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In Vapor-compression refrigeration, a refrigerant is compressed releasing heat (typically outside a building) and then decompressed in another location, absorbing heat.

A residential air conditioner works on this principle with a compressor outside the home and a blower over the decompression coils to circulate cold air.

Would it be feasible to compress ahead of cooling demand, storing the compressed refrigerant in a high pressure container for use at a later time of the day, thus shifting the power consumption to times of the day where there is less electrical demand?

By feasibility, I'm thinking of questions like:

  • How much storage volume would one need for a typical household usage over an afternoon of running air conditioning given a container type that would be available cheaply, ex: propane canisters?
  • What would be the sources of efficiency loss added by something like this?
  • etc.
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I happen to have a bottle of refrigerant in my house and another in my car (besides the stuff already being stored in my AC units).

While this is definitely more of a physics question, or perhaps a question for the HVAC guys on the Home Improvement SE... to generally answer your question, there are many factors for cooling a home, like size and location, for example. But let's say your average 2-ton window-unit AC pumps 24,000 BTU's per hour... and 4000 BTUs requires 1 gallon of refrigerant per minute.... you need 6 gallons per minute (being released through an evaporator coil) to match a window unit AC.

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  • $\begingroup$ So 6 gal/min * lets say 2hrs of cooling = 720 gallons. Could that be reduced further by additional compression? For example, a quick search reveals that a typical A/C compressor is about 200-400 PSI, whereas, for example, the hydrogen tanks in a toyota mirai can store hydrogen at 10,000 PSI. Does pressure/volume work linearly like this such that going from 720 gallons at 400PSI would give you 28.8 gallons at 10,000 PSI? $\endgroup$ – Gregable Jul 26 '16 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ That's liquid refridgerant... which is just run around in circles. Liquids are not really compressible. At 10,000 psi you might get 1% or 2% compression. So at 10,000 psi you need ~712 gallons. Or at 100 psi you would need 720 gallons of liquid refrigerant (for 2 hours use). $\endgroup$ – Ben Welborn Jul 26 '16 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, bummer. Just curious, but this doesn't sound very feasible. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Gregable Jul 26 '16 at 19:08

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