SoftStart Home Potential Energy Savings Report – Part 1
By Mike Sokol from RVelectricity.com
This is an initial study calculating the potential energy and cost savings from a SoftStartHome installation on a 15 year-old typical 2-ton residential air conditioner.
This study has not been peer reviewed, but it does show that a substantial amount of energy can be saved during the inrush/starting cycle of a traditional residential air conditioner compressor. These same energy saving values can be extrapolated to larger single-phase residential and commercial air conditioners with up to 6-tons of capacity.
I’ve broken this report down into two separate sections. The first section shows the Direct Energy Savings of the SoftStartHome unit attributable to the reduction in starting inrush current and compressor start time. Note that the SoftStartHome technology does not reduce running current during the compressor running cyle, only the starting cycle.
The second section shows the Indirect Energy Savings of the SoftStartHome unit that’s attributable to the ability of a heat pump instead of resistance heating. This is especially important if the residential heating system needs to be powered from a portable 7kW generator, an EV truck with bi-directional charging, or even a solar panel system with a PowerWall battery storage system. All of these are basically 120/240-volt split phase inverters with approximately 7kW of available output power.
Direct Energy Savings (Part 1)
The SoftStartHome controller does not reduce any energy usage during the compressor run cycle. Its primary function is to reduce peak inrush current during the starting cycle. This may reduce monthly power costs in states that have peak-demand limits which increase the cost of all average electrical rates.
As a side-effect of reducing these peak inrush currents, SoftStartHome also reduces the startup noise level (DeciBels of SPL), but that’s the subject of another report.
You can see in this graph from another 2-ton air conditioner that there’s a substantial reduction in both the average Sound Pressure Level (SPL) as well as creating a less intrusive spectrum.
Again, this will be covered in another report with video comparing noise levels of a number of air conditioners with before and after recordings.
Inrush energy comparison
This is a just a visual calculation of the inrush current comparison between the stock starting capacitor and SoftStartHome installation on the 2-ton residential air conditioner above. As you can see, there’s a substantial difference in the amount of inrush energy required during each compressor starting cycle.
My visual guestimate is an energy savings of around 840 watt-seconds of energy per starting cycle. That’s 1,400 watt-seconds minus 560 watt-seconds equals 840 watt-seconds of energy.
To calculated kWh of energy during the starting inrush we divide 840 watt-seconds by 3,600 (seconds in an hour) which equals 0.23 Wh savings which is 0.00023 kWh per starting cycle.
If we then assume 6 starting cycles per hour, that works out to 6 times 0.00023 kWh times 24 hours in a day which equals 0.033 kWh per day. Multiply 0.033 kWh by 365 days in a year, and that works out to 12 kWh per year for a 2-ton compressor cycling 6 times per hour.
Now we’ll plug in the cost of electricity per kWh in the USA’s ten most expensive states. As you can see from this chart, the cost per kWH is continually rising by 10% to 20% per year, so ROI calculations are a moving target.
In California, for example, there would be a savings from inrush current energy reduction of $0.26 times time 12 kWh savings. That’s only $3.14 per year in straight energy savings. But that doesn’t include the reduced cost for peak energy demand factors, which have been reported at up to $75 per month for some residences.
Of course, your actual kWh and dollar savings per year will depend on air conditioner duty cycle, ambient air temperature, delta-t and a number of other variables. But my initial testing shows that the SoftStart technology not only reduces the inrush current and starting sound levels substantially, it also reduces the amount of energy used by each air conditioner.
To be continued in our next blog post.
If you have any questions about the SoftStart Home, please feel free to contact us here.
About the Author:
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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Learn More About SoftStart Home Startup Technology
To learn more about SoftStart Home products and how they can improve energy use and help keep homes comfortable in most any situation, please go to SoftStartHome.com. SoftStart Home™ is a product of SoftStartUSA, an industry leader in home and RV power management products.
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