Solar Photovoltaic Air Conditioning Of Residential Buildings

Secondary Author(s)

Dunlop, James

Report Number





HVAC; Photovoltaics; Cooling; Solar Energy; Passive Solar; Hot Humid Climates; Buildings


The use of photovoltaics (PV) for residential air conditioning (AC) represents an attractive application due to the close match between the diurnal cooling load and the availability of solar radiation. Conventional wisdom suggests that air conditioning is a process too energy intensive to be addressed by PV. Previous investigations have concentrated on the feasibility of matching PV output to vapor-compression machines, and the cost effectiveness of other solar cooling options. Recently, Japanese manufacturers have introduced small (8,000 Btu/hr) grid-connected solar assisted AC systems. These small room-sized systems are inadequately sized to meet air conditioning peak demands in larger U.S. homes of conventional construction practice. Previous studies considering the use of PV for solar cooling have treated the building thermal load as a fixed quantity. However, the large initial cost of PV systems ($6 - $10/Wpeak) makes minimization of the building loads highly desirable. This paper describes a novel approach whereby the building, air conditioning and PV systems are simultaneously optimized to provide maximum solar cooling fraction for a minimum array size. A detailed hourly building energy simulation in a hot-humid climate is used to assess methods of reducing the building sensible and latent cooling loads to a practical minimum. A detailed PV system simulation is used to determine the match of the array output to that of the building's peak loads. The paper addresses several key elements that influence the concept's feasibility and potential economic attractiveness.

Date Published



Buildings - Cooling; Hot Humid Climates; Buildings - HVAC; Passive Solar; Photovoltaics; Solar Energy

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