AC runnable on solar.

Started by Amanda_931, June 29, 2006, 12:59:58 PM

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That's Air Con for those in the Northwest.  And other parts of the world.

It is a chiller type.  People in the Southeast will need the dehumidifying option.  That incidently will give you a small supply of potable water.  And that is not on the price list.  And it ain't cheap to start with.

But chiller types are what big companies use all over the country.  Company I worked for in Nashville finally air conditioned the plant, put in a chiller system after many years of serious summer heat.  We liked it.  Mr. Solar used to sell one for home use.  Energy Star and all that good stuff.

QuoteHarnessing the power of the sun, the SolCool Hybrid System combines innovative design with proven technologies that deliver reliable comfort at a greater than 75% savings in energy consumption compared to most 13 SEER air conditioning products on the market (983 EER*), in the 2-3 ton range. Plus, the SolCool system offers many benefits not available with conventional cooling systems.

SolCool Hybrid Solar Air Conditioning

The AC platform will support continued operation during powers outages eliminating the need for backup generators in most cases.

The System offers DC lighting and ceiling fan options that operate during power outages with onboard 80 amp hour backup battery.

The SolCool Solar Air Conditioner can create a cooling envelope all the way through the attic with outside makeup air during operation.  This effect dramatically reduces heat gain in the attic or, recirculate 100% indoor air in high humidity/heat environments.


There's a fairly efficient DC powered evaporative unit by Southwest Solar in Tucson called Solar Chill.
This will work when it's hot and dry, but not humid.

I also saw this one at the SolFest Southwest last year:
It's supposedly a very efficient real AC unit (not a swamp cooler or evap), but I have no idea of the costs. On the web site thye say they only sell to AZ customers right now till they ramp up production. They had it running full blast at the show on a few solar panels. Kind of neat!


Nice, if you live where there's dry heat.

Not east of the Missippi,  or even most of Texas and Oklahoma on up through the Dakotas.  Might work in Michigan's UP.


We might be able to use the ground type heat pump.

Right now my dogs are drinking water from the dehumifier.

glenn kangiser

LATELY I have been thinking of the solar - ammonia freezer with near no moving parts -- just the ammonia I think ---I'd love to freeze to death in bed any night now.  It would be neat to make an underground ice cold room to go sit in. :)
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.


It would be nice.  Especially if it didn't drip water all the time--Relative humidty in here is 6o%, and I've been running the AC, and occasionally the dehumidifier today.

Billy Bob

The solar/ammonia type freezers are pretty neat.  There aren't many commercial jobs that I've found, and they're pretty exensive.  There are a few articles on DIY systems, but you should be pretty good with mechanical stuff... ammonia gas is nasty.
Anyway, the systems I've seen go on the compression cycle all day in the sun, then you switch a couple valves around for the expansion cycle at night, making yourself some big chunks of ice.
I could use a big chunnk of ice to sit on, right about now.


QuoteThere's a fairly efficient DC powered evaporative unit by Southwest Solar in Tucson called Solar Chill.
This will work when it's hot and dry, but not humid.

Dustin, thanks for the plug-my husband works at Southwest Solar-great little homegrown operation.   Bill Cunningham (owner) is very knowledgeable and helpful.  

Were you at the Sol Fest at West World when several of the tents, canopies blew over? Can't remember if that was last year.


"One must have chaos in one's self to give birth to the dancing star" ~Neitszche


Yeah, I was at the show for the past 2 years. It's sad they are not repeating it this year, and cancelled the Flagstaff shows, too. It's as if all the solar/sustainability interest in AZ dried up.
As soon as my house sells in the pathetic AZ market, I will be building an off-grid house at the edge of town in Cedar City, Utah. I have kept Southwest Solar in mind for some time now for our cooling setup there.
Here in central AZ we've been running the AC 24/7 since May. It's 111 degrees right now with a low of 80. Ugh.
In Cedar City it was 90 (pretty much the hottest it gets) but goes down to 60 degrees at night. I just came back from there, driving through the mountains, looking at the trees. Now I'm back in hell. But hey, I have a swimming pool!


Here is a link to what is supposed to be a commercial ammonia cycle AC/refrigeration unit.

Someone on the list where this was posted said they were no longer in existence, and besides never had anything like a product.  But the link still works.

(RV's use ammonia cycle refrigeration, with electricity or gas to produce the heat, and then there was the ICYBALL)


4-page .pdf file of a home-grown ammonia cycle ice-maker.  Intermittent usage like the icyball.

From 1996 in Homepower

They say that using a salt instead of water with the ammonia makes life a bit simpler.


Hey Dustin,

There are people who swear by this real estate system:

Burying St Joseph


"One must have chaos in one's self to give birth to the dancing star" ~Neitszche


Here's some more info on cool towers-not for the humid areas of the country but those in the arid SW might find them useful.  The community building in our new neighborhood has one-I'll find a picture.  --Can't!

I think Dustin mentioned Rich in a previous post-he's a neighbor of ours (in the new house)


"One must have chaos in one's self to give birth to the dancing star" ~Neitszche


I took a tour of Rich's house. Interesting. I liked the cool tower. It wasn't working when I saw it 2 years ago on the Solar Homes tour, but maybe this year it will be.
When I was on vacation in Utah, I saw cool towers were being used in Zion National Park at all the newer buildings. Nice to know more energy efficient designs are catching on, though not in regular housing.
I also found an interesting twist on the "cool tube" idea on this page:

They have several variations and ideas. I' m almost inclined to try it in the new house.


Air conditioner.  Patented (no guarantee it will either run or be produced there).

There's been some talk on the AC and/or refrigeration lists about using a venturi to produce cold air.  Consenus there has been that it takes too much power to do the air-flow needed to get enough cold air to make it worthwhile.  Be nice if consensus was wrong!

On June 22, Matteran Energy fired up its new design for a low temperature system that produced 41 degree F temperature refrigeration using relatively warm water (160 degrees) right out of a common rooftop solar hot water heater. "This test was in preparation for demonstrating an air conditioner fueled by renewable energy sources. Our simple vapor cycle uses a venturi to produce the evaporation of refrigerant, and requires no compressor, no feedpump, & no absorption to cycle the process." Low grade heat like this is cheap and easy from a number of sources, including sun, geothermal, factory waste heat or burning just about anything.
It is a patented system developed by Jeff Sterling in Florida, and is called the Sterling Cycle, building on the 150 year old Rankine cycle. -watch the animation here. -we have watched it three times and can't figure it out. Jeff makes big promises: "This patented cycle utilizes renewable thermal energy at its most economically efficient collection temperatures. The cycle appears very promising for remote homes and small businesses. Low temperature thermal sources (solar, geothermal, co-generation, and OTEC) are projected to produce power for 10% of the cost of comparable photovoltaic (PV), or 50% that of concentrated solar and diesel power generation." We hope he is able to get into production soon! ::Matteran Energy


There are so many promising pie-in-the-sky ideas for this kind of stuff it makes me sick just thinking about it. Come on now! Just make a product so I can buy it! Now!


I won't disagree.


Billy Bob

Yeah, quit teasing! [smiley=smiley.gif]

So the old Stirling raises its head once again.  I hope somebody can do something with it this time.  The problem is that, while it works, it is not possible, so far, to get enough of an energy gradient in a closed system like that to produce much useful work.  The venturi idea sounds interesting.  Most venturi cooling systems I have seen are intended for spot cooling, and consume much more power in the form of compressed air than is worthwhile for general airconditioning.  Maybe a closed system using a refrigerant will do the job.
I always had hopes for the Stirling engine as a new version of the steam engine for automotive use.


Coleman does make a small sterling powered cooler-freezer for about $380-499 street. it's supposed to be very energy efficient. Why doesn't someone make a big larger unit, like the side of a chest freezer?

This is the company that make the sterling units:

This page is very interesting, a Japanese company that is using the same tech with a comparison of compressor, thermoelectric, and stirling powered cooling. It's a very promising tech. I hope someone recognizes it soon and comes out with a better, cheaper fridge for offgridders!


How to make an icyball--ammonia cycle refrigerator.  (you may need a copy of the patent)


And in the email this morning:

It's a weird site.  If you read it carefully the information is there.  Also note the color coding on the list of products.

I'm not at all sure how much dehumidification happens in humid climates versions although they swear there's some.  The big models are supposed to be around 8000 BTU with fully charged ice chest.  And they do take a lot of ice--up to 20 pounds an hour.  So if I went to Nashville and came back under hot conditions I might use up to 80 pounds of ice, at least some of which would have to be purchased on the road.  Gack!


the icyball is a cool idea...explain something to me...It says it will freeze the icyball for over 24 hours....So what needs to be done then...Keep adding more ammonia?

Wouldn't that get really expensive?..How did people 70 years ago use these everyday?


Just reheat it and it is charged up again.  The ammonia never leaves.
Crosley IcyBall


Glenn this rocks....

Why was I not told about this earlier....I have to build me one of these thingies.... It is about the coolest thing ever....Well other than the Grill, Beer and the Welder.

we could get really innovative and creative and independant and make a solar collector that would heat the water to recharge the icy cube....It would be truly self sufficient then.

question....Does it matter the distance between the tanks...I mean in a cabin you could have a longer pipe so the heat tank would be outside where you could have a solar glass encased heater to recharge it...or even a small gas wood burner...and inside you build the icebox around the cold tank...

In the Semi Desert where you live you copuld just sit the tank outside in the sun to charge it and the icy cube tank inside would be working it's magic.

The website looked like the homemade icy cube had mini propane bottles....I wonder if you could make a larger version of it...Say using a 20 and 30 pound propane tank system...That would contain 3 times the ammonia and it would really cool you down out there man...

just take an old 50's fridge that had a decent size freezer in the top...Cut a hole in the bottom of the freezer department big enough for the tank to fit in and put it a inch or two above the floor of the freezer...Seal it off completely....

The small area of the freezer would freeze the top and being 4-5 times the area for the rest of the fridge it would make it very cold and should not freeze it...

Put the fridge against the wall of your cabin retreat...And make sure the pipe was long enough to get out the back of the fridge, the wall of the cabin and a safe distance away from the cabin to heat the hot water tank if using a flame

a few minutes when you get to the cabin to heat the water and you have ice cold food all week-end...

As they say in the guiness commercials...



The icy ball has to be removed from the heat to cycle and get cold.

There is another similar method that works as you mentioned using a salt -- the ammonia is driven off by the solar to a freezer box below --at night it heads back to the salt above and freezes the box below - no valves as I remember.



Sounds pretty ingenius....Any idea what it is called exactly?