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Hybrid solar air-conditioning likely to replace inverter ACs

KOCHI: It is cool to use sun against heat, the very source of it. As scorching heat dries even aquifers and kills people, air conditioners find deeper penetration in the country. But even as the government increases its electricity production and focuses on giving power to the rural flock, it will not suffice to connect a ‘luxury’ like an AC. At a time when mercury levels are going through the roof, fining the use of electricity to power ACs will be a difficult proportion.

As always the sole solution is the sun, the very cause of the problem. Hybrid or solar powered ACs will be the new entrant into a sector now ruled by inverter ACs. When the price of solar panels comes down, solar air conditioners will also be cheaper.

Currently, hybrid ACs are costlier by at least Rs 10,000 when compared to a five star traditional air conditioner.

“Hospitals, guest houses and government offices use solar air conditioners in Kerala. We have been in this space for the past six years and now people are more interested in buying this product. The solar AC is 60 per cent powered by solar energy and the rest by electricity. Conventional air conditioners consume too much, users have to pay a heavy electricity bill. The capacities available are 1, 1.5 and 2 tonnes. A fully solar powered AC may cost Rs 1.90 lakh, and hence is less affordable. The hybrid solar AC now costs Rs 50,000. Once the cost of Photovoltaic (PV) system comes down, the product will be cheaper,” said Sunilkumar, General Manager, Onya Hybrid Solar Air Conditioner.

In his opinion the huge cost may be the reason major companies in the space do not want to manufacture solar ACs.

“We use solar power in medical air conditioners. We have the technology, it is only a matter of time that we use the system in commercial ACs. Going forward, when the cost of putting up a solar panel in an AC becomes cheaper, more companies will enter the segment. In India the penetration of ACs is only 21 per cent, whereas in developed countries the rate is 3 to 4 times more. When penetration becomes deeper, electricity consumption will be more. Then manufacturers will look at this option of solar power,” said Kamal Nandi, Business Head & EVP, Godrej Appliances.

Industry estimates that the contribution of 5-star and above air conditioners has gone up from 19 per cent to 24 per cent, indicating energy efficient models are becoming popular.

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