|Topics||Alternating Current (AC), Capacitors, Load, Ohm's Law, Resistance, Resistors, Transformers, Voltage|
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.
A load is a source of resistance that converts electrical energy into another form of energy. The components of a microwave, for example, are loads that work together to convert household electricity into radation that can be used to quickly cook food.
Ohm's law specifies the relationship between voltage (V), current (I), and resistance (R) in an electrical circuit: V = IR.
Resistance is opposition to the flow of current and is measured in ohms (Ω). One ohm is defined as the amount of resistance that will allow one ampere of current to flow if one volt of voltage is applied. As resistance increases, current decreases as resistance and current are inversely proportional.
Resistors are used to limit voltage and/or current in a circuit and can have a fixed or variable resistance. Variable resistors (often called potentiometers or rheostats) are used when dynamic control over the voltage/current in a circuit is needed, for example, in a light dimmer or volume control.
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.
Voltage (V) is the electrical potential difference between two points. Electrons will flow as current from areas of high potential (concentration of electrons) to areas of low potential. Voltage and current are directly proportional in that the higher the voltage applied to a conductor the higher the current that will result.