The 5 Best Low-Watt Air Conditioners for Solar Power

by Tessa Hobart | LAST UPDATED November 9, 2022

A person holding a remote for an air conditioner
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Although solar power is an incredible innovation, it’s safe to say there are pros and cons to usage. Even for tiny homes and off-grid settings, it has obvious limitations. 

When it comes to pulling enough power to run larger appliances, solar energy panels might not be enough—especially for those living in anything more significant than even a moderately-sized home. 

Luckily, there are several ways you can reduce usage to ensure your solar panels can meet your needs. One of the easiest ways is to invest in a low-watt air conditioner. 

Low-Watt Air Conditioners: A Simple Solution

In reality, certain items (like air conditioners) drive your energy costs up, making it challenging to use only solar power. At least if you want to use this method to power your entire home. In this article, we’re reviewing five of the best low-watt air conditioners for solar power. 

If this topic interests you, take a moment to go back and read some of our similar blog posts, including Off-Grid Washing Machines, Off-Grid Toilet, Tiny Home Appliances, and Tiny Home Costs. Otherwise, let’s get started!

The Lowdown on Low-Watt Air Conditioners

Everyday household items like kitchen appliances and air conditioners use more power than people believe. 

In most scenarios, this isn’t an issue, aside from an above-average electric bill now and then. However, when it comes to off-grid living or other living situations where solar power is your primary energy source, things get tricky. 

When I designed my first off-grid home, I realized that significant appliances were draining my energy supply. It became such an issue that I got rid of the devices altogether. 

Without a doubt, getting rid of large devices is much easier than trying to modify your entire system to accompany a single device.

But, simply getting rid of the AC unit isn’t an ideal solution to your problems either, which is why we wanted to publish an article about the best low-watt air conditioners for solar power.

Do We Need Air Conditioners?

Most people consider central air conditioning a luxury. At first glance, it seems like there are plenty of ways to stay cool without central air. Perhaps you pop open the window during the summer and enjoy the breeze instead?

But it’s not that simple. Bad weather happens, and your location plays a massive role in your need for an air conditioner, too, not to mention the type of structure, layout, and the number of people. 

So, there is a lot to consider when finding quality low-watt air conditioners for your tiny home, off-grid structure, or even nomadic van dwelling

The point we want to make is that there's an easy solution for off-grid homeowners during the hot months, and it’s called “low-watt air conditioners.”

The Advantages of Low-Watt Air Conditioners

Items classed as low-watt air conditioners use quite a bit less electricity than your standard air conditioning system. Aside from that, all the units on our list have very few characteristics in common. As a result, there is no shortage of low-watt air conditioners on the market, meeting a wide range of needs. 

The first thing you’ll want to consider is how many square feet to cover. Energy-efficient air conditioners cooling systems aren't that different from your standard units. As such, low-watt air conditioners cover essentially the same number of sq. ft as any other unit but use less energy to do it.

The reason behind this is that the AC units themselves have a better energy efficiency ratio than many other cooling systems. We’ll get into that side of things in the next section, but for now, we’d like to mention that size also plays a large part in the efficiency of a cooling unit.

Some of the smaller items on our list have a much better energy use than even the low-watt split air conditioners or window air conditioners.

On the other hand, the cool air produced by more portable air conditioners can only reduce the temperature of small rooms. While they’re still effective in improving the indoor airflow and cooling things down, low-watt air conditioners might not be enough on super hot days, to be of any help on scorching, unless you use them in small spaces.

We’ll mention the square-foot limits of each air conditioner in their product descriptions below, and suggest when it’s a better idea to go for a window AC unit or even a mini-split system HVAC.

Understand Energy Efficiency Ratings (EER)

An air conditioning system can get two types of ratings: an EER rating and a SEER rating.

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, whereas EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio.

The ratios are calculated by measuring the cooling capabilities of the device and summing how much power it uses during a given period. The seasonal ratio measures the efficiency of a unit during a single season, while the EER is a standardized measurement of the unit’s efficiency. 

More accurately, you can calculate the EER by dividing the amount of British Thermal Units (BTU units) by the unit’s wattage.

For example, a 10,000 BTU window air conditioner with 1,000 watts will have an EER rating of 10.

two airconditioners on the outside of a building
Photo by Leman on Unsplash

Both calculations are reliable estimations of the cooling capabilities of the AC units and what sort of energy costs you might be looking at if you make the purchase. There isn’t anything complicated about finding a good AC unit since the higher the ratio number, the better the energy savings.

To give you a better idea of what you should be looking at, a SEER rating of anything between 12 and 15 is pretty good. Anything over 16 is phenomenal, and an 11 or lower is less than ideal.

Now, we’re not saying that there aren’t high-quality AC units with less-than-ideal ratings or that there aren’t high-efficiency devices that will void your warranty after just a single week. We want to find a way to measure if the amount of cooling is worth the higher power bill.

It would be best to consider the overall fan speeds, the condition of the compressor and the refrigerant, and even the remote control layout when purchasing low-watt air conditioners.

You might have seen the phrase “energy star certified” here and there on Amazon, which is another genuinely reliable method of pointing out which air conditioning units are energy-efficient.

We’ll do our best to run through the most critical features of all five low-watt air conditioners and point out which models are central air conditioners and portable AC units. 

1. Whirlpool Energy Star

The 10,000 BTU Whirlpool Energy Star is compatible with any electrical outlet that can handle at least 115 volts, and it’s suitable for spaces up to 450 sq. ft.

The Whirlpool Energy Star has an EER of 10.7, a dehumidifying function, a fully programmable 24-hour cooling timer, three cooling speeds, and many other valuable features.

Rather than a window AC unit, this is a through-the-wall type of air conditioner that can fit in pretty much any standard wall sleeve.

Making a hole in your wall might not sound ideal, but this means that you’ll be able to provide a permanent cooling solution to parts of your house that might not have had the best ventilation during the warmer months.

The Whirlpool also comes with an eco-function on top of the standard sleep mode, which helps to save power. 

2. Senville Aura Series Mini Split Air Conditioner

The Senville Aura Series Mini Split Air Conditioner is a 12,000 BTU variant, but you can choose to go for the 18k, the 24k, or the 36k versions if you’d like.

These low-watt air conditioners use DC inverter technology for better efficiency and performance and use around 208-230V.

It comes with a built-in dehumidifier to keep your room nice and dry, as well as a heat pump and a fan that are capable of working in temperatures as low as -22°F/-30°C.

It’s no surprise that this is the quietest unit on the list since it has whisper technology to keep the decibels to a bare minimum.

The quiet running makes these low-watt air conditioners an excellent option for the bedroom. What's more, is the up to 25 SEER ratio means that it’s a perfect fit for just about any room in the house, as long as it’s between 450 and 700 square feet at least.

3. Frigidaire FGPC1044U1

Most AC units aren’t designed to look like an Alexa Amazon Echo, but this shape allows the Frigidaire FGPC1044U1 to provide air cooling in all directions.

These low-watt air conditioners also come with wifi capabilities and a custom smart app that allows you to use your phone as a remote.

As a result, you can place it virtually anywhere in your home and set your preferred temperatures and hours.

It has limited coverage, and it maxes out at around 450 square feet, but the 3-pints-per-hour dehumidification and the astoundingly low 53-decibel running speeds make this a solid pick for smaller spaces.

It runs on a standard 115V power socket, has 10,000 BTU, an 11.01 EER rating, and is Energy Star certified.

4. Honeywell MN10CES

While the decibel count is the same as the previous entry, the Honeywell MN10CES covers less space, around 350-450 square feet. Although, there are quite a few positives to this device.

The setup takes five minutes, and all you have to do is place it in the room that you want to use it in, hook it up to a power outlet, stick the hose outside of a window, and enjoy the cool air.

It also has three fan speeds, a 24-hour energy-saving timer, a thermostat with a temperature range of 61°F to 89°F, a 2,75-pint-per-hour dehumidifier, and a few other useful features.

The portable nature of this device makes it an ideal option for cooling your bedroom at night and moving it to your living room during the day.

This way, you can cool down multiple rooms without getting an expensive and massively power-consuming HVAC system.

5. HOmelabs Portable Air Conditioner

Coming in at 14,000 BTU and an EER rating of 9.8, this portable AC is an excellent choice for any room that’s 450 to 600 square feet.

It’s not as quiet as the previous portable Ac units that we covered, but it has a better dehumidifier function, extracting 4,17 pints per hour.

Aside from that, this unit has the same benefits as the previous two entries, namely the small size and the low energy consumption.

HOmelabs isn’t a big name in the AC market, but this model is still a contender for one of the best portable low-watt air conditioners you can find.

Final Thoughts About Low-Watt Air Conditioners

The amount of space you have to work with will always be the clincher that decides which unit you’re going to go with at the end of the day.

Aside from that, we’re confident that all of the low-watt air conditioners on this list provide an array of valuable functions, several fan speeds and settings, and an energy-efficient way to fight the summer heat.

Tessa Hobart
Tessa Hobart moved into her first tiny home (a trailer in her uncle's backyard) when she was 19. Without giving away her age, she now has many years of tiny home experience and is currently designing an A-Frame as a second off grid home. She lives with her husband and enjoys card games and mountain biking.

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