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Solar Fundamentals: What’s the Difference Between AC and DC?

January 13th, 2022 | By Roger Kuznia

Home solar panels on roof

If you’re starting your solar journey, you may come across some unfamiliar terms used to describe parts of your solar panel system and how it works to power your home. To understand how your custom system from Pink Energy uses sunlight to help power your home, let’s start with some solar fundamentals. We’ll describe how your solar panels generate electricity, and how that output becomes usable in your home.

How Do Solar Panels Create Electricity?

Each solar panel is made up of multiple interlinked photovoltaic (PV) cells. These PV cells contain positive and negative layers that create an electric field. When sunlight delivers photons to the PV cells, they interact with this electric field, creating electricity. This direct current electricity is directed to your solar inverter for conversion into an electrical current that is safe to circulate throughout your home via your circuit breaker box. This type of electricity is known as alternating current electricity.

What is Direct Current?

When electricity is released from your solar panels and sent to your solar inverter, it comes in the form of direct current (DC) electricity. This current flows in only one direction and is limited in its ability to travel long distances; most of its power is lost over the distance. Because of this, direct current electricity is a less efficient form of energy for a home.  

What is Alternating Current?

Conversely, alternating current (AC) electricity is a more efficient form of electricity that can shift between high and low voltages, allowing it to travel longer distances without diminishing in power. When the energy produced by your solar panels leaves your solar inverter, it does so in the form of alternating current. Without an inverter, the energy produced by your solar panels is not usable in your home.

Trust the Pink Energy Experts With All Your Solar Questions

Continue your solar research with the team at Pink Energy. With industry expertise and experience, our solar consultants are prepared to answer any and all questions you may have when considering a solar addition to your home. If you’re interested in taking your solar knowledge to the next level, contact us today to learn more!

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