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High voltage

Electricity is the force behind the working of today’s world. Life without electricity cannot be imagined. Each and every item we use, every appliance, every communication with far off places; all of them function on electricity. When we say electricity what we actually mean is electric current or voltage. Electric current is the low of electric charge or to be more precise, the flow of electrons. Electric current depends on both the voltage and the resistance offered by the appliance in the circuit and it is the driving force for all electrical appliances. The London based electrical services firm, Astronic Limited explains the two forms of current, AC & DC and the basic difference between them. According to Astronic, AC and DC are used to denote the two different forms of voltage. So in order to study voltage, AC and DC have to be studied.


AC_currentAC stands for alternating current. It is the form of electric current which is required to power devices which require a large amount of current. AC is used for transmission of power across long power lines from one place to the other at a high voltage. This makes it easier for transmission and hence, the power supply in our homes is always AC. Power is stepped down by a transformer before being supplied. AC, when represented on a graph, shows a sinusoid waveform. This is because it is alternating, and oscillates periodically, travelling in both positive and negative direction. Thus AC changes its direction after every half cycle. Thus there are cycles of AC and the frequency is measured from the number of cycles completed per second. Since AC is easier to generate and transmit, it is mostly used for our modern network power grids.


DC_currentDC stands for direct current. It is used to power those appliances that require a very small amount of current, such as mobile phones. It is generally the form of electric energy stored in batteries. Any device that uses batteries thus uses DC. The characteristic feature of DC is that it travels in only one direction and that too at a steady state and hence the value of the voltage always remains the same. When represented on a graph, it shows a straight line. In large manufacturing stations, which generate their own power, DC is produced so as to power their own machinery. It is used in steel mills and aluminum mills.


The basic difference between the two forms is that AC changes its direction and magnitude of current whereas DC is constant in magnitude and travels in the same direction. Also, AC is the dominant power source due to easier generation and transmission through power lines. The shock from a DC is more harmful as there is a steady flow and the person cannot remove his hand whereas in the case of AC, the magnitude changes and hence the person may recover and remove his hand. AC and DC both are individually important and together power all our appliances and machinery.

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