If into renewable energy, electric vehicles or power electronics, perhaps you've heard of the term DC to AC converter or inverter. It's a device that can change or convert the nature of electricity delivered from Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC). Electricity can be delivered in two different ways - DC and AC, along with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we are going to let you know what the DC and AC are, how they differ from one another, how to switch one for another, the need to make such a conversion, as well as when you need a DC to an AC inverter.
How Does DC Work?
Direct Current (DC) is a type of electrical power of the characteristic of electric charge flowing in one direction. It is generated at the generator point, where a wire coil is rotating inside a magnetic field. Because of this motion, the electrons flow steadily in one direction from the generator through the circuit, powering devices on its path, and making a return to complete the circuit.
Such factors as friction and heat producing the sparks as well as energy loss may impair the efficiency of DC power generation. The flow produced is a direct amount corresponding to the speed of its rotation and should be at an even level in order for the gadgets not to blow or underfunction.
In the earlier years when DC power was included in the grid, several electrical providers used to generate their own voltages that the companies used to run different appliances at different voltages and now this is a history with modern power systems.
How Does AC Work?
Alternating Current (AC) simply refers to an electrical power defined by a flow of electrons oscillating backward and forwards in the wire. This is because most AC setups generating power make use of a magnet that spins within a coil of wire. During its rotation, its poles then alternately push and pull electrons in the coil to develop a current that alternates sinusoidally with time.
Its flexibility in AC is in its ability to vary the distance separating the sine wave's peaks and valleys thus changing the final current according to the demands. This flexibility allows devices having different voltages to be able to tap from one AC source. However, a drawback is the power loss when AC needs to be converted back to DC at the point of use.
Differences Between DC and AC
The two basic types of an electric current are the Direct Current (DC) and Alternating Current (AC). One carries the continuous flow of electrons in one direction oscillating with the second, while the other alternates with the oscillation of the electrons. Unlike DC, which has a zero frequency due to its unidirectional flow, this oscillation in AC is defined by a frequency.
The AC power factor ranges between 0 to 1, while the DC power factor is zero all the time. The alternators generate AC, and DC is produced through photovoltaic cells, generation, and batteries. DC load is at all times resistive, whereas in the case of AC, it may be capacitive, inductive, or resistive load.
Graphically, DC is charted as a flat line showing that the magnitude and direction of current remains constant. On the other hand, AC can be charted as a sinusoidal, square or triangular wave. A converter known as a rectifier converts AC to DC and the reversibility is done by an inverter.
AC is prevalent in industrial equipment and household appliances, while DC is common in small electronic devices. Some losses may be sustained in transmission over long distances while some loss also is incurred on AC systems that operate at High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission over long distances.
How to Convert DC to AC
An inverter is a device that changes straight Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC). The AC voltage comes out with an opposite voltage level as the one from the rectifier, which is used to convert AC to DC. Inverters, which are most commonly used today, are electronic.
The concept that they can convert power between the two forms gives the ability to operate any device with ease. They function by steadily switching the AC output source from a DC one that is made possible through the internal capacitors and inductors. The current source voltage for use by the power-receiving equipment is staged by an inverter transformer. It is worth noting that since there is normally some energy lost in the process of conversion, the output power should be lower in magnitude than the input power.
In most cases, inverters are generally large and heavy, especially those which have built-in battery packs for purposes of operating in an independent manner. They also produce a lot of heat that has to be conducted away from the inverter to avoid damaging it with excessive heat. This increases their size and weight. But irrespective of the size and weight, inverters are a very important part of our electrical systems.
Why Is DC to AC Conversion Necessary?
Major two reasons why there arises a need to convert Direct Current (DC) into Alternating Current (AC) is storage and voltage consistency. DC can be stored unlike AC, making it ideal for the storage of electrical energy. It is for this reason that a large majority of digital devices very basically use DC as most of them are energized by stored power.
Another equally significant point to mention would be that of voltage uniformity. A DC supply will release uniform voltage, while alternating the AC, and this may prove a problem to some devices, for instance, LED bulbs that need steady voltages in order to function quite well. Still, our main power grids are at the moment almost totally run on AC due to its good efficiency in long-distance travel.
Therefore, the translation between DC to AC is essential when we want to use power that has been stored or rather to draw power from a DC source such as solar panels into the AC based power system. The intention of this conversion is to make the power supplied compatible and hence enable various applications of electricity for an effective use.
Related articles: Everything You Need to Know about DC to AC Converter
Do I Need a DC to AC Converter for an Inverter?
If your power source is based on solar or battery, and so requires DC, and the appliances require AC, then inevitably a DC to AC converter, also known as an inverter is bound to be required. The inverter is to 'invert' the DC into AC, then it will be compatible with your power source and appliances. It is one important process particularly when talking about off-grid homes or businesses relying on the power banks or batteries that get used.
When do you need a DC to AC inverter?
Inverters or rather, DC to AC converters, are present all over in our day-to-day life. They form one of the integral parts of power required for running all our piles of electronic gadgets that work on Direct Current (DC). When charging your phone or laptop, you're using a micro-inverter to convert the wall plug Alternating Current (AC) to DC.
So if one wants to power regular appliances that work on AC from a solar panel or any battery, then there is a common need for having an inverter. However, in most of the appliances, it is designed only to work with DC eliminating the need for a DC to AC converter when your energy source is nothing but DC like in case of a camper van or an off-grid system.
Let's now go through two top-rated solar panels, both using an Inverter:
- PV420 Solar Panel. The BLUETTI PV420 solar panel is strong and has a high conversion, up to 23.4%. Its installation is easy with the kickstand and it’s long-lasting while being also splash-proof. It’s foldable and thus it’s convenient for movement, hence can be utilized in different terms. It is fast-charge enabled with 420W of solar power. Its long durability is due to the ETFE coating. It works well with AC200P, AC200MAX, AC300, AC500, and EP500Pro, all from the BLUETTI brand.
- PV350 Solar Panel. Another best option, the BLUETTI PV350, comes with a kickstand. It features a great conversion rate. Just like PV420, it’s foldable, splash-proof, durable, and portable. Its setup is easy and quick. The device can be used perfectly well with AC180, AC200P, AC200MAX, AC300, AC500, and EP500Pro all from BLUETTI. Despite its slightly lower power output compared to the PV420, it still offers efficient performance.
DC to AC conversion is an important process in which electricity of different types can be used for different purposes. The use of a device known as an inverter can change the alternating current to the direct one or the direct current to the alternating. By this, you will be able to power your systems, devices, and appliances with suitable voltage and frequency. Compared to all the application areas using renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines to produce DC power, special importance goes to DC to AC conversion. The excessive power can be stored in a battery and utilized through an inverter when you are in need of such power. DC to AC conversion can also improve the efficiency and reliability of your electrical system.