Almost everything nowadays operates on electricity. The modern conveniences that drive our world depend on electricity. Without a constant supply, our world grinds to a halt, as massive blackouts have proven in the past. Electricity has two forms in modern electronics: AC and DC.
AC [alternating current], is most frequently used in devices that require high amounts of power to operate.
DC [direct current], is more commonly found in devices requiring smaller amounts of power to operate.
Understanding AC vs. DC
DC was the original electricity that was created by Thomas Edison. This style of electricity sends a current in only a single direction, from a power source and to the power source again in a loop. Today, DC is used to power electronics that require batteries. Any device in your home that uses batteries uses DC current. Interesting to note, if your battery is plugged in to the power supply to recharge, it transforms AC current into DC.
Direct current is also used in manufacturing situations where electricity is generated on site for personal use. Factories and mills that require vast amounts of energy often create their own DC current to power their machinery. Most commonly, DC is found in steel mills, aluminum production, and is used to power mass transportation in large urban centers in the form of electric streetcars.
AC power is easier to generate, which is why we use it as our standard electricity nowadays. The alternating current design allows energy to flow in both directions, making electricity easier to create and use in society. Regardless of where the current is moving, it is always moving in both directions at once. This results in current being present at every point in the power grid at every time as long as the connection to the generation unit is intact. The power that comes from the power plants, down the lines to our homes, is always AC in nature, thanks to the way our modern power grid is set up.
The power grid operates by creating AC current and sending it down the power lines. This current can be at whatever intensity the power company chooses.
Frequently, the electricity coming from these lines is far too powerful to be used in our homes. The transformers that we see on power poles transform the electricity from its high-powered state into something that our homes can use. Without the transformers, we wouldn’t be able to use the power that our society depends on.
Regardless of the style that we use in our devices and our homes, electricity plays an important role in society. Without both AC and DC electricity, we wouldn’t have those things that make modern life as comfortable as it is.