Coolerado already offers the ultimate in efficiency: Its 6-ton air conditioners use just 600 watts of energy to cool 3,000 square feet of space, about one-tenth the energy of typical AC units. Now, the company is showing the world how to run its systems using solar power. Using online video and instructions, the manufacturer is teaching solar contractors how to network Coolerado’s air conditioner with a photovoltaic system. The company also created a mobile demonstration unit to showcase the benefits to consumers.

Powering Coolerado’s air conditioning systems with solar requires four PV panels, which provide 100% power at a 72-degree air temperature. They provide about 30% less power during full summer heat when panels can reach temperatures of more than 150 degrees; however, the air conditioner’s exhaust can be ducted to the back of the panels to help cool them, improving efficiency by up to 15%.

Because it does not operate through dehumidification like most air conditioners, Coolerado’s system is only sold in 11 Western states. But executive vice president Rick Gillan says there is potential for the setup in similar climates around the globe. And, he says, since air conditioning accounts for about half of peak energy demand during the summer, DOE studies show that, widely implemented, the system could equate to a substantial reduction in new power plants being built. “This solution really solves some major problems for essentially half the world,” Gillan says.

To view the online demonstration video, visit —Katy Tomasulo