Alternating currnet (AC) vs. direct current (DC)

Photovoltaics generate direct current power, but the U.S. electric grid uses alternating current. How does this all work?

Photovoltaic cells (silicon) convert sunlight (radiation) to Direct Current (DC) electricity, the same type of electricity that is produced by a standard battery. Wikipedia defines DC as the unidirectional flow of electric charge, whereas in alternating current (AC), the type of current used in the U.S. electrical grid, the flow of electric charge periodically reverses direction. Since our homes and businesses are only capable of consuming AC power, the electricity generated by a solar system needs to be converted from DC to AC. This is accomplished through the use of inverters, as shown in the pictures below. The Slayton Solar Project uses two (2) – 500 kW inverters and two (2) – 333 kW inverters in order to convert the electricity generated from DC to AC. For more information about this process, visit the resources section on the right side of this page.

Crews place the equipment skid during construction. This skid houses all of the system's inverters.
The equipment skid not only is the central location for all inverters, but it houses the transformers and disconnect switches as well.


Below are some links to useful resources to learn more about the solar energy industry, solar research and other links we think you might find useful.

For additional resources relating to distributed generation solar, please visit the Performance Page of this website.