A solar inverter converts the electricity from your solar panels (DC, or direct current) into power that can be used by the plugs in your house for your TV, computer, and other wired products (AC, or alternating current). Panels can’t create AC power by themselves; they need the helping hand of a solar inverter.
In DC power, the current of electricity flows in one direction. In AC power, the current moves in both directions along a wire– both forwards and backwards. Some products, like lightbulbs, can run on either DC or AC power. But because AC power can be sent long distances easily, electricity networks in the U.S. were set up to use AC. (AC electricity can easily change between higher and lower voltage levels, and high voltages allow long-distance transmission).
Yes. Phones, TVs, computers, and many other common products use DC power, and actually have to convert AC power back to DC power. That’s what’s happening in the little black ‘brick’ attached to your laptop’s power cord. Because the U.S. grid is set up for AC power, the things we buy are made to work using AC power. The DC power created by your solar panels is converted into AC power by your inverter in order to be compatible with the grid, and then back to DC by the power supply on your electronics. Ironic? Yes. This isn’t this case in all countries; some use DC networks. Since we live in the U.S., we need inverters.
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