What is AC and DC Power? A Thorough Explanation

How is electricity generated?

Electricity is the flow of electrons between two points and is generated via the manipulation of magnetic fields. This phenomenon, discovered by Michael Faraday in the early 1800s, is known as electro-magnetism and is one of the fundamental forces of the physical world. Faraday’s method of generating electricity by rotating metallic discs or loops of wire between the poles of a magnet is the primary means of generating electricity today.

How is electricity distributed?

While electricity is simple to generate, it can be very difficult to distribute. To transfer the electricity generated at a power plant to wherever the generated electricity is required, electrical grids are used. These grids are usually centralized networks of insulated cables that transfer electricity as either a direct current (DC) or an alternating current (AC).

What is AC and DC power?

AC and DC power are the methods in which electricity is transferred. A direct current transmits electricity in only one direction and at a constant voltage whereas an alternating current alternates the direction and voltage of a current between the point of generation and the point of consumption. Both methods are used in the generation and distribution of electricity.

How is DC power used?

DC transmission systems were developed in the late 1800s by Thomas Edison and was the first system of distributing electricity over long distances. Currently, it is the method used both at the point of generation and the point of consumption. While initially it was used to also transfer electricity between the point of generation and the point of consumption, it was quickly rendered obsolete by AC systems as a means of distributing electricity.

How is AC power used?

Alternating current, first developed by Hippolyte Pixii in the in the early 1800s, was repeatedly modified and improved by contributions from numerous individuals including Nikola Tesla and Carl Wilhelm Siemens, eventually replacing Edison’s direct current system as the primary means of power distribution. Because the voltage, and thus the amount of electricity, that is lost during transfer as distances increase placed critical limitations on what could be done using direct current, the ability of alternating current to increase or decrease the voltage of an electric current through the use of transformers, thus allowing electricity to be transferred over great distances without substantial loss, ensures that AC will remain the dominant means of transmitting electricity across the electrical grid.

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