What Is the Difference Between DC and AC Current?

Have you come across the abbreviations “DC’’ and “AC” and you don’t know the meaning? Then, you are not alone. Most people do not comprehend the meaning of DC and AC and other terms used in the electricity field.

DC stands for direct current, while AC stands for alternating current. Both terms describe the nature of flow of current in a circuit. In DC, the current or the electric charge flows in one direction. In AC the electric charge flows in different directions alternating, back and forth.

Electric terms can be confusing and overwhelming for lay persons.  In this article, let’s dive deeper into the world of electricity as we explore the terms, AC and DC. Let’s keep reading!

What is DC (Direct Current)?

Direct Current has a constant voltage and current. Unlike the AC, it does not oscillate back and forth between the positive and negative polarity. In DC, the electricity current flows in the same direction.

The DC is commonly used for running modern appliances and electronics. You can use an adapter or a rectifier to convert the AC power from the outlet to DC power for your electronics.

The DC source has two terminals, the positive and the negative and electricity flows in the same direction between the two terminals.

How Do Things Work with DC Current?

DC power is consistent. It does not change direction or fluctuate in polarity like the AC power.  DC has two poles, the positive and the negative. The current flows in one direction from the source of power to the battery and then to the appliance.

DC has a constant flow of electricity allowing it to charge solar batteries. Depending on your solar system, you can install the DC to DC converter for batteries. It helps in adjusting the voltage up and down to meet the device’s power requirements.

Pros of DC Power Current

  • Best for charging solar batteries and other battery types.
  • Suitable for solar power. The solar panels, through the photovoltaic effect, capture the DC electricity. The power is then converted into AC by using a power station or an inverter
  • DC generators have simple and straightforward design compared to AC
  • The current flows in the same direction which is consistent with the polarity. This makes it a stable source of power.
  • It is highly efficient in transmitting power over extremely long distances.

Cons of DC Power

  • It is less efficient than AC for various applications such as the use of electrical generators.
  • It cannot be used with a transformer. The DC cannot transmit high voltage through power lines.
  • It cannot effectively transmit power over an extremely long distance from a power station using HVDC.

What is AC (Alternating Current)?

Alternating Current is commonly used in homes and commercial buildings. Generating and transporting AC currents within short distances is easy. But first, let’s understand the concept of AC.

The Alternating Current does not flow in one direction. Unlike the DC that flows in a single direction, AC does not flow in a single direction. It periodically switches between negative and positive.

The act of switching the current direction is superfast. The current can switch up to 120 times per second.

Generating AC Current: How Do Things Work?

The AC current is generated using a device known as an alternator. An alternator is an electricity generator used for generating alternating current.

Traditionally, the AC is produced by mechanical generators that convert the kinetic, usually wind and hydroelectric energy and thermal, nuclear and fossil fuels into electricity.  The process of conversion is known as electromagnetic induction.

AC voltage changes the direction from positive to negative within a fixed interval which is measured in Hertz(Hz). An Hz is equivalent to one negative and positive cycle. Due to the rapid oscillation of the AC, it has been accepted as a global standard for electrical infrastructure.

Advantages of Alternating Current(AC)

  • Thinner power transmission cables are required for transmissions.
  • Less power is lost over a 1,000km/600 miles’ distance.
  • It is significantly cheaper to modify voltage in transformers compared to DC.
  • It is easy to interrupt AC connection using a circuit breaker or a fuse as compared to DC.
  • With AC currents, you don’t have to worry about household plugs whether they are negative or positive currents.

Disadvantages of Alternating Current (AC)

  • It has high voltages making it dangerous to work with.
  • It is less efficient in transmitting electricity over extremely long distances.

Comparison Table: Main Differences Between AC and DC Power

Alternating Current (AC)

Direct Current (DC)

Minimal power loss during long distance electricity transmission.

DC loses power on long distance transmission.

Rotating magnets results in multi-directional movement of power.

DC has steady magnets so electricity power flows in one direction.

The electrons in AC keep on changing directions; backwards and forward.

The electrons in DC move in one direction only; forward.

In most cases, the AC frequency is between 50 Hz or 60 Hz

DC does not have any frequency

AC or DC: Which One is Suitable for Solar Systems?

Solar panels generate the DC currents by use of the photovoltaic effect. When the sun hits the panels, it stimulates the movement of electrons in one direction, thus creating a DC.

Therefore, solar panels generate DC only and require the help of inverters. An inverter converts DC energy to AC energy to make the electricity usable at home or office.

What Do You Need to Convert Solar Energy into Electricity?

1. Solar Panels

The solar panels harness the solar energy by use of photovoltaic technology. Here are some of the best portable solar panels.

BLUETTI PV420 - 420W Solar Panel


  • High Conversion Rate

The PV420 features monocrystalline solar cells and boasts a high conversion rate of up to 23.4% with capability of capturing up to 2kWh of solar energy which is converted into DC electricity. With six hours of optimum sunlight, the panels can power nearly all your devices and appliances for hours.

  • Easy Portability

The PV420 is foldable and lightweight for easy portability. The folded size is 97.5 × 66.0 × 4.5 cm and weighs 14kg. You can carry this solar panel anywhere, thanks to its size and relatively lightweight.

  • Excellent Performance and Durability

The PV420 solar panel is fitted with a multi-layered ETFE coating to ensure higher light transmittance, longer lifespan and high efficiency. The ETFE coating is rated IP65 and it is capable of resisting scratches, dust, and water splash. The durability and highly resistant coating makes it ideal for outdoors.

  • Versatile

The PV420 comes with a solar connector and it can recharge various BLUETTI solar generators including the AC200P, AC300, AC200MAX, AC200MAX, and EP500 among other models.

BLUETTI PV350 – 350W Solar Panel


  • High Conversion Rate

The BLUETTI PV350 is a 350-Watt monocrystalline solar panel with a high conversion rate of 23.4%. The panels have 95% transparency which ensures optimum performance even in low light conditions.

  • Wide Compatibility

The PV350 comes with a MC4 connector which makes it compatible with several models of solar generators in the market. Some of the generators it is compatible with includes the BLUETTI AC300, AC200P, EB240, EP500 PRO, EP500, AC200 MAX among others.

  • High Durability

The PV350 panels are made with advanced technology and extremely durable ETFE material. It is long-lasting, has a high light transmittance rate and is easy to clean with a wet cloth and it is scratch-resistant. Although it is water resistant, do not soak or leave it under the rain.

  • Foldable and Portable

The PV350 solar panels are foldable, compact-size and easily portable. The folded size of the panel is 35.6 x 24.1 x 2.5 inches and weighs 30.61lbs. It allows you to conveniently access power anywhere.

2. An Inverter

To convert the solar power to an electric current, you need an inverter. The role of an inverter is to ensure the right current is set up for your use at home.

3.Batteries for Power Storage

You can store away all the excess solar power generated by your solar panels in a battery.  You can use the stored power for later use, especially on cloudy days or during emergencies. Here are some of the most efficient power stations for power storage:



  • Expandable Power

The AC200 MAX power station is the BLUETTI’S first expandable station featuring 2,048Wh LiFePO4 cells and a 2,200W pure sine wave inverter. Suitable for powering your home or for outdoors.

  • Flexible Power

You will no longer struggle with power and flexibility using AC200 Max. It has two expansion ports allowing you to connect battery modules such as 2 x B230’s at 2048Wh each or 2 x B300 at 3072Wh each boosting your capacity up to 8192Wh.

  • Versatile Charging

The AC200 MAX allows several charging methods, allowing up to 500W with adapter and 900W using solar. Additionally, you can simultaneously recharge it using solar panels or a wall outlet for up to 1400W charging rate in just two hours. You can charge in seven different modes via solar, AC, lead battery, car, Dual AC, and AC + Solar.

  • Several Output Ports

The power station has 16 outlets allowing you to charge your devices and power your appliances simultaneously without a struggle.  It features the 12V 30A super powerful DC outlet and the in-built 30A NEMA TT-30 outlet. Other ports are the AC, carport, 100W PD, USB and wireless charging pads.

BLUETTI AC300 + B300 Home Battery Backup


  • Expandable Power Supply

AC 3000 is BLUETTI’s first modular station with a 3000W inverter. You can connect external battery packs such as the B300 to boost its power capacity to 12,288Wh. With such high power capacity, it is capable of handling all your power needs.

  • Fast Charging

You can charge the AC300 and B300 in just 1.5 hours using 30A AC charging cable. Also, it allows for dual charging by 1800W AC and 2400W PV to achieve a maximum 3000W input.

  • 16 Output Ports

The battery pack has several output ports for recharging and powering your devices simultaneously. Some of the ports include the 3000W USB, USB-C, USB-A, NEMA TT-30, 30A RV port, carport, and a wireless charging port.

  • 24/7 EPS Home Backup

You can tie the battery pack to your home grid power system, so that whenever there is a black out, you will still have access to power.

Versatile Recharging- You can charge the battery pack using solar panels, wall outlet, generator, car, or lead-acid battery. Allows you to access power anywhere anytime.

Final Thoughts

It is crucial for you to understand basic electricity concepts such as DC, AC, Watts, and voltage among others. As discussed above, the difference between AC and DC currents is the direction of the flow of electrons. In AC, the electrons flow interchangeably forward and backward. 

In DC, the electrons flow in a single direction.  Both currents, although distinct in their applications and characteristics, play a vital role in providing power. Reading the above article will shed a light on their characteristics and roles.