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Part 1 of 4: AC / DC explained and No! It’s not the Aussie-Rock Band!

In this 4-part series of articles Greg Shaw, Managing Director, Solar Shop Hua Hin, explains by KISS (Keep it Simple): The difference between DC and AC power; The difference between 1 and 3-Phase; How do Solar PV Panels Work?; and What is a solar inverter? Stay tuned as there will be more articles to come to help you (and our customers at Solar Shop Hua Hin) understand solar systems. If you take the time to read this 4-part series you will be rewarded with a real-life practical conclusion which you will more fully understand. And that will brighten you day because knowledge is power!

PART 1: What is DC (direct current) and AC (alternating current) Power?

written by: Greg Shaw, Managing Director, Hua Hin Solar Co., Ltd.

You might wonder how a solar system works? Simply put, Solar Panels produce DC power when exposed to sunlight. The current flow (= electricity or power) is carried through wires from your house roof to either a Solar Charge Controller (a device used to charge up your deep cycle Solar Battery bank or your mobile phone) or a Solar Inverter (a device used to convert DC power into AC power).

But wait! What is DC and AC power?

The terms AC and DC may conjure up images of the Australian rock band AC/DC and seem at first confusing – but let me try to keep it as simple as can be. In DC, the electric charge (current) flows only in one direction. It is also worth noting here that common source of DC power are your everyday battery cells and yes that includes those AA, AAA, AAAA, C, D, and 9 Volt batteries commonly bought at your local convenience or hardware store.

In AC, the current changes regularly in cycles or intervals. The power from power lines and the power available in most domestic settings utilize AC power. AC power is used today because it is more effective in delivering electricity over longer distances. When it pertains to high voltages (over 110kV), less energy is lost in electrical power transmission. Put another way, the higher the voltage the lower electrical current. Lower currents result in less heat being generated and lost in power lines (due to resistance). AC can also be converted to and from high voltages easily using transformers.

It is worth noting that most of the appliances/devices in your household – toasters, refrigerators, fans, lights, air conditioners, pool pumps, TVs, computers, DVD players, and so on – are AC powered.

AC power is generally produced using an alternator. This is a special electrical generator which produces an Alternating Current. Wind turbines, steam turbines and flowing water are also commonly used in the production of AC power. AC can come in a variety of different forms. One such form is the sine wave – high quality electricity produced by the best solar inverters. The usual waveform of AC in most electric power circuits is a sine wave. AC waveforms may also include the square wave or triangle wave – but these “non-sinusoidal” waves are undesirable in terms of everyday use of the electricity in the household. A sine wave output is desirable as many electrical products work best with a sine wave AC power source. In fact studies in Europe have noted that appliances require less maintenance and last up to 50% longer when supplied with pure sine wave electricity – produced by the very good quality solar inverters sold by Hua Hin Solar.

Production of pure “sine-waveform” AC power is an important consideration worth noting when choosing your high quality and dependable solar inverter. Great track records (with excellent reviews), service (with quick replacement of the equipment if it breaks) and solid warrantees are also important criteria when choosing the right solar inverter.


Hua Hin Solar Co., Ltd., is Hua Hin’s largest and most dependable solar energy company. We provide exceptional products and services at affordable prices and we offer long-term customer care. Our Team is committed to using green solar and wind energy to help our retail customers and residential/business partners make the necessary transition towards energy independence. “We design and install affordable solar systems with the highest yields. For your free consultation contact us today at huahinsolar@gmail.com. If you have anything less than a great experience with Solar Shop Hua Hin please call my cell.” Greg, Managing Director, +66(0)89 824 1963.