Greencore Semi-Solar-Powered Units Use Both the Sun and the Grid

Illustration for article titled Greencore Semi-Solar-Powered Units Use Both the Sun and the Grid

AC manufacturer Greencore has come up with a long-awaited solution to the inherent problem in solar-powered air conditioning units-solar panels are still not efficient enough to power the energy-gobbling machines on their own. The company's 10200 model uses a single 170-watt solar panel during the day and electricity from the power grid during the night to charge its batteries, leading to massive energy savings even if the solution isn't 100% solar. Greencore has three versions of its AC system, a fixed one, a portable one with two batteries and another portable with four batteries. All three run on 24 volts DC and have a cooling capacity of 10,200 BTUs and a heating capacity of 13,400 BTUs. According to the company, McDonalds and the US Navy are already on board with testing the units. [Treehugger]

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DISCUSSION

It's an intriguing design. By powering the air conditioner with the solar panel's DC output it avoids some losses in powering it from 220V AC. And you reduce your electricity consumption by a few kWh at peak times on hot days without having to pay for a grid-tied inverter and its losses in turning the solar panel's DC output into 220V AC. Distributed power generation where it's needed is good.

BUT. GreenCore acknowledges a 170W solar panel can't run this when its 980W compressor is cycling, then confuses the situation with grid power backup, battery storage, and night-time recharging from the grid. More complex and expensive makes those "massive energy savings" vanish. AND the solar panel goes unused in the winter. SO I think most consumers would be be better off putting solar panels on the roof tied to the power grid.

I want a future where all my appliances are USB-powered gadgets run off a bank of DC solar panels. Brando USB and Greenplug should collaborate on the "Solar USB" geek home of the future.