Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
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Despite the raging battle of currents back in the 1880s, both AC and DC powers are necessary for our daily lifestyles. Most homes today run on AC power, but thanks to the rise of renewable energy sources, especially solar power, DC generators and appliances are becoming more prevalent. So, one question arises, is it possible to design a home with only DC appliances?
You can design a home with only DC appliances. In fact, you may already have DC appliances at home, ranging from your lighting to your washer. Today, 40% of the copper used in America is used in buildings and houses to convert the distributed AC power into DC to run most of your appliances.
In this article, you’ll learn more about how a home can run solely with DC-powered appliances. Furthermore, you can also see how a DC-powered home can benefit you and how you can make the change from AC to DC.
Can You Use Only DC Appliances at Home?
You absolutely can use only DC appliances at home. In fact, you probably already do. Despite having AC power distributed to your home, most of your appliances likely use an inverter/adapter to rectify it to DC power. This is because DC power is safer and more stable for powering various devices.
For this reason, you should have no problem designing a home with only DC appliances.
In fact, you can also design a completely DC-powered home. Switching to a DC grid will be more convenient if you’re using renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, to power your home.
Additionally, using DC power is also an excellent option if you have a small, low-voltage home that’s entirely run on a battery system.
The Benefits of Designing a DC-Powered Home
Switching to using only DC appliances at home offers various benefits, including:
Higher Efficiency – DC power is significantly more energy-efficient compared to AC power.
Electronic equipment and appliances mostly run on DC. When your home uses AC power, electricity will be converted to DC before it powers your home appliances. During this process, there is a power loss of 5% to 20%.
When you switch to using only DC power at home, you can eliminate these conversion losses. Thus, your household’s energy usage will become more efficient.
Lower Electricity Bills – Having a DC-powered house will also help lower your electricity bills in the long run.
Since DC is far more energy-efficient, running your household solely on DC will reduce your electricity usage. By making the switch, you can save up to 30% on your electricity bills.
Better Option To Pair With Clean Energy Sources – Thinking of becoming self-sufficient and using clean energy sources? DC power will be the best option as it’s easier to set up and more efficient when storing excess energy.
Motorhome owners and those who live off-grid have already been implementing this for years. However, with technological advances, even on-grid homes can now comfortably use DC grids paired with clean energy sources.
As solar panels and other renewable energy sources become more accessible, transitioning to DC power will be even easier and cheaper in the future.
Things to Consider When Making the Switch to DC
Thinking of making the switch to DC? Designing a new house with DC appliances will be easier since you don’t have to worry about the “inherited” AC power distributed to most homes.
That said, you can still make the switch with your current AC-powered home, though it will be more complex and slightly pricier.
You can start by installing a DC grid system in your home. Once you do so, here are some things you need to pay attention to.
Lights – Are you using LED lights at home? If so, then you’re already using DC power for your lighting system. In most cases, LEDs consume DC power to produce light because AC power will cause the LED to blink on and off.
For this reason, lighting should be the least of your worries when it comes to designing a DC-powered home.
Appliances – As mentioned earlier, many of your home appliances, such as your TV and washing machine, are probably already using DC. Electronic devices usually need an inverter/adapter to rectify AC to DC power to function.
So, you could operate your new DC-powered appliances with no problem. Additionally, using DC appliances and lighting will save you approximately 30% on your electricity bills.
In general, energy-saving appliances with little AC motors can be switched to DC brushless motors. This is especially beneficial when applied to heating and cooling devices, such as fans, heaters, and air conditioners.
Heating and cooling appliances usually take the biggest share of a household’s energy use, reaching roughly around 43% of a household’s annual energy spending. So, using DC-powered heating and cooling appliances will save you more money in the long run.
Use a Converter To Power AC Appliances – There is a chance that some appliances will not be available in DC. Additionally, you may still want to keep some of your old AC-powered devices, especially if they are sentimental items.
In that case, you shouldn’t worry – you can still run them in your DC-powered home.
Your solution is to get a nice DC-AC converter, such as this HQST 1100 Watt Power Converter from Amazon.com. With a built-in cooling fan and automatic shutdown, this sturdy inverter will let you use your AC appliances safely, even after making the switch to a DC grid.
Once you get a DC-AC converter, you can directly plug in your old AC appliances, and they’re good to go!
It is possible to design a home using only DC appliances. It’s even easier to do so if you live off-grid, have a small or low-voltage house, or use renewable energy sources to power your home.
Designing a DC-powered home is easier if you’re building it from the ground up. However, making the switch with your current AC-powered home is also possible, though it is also a pricier and more complex process. That said, while designing a DC-powered house may initially be more costly than a regular AC-powered home, you’ll be saving a lot more money in the long run!
- California Polytechnic State University: DC House Modeling and System Design
- MDPI: Towards DC Energy Efficient Homes
- CEPro: Time to Ditch 120V AC? How a Low-Voltage, DC-Powered Home Might Work
- Chris Gammell’s Analog Life: Can DC power an entire home?
- Treehugger: The Home of Tomorrow Will Run on Direct Current
- ACEEE: Demand DC: Adoption Paths for DC Power Distribution in Homes
- EDN: How do we get to a DC-powered home?
- Electrical Industry: 9 Reasons Why DC May Replace AC
- Backwoods Solar: When to Use DC Appliances and Voltage Converters
- 12V Monster: How to Reduce Your Financial Liability To Power Companies?
- Youtube: Why Use AC Instead of DC at Home?
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