What is the Difference between AC and DC power?

electric polesIn today’s inventory of power choices of AC, DC, car phone chargers, rechargeable batteries, wireless chargers, solar cells … the list keeps growing. No longer is it only a choice between plugging it into the wall or going to the corner store to buy a few AA batteries. Have you often wondered what makes AC and DC power so different from each other?

AC = Alternating Current, DC = Direct Current.

Direct Current is the tried and true way to receive power. It can always be available, as long as you remember to have enough of them available. It is safe to use with no accidental surprises or storm delays.

Alternating Current allows us to enjoy the modern convenience of electrical outlets in our home and anywhere that we can plug into along the way. It requires no work in advance. It is available when we need it.

While the power of DC is a set amount that always flows in one direction, AC (alternating current) is constantly changing the direction of the flow of energy. This is what allows vast amounts of electric to travel from power stations, through transformers and finally into our homes.

Magic of Electricity

I hope we all know the perils of a downed power line. It is a prime example of the possible dangers of electricity. It is with the use of alternating current that we are able to harness that power.

High voltages of power are delivered from power plants to a transformer. That “transforms” that huge amount of voltage into reasonable voltages that can be used in our homes with the use of alternating current. That is why, when a transformer blows, the electricity can destroy the appliances in your home—they received too much electricity.

Outlets in U.S. homes are 120-volt and 60-cycle. 60-cycle means the current alternates direction 60 times per second. This enables the AC to be able to then distribute that power into small manageable amounts.

While electricity is truly a wonder of science, it can also be a home nightmare when not treated with respect. Douthit Electric has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need help with your electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


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