To combine 2 DC power sources, you can diode OR them both together. You can't just directly connect them together because their voltage outputs may differ ever-so-slightly, leading to imbalanced currents as well, causing one generator to try and kill the other by driving current into it.

To passively balance the two DC sources, you can add 2 small (small resistance, high power) resistors, one in series with each of the loads, before or after the diode, before the junction of the two.

To actively balance the two DC sources you can use a microcontroller and control logic to PWM the side delivering more current until it delivers identical current to the side delivering less.

But...how the heck do you combine two AC power sources? It seems to me you'd have to synchronize the AC waveforms somehow. Let's look at solar panels on your roof. I hear some microinverters require "5 minutes to synchronize with your house mains power", meaning somehow they are doing this. But, how do you combine the two? If you put one AC wave from the house at 110V RMS on top of another AC wave from the solar panel at 110V RMS, you'd double the amplitude to an RMS of 220V, which seems wrong. If you put them out-of-phase you've just neutralized the AC mains power in your house, not added to it....so I don't get it. I have no idea how this works, how to approach the problem, or even how to conceptualize or think about the problem.

Sort of adjacently-related:

  1. https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/515204/how-does-an-ac-circuit-get-anything-done
  2. How do you determine the direction of AC current? (ex: whether your solar-powered house is drawing from the city power grid or adding to the grid)
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike Jun 29 '20 at 15:49

You have answered your own question. The AC sources MUST be synchronized before merging using fuses plus low-ohm resistors and high-current inductors (to allow slight shifts in phase and voltage). FIRST you must verify with a 2 channel oscilloscope that they are in phase, and the same voltage and current rating. The fuses or breakers sourcing each AC supply MUST have the same rating.

This means that separate AC sources need to come from the same breaker panel to have any chance of being in phase. The other option (mentioned by Peter Bennett) is expensive grid-tied inverters that will sync to the grid first before connecting to it. This allows multiple sources to feed a common grid, but this is expensive application-specific hardware.

If NOT in phase another safe option is to convert both to DC, then use synchronous inverters or just sum the DC currents to drive a bigger inverter ( which will require its own high-current breaker on the outputs). This is a place where caution must dominate your decisions, or things may go BANG and you get hurt.

You CAN dependably connect 2 AC sources IF they are synchronous or can be made synchronous in a given time period. It is assumed both sources are at about the same voltage level and can supply matching currents from sources of similar impedance. Else you cannot just merge 2 AC sources without validating the requirements I just mentioned.

Unless you NEED to have a single source of high AC current (such as running a high-powered arc welder) you are better off with lower current AC sources with safe and legit-sized breakers. Breakers ONLY stop wires from catching fire, if they have correct ampere ratings.

If a AC source is weak and dynamic such as solar cells piped through an inverter, they cannot be merged with conventional AC source that is stable. Dynamic(and uncontrolled)AC sources cannot be summed together due to backfeed and driver issues, but DC sources can.

  • \$\begingroup\$ A grid-tied inverter is often used to feed solar-produced power to the grid. Two independent AC sources can be combined if one source can be phase-controlled to remain in sync with the other source. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Bennett Jun 29 '20 at 3:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Peterbennett I thought my first paragraph covered that issue, but I might have muddied the issue with too many paragraphs. Thanks for that important detail. \$\endgroup\$ – user105652 Jun 29 '20 at 4:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but then your second paragraph states that spearate AC sources must come from the same breakere panel, which disagrees with the first paragraph. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Bennett Jun 29 '20 at 4:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Peterbennett I fixed that conundrum, and hope it is more clear. \$\endgroup\$ – user105652 Jun 29 '20 at 4:28

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