AC vs DC | difference between AC and DC

This page compares AC vs DC and describes difference between AC and DC. AC stands for Alternating current while DC stands for Direct Current.

AC | Alternating Current

AC stands for Alternating current. The magnitude of the current vary over time in the shape of sinusoidal wave as shown in the figure.

In AC, electrons flow first in one direction and then in the other, i.e. they alternate.
• Electricity mains supply is a sine wave AC.
• Electric heaters and lamps will work off either AC or DC but radio and TV sets require DC as to process battery charging.

AC vs DC

DC | Direct Current

DC stands for Direct current. The magnitude of the current is constant over the time as shown in the figure.

In a DC, electrons flow in one direction only.
Cells and batteries produce DC voltages and currents.

Following table summarizes difference between AC and DC.

Features AC DC
Full form Alternating current Direct current
Electric charge direction of flow Charge or current flows in one direction only Charge or current changes direction periodically
Travel distance It is safe to transfer AC over long distances. It can not be trasmitted over long distances due to loss of energy.
Frequency i.e. cycles per second AC frequency varies as per country, in india it is 50 Hz and in US it is 60Hz. It is zero for DC.
Current magnitude Varies with time constant
Source AC generator or AC mains Cell or battery
Resistive parameters Impedance resistive only
Power Factor It lies between 0 and 1 It is always one.

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