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AC appliances: can these be powered with solar energy?

An AC appliance can not directly be powered with DC generated from solar panels. However an inverter can easily convert DC to AC power.

Can I use normal 110V / 120V / 220V AC appliances when I generate power with solar?

Electricity generated by a solar panel is DC (Direct Current) in nature. The term Direct Current is used when the flow of electrical charge is unidirectional and is different from Alternating Current, where, as the name signifies, the current reverses its direction after every set time interval.

Most of our household appliances require AC Power.

AC power is flexible and can be transformed to different voltage levels using a step up transformer (to increase the voltage level) or a step down transformer (to decrease the voltage level).

This is the main reason why household appliances like ovens, toaster, light bulbs, fans etc. use AC Power. Even the loads that require DC power (laptops, cell phones, batteries, etc.) have an inbuilt converter in its adaptor for conversion of AC Power to DC.

Use of inverter in solar power systems

An appliance that is designed to be used for AC power cannot be used with DC power. There are various power electronics devices such as inverters that easily convert DC power to AC power.

Even though solar panels produce DC power, you could still use all of your normal 110V / 120V /220V AC appliances by using an inverter.

An inverter is an electronic device that produces AC Power as its output whenever DC Power is provided at its input.

The inverter, by itself, does not generate any power. It is always required to have a DC generating device (such as a solar panel) at its input and an AC consuming load (normal 120VAC household appliance) at its output end.

Inverters are nowadays affordable

With the advancement of technology and Chinese manufacturers producing inverters on large scale, the cost of an inverter has dropped significantly over the past decade.

In a typical off grid solar system installation, the inverter is connected to the battery banks at one end and to the loads on other.

Conclusion

To conclude, by installing an inverter, you can use all 120/220 VAC appliances efficiently and easily. When you’re planning to go solar, there is absolutely no need to rewire and change your appliances.

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