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Are there Advantages of Using Alternating Current?

Have you ever wondered what the two brightest minds during the industrial revolution, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla fought about?

It is about which kind of electric current is better – direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC). In the end, Tesla won with his AC because of its advantage of transmitting power over a great distance. From then on, houses are using AC to light up their homes and keep their appliances rolling. 

What is Electric Current?

Electric current is the flow of electrons over a conductor – most likely a wire. Just like how water flows, electricity also flows depending on its voltage and charge. Electric current can move in one direction, or it can oscillate in alternate directions. 

What are the Two Kinds of Electric Current?

The two kinds of electric current differ through their direction flow. The direct current allows electrons to flow in only one direction. In a closed DC circuit, electrons travel from the negative terminal of the battery to the positive terminal of the battery. It mostly runs on electronics with batteries like your laptops and mobile devices.

On the other hand, the alternating current allows electrons to oscillate in alternate directions. As they move back and forth, it creates a frequency which is cycles per second or hertz (Hz) – the unit for electric current. Houses receive this frequency through power transmissions, most countries, including Australia, use 50 Hz as frequency value.

What are the Advantages of Alternating Current?

Most appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, and dishwashers use AC, even your power outlet itself is using it to supply your electrical needs. Below are the reasons why AC runs most of your household: 

  • AC transmits electricity efficiently

Power companies mainly use AC to supply residential houses because it is more efficient than the use of DC. 

They waste less power in electricity transmission as they could easily adjust voltages with transformers. The transformer increases the voltage supply before transmission so power suppliers can minimise the loss of energy, then it decreases the voltage supply before people can consume it.

  • AC is cheaper 

It is cheaper to build power transmitters generating AC in long-distance than to build power transmitters generating DC in short-distance.  

  • AC can convert DC

Most battery devices like your laptops and mobile devices, run on DC. On the other hand,  AC runs your home’s outlets because power companies exclusively supply them for domestic use. So how can you power up DC appliances given that AC runs the house? 

It is good then that AC can easily convert DC through a rectifier. As you can notice on your laptops and mobile devices, an AC adapter has a rectifier as well as a transformer to convert AC to DC. But unlike the other way around, DC is hard to convert to AC.

Anyways, AC powers most of your appliances and devices, so it is more clearly an advantage that they run your home.

  • AC generates power through AC generators

AC generators convert mechanical energy into electrical energy specifically into AC. When a coil of wires rotates around two magnets with opposite poles inside the generator, it produces AC. Generators can temporarily power your appliances when a blackout happens. 

  • AC powers up your appliances

Motors mostly function with AC only, and the majority of your appliances run through motors. They convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, and this is how your fan rotates to give you air, how your mixer grinds your food, and how your washing machine cleans your clothes. 

Conclusion

Alternating current has a lot of advantages for domestic use. It is efficient not only for the users but for power suppliers as well. It transmits power from the supply over greater distances, consumes less energy in transmission, cheaper cost-production, and is flexible for appliance use. It has the edge in supplying your house’s electrical needs. 

As AC also runs most residential houses in Sydney, it is important to know if your wiring and outlets are in good condition for your safety. We at Sydney Inner West Electricians can check your outlets and wiring with our Level 2 Electricians. Don’t you worry about having an electrical emergency late at night as we are available 24/7! Call us at (02) 8378 2829 or visit our website to book an appointment. 

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