The Current War (AC vs DC, pt. 1)

While we might all know the band AC/DC, we might not know that it references electricity – or more specifically, what electricity actually is.  DC stands for Direct Current, while AC stands for Alternating Current.  These are two kinds of current (the method by which electricity moves) and the names really do describe how it works.  Alternating current is the brain-child of Nikola Tesla, while Direct Current is the brain-child of Thomas Edison.  Once again, it was another weapon created for the socially polarizing Current War.  This was not just a battle between brilliant brains, but also between financial magnates of the late 19th Century.


Thomas Edison was a famed inventor and think-tank director at the end of the 1800s, and his name is still attributed to many inventions that helped advance western civilization through the past century and a half.  Ironically enough, Nikola Tesla was a Serbian Engineer who came to America to work for Edison.  Personal and professional disagreements arose; eventually the two went separate ways.  While Edison’s material was immediately gratifying, there is technology that we are just beginning to implement and understand in the modern era from Tesla that have helped create technology like modern computers, cell phones, and your cars ignition (not to mention, its wireless remote start).


One reason – of many – why Tesla ended up winning this one in the long run?  Edison’s system of electricity required power generation stations built frequently and in the middle of housing districts.  Also. since DC systems were dependant on short wires and low consumption, every person who turned on a light bulb diminished the available electricity for the next house in line.


In today’s world of technology, renewable energy, interchangeable networks, inverters and transformers and grids, high voltage DC and low resistance wires, the AC vs. DC battle has become moot – HVDC (High Voltage DC) is used interchangeably with AC across the globe; DC most frequently used in contained or limited systems (vehicles, airplanes, small scale power systems like solar, almost all hand-held electronics, etc.) and AC is pumped directly into homes and buildings for consumption and use.


Check out our Pinterest for some interesting, thought-provoking quotes from both Tesla and Edison – men far ahead of their time and culture.

This article is part one of four on Alternating Current versus Direct Current.  Check back next week for part two! Publication3Swartz Electric – Your Colorado Springs Electrician performs electrical work throughout Colorado Springs, Monument, Black Forest, Fountain, Falcon, Woodland Park, and everywhere in between. We are the electricians in Colorado Springs to solve your electrical problems and meet your electrical requirements.

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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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