|Topics||Alternating Current (AC), Battery Configurations, Capacitors, Conductive Materials, Direct Current (DC), Resistance, Resistors, 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.
Batteries can be connected together in various combinations to increase their total voltage and/or total current. Connecting batteries in series combines their voltage while keeping their current the same, connecting batteries in parallel combines their current while keeping their voltage the same, and using a series-parallel configuration, half the batteries can be connected in series and half in parallel to combine both voltage and current.
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.
All conductors have resistance and the amount of resistance varies with the element. But, resistance isn't the only consideration when choosing a conductor as the most highly conductive elements like silver and gold are also more expensive and more brittle than slightly less conductive elements like copper. A balance needs to be struck between the electrical qualities of a material and its cost and durability.
Direct current flows in only one direction in a circuit, from the negative terminal of the voltage source to the positive. A common source of direct current (DC) is a battery.
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.
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.