Alternating Current

How to Convert Alternating Current (AC) to Direct Current(DC)

Direct Current has a variety of applications and advantages in the electrical field. So, it is important to convert alternating current to direct current for a variety of purposes.

Determine AC Input Voltage:

In Central, South, and North America the AC voltage coming out of the sockets is 110 Volts to 120 Volts and the frequency of operation is 60 Hertz. In Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe, and Africa, the voltage range is 230volts to 240 volts and the frequency of operation is 50 Hertz. The standards may vary in other regions. While preparing for the PE Exam you will know how to determine the AC input voltage.

Deduce the Voltage and Current Needed:

Verify the manufacturer’s manual for current and voltage settings. If the voltage or current is too high it will destroy the components. If the voltage or current is too low, then the device will not work properly. There is a range of voltage and current that is advised for safe working. Make sure you operate somewhere in the middle of the given range.

Convert the High-Voltage AC to Low-Voltage AC:

The High Voltage can be converted to low voltage by passing through a step-down transformer. Electrical current in the primary of the transformer induces a current in the secondary. The secondary has fewer coils and so the voltage is lesser. However, this reduction in voltage is compensated by an increase in current. Hence, the power output remains the same. The PE Exam Prep helps you in learning the use of step-down transformer in AC to DC conversion.

Pass the low-voltage AC through a rectifier:

One type of rectifiers used is a Bridge Rectifier. The Bridge Rectifier consists of four diodes arranged in the shape of a diamond. A diode allows current to flow in only one direction. In the diamond configuration of Bridge rectifier, two diodes will conduct for the positive half and the remaining two diodes will conduct for the negative half. The output of both sets is a current that climbs from 0 volts to the maximum positive voltage.

Smooth out the Voltage:

A capacitor stores an electric charge for a short time and then slowly releases it. The input from the rectifier resembles a string of humps; the output of the “smoothing capacitor” is a steady voltage with ripples.

For devices that only need a low current, you can create a regulator with a resistor and a Zener Diode. This arrangement is designed to break down when a certain voltage is reached, allowing current to pass through it. The resistor limits the current. The PE Prep Course helps in knowing the need for electrolytic capacitor.

Pass the output through a regulator:

This final regulator will smooth the ripples and creates a steady current. This smooth current ensures that your electronic device is not damaged. Regulators are ICs that can have either a fixed or variable output voltage. The regulators come with inbuilt protection against overheating. But a heat sink will protect the regulator from overheating.

The tendency of fluctuation in the current is known and expected phenomena. The proper combination of transformer and rectifiers ensure that AC to DC is achieved smoothly without sacrificing the electronic devices using these currents.

The importance of AC to DC conversion that helps to create DC circuits, which is one of the topics of NCEES Electrical PE Exam. But the main challenge lies creating a DC circuit that will not get overloaded or tripped in the process. You can prepare for this topic with a PE Exam Prep Course.

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