What is the difference between AC and DC currents?


Alternating current :

Alternating current (AC), is an electric current in which the flow of electric charge periodically reverses direction, whereas in direct current (DC, also dc), the flow of electric charge is only in one direction. AC is the form in which electric power is delivered to businesses and residences, and it is the form of electric power that consumers typically use when they plug kitchen appliances, televisions and electric lamps into a wall socket. A common example of DC power is a battery cell in a flashlight. The abbreviations AC and DC are often used to mean simply alternating and direct, as when they modify current or voltage.

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 or square 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.

Direct current :

Direct current (DC) is the unidirectional flow of electric charge. Direct current is produced by sources such as batteries, power supplies, thermocouples, solar cells, or dynamos. Direct current may flow in a conductor such as a wire, but can also flow through semiconductors, insulators, or even through a vacuum as in electron or ion beams. The electric current flows in a constant direction, distinguishing it from alternating current (AC). A term formerly used for this type of current was galvanic current.

The abbreviations AC and DC are often used to mean simply alternating and direct, as when they modify current or voltage.

Direct current may be obtained from an alternating current supply by use of a rectifier, which contains electronic elements (usually) or electromechanical elements (historically) that allow current to flow only in one direction. Direct current may be converted into alternating current with an inverter or a motor-generator set.

Direct current is used to charge batteries and as power supply for electronic systems. Very large quantities of direct-current power are used in production of aluminum and other electrochemical processes. It is also used for some railways, especially in urban areas. High-voltage direct current is used to transmit large amounts of power from remote generation sites or to interconnect alternating current power grids.