Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own.

Solar air conditioners

With energy prices continuing to rise, it might be worth considering investing in a solar powered air conditioner.

Although solar has a more expensive upfront cost, once installed solar air conditioners allow you to cool down and heat up your home for free whenever the sun is out.

Why compare energy plans with Finder?

  • We don't charge extra. Prices shown on Finder are the same as those you get directly from energy providers.

  • We update our plans from providers daily so you can make an informed decision.

  • We've helped over 1.39 million people compare energy plans in the last 3 years.

How do solar air conditioners work?

Solar air conditioners are a system of heating and cooling that utilise energy from specific solar panels rather than electricity from the mains power.

This means they use energy for free whenever the sun is out and transition over to the mains power supply at night. Although solar air conditioners do have significant upfront costs, they are much cheaper to run and can save you a lot of money overtime.

Solar air conditioners consist of 3 main components:

  1. Solar panels. 4 or more solar panels are installed onto your roof to generate power during the day and run your air conditioner. These panels are similar to normal solar panels except they only power your air conditioner - not all your other devices too.
  2. Outdoor hybrid unit. The outdoor unit connects directly to the solar panels, the main grid and the indoor unit. It can be powered by DC current from the panels during the day or AC power via the grid if used during the night.
  3. Indoor DC unit. The indoor unit can function as either a heater or cooler as long as it's fed DC power from the solar panels. It'll automatically switch itself on when there's enough solar power and switch itself off when there isn't.

How much does solar air conditioning cost?

The price of solar air conditioning depends on the size of your unit and the size of your home but the bulk of the cost is upfront during installation.

Upfront costs

As a guide, the average installation costs of a 3kWh system are around $4,000 while a 10kWh system could set you back around $9,500.

Other solar air conditioners are on the more affordable side such as a 3.5kW Solar Hybrid Air Conditioner from which costs $2,855.00.

  • Good to know: You might be eligible for the Australian solar rebate, available as an incentive for any solar installation.

Ongoing costs

Once your solar powered air conditioner is installed there are minimal ongoing costs. If you use the air conditioner during the night or when the sun isn't out, you'll end up paying the regular price it costs to power your air conditioner from the mains.

You might also encounter occasional costs from air conditioner maintenance.

How much could a solar air conditioner save me?

With energy prices so high at the moment, ways to decrease your bills long term are becoming more valued. Naturally, solar air conditioners draw less power from the mains electricity grid and will therefore have lower ongoing costs.

For example, running your regular air conditioner can set you back on average anywhere between $140 to $360 over the summer months depending on the size of your air con and where you live.

However, if you have a solar air conditioner, once you have paid the initial installation costs you will only encounter additional costs if you use your air conditioner when the sun isn't out.

Additionally, if you have additional energy that isn't stored in a battery or used throughout the day, you may receive a solar feed-in-tariff of anywhere between 2-13 cents/kWh (depending on your provider). This can help to offset the large initial upfront costs of a solar air conditioner.

Essentially, once the upfront costs have been paid, investing in a solar air conditioner can save you hundreds of dollars on your energy bill each year.

Other factors will also impact the amount you save including the size of your solar set-up, the time of day that you use your air conditioner and how energy-efficient your solar-powered air conditioning system is.

How is a solar air conditioner different from a regular solar system?

A solar air conditioner is a great option if you want to save your ongoing air conditioner costs but don't want to invest in solar for all your devices. However, there are some drawbacks of a solar air conditioner compared to using an air conditioner which is powered from a normal solar system.

Money icon

No solar for other devices

The solar air conditioner's solar system exists solely to feed it power. This means you'll be paying full power price for all other energy use unless you have a separate solar system.

Small house with a solar panel at the roof

Limited space for regular solar panels

Depending on your roof size, even with the smallest solar air conditioner you might not have enough space to install a regular solar system alongside it.

Heater icon

Limited savings on heating

Heating is generally used during the evening. This is when your solar air conditioner will be inactive or run on mains power - unless you have a solar battery.

Regardless of the type of solar you install, it's a good idea to check that your retailer is approved by the Clean Energy Council.

Solar powered air conditioners: are they worth it?

If your home has limited roof space and not enough to install a full solar system, a solar air conditioner might work for you. A solar air conditioner is a great way to use renewable energy and save on your utility bills.

However, if you do have the roof space, it is worth considering investing in a full solar system.

2022 Finder data found that 15% of Australians are considering solar panels due to rising energy prices while 11% are not considering solar panels because they are too expensive.

If you're part of the 11%, a solar air conditioner might be worth considering compared to investing in a full solar system.

Solar power is still in its early stages, but in the years to come we should see more efficient and cost effective solar-powered air conditioners.

Get a solar quote

Why you can trust Finder's energy experts

favourite icon

We've done the work

We've reviewed hundreds of energy plans and written 200+ guides to help you navigate the Aussie energy market. Our experts are seen on TV, print and digital media.
we're experts icon

We're reliable

Our product database with plans and offers from 20+ providers is updated daily. Our guides are regularly reviewed and fact-checked.
we're here to help icon

We're here to help

In the last 3 years, we've helped over 1.39 million people compare energy plans by explaining features clearly and simplifying confusing terms and conditions.

Learn more about energy

Our energy guides can help you compare and understand what plan is best for you.

Frequently asked questions

More guides on Finder

Go to site