5000 BTU AC Off Batteries And Solar - What You Need - Cost Breakdown

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5000 BTU AC Off Batteries And Solar - What You Need - Cost Breakdown

How To Run a 5000 BTU A/C off Batteries and Solar Power

Running an air conditioner with battery power is no easy feat! But with the right equipment and knowledge, you can use batteries and solar power to operate many different sizes of A/C. In this video, we will be covering all the necessary equipment and expenditures required to run a 5000 BTU air conditioning unit.

Equipment Summary

To run a 5000 BTU air conditioning unit, a good starting point is 600 watts of solar power (preferably tiltable), a 40 amp MPPT charge controller, a 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter, and 400 amp hours of lithium ion batteries or 800 amp hours of lead acid batteries. That setup will run the A/C for about eight hours. The next day your batteries will be dead so you will need 600 watts of solar to keep up with the power drain.

Cost Overview

Including wiring and mounting hardware, a rough estimate of total cost would be as follows: a lithium ion battery package would cost you $6500 for six years of use. You could probably get a system of Trojan 12 volt batteries going for about $3000, but after six years you will probably replace them twice, so you would end up spending around $5600 in a six year span.

How did I come up with this information?

We really want to run this A/C off battery and solar power, despite the fact that it makes more sense to run it with a generator. But, we are determined to make this work, so this is where I would start.

A 5000 BTU air conditioner will run at about 500 watts. Occasionally, when the compressor kicks in, it will have a surge of about 1000 watts. We need to maintain 500 watts of power for eight hours for the purposes of this test.

To get a 5000 BTU A/C to last eight hours using 500 watts, you need about 400 amp hours of battery power. Last week I did a real world test on my 15000 BTU air conditioner which runs on 1500 watts, or an hour and half on 200 amp hours of lithium ion batteries. That takes three times the power of the 5000 BTU unit we are discussing, and it maintained power for 1.5 hours. If we were running a 5000 BTU A/C, it would have made it three times as long because it is a the third of the power. Instead of 1.5 hours, we would have been at 4.5 hours. Since we want 8 hours, double that to end up with 400 amp hours of battery bank.

Lithium Ion Batteries

When choosing the battery, lithium ion is the way to go. It is designed for this set up. Each battery only weighs twenty pounds as opposed to sixty or eighty with a lead acid battery, saving you hundreds of pounds of weight in the long run. I went with greenlife batteries, four of them, 100 amp hours a piece. That’s 400 amp hours.

Lead Acid Batteries

If you want to do this with lead acid I recommend Trojan 12 volt batteries with 150 amp hours a piece. You would need six of these with 900 amp hours because you can only use 50 percent of lead acid batteries before you have to recharge them. Cut 900 in half, we wind up with 450 amp hours of usable battery power from that battery bank.

Solar and Accessories

If your batteries make it eight hours, congratulations! Now you have to recharge those batteries for the next day. Get as much solar as you can, a bare minimum 600 watts. The A/C uses around 500 watts and you will need more than that to keep up with the A/C in the long run. If it gets cloudy or it’s not the right angle of sun you may run into problems. Look for tilting solar panels so you can maximize sun intake.

You will need a charge controller to run a 600 watt solar array, so I recommend a 40 amp MPPT charge controller. While a 30 amp system would probably be fine, I recommend getting a 40 amp charge controller because if you want to add some panels, you can do it without buying another charge controller.

You will need an inverter. I recommend a 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter. I like Xantrex as they have been working well for me. If you run anything other than your A/C, you will want to go with a 3000 watt inverter.

Now you just need wiring and mounting hardware. Those will depend on the length and size of your vehicle so you will need to make your purchases accordingly.

  • Solar panels -- $700 for 600 watts. 100 watt solar panels are available online for $120.
  • Xantrex 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter -- $600.
  • 40 amp MPPT charge controller -- $200.
  • Four (4) 100 amp hour lithium ion batteries -- $1200 each, $4800 total.
  • Six (6) Trojan Lead Acid 12 volt 150 amp hour batteries -- $222 each, $1300 total. However, they will only have 500 cycles as opposed to the 2-4000 cycles of lithium ion batteries.
  • Wiring and mounting hardware -- $200.
  • Lithium ion system -- Grand Total -- $6500.
  • Trojan lead acid system -- Grand Total -- $3000 or $5600 over six years. You may also want to factor in the extra gas you will use carrying the extra weight.

You will need to build on to this setup depending on your personal needs, but I hope it will give you a good place to start. Thanks for watching and as always, Happy Camping!

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