The Difference Between AC and DC Energy Sources: How It Affects GridZero
GridZero is a solar mode that allows a PV system to maximize renewable energy for a home’s total energy use. How is the difference between AC and DC involved?
No, AC/DC isn’t just a cool band from Australia with out-of-this-world guitar licks and soaring vocals. Believe it or not, the group gets its name from one of the most dynamic forces in the universe- ELECTRICITY!
But what is the difference between AC and DC- other than Edison stealing all of Tesla’s credit? And how does it affect various solar panel systems?
GridZero is a solar energy-saving mode that allows a PV system to maximize renewable energy. How is the difference between AC and DC involved?
What’s the Difference Between AC and DC?
Alternating current and direct current are everywhere around you. Though this is difficult to conceptualize, AC and DC are different types of voltage. Both of these forms of voltage is used for the conduction and transmission of electrical energy.
Electrical current is the free flow of charged particles in a system. When discussing AC or DC, these particles are electrons. But the flow of DC is different from that of AC in that DC flows in one direction, and AC flows back and forth.
A simple way to visualize the difference between AC and DC electricity is imagining DC as a line and AC as a wave. The reason AC flows in a wave pattern is that it oscillates back and forth, indicating both positive direction and negative direction.
The reason most of your gadgets and electrical components use AC instead of DC is that it can provide heaps more electricity across greater distances. The wave motion of AC is responsible for this efficient transfer.
On the other hand, off-grid power solutions often use DC because they don’t need to provide energy to far-away applications and DC currents can be stored, where AC cannot.
The solar panels produce DC electricity that can in turn be stored in batteries for later use.
Many applications use both AC and DC. For example, your laptop is receiving AC power and storing it as DC power. Your charger converts the AC from the plug into DC at the tip of the nozzle and transfers the energy to your computer as DC.
We all know Thomas Edison is widely credited with the modern usage of electricity. But Edison only discovered DC electricity. Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century, discovered AC electricity, and thank God for him.
The rivalry between AC and DC goes back to the time of Edison and Tesla. Edison and Westinghouse were in a heated competition because Edison was dead set on the widespread use of DC. After all, Edison had patents on DC electricity.
In a smearing campaign, Edison resorted to killing animals with AC. The worst part- he succeeded in dissuading the public from using AC for a time. Many municipalities continued to power their towns with DC power. But the market prevails, and eventually, populations outgrew DC power.
In the late 19th century, the demand for electricity continued to increase past the means of supplying Dc electricity. Most of the reason DC energy can’t provide electricity across long distances is that it flows at such a low voltage and high current. AC power distributes power at higher voltages than DC power, so energy transfers easier.
No, this isn’t about Optimus Prime and rock and roll. Transformers are the devices used for dropping AC’s voltage into the hundreds so it can power everyday electronics. Since the invention of transformers, AC has been the primary electricity source for grid energy.
The Resurgence of DC Current
As we move to a more climate/environment-friendly society, the increasing demand for electric vehicles and wind energy may lead the charge to a more DC-driven world.
In preparation for this shift, scientists are looking at ways to charge car batteries and other electric based appliances that utilize batteries as DC to DC and remove the inefficiencies of AC to DC charging.
But the two currents working together in harmony is a far more realistic solution to the issues we face today. To believe that we will wake up tomorrow to an entirely DC efficient world is absurd. But waking up to a world where AC and DC work together in a more energy-efficient world is realistic.
Going Off the Grid
Because the likelihood of providing gridless energy to mass populations is low, companies seek more viable options that reduce our dependence on the grid. These strategies reduce consumption and could potentially eliminate exorbitant electric company rates.
There are innovative storage inverter options that handle PV, grid, and battery connections all at once. Connecting these devices to the grid allows continuous power instead of peak power.
How GridZero Works
GridZero is an example of this future. In GridZero mode, the Radian inverter provides AC electricity while remaining connected to AC as a power source. GricZero uses as much battery based DC energy as possible. The only time the inverter draws AC is when the battery banks state of charge is too low.
Get Your GridZero Today!
As a society, we’ve come a long way since Edison was electrocuting animals for his gain. But there’s no doubt we need renewable alternative energy sources now more than ever. GridZero is a glimpse into the future of DC/AC harmony. Hopefully, one day we can live in a world where the difference between AC and DC doesn’t matter.
Click here to find out how that world looks!