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Posted by on Wednesday March 2, 2016 at 15:19:4:

One of the most preferred electrical device most Nigerians would want to have and make use of during the dry season is an air conditioner but a big problem with using them in Nigeria is the fact that electrical power supply is not yet fully available and so they may have to pay more to power it by using fuel consuming electro-mechanical power generators.

During the dry and hot season in Nigeria, the weather is mostly hot and people try to look for shades and cool places to stay so as not to over-heat their bodies or get dehyrdrated. Many people prefer working or sleeping under a cool environment and air conditioners powered by electricity make this possible. However, many of them are still helpless as they can't have their air conditioners working for up to 8 straight hours since they rely on a power supply system that is not available for up to 24 hrs a day.

Things to consider:
The 2 basic things you have to consider before powering any electronic device with a Solar power system are:
1. The power requirement
2. The time frame

Most compressor based devices like air conditioners and frefrigerators normally have a high power requirement for starting up and afterwards run on a normal level power range which is still higher than many other electricial devices. An air conditioner might require about 600 Watts per hour for operation but may have a maximum input power requirement of 1000 Watts because of its compressor. If you plan powering it with solar power, you need to ensure that you are able to provide sufficient power to start it up and run it well for the intended time period.

The longer you want to run an air conditioner or refrigerator with solar power, the more power it will require and so one easy way to find out how much power your air conditioner really requires is to install an electricity usage monitor and connect it to grid electricity. The monitor will first be plugged into the wall socket while the plug will then be plugged into the monitor so that it's power usage can be read from the display. It will be able to tell you how much power it has used for a particular time period such as 1 hr or 4 hrs and that will give you an idea or how much power you need to provide if you intend running it will solar panels.

Let's assume that the air conditioner requires 150 Watts to run it based on your calculation or observation, then you can make provision of say 200 Watts. If the power requirement is for 1 hr and you want to run it for 4 hrs at least, then your power needs would have increased by 4 times to give you 800 Watt-Hrs.

The next step then is to set up a solar power system that can provide at least 800 Watts while also considering the efficiency of power supply by a factor.

To generate the 800 Watts from Solar panels, you could make use of a 400 Watt Solar panel and that will be able to generate up to 1600 Watts a day if it gets at least 4 hrs of sunshine.

The next step is to connect the solar panel to a battery bank where it can be stored and you can make use of a single or double 12V 100Ah Inverter batteries. A 100Ah deep cycle battery can store and supply up to 1200 Watt-Hours and that means 200 Watts every hr for up to 6 hrs, 400 Watts for up to 3 hrs, 600 Watts for up to 2 hrs and so on if it was fully discharged but in order not to discharge it below 50%, we could just stick to taking at least 200 Watt for 3 hrs or at most 600 Watts per hr from it.

I think making use of 2 units of 12V 100Ah battery would be ideal so that it can easily be charged before discharging and also increase the lifespan of the battery. The inverter battery would be connected to the solar panel so that it can be charged and a solar charge controller should also be installed between them.

An inverter would be also connected to the batteries before connecting to your air conditioner so that the generated electrical power would be converted from DC to AC which is in the form required by the air conditioning unit.

The air conditioner's input plug will then be plugged into the socket connecting the output power from the inverter so it be be able to draw power from the battery to condition your room to the right temperature.

So, a 400 Watt solar panel, 2 units of 100Ah batteries, 1 200Ah inverter, a solar charger would be sufficient to run a 200 Watt air conditioning unit for at least 4 hrs daily if it gets up to 4 hrs of sunlight.

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