What is the difference between AC and DC in terms of Solar Panels?

What is the difference between AC and DC in terms of Solar Panels?

It is a known fact that investing in solar energy can largely reduce the average household solar bill. Taking into consideration the climate of the area also assists in determining the effectiveness of solar energy. Australia overall is known for its generally warm and temperate climate and absorbency to light most of the year, making it perfect for people who want to invest in a solar system to generate electricity and reduce their average electricity bills.

One of the first choices you have to make while buying solar panels is the type of solar panel to invest in. You don’t always need to know the fundamentals of electricity or solar power to find the best solar panels. However, it is always a good idea to do your  research and to be aware of the differences between AC and DC solar panels so that you can make the right choice based on your specific needs and household requirements. Your local solar experts at Sunface Solar can help you with any questions you may have about your future solar system.

The Basics of AC And DC

Direct Current (DC) and Alternating Current (AC) refer to the two forms of the flow of electrons that provide electricity. The rate of flow of electric charge determines the current flow rate through your electrical appliances throughout your household.  

Direct current flows in one direction only. Alternating current, on the other hand, frequently changes direction.  The alternating current can flow in a back-and-forth direction while the electrons continue to convey energy to the appliances.

A simpler way to understand the difference between AC and DC is to visualise the flow of electric current through a graph. When graphed, the DC current looks like a flat line while the AC current produces a wave-like pattern.

How Do AC and DC Affect Your Decision to Buy Solar Panels

How Do AC and DC Affect Your Decision to Buy Solar Panels?

Coming back to solar panels, these devices produce electricity by absorbing sunlight with photovoltaic cells. As the panels absorb the sunlight, the current of electricity flows to an inverter to be switched from DC energy to usable AC energy.

This marks the importance of the conversion of current from one form to another when you are using solar panels. Solar panels supply electricity to different appliances within your home that are run on AC energy.

The inverters can convert DC energy into AC energy so that it can be used in your home to run appliances.

This means if you choose DC solar panels, you will need to make an additional investment in inverters so that it is compatible for us on your home appliances.

While the standardised solar system setup is effective, we ask the question if there is another option. All solar systems function the same way, however modern technologies are currently developing and new ways to generate solar panels are being created.

What are AC Solar Panels

What are AC Solar Panels?

As previously discussed, traditional solar panels produce electricity in DC energy form and this current gets converted to AC energy by means on an inverter.

‘AC solar panels’ however are not a new invention. Created in the early 1990’s, AC solar panels were the result of earlier advancements to try and increase output and minimise downtime on solar systems. This was arguably way before its time and way before the available technology and as a result, early AC solar panel systems had a high price and were questioned for their reliability.

So, what is an AC solar panel? While the construction of the actual panel remains the same, AC solar panels have a small inbuilt microinverter, which means that each panels’ electricity production is independent to all the other panels within the system. This avoids the need for the string series set up that traditional solar systems utilise.

The benefits of AC setups

There are many benefits to having this microinverter setup for your solar system. When utilising different types of panels, microinverters can adapt to individual panel characteristics and still function properly, avoiding mismatching which occurs on a traditional panel setup. AC panel systems are easier to detect faults as each panel has their own output which can be monitored, are easier systems to extend on if future demand increases and can be orientated basically anyway without affecting the panels functionality.

While the system setup does have many benefits, it does carry heavy disadvantages which include; higher pricing, lower efficiency and location of the inverter on the actual roof, meaning maintenance and upgrades are harder, just to name a few.

Consult an Expert


Whichever choice of solar system you purchase, the choice to invest in solar energy is a positive one. Fully understanding the variety of solar systems out there means that you are more equipped to choose a system that is suited to your household or commercial energy demands. Always consult an expert before making the decision to install solar in your home.

Contact our knowledgeable and friendly team at Sunface Solar to discuss your new solar panel installation.


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