Understanding the Difference between DC and AC Power

You might have heard of the two forms of electrical energy that we can receive in our homes. These are AC and DC, which stand for alternating current and direct current respectively. Here we shall take a brief look at what these terms mean and understand which we need for our purposes.

Alternating Current is what we get in our homes through the electrical mains. This form of electricity is generated by a device known as a dynamo or simply as AC generator. These generators produce electricity by the concept of electromagnetic induction in our generating stations and then transported in our homes through high-tension wires.

The current that we receive from our power sockets is AC. This is what drives most of the appliances in our house.

It is called AC because it has two half cycles, one positive and one negative, and they occur rapidly in alternation. The standard is 50 cycles per minute. It basically means that the direction of electricity keeps reversing these many times per minute. This is a safer form of electricity, because even if someone receives an electric shock during the positive cycle, they will be thrown away during the negative cycle.

However, it is because of this feature that AC cannot be used to provide a steady flow of current, and hence cannot be used for purposes such as charging cell phones and laptops. For that, we need to use adapters, which are basically devices that convert AC into DC.

Direct Current is the current that is generated through sources such as batteries and storage cells. This electricity is constant and keeps moving in one direction only.

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