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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    100

    Solar refrigerant panels...???

    Sorry, I realize it's not Geo Thermal related but I was speaking to an individual yesterday and he was telling me about a new air conditioning system that they are selling which incorporates the use of a solar panel to heat the systems refrigerant (increases refrigerant pressure/temperature) which then in turn drastically reduces/eliminates the use of the compressor. He said that the panel is hard piped using usually 1 1/8 copper and from my understanding would be placed within the suction line after the air handler prior to getting back to the condenser!! I am trying to look further into this but if anyone has any experience or knowledge please share.....it is an interesting concept that I would like to explore.

    I also know it sounds like an absorption system but they actually run 410a refrigerant through the panels unlike an absorption system that uses a glycol type medium.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Jurupa Valley, CA
    Posts
    1,781
    Just because someone sells something, doesn't mean it works. Done as described, all it is doing is taking in solar heat, and rejecting it at the condenser.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Virginia Beach VA
    Posts
    46
    Actually these so-called "solar hybrid thermal AC" systems use a solar collector (usually an upside-down high temp evacuated tube type) that is connected on the compressor discharge line, not on the suction line. It basically connects like a desuperheater except that instead of removing superheat, it does the opposite, it uses solar energy to increase the superheat. The theory is that by using solar power to increase the deltaT at the condenser, a smaller compressor can be used. This is theory. In actual practice it seems only to be a good way to waste money and possibly kill your compressor. If you want to tinker with system in a safe and proven way, go the other direction and just connect a desuperheater, at least you will get some free hot water. Note that manufacturers like Trane support the installation of desuperheaters for heat recovery water heating (the latest bulletins specify high-SEER systems to use a pre-heat tank) but they DO NOT support the "hybrid" design of adding superheat!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Jurupa Valley, CA
    Posts
    1,781
    Yeah, the 'proposed' benefit is that if you increase the delta-t of the condenser, then you will be pulling more heat out of the system there - which is true - but when all that added heat being removed was put in stupidly bu a solar collector, it is really stupid idea.

    Want a solar air conditioner? use PV cells, batteries, and a DC mini-split. stuck on using solar thermal? use an adsorber, or go crazy and build a solar thermal turbine setup to power an conventional A/C... any of those would work... adding heat to the system that is supposed to be removing heat, is not going to work.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    B.C. Canada
    Posts
    861
    Sounds pretty rediculious to me.. mabey on a heatpump in heating mode in series with the od coil.. mabey? I doubt the benefit would outweigh the cost..

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Moore, Oklahoma, United States
    Posts
    4,296
    Quote Originally Posted by CraziFuzzy View Post
    Yeah, the 'proposed' benefit is that if you increase the delta-t of the condenser, then you will be pulling more heat out of the system there - which is true - but when all that added heat being removed was put in stupidly bu a solar collector, it is really stupid idea.

    Want a solar air conditioner? use PV cells, batteries, and a DC mini-split. stuck on using solar thermal? use an adsorber, or go crazy and build a solar thermal turbine setup to power an conventional A/C... any of those would work... adding heat to the system that is supposed to be removing heat, is not going to work.
    Bingo !!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Virginia Beach VA
    Posts
    46
    There's a good write up on several different types of solar air conditioners here
    http://www.hotspotenergy.com/compare...-conditioners/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon
    Posts
    1,018
    Quote Originally Posted by coolerik View Post
    Sounds pretty rediculious to me.. mabey on a heatpump in heating mode in series with the od coil.. mabey? I doubt the benefit would outweigh the cost..
    This was my first thought also. Adding heat to the outdoor coil in the heating mode when the outdoor temperatures are below the temperatures that the heat pump efficiency starts to decline might make sense.
    Adding heat to the discharge gas seems counter intuitive. If the pressure could be increased without adding heat, then you would have something. But if you have to increase the temperature to increase the pressure it's hard to imagine there would be much gain because you would have to reject the heat to condense the refrigerant.
    I suppose it might pencil out and show some efficiencies in theory. But it's hard to imagine it would work in practice.
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten". --Benjamin Franklin
    "Don't argue with an idiot, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience". --Mark Twain
    http://www.campbellmechanical.com

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