly for the operation of an air conditioning unit. Without a battery, inverter or controller, you can hook up your air conditioning unit to solar panels.


Whether you’re looking to power your air conditioning with solar energy, or you’re interested in a solar-powered air conditioning solution, consult with your local solar installer to design a system that meets your unique needs and maximises your return on investment. Call us on 1300 4 SOLAR to get started.