You wouldn’t expect that energy from sunlight, which is very hot, could power air-conditioning units to cool things down. But that’s precisely the latest breakthrough from China-based Shandong Vicot Air Conditioning Co.

Debuting its solar-powered people-cooler at the 2010 World Solar-Powered Air Conditioning Development Forum in Dezhou, China, Shandong demonstrated that the idea is not only feasible, but practicable.

The unit achieves an optimal 85-percent thermal cooling conversion efficiency, and is 27 times more efficient at converting solar insolation to cool air than even the average solar water heater. Since passive and flat-plate solar water heaters are among the most efficient ways to convert solar insolation to usable hot water, this is amazing. More amazing is the fact that the unit is a direct-from-solar cooling device, rather than air conditioning that runs off the electricity generated by solar panels.

According to Shandong Vicot President Li Wen, the A/C unit is the culmination of three years of pioneering solar research efforts by Chinese and American scientists, who collaborated to achieve this cutting-edge technology, which is not only low-carbon but low cost. That is, the unit will recoup its initial investment in 3.5 years, and the entire investment in 6.7 years.

Industry experts were almost unanimous in their opinion that the Shandong Vicot offering is an innovation worthy of China’s increasingly dominant solar technology sector. It also represents an arrow in time for the industry’s future development, particularly as the world is replete with solar technologies to extract electricity from sunlight, but heretofore has no method for converting solar insolation to cooler air.

If, as predicted, 2060 sees the Earth exhausted of its traditional sources of energy like coal, oil and gas, the advent of clean energy technologies like solar, which can be tweaked to produce light, heat and cooling, will be a literal lifesaver.

For China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of solar power, the invention is a milestone. The Chinese people have taken to solar-powered water heating in a big way, and the industry itself reached 4.2 million square meters production capacity in 2009, or an annual growth rate of 35.4 percent.

China now produces 40 percent of the world’s solar cells. In spite of that, most of China’s solar-related production is destined for export, even though last year China rose to be the world’s biggest energy user in 2009 – a record formerly held by the U.S.

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    • Mr. Gregory; Per your statement I had taken a look at the Lennox site to view the solar A/C units you mention and noticed that these units are solar assisted, not solar operated as these units indicate and/or describe them to be. As such we are talking about two completely different beast. You may want to take a look at the Lennox and then re-read the article to better understand what they have contrived and looking to bring to the market.

  1. Milton is correct.

    It’s been available for a number of years now. If I remember correctly, Baldwin Piano Company put a huge solar AC unit on their Brooklyn manufacturing plant last year. As can be expected, it can help reduce the humidity as well as cool the air.

    • Mr. Carter;

      The Lennox units are not of the same type, they are solar ready/assisted. The article clearly states “More amazing is the fact that the unit is a direct-from-solar cooling device, rather than air conditioning that runs off the electricity generated by solar panels.” These are two completely different units, you may want to take another look at the Lennox units as I had to understand the differences.

  2. I think that we need more products that use solar energy. Although it might be a bit more expensive, the savings will be more effective and less illnesses will pop up. The electro magnetic fields isn’t good for people’s health at all

  3. Milton is not correct. Please re-read the article. They are talking about direct

    conversion here. The Lennox sytem uses PV cells on the roof to attempt to run

    a AC compressor. After you consider 12% PV max efficiency, minus AC-to-DC

    conversion loses, IR drops, not operating at maximum power-point…. , you are

    looking something closer to 5% efficiency. And you need a “bmf” battery

    just for the starting torque of the compressor.

    The Shandong system uses solar energy to boil a lithium-bromide salt in

    solution and then condenses the gas state to accomplish air cooling.

    This is a completely different system which is much higher efficiency than

    the Lennox PV-panel approach. 85% >> 5%

    stephan-eins

  4. Wow, thats fascinating! So, when do they hit the shelves? I wonder if something like that could function in VT and be installed by HVAC contractors in Burlington. I doubt there is enough sunlight throughout the year up hear to make it feasible. Great article, thanks!!

  5. Cooling Systems on

    Saving energy is a great way to go for your pocket, the planet, i have had solar cooling installed to my house and i think its great free cooling from the sun

  6. Solar Cooling is a very important technology for the future. But here, it is difficult to recongoize what the innovation is. Solar driven cooling using adsorption chillers has been shown first time in 1867 (!! world expo Paris), using desiccant is shown as well since decades. Now, both was mainly R&D or demonstration, but at least since 2002 there are pure commercial installations on the market. See both http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_air_conditioning and http://www.solid.at.

    Definitvley wrong on the press release is that US was former leader on solar thermal.

  7. A summer night spent without your Trusted AC can make you as frustrated as you have never been in life .Your AC system plays a substantial part in health as the healthy germ free air keeps you away from the related health problems. So whether it is a home to office buildings, a properly functioning AC system provides you with an atmosphere that keeps you to beat your best state of mind. But all this, when your Air Condition system is working properly. So it is imperative to have your system checked and service at regular intervals

  8. Thanks for your Valuable information and thanks to all participating for providing their valuable information to me.I have been facing the issue related to my AC Repair. Now it Resolve… Thanks again

  9. With average estimate temperatures over 100 degree in the summertime, a Efficient air-conditioning system is an essential to making it through the regularly summer heat in cozy. Since your air conditioner gets so much use in the summertime, you must be about its maintenance these days.Today with the increase within the demand for air conditioners, it’s necessary to find a good air conditioning service and restore company. search a service provider who will acquire the time to hear for your happiness and requirements and style a unique solution to fit your home or offices

  10. The Idea is not Really new but its big step toward the improvement of the Solar AC and i wish it will be success in future and helps the people on better way.

  11. Ft Lauderdale Air Duct Cleaning is the process in which various components of a heating and/or cooling forced air system are cleaned. This will include, but not be limited to, the grilles, heat exchanger cooling and heating coils and the fan motor as well as the housing

  12. its really nice topic on World’s First Solar-Powered Air Conditioning Unit.if it really work out nice then its is big relief for the AC homes to save hard earned money spend on the AC’s.

  13. Energy from the sunlight is used for the running of the air conditioning unit.This article is helping me in my options trading business. This air conditioning plant does not require the electricity.

  14. lol i like the comparison to cheetah, but with today technology the ac is really hybrid and not 100% solar, it will take couple of years until we will use the sun as only source to poer split air conditioner system

  15. I love my solar powered unit. Lowers my bill and there are even times when I accumulate a surplus and sell it back to the energy company