top of page
  • Worth the Dime

Staying Cool in Extreme Heat

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

Extreme heat can place a strain on power grids and in areas that are not accustomed to hot weather. Many modern homes are equipped with central air conditioning but not all, and what are your options if you do not have central AC or your home power fails in the middle of a heat wave.


Best Way to Stay Cool in Extreme Heat

Lately the news is flooded with stories of resources like gas, water, and electricity being spread thin in some areas due to overwhelming demand with limited supply. We have been taught that supply and demand dictate price, and supply insecurity can have adverse effects on the lives of people on tight budgets. Every year there are stories of people dying at home from heat strokes while trying to cope with high temperatures.



Gas powered generators help in regions that experience frequent blackouts during storm seasons, however the price of gas is becoming restrictive. Solar Powered energy is free once you have the panels but not many can afford more than $20,000 to set up solar panels for their entire home. However what if you could purchase a small solar system to power an air conditioning unit to stay cool. Financially a smaller unit is more affordable and can mean the difference between life and death during a heat wave.


As I watch the news, I am contemplating ways to tackle the heat if my home central air conditioning is unavailable due to a power failure. Like many people in the southern United States I own a gas generator for hurricane season. However the current price of gas due to supply limitations has me seeking an alternative to using that old generator.


Portable Air Conditioning

If you live in an apartment or rental property then you should invest in a Portable Air Conditioning device. Central Air conditioning cost about $9000 on average. A portable air conditioning unit is much less expensive and can be transported like a small appliance wherever you relocate. An average portable AC unit should be able to cool down an area around 300 sq feet, which is the size of some efficiency apartments or a room in a house. Use the cool space as a refuge to beat the heat.


Costway Portable Air Conditioner

This is an attractive free standing Air conditioning unit with a dehumidifying feature to help dry the air while it cools it.

Product details

Coverage area: 350 sq feet

Watts per hour: 780W

Pros: Remote control feature and Dehumidifier

Honeywell Portable Air Conditioner

This is an attractive free standing Air conditioning unit with a dehumidifying feature to help dry the air while it cools it. The unit costs around $300.

Product details

Coverage area: 400 sq feet

Watts per hour: 65W

Pros: Remote control, Dehumidifier, and dust filter

Cons: Weighs 54 lbs


Fantask Portable Air Conditioner

This is an attractive free standing Air conditioning unit with a dehumidifying feature to help dry the air while it cools it.

Product details

Coverage area: 160 sq feet

Watts per hour: 75W

Pros: Weight 13 lbs, only costs around $120

Cons: Smaller coverage area but uses more wattage



The reliability of the unit is only as dependable as the power grid it is connected to. During heat wave rolling blackouts frequently occur, so to increase the reliability of your portable unit I want an energy source that is easily accessible in case of a natural disaster like solar energy. Cooling down an area of your home or apartment would be as simple as buying a small AC unit and powering it with a small solar generator.

Solar Generators

Solar generators tend to cost slightly more than gas generators, however you do not have to worry about carbon monoxide production or filling up with gas which keeps increasing in price. If you have never used solar power before reading up on the necessary requirements to convert the panel generated energy into an electric current suitable for appliances can be an education in direct vs alternating currents. Thankfully increased interest in solar power in the past few years had led to improvements in solar generators that reduce the required hookups. Solar Generators are popular devices amongst campers and tiny home enthusiasts.

Benefits: No gas necessary and no carbon monoxide production


Important metrics for solar generators include:

  • Capacity- the amount of energy that can be stored, measured in Watt hours (Wh)

-Every device radios, light bulbs, air conditioners requires a certain amount of Watts to function.

- If your battery capacity is 1000Wh and your Air Conditioning unit uses 100Watts

(1000Wh / 100watts) = 10 hours

The generator can power the AC unit for 10 hours before it will need to be recharged.

  • Continuous/Surge Output- The maximum energy output at one time that the generator can release (important if you want to plug in multiple appliances without overloading the generator)

  • Charge cycle: This lets you know how many times the generator battery can be charged from zero before its capacity starts to gradually decrease over time. Heavier Lithium iron phosphate batteries last longer than lithium ion but the iron phosphate adds additional weight to the generator. A higher charge cycle adds years to the life of your generator.

There are many different solar generators coming to the market everyday, below are a few well known and respected options:


Yeti Goal Zero Generator

This brand of solar powered generators is sold separately from his solar panels. It produces 600 Watts of power. It has enough power storage to run a full size refrigerator for over a day without recharging. It packs a lot of power and weighs only 29lbs. This generator also can be used while charging.

Specifications

Watts per hour: 600

Weight: 29lbs

Pros: Lower cost around $450

Cons: Solar panels sold separately (costs from $150 to 500 based on wattage per panel)

Jackery 1000 Generator

This brand of solar powered generators has a great compact design which is what makes them very portable. It weighs only 22 pounds which is light enough for most people to carry (vs heavy and large gas generators). Another benefit of this generator is that it can be used to power appliances while the battery is actively being charged by the solar panels. The system is comprised of the actual battery/generator and 2 solar panels. There are versions of the generator with higher levels of Watts per hour.

Specifications

Watts per hour: 1000

Weight: 22lbs

Pros: Lightweight, sold as a kit with the solar panels included, high wattage

Cons: higher price $1650

Bluetti AC200 Max

This brand of solar powered generators has a great compact design which is what makes them very portable. It weighs only 22 pounds which is light enough for most people to carry (vs heavy and large gas generators). Another benefit of this generator is that it can be used to power appliances while the battery is actively being charged by the solar panels. The system is comprised of the actual battery/generator and 2 solar panels. There are versions of the generator with higher levels of Watts per hour.

Specifications

Watts per hour: a little over 2000Wh

Weight: 62lbs

Pros: high wattage to power more devices (fridge, laptop, phones) if needed

Cons: heavy, costs around $1800 for the generator alone; $2200 with panels


My Personal Choice

I prefer the most lightweight generator option and an Air conditioner that covers more square footage. Based on my above reviews that would be the Jackery 1000 and Honeywell Portable Air Conditioner. However this is just a small cross section of some of the highly regarded appliances.


The Bottom Line

It is always a good idea to plan ahead. In cases of extreme weather it may saves lives. There are ways to get air conditioning without installing a permanent unit for $9000+ dollars, and solar generators offer an alternative power source when you live in a region with a fragile electrical grid.





Disclosure: This website may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we recommended.





Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page