How Solar Power Air Conditioning Works

We’re right in the middle of the summer in Austin. Air conditioning here is as necessary as water. From Kyle to Pflugerville, air conditioning Austin and the surrounding areas requires quite a bit of energy during these hot summer days. The hotter it gets, the more we rely on air conditioning, and the more we use our air conditioning, the greater the cost. Everyone wants to reduce the cost of cooling their home, and you may have wondered what options exist to do this in the long-term. Solar power air conditioning is one great option for a lot of people that’s worth considering.

Solar power is gaining popularity with each year. Georgetown, for example, has recently revealed plans to phase out traditional energy generation systems in favor of solar and wind power. Solar power air conditioning turns the tables on the heat by using the very same energy from the sun that’s heating your home to cool it. As technology advances, the options and efficiency of solar energy systems get better and better, so there’s never been a better time to look into residential solar power than now.

Whether you’re building a new house, or trying to improve the value and cost efficiency of your current home, there is an abundance of options when it comes to solar power air conditioning. Austin is a great place to invest in solar power technology. To make the best choice, arm yourself with knowledge of how solar power air conditioning works, what it can cost, and the benefits it can provide.

3 Types of Solar Power Air Conditioning

  • Passive Solar – When new buildings are constructed with energy efficiency and cost efficiency in mind, solar building design is often a matter of consideration. Passive solar refers to building design choices that attempt to slow the rate of unwanted heat transfer into the building. For example, using a cool roof, which reflects much of the sunlight that hits one’s house, can reduce roof surface temperature by up to 70 degrees in the summer.
  • Geothermal Cooling – Earth cooling tubes are underground systems that take advantage of the natural ambient temperature of the earth to reduce the need for air conditioning. They are usually used in conjunction with conventional air conditioning methods and are not cost effective in very hot and humid environments. Geothermal cooling works by using underground tubes to cycle air or water through a system built into the house. Air or water can either dissipate unwanted heat or capture heat to warm a cold house.
  • Photovoltaic conversion – Photovoltaic conversion (often referred to as PV energy for short) is the most common form of solar power air conditioning. It involves the usage of solar energy panels, installed typically on the roof of the house. The panels are made up of solar cells. These cells are made of a semi-conducting material that converts the rays of the sun into electricity. That electricity is then routed to the air conditioning unit which cools your home. If you already have a house that you want to incorporate solar power air conditioning into, you will probably choose photovoltaic conversion.

Benefits of Using Solar Power to Cool Your Home

Because Austin is such a warm place, using the sun’s warmth for Austin’s air conditioning needs makes a lot of sense in many cases. The bright and sunny summers here provide a lot of potential energy, and using that energy to actually cool your home is well within reach with the right resources.

Air conditioning doesn’t come without costs, from installation to maintenance and AC repair. Austin residents know this, and people want to save wherever they can. It’s pretty simple to see how solar energy can benefit you financially. Using solar panels to collect energy from the sun means using less energy provided by the city. This means lower electricity bills. In addition, the cost of constructing a solar energy system in Austin can earn you a tax credit up to 30% and a property tax exemption. And that construction cost can even be rebated by the city of Austin in many circumstances. Heating and cooling your home is likely the greatest culprit when it comes to electricity usage. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to take some of the burden off that system by applying solar energy.

It’s also worth keeping in mind the environmental benefit. Solar power is clean, green, and significantly better for the environment than other methods of producing electricity. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why there are tax benefits for those who use solar power to power their air conditioning.

Constructing and maintaining a solar energy system for your home can also improve your home’s value. In fact, a survey conducted by the US department of Housing and Development found that, on average, a home’s value will increase by $20 for each dollar that is saved in utility cost per year. There was another study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that found that solar-powered homes appreciated 17% and sold 20% faster than other homes on average.

Air Conditioning in Austin with Solar Power

Your Solar Resource

The relative amount of solar energy that a particular site gets is referred to as its solar resource. Not all places on earth receive the same amount of solar energy. For example, the southwestern region of the US gets more solar energy on average than the rest of the US. The size of your roof is also an important factor. In Austin, to apply for the solar energy system construction rebate, you must install at least a 2kW power system. For each 1kW of solar power production, you must have 100 square feet of roof surface area. That means the first step in determining if solar energy AC will be cost-efficient for you is to check if you have at least 200 square feet of roof surface area.

In addition to large-scale differences in sunlight resource, your specific site could receive a very different amount of solar energy to another in the same region. If you live in a shady area, in a valley or surrounded by large tree, for example, your house might not get a lot of direct sunlight, which will reduce your potential for solar energy usage. In order to determine what your sunlight resource is, contact your local system supplier. They can analysis your site for its solar energy potential or show you how to do this yourself.

Grid-Connected Versus Stand-Alone Systems

Solar power systems can be constructed one of two ways. Stand-alone systems don’t have any connection to your city’s electricity system. They operate on their own and move energy in a closed loop from the sun to your home. Grid-connected systems are the opposite. They get energy from the sun and deliver it to your home like a stand-alone system, but they also are connected to your city.

One of the biggest benefits of a grid-connected system is that, in many cases, excess electricity produced by the solar energy system is fed into the grid and actually turns back your electricity meter, saving you money. Many also prefer a grid-connected system because it allows you to rely on your solar energy system when it’s producing the most energy but also use energy from the grid at times when the solar power is not enough on its own.

As many benefits as there are to grid-connected systems, there are reasons you might want to choose a stand-alone system. For many interested in solar power, the idea of being “off the grid” is very appealing. If you’re dedicated to reducing your carbon footprint as much as possible, a stand-alone system is the way to go. And for those in more remote locations, choosing a stand-alone system can significantly reduce the construction cost of a solar power system.

The Financial Factor

Ultimately, one of the main reasons you might choose to power your AC with solar energy is to save money. So it makes sense to first evaluate what costs go into getting solar power AC. These costs fall into two categories, construction, and maintenance. Construction cost, or capital cost, is what you’ll have to spend to have a solar energy system installed.

Before deciding on a solar energy system, first, you should get to know your current electricity usage. Look at your energy bills over the past year or so and calculate your electricity usage on average. Try to find trends in energy usage, how it varies throughout the year. The better you understand your energy usage, the more informed you be when it comes time to choose a solar energy AC system. Also, try to find ways to reduce your air conditioning usage. The less energy you use, the smaller your solar energy system can be, which will reduce both its construction and operation cost.


Be sure to research what permits you may need to obtain before installing a solar energy AC system. Requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. You may need a building permit, an electrical permit, or both. Depending on the neighborhood you live in, you may also need permission from your homeowner’s association. Often times, when you start working with a solar energy system provider, they will include the cost of any permits needed with the construction cost, and take care of that for you. It’s best to do your research beforehand, though, just to be thorough.

In Austin, an Electrical Service Planning Application must be filled out in order to get a permit to build a solar-powered system into your home.

Getting a Solar Power Air Conditioning System

After you’ve researched your home’s solar resource, the likely cost of installing and maintaining a solar energy system, and what permits will be required, find a solar energy system provider near you. They will provide you with all the information you need regarding the next steps in achieving solar-powered air conditioning.

If you’re building a new home, first, you may want to consider passive solar energy cost saving. As detailed above, this involves building your home with knowledge of how building heat can be reduced in mind. Search for an experienced passive solar home designer if you want to take advantage of AC savings from the ground up.

If you want to implement solar power into your air conditioning system in your existing home, contact your local energy company and ask about solar installation. They will give you the information you need to get started. For example, in Austin, Austin Energy has a list of registered solar installers that can help you choose the best system for your home. It’s worth knowing that the jurisdiction of Austin Energy includes everything as east as Manor and a little beyond, as north as Cedar Park, and as south as Buda.

If you’re in the service area of Austin Energy, find Austin Energy’s list of registered solar installers. Then schedule a visit with a few of these solar installers and compare each of their estimates for the cost of installation. Then you can make an informed choice of which solar installer to work with.

Austin, Air Conditioning, and Solar Power

Solar energy is an exciting and constantly developing new way for homeowners to power their air conditioning and cool their homes. Air conditioning Austin cost-effectively can be tough, but for many people, solar power can make it easier. Harnessing the power of the sun, solar energy AC systems keep you cool with the very same energy that heats your home in the first place. Solar power is a clean, environmentally friendly, renewable energy source that can both reduce your carbon footprint and save you money. With a little research and some start-up costs (which can often be rebated), you could soon have a solar energy air conditioning system of your own.

Also don’t forget that even when using solar power, air conditioning repair in Austin is a service that’s occasionally needed. AC repair in Austin doesn’t have to costly or stressful, though. AC Express is proud to serve any and all air conditioning repair needs in Austin. AC repair is what we do, and our certified technicians can respond same-day. Call now! (512) 866-5520