Cards | 10 |

Topics | Alternating Current (AC), Capacitors, Circuit Breakers, Diodes, Ohm's Law, Parallel Circuit, Power, Series Circuit, Transformers |

In contrast to the constant one-way flow of direct current, alternating current changes direction many times each second. Electricity is delivered from power stations to customers as AC because it provides a more efficient way to transport electricity over long distances.

Capacitors store electricity and are used in circuits as temporary batteries. Capacitors are charged by DC current (AC current passes through a capacitor) and that stored charge can later be dissipated into the circuit as needed. Capacitors are often used to maintain power within a system when it is disconnected from its primary power source or to smooth out or filter voltage within a circuit.

Like fuses, circuit breakers stop current flow once it reaches a certain amount. They have the advantage of being reusable (fuses must be replaced when "blown") but respond more slowly to current surges and are more expensive than fuses.

A diode allows current to pass easily in one direction and blocks current in the other direction. Diodes are commonly used for **rectification** which is the conversion of alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC). Because a diode only allows current flow in one direction, it will pass either the upper or lower half of AC waves (**half-wave rectification**) creating pulsating DC. Multiple diodes can be connected together to utilize both halves of the AC signal in **full-wave rectification**.

Ohm's law specifies the relationship between voltage (V), current (I), and resistance (R) in an electrical circuit: **V = IR**.

In a parallel circuit, each load occupies a separate parallel path in the circuit and the input voltage is fully applied to each path. Unlike a series circuit where current (I) is the same at all points in the circuit, in a parallel circuit, voltage (V) is the same across each parallel branch of the circuit but current differs in each branch depending on the load (resistance) present.

Electrical power is measured in watts (W) and is calculated by multiplying the voltage (V) applied to a circuit by the resulting current (I) that flows in the circuit: **P = IV**. In addition to measuring production capacity, power also measures the rate of energy consumption and many loads are rated for their consumption capacity. For example, a 60W lightbulb utilizes 60W of energy to produce the equivalent of 60W of heat and light energy.

A series circuit has only one path for current to flow. In a series circuit, current (I) is the same throughout the circuit and is equal to the total voltage (V) applied to the circuit divided by the total resistance (R) of the loads in the circuit. The sum of the voltage drops across each resistor in the circuit will equal the total voltage applied to the circuit.

A transformer utilizes an inductor to increase or decrease the voltage in a circuit. AC flowing in a coil wrapped around an iron core magnetizes the core causing it to produce a magnetic field. This magnetic field generates a voltage in a nearby coil of wire and, depending on the number of turns in the wire of the **primary** (source) and **secondary** coils and their proximity, voltage is induced in the secondary coil.