Data scientist builds solar-powered AC that saves 80% energy and lasts up to 25 years
JThe International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that by 2050, global space cooling demand will increase threefold. This is true, especially in countries like India, Indonesia and China. According to the IEA, India will account for a third of all air conditioner sales in the coming decades.
As temperatures in India top 40 degrees (March 2022 was the hottest in the country since 1901), more people will turn to cooling devices like air conditioners, which release more hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, a major contributor to global warming, in the atmosphere.
For the uninitiated, air conditioners are similar to refrigerators, except the former absorbs heat and rejects it outside instead of storing it in the back of the unit (like refrigerators do).
To ensure that people get fresh air to protect themselves from heat waves without adding to overall energy consumption, we must seek more energy-efficient alternatives in addition to tackling the global environmental crisis with choices and modes of sustainable and conscious life.
Agra-based Ashutosh Verma’s Exalta is one such company, which provides a sustainable alternative through solar ACs. He claims his devices can save up to 80% electricity and have a lifespan of 25 years.
“With our solar air conditioners, users are expected to save about 600 units of electricity per month, which can reduce their electricity bills by Rs 5,500, which is a significant reduction compared to normal air conditioners,” he says.
A data scientist by profession, Ashutosh developed his first solar air conditioning system in 2009, but it was only after a few years that he realized sales.
“Every month we sell 300 to 500 solar air conditioners across the world, including countries like Dubai, Oman, Nigeria and more,” Ashutosh said. The best India. So far Exalta has sold 5000 units.
While his solar air conditioner has brought him millions of dollars in revenue and helps people save money while relieving the environment, is it different from a conventional unit?
“Not only do solar air conditioners help conserve resources and cause less damage to the environment, they are also less expensive than conventional air conditioners. When we turn on the button of our conventional air conditioning, we are not even aware of the number of greenhouse gases that are produced. In the case of a solar air conditioner, we don’t have to think about it because this type of air conditioner takes energy from a heat source and works like a regular air conditioner,” he says.
For kids growing up in the 80s and 90s, bringing an air conditioner home was all about celebration and pride. The Verma house was no different. They would use every AC unit wisely. Turning the device on for more than an hour was frowned upon and he was always told to save energy.
Frustrated with using the air conditioning stingily, especially during the summers, Ashutosh began visiting internet cafes to cool off.
“The idea of solar air conditioners didn’t come to me overnight. When I decided to solve this problem and have an air conditioner in my house without worrying about the bill, that’s when- there that I started to study more about it. Passionate about research, I found this answer to my question, and that’s when I knew that I wanted to build solar air conditioners”, says Ashutosh, who completed his studies in M-Tech and worked in companies before founding Exalta.
Once he had saved enough money, he started the business with an investment of Rs 8 lakhs in Agra. Over the next two years, he searched for investors, but to no avail. He had to take out a loan to start operations in 2011. He then incubated his business at the SIIC (Start-up Incubation and Innovation Center) of IIT Kanpur.
Characteristics of solar ACs
Initially, there were no takers for the solar air conditioners, so Ashutosh himself went to the distributors’ offices and installed the units for free. He asked them for the payments only after the units were working well without any problem. This type of marketing worked and soon he was not only receiving timely payments but also new orders.
But other challenges, like finding premium materials for solar panels, lay ahead.
“Traditional silicone-based panels can lead to increased costs and decreased efficiency. Other than that, better storage and transmission are needed. Political pressure and government policy are also a source of difficulty. There is also the issue of aging infrastructure. The initial cost is significant; the sun is not always there, they take up more space and it is difficult to determine the appropriate amount of investment at the beginning,” he says.
Exalta is currently working on making batteries for off-grid gadgets with larger battery capacity so they don’t need to be charged all the time or exposed to direct sunlight.
It also offers a wide range of solar air conditioners which cost around Rs 45,000. All parts of the air conditioner are made in India except the indoor unit, which is imported from Thailand. When purchasing the unit, six 320 watt panels must be installed on the roof of residential or commercial buildings.
Besides solar air conditioning, Exalta also manufactures mini fans, inverters, freezers, freezers and compressors, all of which are environmentally friendly and use less energy, Ashutosh says.
“Our future plans include developing more environmentally friendly products that are as effective as others available on the market. We strive to make renewable energy products from India a standard in the industry. We focus on creating an e-commerce platform for all types of electronic products, including our own. More importantly, we plan to manufacture hydrogen products which are considered to be one of the cleanest fuels for the future, such as hydrogen, engines, etc. “, he adds.
Edited by Divya Sethu