How many Solar Panels are required to operate an AC?

Solar Panel for Air Conditioner

Solar panels can power almost every electrical appliance in our homes ranging from television, ovens, washing machine to air conditioners. And, who wouldn’t love a sustainable solar-powered air conditioner on a hot and humid day?

The most common question when thinking of installing a solar-powered AC is, how many solar panels will it require?

Several factors will determine the total number of solar panels required to run your AC. For instance, a household in London might need considerably more solar panels to run an AC than a house in Texas. But that’s not all there is.

It also boils down to the power or electricity consumption of your air conditioner. Let’s say, for a 200-watt AC; you might require around 6-10 panels depending upon various external factors.

DC/AC dual power solar air conditioner slipt system (source)

Before attempting to compute the total number of solar panels required to run an AC, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many hours per day would you operate your air conditioner?
  • Are you looking forward to cooling your entire house or a specific location?
  • What is the wattage of your AC?
  • What is the climatic condition of your site?
  • What are your thoughts on opting for a battery backup for cloudy days?

Air Conditioners and Power Consumption

Air conditioners use different wattages depending upon their function.

On average, air conditioners consume as much as 3kW of electricity. And a regular solar panel system ranges from 2kW to 4W. Now let us assume your solar panels are in the 2kW range, and you were operating an AC of 2.6 kW. Your solar panels would generate 5-7 units of power daily, enough to power your AC roughly for four to five hours.

Usually, air conditioners are 1500-watt. And, to power this AC, you will require around six solar panels of 250-watt capacity. However, if you find two solar panels with 750-watt, they are enough to power your AC.

Hence, check the power of your air conditioners to get a brief idea about how many solar panels you might require to keep the AC running throughout hot summers.

At present, the most common varieties of air conditioners are central air conditioners (both with or without disabled compressors), largest window unit, medium window unit, and smallest window unit.

How many Solar Panels are required?

Central air conditioners are the most commonly used air conditioners for homeowners and small businesses, with an ideal capacity to meet all cooling needs. A central air conditioner requires 3500 to 3600-watts of energy.

If you are looking forward to getting 250-watts solar panels, you might need about 15 solar panels on average to meet the energy requirements of your 3600-watts AC.

Furthermore, fifteen solar panels are enough to power a “one-ton air conditioner” as 3600-watts AC corresponds to a one-ton AC. As these air conditioners consume excessive energy, you are better off installing a solar system than spending monthly on grid-based electricity.

However, you are in luck if your central AC has a compressor-off capacity as it requires only 750-watts of energy. It requires a much lesser amount of power, which minimizes the number of solar panels required. 

Below, you will find the exact number of solar panels and their wattage required to meet the power requirements of various air conditioners.

Types of Air ConditionersThe wattage of Air ConditionerNumber of Solar Panels RequiredKey Points
Central Air Conditioners3500 watts15 solar panelsIdeal for small to medium indoor settings.
Central Air Conditioners – Compressor Off750 watts3 solar panelsConsumes comparatively less energy.
Largest Window Units1440 watts6 solar panelsLarge area coverage and faster cooling.
Medium Window Units900 watts4 solar panelsCan use additional backup batteries for emergencies.
Smallest Window Units500 watts2 solar panelsRequires fewer solar panels.

Table: Number of solar panels required for AC of different wattage

Factors that determine total number of Solar Panels

Additional factors that determine the total number of solar panels needed to power your AC

Sun hours and weather

Sun is the single energy source for a solar-powered air conditioner; hence, it is imperative to make sure that the panels sit right below the direct sunlight.

If your solar panels are not getting enough sunlight, your panels may not produce enough energy to run an AC. The same goes for gloomy and humid weather conditions. Hence, the energy production of solar panels and their ability to power an AC are heavily determined by weather and temperature.


To understand, you will require more panels to power your AC if the outdoor temperature is 45 degrees Celsius, as your AC will consume more energy to meet the appropriate indoor temperature. However, if the temperature outside is 35 degrees Celsius the total number of solar panels required slightly goes down.

Location and angle

The location and angle of placement of the solar panels will considerably affect the efficiency and performance of your air conditioners. Positioning your solar panels on a south-facing rooftop at a certain angle increases the potential for solar energy.

On the contrary, placing them on a flat surface will decrease the solar energy conversion. Henceforth, the number of solar panels required to power an AC is highly dependent on location and angle.

System and function of AC

The total number of solar panels required is also dependent on the system and function of your AC. For instance, if your central AC has the most prominent window unit, it needs more panels to switch it on.

To Conclude 

The total number of solar panels required to run an air conditioner is primarily dependent on the wattage of the air conditioning system and the capacity of your solar panels. Not to forget that, depending upon your location, several other factors can increase or decrease the number of panels you might require.

So, determine the wattage of your air conditioner before installing a solar system to meet your cooling needs. An accurate estimation will enable you to enjoy a profitable means of cooling your living space with minimal investment.