Direct Current (AC vs DC, pt. 2)
This is part two of four in the continuing series about Alternating Current versus Direct Current. The first part can be found here.
The easiest example to see DC electricity at work is in a battery – any kind of a battery. A battery is a combination of metal and electrolytes that create a chemical reaction which releases electrons, the charged molecules that make up electricity. When we turn on a flashlight, we create a circuit – or pathway – for the electricity to flow from the batteries they are stored in and into the light bulb, creating light. Direct Current electricity travels from its point of origin and through wires to its destination – kind of like hooking up a hose and turning on the spigot, letting water flow out when and where you need it. Like the water pressure from your hose, the electrons in Direct Current flow constantly forwards. DC energy can be stored in things like batteries, because it is primarily a surplus of electrons – hence, batteries are ‘charged’.
Direct current may not be something we think of – except when our batteries go dead – but the truth is we use it throughout daily life. This is primarily due to our rising reliance on electronic devices such as computers, cell phones, flat screen TVs and other household electronics. These all come equipped with their own transformers to convert our AC power supply into a consistent, unchanging flow of electrons. Statistics suggest that about a fifth of residential energy consumption comes from these – which means that we are also losing some of that AC power to losses when transforming it into DC.
Another advance in society’s electricity needs comes from where we are generating the power we consume – renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, generate direct current. Experimental lighting shows that using LEDs on DC instead of AC can create an additional 15 percent in power savings, on top of LEDs already tiny draw. Technology giants in Asia already have plans to install inverters and create their own ‘mini-DC grids’ within their buildings to eliminate the heat generation of AC/DC transformers on individual pieces of equipment. In parts of the world where electricity is more expensive, implementing solutions to save up to twenty percent of consumption is vital; utilizing DC and AC simultaneously could be one way to facilitate that.
This article is part two of four on Alternating Current versus Direct Current. Check back next week for the next chapter!
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This is an original article written by Mai Bjorklund for Swartz Electric. This article may not be copied whole or in part without the express permission of Swartz Electric, LLC.
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