AC + Solar Panel Without a Battery (Here’s How)

Running an AC unit during the summer is one of the fastest ways to drive up your monthly energy bill.

People who want to save money and still live comfortably in their homes often wonder, “How can I run an AC unit with a solar panel, but without a battery backup system.”

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not as straightforward as you’d think. The simple answer is to use an inverter, but things become more complex quickly.

In this blog we discuss

  • The unspoken ways to run an AC unit with solar panels.
  • The role grid-tied systems play in heating and cooling.
  • How to avoid a grid-tied AC connection. 

Not to worry, though, we go through how to use solar power to run your AC without a battery, and we help with those other issues we mentioned. 

Air Conditioning Unit On The Wall
Air Conditioning Unit On The Wall

How can I run AC with a solar panel without a battery?

The first problem to overcome is that solar panels produce DC voltage and an AC unit requires AC (Alternate Current) voltage. To bridge that gap, you will need an inverter. 

Adding an inverter solves the DC to AC voltage issues, but not as thoroughly as you might think. You will need a special inverter. Here is why. 

An AC or HVAC is a significant appliance. It requires a lot of energy and also that the energy flow be consistent. Energy from a solar array or solar panel fluctuates based on the amount of sunlight that sticks the panel.

If a cloud goes across the sky between the solar panel and the sun, the amount of energy that the panel can produce drops.

If it drops too low, the AC might become damaged. When there is not enough energy to fill the demand, we call that a brownout. 

Without a battery backup system, you will need a more extensive solar array to supply energy to the AC on a level that meets the demand of its manufacturing.

You will also need to remain tied to the grid unless you plan on installing a solar battery backup system. 

Thus far, there are three problems. They are:

  1. You need a special inverter
  2. You need a constant supply of energy
  3. You need to remain grid-tied

The special inverter you need is a hybrid inverter that can handle the influx of DC and AC voltages.

To keep a constant energy supply that allows for the safe running of an AC unit, you need to either have an extensive solar battery backup system or a grid-tied connection. 

Why the battery backup or the grid-tied connection? Two reasons really:

  1. The battery backup would store all the energy from the solar array and feed it to the AC unit as needed. That would allow for a constant flow of energy.
  2. Also, it would help if you addressed how to run the AC unit when the solar array is not producing energy. Nighttime would be an example of a time when the array was not making energy. The grid-tied system replaces the battery backup for these functions, but grid-tied electricity is expensive. 

Another option would be to install a solar energy AC unit. These work to cool smaller spaces but may require a battery backup. 

Can Solar Panels Run AC without Batteries?

A solar array can run an AC unit without using solar batteries. You would need a hybrid inverter and a grid-tied connection.

If the solar array is large enough, you will not use much grid-tied energy during the day. That connection would supplement should the energy level from the array drop, such as when the array became shadowed. 

Also, the grid-tied energy would run the AC unit at night or during rainy days or storms. 

If you only need to cool a small space, a solar AC unit may be the solution you need. They run on DC voltage and are designed to work with solar power.

However, keep in mind that these units will only function while the sun is shining without a battery backup or a grid-tied connection. 

Can I Run Air Conditioner With Solar Power?

You can run an Air Conditioner with solar panels. They make special AC units designed for solar energy. They run on DC energy and are often smaller.

A few units hit the 10,000 BTU mark and may cool rooms that are smaller than 450 square feet. 

If you are looking for a solution that is not an HVAC or a whole-house AC unit, then one of the smaller solar AC units may work for you.

Some units may require a battery backup system. 

How Can I Use Solar Panels and Inverter without Battery?

There are two ways to use solar panels with an inverter but without a solar battery backup. Those are:

  1. When you still have a grid-connection 
  2. When the AC unit is designed for use with a solar array, you also have a grid connection. 

The grid connection is essential as it replaces the need for a battery backup system. A hybrid inverter would be essential in case you plan to add a battery backup system later. 

The real way to save money using solar power to run your AC unit is with a battery backup system. What the batteries do is allow your solar array to store all the excess energy it produces.

The AC unit will draw from the battery storage unit rather than the grid when you need the energy. The cost of grid electricity is likely why you went solar in the first place. 

If you have an AC unit that is not a solar unit, you can still use solar power to cool your home.

However, you will need a more extensive array to produce as much energy as possible during the day. The extra energy will feed into the local utility grid and might result in solar credits, which you would use to pay for grid electricity. 

Can you power your AC with solar panels? It is a common question. Thankfully some solutions make running an AC with solar energy possible. 


How-To Solar Panel FAQ

How do you set up a solar panel?

When it comes to solar panel installation, there are several ways of doing it. You can do it yourself or hire a contractor to do the installation for you. Solar panels can be mounted on your roof with a specialized mounting system, or on the floor with a safe, specially-made rack.

Some users even have mechanized solar mounting systems, where their solar panels are on a motorized stand that slowly follows the sun as it moves through the sky.

Can you install solar panels yourself?

Definitely! Of course, this depends on the complexity of your setup, though. If you are setting up a relatively low-power, smaller solar system, DIY is certainly an option. If you’re setting up a larger, grid-tied system of over several thousand watts, the installation can become somewhat complex, and it may be a better option to bring in a professional. 

The biggest hurdle is the wiring, especially in a grid-tied, high-power system. Dealing with electrical connections can be dangerous, and any short circuits can quickly cause fires, so it’s important to know what you’re doing or get a qualified electrician to help you.

How to clean solar panels?

To maximize efficiency, it’s helpful to clean your panels regularly. Dust and grime collect up quickly on these large surfaces, reducing the panel’s ability to harness the sun's power. 

You’ll need to wipe them down gently with a cloth or even a soft broom every few months and a mild soap and water solution, especially during periods with little rain. A good clean once every six months is plenty if you live in an area with regular rain.

How to connect solar panels?

Most of the time, solar panels must be connected in parallel to keep the voltage consistent. This simply involves connecting all the positive terminals and all the negative terminals.

Connecting your panels in series will boost the voltage, which you’ll only need to do if you’re trying to meet the voltage requirements of your inverter or batteries.

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