Solar-assisted air conditioning

Jeff “Solar Jeff” Smith has been one of the pioneers of small scale solar projects on St. John, and his latest effort is solar-assisted air conditioning.

It is not solar “powered” air conditioning, but rather a system by which solar thermal energy helps the air conditioning unit operate more efficiently. And after two experimental installations – one residential and one commercial – Jeff’s convinced it’s worth the money.

So Jeff is now the official VI dealer for Sedna Aire products.

“Partially at my own cost, I undertook two apples-to-apples model systems, removing conventional systems and replacing them with Sedna Aire VI solar-assisted systems to verify the savings claims of the company,” says Jeff. “In the case of the residential system (a customer he says likes his thermostat set on “stun”) the WAPA savings exceeded the claims, and in the case of Sam & Jack’s, the equipment significantly lowered the temperature of what is basically a working kitchen for the same monthly WAPA cost.”

Jeff says the cost of the equipment is about 15 to 20 percent more but he says he’s confident it will cut AC costs in half.

“My typical summer bill was $1,500 to $2,200,” says homeowner Jerry O’Connell. “My first two WAPA bills since installation for August and September have been $1,100 and $880.”

Here’s Jeff’s Sedna Aire dealer Website. And here’s a video that sort of explains it.

5 Replies to “Solar-assisted air conditioning”

  1. We were Solar Jeff’s first residential clients. We purchased our home in February 2010 and the installation was finished by May. We didn’t have AC before and had to do a lot of renovation first (putting in glass windows for starters). We use the AC during the day and sometimes at night. Our WAPA bill is usually around $600. That’s with all the AC we want.

    If we want wifi, tv, AC, refrigerators, pools, hot showers, unlimited ice cubes, lights, and fax machines we need to switch to solar. We cannot maintain the life styles we have become accustomed to unless we find a way to power them.

    I’m as cheap as anyone. Some of my best furniture came from the dumpster. It’s silly to ignore what solar can do. Getting solar AC means our family has enough money to the homemade pasta at Sam and Jacks….

  2. Hi Martha, Could you help with a couple questions I have?
    1. Was the cost about 15-20% over conventional as Jeff estimated?
    2. Your WAPA bill sounds reasonable. How many rooms or square feet do you cool?
    3. Have you had any problems with the system?
    4. Is there special maintenance reqirements for the system?
    Thank you. Rob G.

  3. Rob, our house was an open island style with no glass windows. Do our project also included construction…but Jeff’s estimate is correct. We have 3 separate levels —- lift, kitchen, living area, bedroom and bath. Second level same but no kitchen. Plus a third level that’s one room. We are in shade part of the day. e

    We were the first residential unit, and in essence an experiment. There’s always tinkering in an experiment. But once the glitches were diagnosed and fixed we’ve had no problems.

    As for special maintenance not so far! We clean air filters and that’s it.

    I truly believe that all new construction in the USVI must be at least 70% solar powered. There’s absolutely no excuse for it. Solar pool
    Pumps, solar hot water, solar AC. It’s pretty silly to think we can rely on WAPA to keep up with our usages.

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