Head of R&D
Director of Installers
AC Solar Panels vs. DC Solar Panels
April 6, 2019
Today’s livestream is about AC Solar Panels and DC Solar Panels. This video also breaks down the differences between these solar panels and lists down the best practices for pairing solar panels and batteries.
What Are AC Solar Panels?
Generally, all solar panels generate DC power. In order to power the appliances at home, the DC power generated by the solar panels is then converted into AC power by an inverter that is connected to the solar panel during the installation.
An AC solar panel, on the other hand, comes with an in-built inverter, that is often referred to as micro-inverter. The conversion of energy from DC to AC happens right underneath the panels due to the built-in micro inverters. Unlike the centralized inverter systems where an inverter is attached as a separate unit, AC panels and the micro-inverters eliminate the disadvantage of voltage drop.
There are many companies in the market that manufactures AC modules. Some of the popular options are:
Enphase is the inverter that is essentially installed on these AC modules. Enphase is a popular name in the solar industry and in most of the cases, one has to buy that product separately from the solar panel. But with the above three manufacturers, they have some options that actually have built-in Enphase inverters.
In most cases, AC solar panels are viewed as new technology. In fact, it is more like a streamlined way of presenting the same technology.
What Are DC Solar Panels?
- DC Solar panels are the traditional panels. We might see the same names that are there on the AC list – SunPower, Panasonic, Solaria, Q Cells, and tons of other brands are available in the market.
- These panels can work with not only Enphase, but with other inverters such as Solar Edge, SMA, and a lot of other ones that are available in the market.
- This gives the panels a little more flexibility in terms of which inverters they can operate.
Solar Panels – Pairing with Batteries:
- The battery is the biggest factor when you are considering solar. The model of the panel you get can dictate what kind of battery you pair it with.
- Some battery systems would be DC-coupled systems. Example of such a system is LG Chem Battery. If you want to get an LG Chem Battery you would have to have a DC Solar panel. This is because you need to have a SolarEdge storage inverter which you couldn’t have that with an AC panel as it already has an built-in Enphase micro-inverter. So, if you want to go with the LG Chem Battery, you would need to go with one of DC solar panels so you can install the proper inverter for it to work together.
- The ideal goal is to have one inverter in the whole process and that’s why some batteries would work and some batteries wouldn’t work.
- DC Solar panels give you the flexibility to work with other battery systems like Tesla Powerwall, Sonnen, etc.
Pros and Cons: Efficiency Between These Batteries
It all depends on the solar panel itself. Let us consider two scenarios—you have a SunPower DC panel paired with a SolarEdge, versus a SunPower AC module paired with the Enphase micro-inverter. There shouldn’t be any real significant differences with the efficiencies of the batteries. It all depends on the solar panel but not on the battery.