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Alternating current AC

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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alternating current AC

alternating current AC and direct current DC

Alternating current (green curve). The horizontal axis measures time; the vertical, current or voltage.

Alternating current (AC), is an electric current in which the flow of electric chargeperiodically reverses direction, whereas in direct current (DC, also dc), the flow of electric charge is only in one direction. The abbreviations AC and DC are often used to mean simply alternating and direct, as when they modify current or voltage.[1][2]

AC is the form in which electric power is delivered to businesses and residences. The usual waveform of alternating current in most electric power circuits is a sine wave. In certain applications, different waveforms are used, such as triangular orsquare waves.

Audio and radio signals carried on electrical wires are also examples of alternating current. These types of alternating current carry information encoded (or modulated) onto the AC signal, such as sound (audio) or images (video). These currents typically alternate at higher frequencies than those used in power transmission.

Transmission, distribution, and domestic power supply[edit]

Electric power is distributed as alternating current because AC voltage may be increased or decreased with a transformer. This allows the power to be transmitted through power lines efficiently at high voltage, which reduces the power lost as heat due to resistance of the wire, and transformed to a lower, safer, voltage for use. Use of a higher voltage leads to significantly more efficient transmission of power. The power losses (P_{\rm L}

) in a conductor are a product of the square of the