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College Physics for AP® Courses

20.5 Alternating Current versus Direct Current

College Physics for AP® Courses20.5 Alternating Current versus Direct Current
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  1. Preface
  2. 1 Introduction: The Nature of Science and Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 1.1 Physics: An Introduction
    3. 1.2 Physical Quantities and Units
    4. 1.3 Accuracy, Precision, and Significant Figures
    5. 1.4 Approximation
    6. Glossary
    7. Section Summary
    8. Conceptual Questions
    9. Problems & Exercises
  3. 2 Kinematics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 2.1 Displacement
    3. 2.2 Vectors, Scalars, and Coordinate Systems
    4. 2.3 Time, Velocity, and Speed
    5. 2.4 Acceleration
    6. 2.5 Motion Equations for Constant Acceleration in One Dimension
    7. 2.6 Problem-Solving Basics for One Dimensional Kinematics
    8. 2.7 Falling Objects
    9. 2.8 Graphical Analysis of One Dimensional Motion
    10. Glossary
    11. Section Summary
    12. Conceptual Questions
    13. Problems & Exercises
    14. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  4. 3 Two-Dimensional Kinematics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 3.1 Kinematics in Two Dimensions: An Introduction
    3. 3.2 Vector Addition and Subtraction: Graphical Methods
    4. 3.3 Vector Addition and Subtraction: Analytical Methods
    5. 3.4 Projectile Motion
    6. 3.5 Addition of Velocities
    7. Glossary
    8. Section Summary
    9. Conceptual Questions
    10. Problems & Exercises
    11. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  5. 4 Dynamics: Force and Newton's Laws of Motion
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 4.1 Development of Force Concept
    3. 4.2 Newton's First Law of Motion: Inertia
    4. 4.3 Newton's Second Law of Motion: Concept of a System
    5. 4.4 Newton's Third Law of Motion: Symmetry in Forces
    6. 4.5 Normal, Tension, and Other Examples of Force
    7. 4.6 Problem-Solving Strategies
    8. 4.7 Further Applications of Newton's Laws of Motion
    9. 4.8 Extended Topic: The Four Basic Forces—An Introduction
    10. Glossary
    11. Section Summary
    12. Conceptual Questions
    13. Problems & Exercises
    14. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  6. 5 Further Applications of Newton's Laws: Friction, Drag, and Elasticity
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 5.1 Friction
    3. 5.2 Drag Forces
    4. 5.3 Elasticity: Stress and Strain
    5. Glossary
    6. Section Summary
    7. Conceptual Questions
    8. Problems & Exercises
    9. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  7. 6 Gravitation and Uniform Circular Motion
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 6.1 Rotation Angle and Angular Velocity
    3. 6.2 Centripetal Acceleration
    4. 6.3 Centripetal Force
    5. 6.4 Fictitious Forces and Non-inertial Frames: The Coriolis Force
    6. 6.5 Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation
    7. 6.6 Satellites and Kepler's Laws: An Argument for Simplicity
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  8. 7 Work, Energy, and Energy Resources
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 7.1 Work: The Scientific Definition
    3. 7.2 Kinetic Energy and the Work-Energy Theorem
    4. 7.3 Gravitational Potential Energy
    5. 7.4 Conservative Forces and Potential Energy
    6. 7.5 Nonconservative Forces
    7. 7.6 Conservation of Energy
    8. 7.7 Power
    9. 7.8 Work, Energy, and Power in Humans
    10. 7.9 World Energy Use
    11. Glossary
    12. Section Summary
    13. Conceptual Questions
    14. Problems & Exercises
    15. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  9. 8 Linear Momentum and Collisions
    1. Connection for AP® courses
    2. 8.1 Linear Momentum and Force
    3. 8.2 Impulse
    4. 8.3 Conservation of Momentum
    5. 8.4 Elastic Collisions in One Dimension
    6. 8.5 Inelastic Collisions in One Dimension
    7. 8.6 Collisions of Point Masses in Two Dimensions
    8. 8.7 Introduction to Rocket Propulsion
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  10. 9 Statics and Torque
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 9.1 The First Condition for Equilibrium
    3. 9.2 The Second Condition for Equilibrium
    4. 9.3 Stability
    5. 9.4 Applications of Statics, Including Problem-Solving Strategies
    6. 9.5 Simple Machines
    7. 9.6 Forces and Torques in Muscles and Joints
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  11. 10 Rotational Motion and Angular Momentum
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 10.1 Angular Acceleration
    3. 10.2 Kinematics of Rotational Motion
    4. 10.3 Dynamics of Rotational Motion: Rotational Inertia
    5. 10.4 Rotational Kinetic Energy: Work and Energy Revisited
    6. 10.5 Angular Momentum and Its Conservation
    7. 10.6 Collisions of Extended Bodies in Two Dimensions
    8. 10.7 Gyroscopic Effects: Vector Aspects of Angular Momentum
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  12. 11 Fluid Statics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 11.1 What Is a Fluid?
    3. 11.2 Density
    4. 11.3 Pressure
    5. 11.4 Variation of Pressure with Depth in a Fluid
    6. 11.5 Pascal’s Principle
    7. 11.6 Gauge Pressure, Absolute Pressure, and Pressure Measurement
    8. 11.7 Archimedes’ Principle
    9. 11.8 Cohesion and Adhesion in Liquids: Surface Tension and Capillary Action
    10. 11.9 Pressures in the Body
    11. Glossary
    12. Section Summary
    13. Conceptual Questions
    14. Problems & Exercises
    15. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  13. 12 Fluid Dynamics and Its Biological and Medical Applications
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 12.1 Flow Rate and Its Relation to Velocity
    3. 12.2 Bernoulli’s Equation
    4. 12.3 The Most General Applications of Bernoulli’s Equation
    5. 12.4 Viscosity and Laminar Flow; Poiseuille’s Law
    6. 12.5 The Onset of Turbulence
    7. 12.6 Motion of an Object in a Viscous Fluid
    8. 12.7 Molecular Transport Phenomena: Diffusion, Osmosis, and Related Processes
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  14. 13 Temperature, Kinetic Theory, and the Gas Laws
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 13.1 Temperature
    3. 13.2 Thermal Expansion of Solids and Liquids
    4. 13.3 The Ideal Gas Law
    5. 13.4 Kinetic Theory: Atomic and Molecular Explanation of Pressure and Temperature
    6. 13.5 Phase Changes
    7. 13.6 Humidity, Evaporation, and Boiling
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  15. 14 Heat and Heat Transfer Methods
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 14.1 Heat
    3. 14.2 Temperature Change and Heat Capacity
    4. 14.3 Phase Change and Latent Heat
    5. 14.4 Heat Transfer Methods
    6. 14.5 Conduction
    7. 14.6 Convection
    8. 14.7 Radiation
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  16. 15 Thermodynamics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 15.1 The First Law of Thermodynamics
    3. 15.2 The First Law of Thermodynamics and Some Simple Processes
    4. 15.3 Introduction to the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Heat Engines and Their Efficiency
    5. 15.4 Carnot’s Perfect Heat Engine: The Second Law of Thermodynamics Restated
    6. 15.5 Applications of Thermodynamics: Heat Pumps and Refrigerators
    7. 15.6 Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Disorder and the Unavailability of Energy
    8. 15.7 Statistical Interpretation of Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics: The Underlying Explanation
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  17. 16 Oscillatory Motion and Waves
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 16.1 Hooke’s Law: Stress and Strain Revisited
    3. 16.2 Period and Frequency in Oscillations
    4. 16.3 Simple Harmonic Motion: A Special Periodic Motion
    5. 16.4 The Simple Pendulum
    6. 16.5 Energy and the Simple Harmonic Oscillator
    7. 16.6 Uniform Circular Motion and Simple Harmonic Motion
    8. 16.7 Damped Harmonic Motion
    9. 16.8 Forced Oscillations and Resonance
    10. 16.9 Waves
    11. 16.10 Superposition and Interference
    12. 16.11 Energy in Waves: Intensity
    13. Glossary
    14. Section Summary
    15. Conceptual Questions
    16. Problems & Exercises
    17. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  18. 17 Physics of Hearing
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 17.1 Sound
    3. 17.2 Speed of Sound, Frequency, and Wavelength
    4. 17.3 Sound Intensity and Sound Level
    5. 17.4 Doppler Effect and Sonic Booms
    6. 17.5 Sound Interference and Resonance: Standing Waves in Air Columns
    7. 17.6 Hearing
    8. 17.7 Ultrasound
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  19. 18 Electric Charge and Electric Field
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 18.1 Static Electricity and Charge: Conservation of Charge
    3. 18.2 Conductors and Insulators
    4. 18.3 Conductors and Electric Fields in Static Equilibrium
    5. 18.4 Coulomb’s Law
    6. 18.5 Electric Field: Concept of a Field Revisited
    7. 18.6 Electric Field Lines: Multiple Charges
    8. 18.7 Electric Forces in Biology
    9. 18.8 Applications of Electrostatics
    10. Glossary
    11. Section Summary
    12. Conceptual Questions
    13. Problems & Exercises
    14. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  20. 19 Electric Potential and Electric Field
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 19.1 Electric Potential Energy: Potential Difference
    3. 19.2 Electric Potential in a Uniform Electric Field
    4. 19.3 Electrical Potential Due to a Point Charge
    5. 19.4 Equipotential Lines
    6. 19.5 Capacitors and Dielectrics
    7. 19.6 Capacitors in Series and Parallel
    8. 19.7 Energy Stored in Capacitors
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  21. 20 Electric Current, Resistance, and Ohm's Law
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 20.1 Current
    3. 20.2 Ohm’s Law: Resistance and Simple Circuits
    4. 20.3 Resistance and Resistivity
    5. 20.4 Electric Power and Energy
    6. 20.5 Alternating Current versus Direct Current
    7. 20.6 Electric Hazards and the Human Body
    8. 20.7 Nerve Conduction–Electrocardiograms
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  22. 21 Circuits, Bioelectricity, and DC Instruments
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 21.1 Resistors in Series and Parallel
    3. 21.2 Electromotive Force: Terminal Voltage
    4. 21.3 Kirchhoff’s Rules
    5. 21.4 DC Voltmeters and Ammeters
    6. 21.5 Null Measurements
    7. 21.6 DC Circuits Containing Resistors and Capacitors
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  23. 22 Magnetism
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 22.1 Magnets
    3. 22.2 Ferromagnets and Electromagnets
    4. 22.3 Magnetic Fields and Magnetic Field Lines
    5. 22.4 Magnetic Field Strength: Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field
    6. 22.5 Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field: Examples and Applications
    7. 22.6 The Hall Effect
    8. 22.7 Magnetic Force on a Current-Carrying Conductor
    9. 22.8 Torque on a Current Loop: Motors and Meters
    10. 22.9 Magnetic Fields Produced by Currents: Ampere’s Law
    11. 22.10 Magnetic Force between Two Parallel Conductors
    12. 22.11 More Applications of Magnetism
    13. Glossary
    14. Section Summary
    15. Conceptual Questions
    16. Problems & Exercises
    17. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  24. 23 Electromagnetic Induction, AC Circuits, and Electrical Technologies
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 23.1 Induced Emf and Magnetic Flux
    3. 23.2 Faraday’s Law of Induction: Lenz’s Law
    4. 23.3 Motional Emf
    5. 23.4 Eddy Currents and Magnetic Damping
    6. 23.5 Electric Generators
    7. 23.6 Back Emf
    8. 23.7 Transformers
    9. 23.8 Electrical Safety: Systems and Devices
    10. 23.9 Inductance
    11. 23.10 RL Circuits
    12. 23.11 Reactance, Inductive and Capacitive
    13. 23.12 RLC Series AC Circuits
    14. Glossary
    15. Section Summary
    16. Conceptual Questions
    17. Problems & Exercises
    18. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  25. 24 Electromagnetic Waves
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 24.1 Maxwell’s Equations: Electromagnetic Waves Predicted and Observed
    3. 24.2 Production of Electromagnetic Waves
    4. 24.3 The Electromagnetic Spectrum
    5. 24.4 Energy in Electromagnetic Waves
    6. Glossary
    7. Section Summary
    8. Conceptual Questions
    9. Problems & Exercises
    10. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  26. 25 Geometric Optics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 25.1 The Ray Aspect of Light
    3. 25.2 The Law of Reflection
    4. 25.3 The Law of Refraction
    5. 25.4 Total Internal Reflection
    6. 25.5 Dispersion: The Rainbow and Prisms
    7. 25.6 Image Formation by Lenses
    8. 25.7 Image Formation by Mirrors
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  27. 26 Vision and Optical Instruments
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 26.1 Physics of the Eye
    3. 26.2 Vision Correction
    4. 26.3 Color and Color Vision
    5. 26.4 Microscopes
    6. 26.5 Telescopes
    7. 26.6 Aberrations
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  28. 27 Wave Optics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 27.1 The Wave Aspect of Light: Interference
    3. 27.2 Huygens's Principle: Diffraction
    4. 27.3 Young’s Double Slit Experiment
    5. 27.4 Multiple Slit Diffraction
    6. 27.5 Single Slit Diffraction
    7. 27.6 Limits of Resolution: The Rayleigh Criterion
    8. 27.7 Thin Film Interference
    9. 27.8 Polarization
    10. 27.9 *Extended Topic* Microscopy Enhanced by the Wave Characteristics of Light
    11. Glossary
    12. Section Summary
    13. Conceptual Questions
    14. Problems & Exercises
    15. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  29. 28 Special Relativity
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 28.1 Einstein’s Postulates
    3. 28.2 Simultaneity And Time Dilation
    4. 28.3 Length Contraction
    5. 28.4 Relativistic Addition of Velocities
    6. 28.5 Relativistic Momentum
    7. 28.6 Relativistic Energy
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  30. 29 Introduction to Quantum Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 29.1 Quantization of Energy
    3. 29.2 The Photoelectric Effect
    4. 29.3 Photon Energies and the Electromagnetic Spectrum
    5. 29.4 Photon Momentum
    6. 29.5 The Particle-Wave Duality
    7. 29.6 The Wave Nature of Matter
    8. 29.7 Probability: The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
    9. 29.8 The Particle-Wave Duality Reviewed
    10. Glossary
    11. Section Summary
    12. Conceptual Questions
    13. Problems & Exercises
    14. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  31. 30 Atomic Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 30.1 Discovery of the Atom
    3. 30.2 Discovery of the Parts of the Atom: Electrons and Nuclei
    4. 30.3 Bohr’s Theory of the Hydrogen Atom
    5. 30.4 X Rays: Atomic Origins and Applications
    6. 30.5 Applications of Atomic Excitations and De-Excitations
    7. 30.6 The Wave Nature of Matter Causes Quantization
    8. 30.7 Patterns in Spectra Reveal More Quantization
    9. 30.8 Quantum Numbers and Rules
    10. 30.9 The Pauli Exclusion Principle
    11. Glossary
    12. Section Summary
    13. Conceptual Questions
    14. Problems & Exercises
    15. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  32. 31 Radioactivity and Nuclear Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 31.1 Nuclear Radioactivity
    3. 31.2 Radiation Detection and Detectors
    4. 31.3 Substructure of the Nucleus
    5. 31.4 Nuclear Decay and Conservation Laws
    6. 31.5 Half-Life and Activity
    7. 31.6 Binding Energy
    8. 31.7 Tunneling
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  33. 32 Medical Applications of Nuclear Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 32.1 Medical Imaging and Diagnostics
    3. 32.2 Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation
    4. 32.3 Therapeutic Uses of Ionizing Radiation
    5. 32.4 Food Irradiation
    6. 32.5 Fusion
    7. 32.6 Fission
    8. 32.7 Nuclear Weapons
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  34. 33 Particle Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 33.1 The Yukawa Particle and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle Revisited
    3. 33.2 The Four Basic Forces
    4. 33.3 Accelerators Create Matter from Energy
    5. 33.4 Particles, Patterns, and Conservation Laws
    6. 33.5 Quarks: Is That All There Is?
    7. 33.6 GUTs: The Unification of Forces
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  35. 34 Frontiers of Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 34.1 Cosmology and Particle Physics
    3. 34.2 General Relativity and Quantum Gravity
    4. 34.3 Superstrings
    5. 34.4 Dark Matter and Closure
    6. 34.5 Complexity and Chaos
    7. 34.6 High-Temperature Superconductors
    8. 34.7 Some Questions We Know to Ask
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
  36. A | Atomic Masses
  37. B | Selected Radioactive Isotopes
  38. C | Useful Information
  39. D | Glossary of Key Symbols and Notation
  40. Answer Key
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
    10. Chapter 10
    11. Chapter 11
    12. Chapter 12
    13. Chapter 13
    14. Chapter 14
    15. Chapter 15
    16. Chapter 16
    17. Chapter 17
    18. Chapter 18
    19. Chapter 19
    20. Chapter 20
    21. Chapter 21
    22. Chapter 22
    23. Chapter 23
    24. Chapter 24
    25. Chapter 25
    26. Chapter 26
    27. Chapter 27
    28. Chapter 28
    29. Chapter 29
    30. Chapter 30
    31. Chapter 31
    32. Chapter 32
    33. Chapter 33
    34. Chapter 34
  41. Index

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain the differences and similarities between AC and DC current.
  • Calculate rms voltage, current, and average power.
  • Explain why AC current is used for power transmission.

Alternating Current

Most of the examples dealt with so far, and particularly those utilizing batteries, have constant voltage sources. Once the current is established, it is thus also a constant. Direct current (DC) is the flow of electric charge in only one direction. It is the steady state of a constant-voltage circuit. Most well-known applications, however, use a time-varying voltage source. Alternating current (AC) is the flow of electric charge that periodically reverses direction. If the source varies periodically, particularly sinusoidally, the circuit is known as an alternating current circuit. Examples include the commercial and residential power that serves so many of our needs. Figure 20.19 shows graphs of voltage and current versus time for typical DC and AC power. The AC voltages and frequencies commonly used in homes and businesses vary around the world.

Part a shows a graph of voltage V and current I versus time for a D C source. The time is along the x axis and V and I are along the y axis. The graph shows that the voltage V sub D C and the current I sub D C do not vary with time. Part b shows the variation of voltage V and current I with time for an A C source. The time is along the horizontal axis and V and I are along the vertical axis. The graph for I is a progressing sine wave with a peak value I sub zero on the positive y axis and negative I sub zero on the negative y axis. The graph for V is a progressing sine wave with a higher amplitude than the current curve with a peak value V sub zero on the positive y axis and negative V sub zero on the negative y axis. The peak values of the voltage and current sine waves occur at the same time because they are in phase.
Figure 20.19 (a) DC voltage and current are constant in time, once the current is established. (b) A graph of voltage and current versus time for 60-Hz AC power. The voltage and current are sinusoidal and are in phase for a simple resistance circuit. The frequencies and peak voltages of AC sources differ greatly.
The potential difference variation of an alternating current voltage source with time is shown as a progressing sine wave. The voltage is shown along the vertical axis and the time is along the horizontal axis. Circuit diagrams show that current flowing in one direction corresponds to positive values of the voltage sine wave. Current flowing in the opposite direction in the circuit corresponds to negative values of the voltage sine wave. The maximum value of the voltage sine wave is plus V sub zero. The minimum value of the voltage sine wave is minus V sub zero.
Figure 20.20 The potential difference VV between the terminals of an AC voltage source fluctuates as shown. The mathematical expression for VV is given by V=V0sin 2 πftV=V0sin 2 πft size 12{V = V rSub { size 8{0} } "sin"" 2"π ital "ft"} {}.

Figure 20.20 shows a schematic of a simple circuit with an AC voltage source. The voltage between the terminals fluctuates as shown, with the AC voltage given by

V=V0sin 2πft,V=V0sin 2πft, size 12{V = V rSub { size 8{0} } "sin"" 2"π ital "ft"} {}
20.38

where VV size 12{V} {} is the voltage at time tt size 12{t} {}, V0V0 size 12{V rSub { size 8{0} } } {} is the peak voltage, and ff size 12{f} {} is the frequency in hertz. For this simple resistance circuit, I=V/RI=V/R size 12{I = ital "V/R"} {}, and so the AC current is

I=I0 sin 2πft,I=I0 sin 2πft, size 12{I = I rSub { size 8{0} } " sin 2"π ital "ft"} {}
20.39

where II size 12{I} {} is the current at time tt size 12{t} {}, and I0=V0/RI0=V0/R size 12{I rSub { size 8{0} } = V rSub { size 8{0} } ital "/R"} {} is the peak current. For this example, the voltage and current are said to be in phase, as seen in Figure 20.19(b).

Current in the resistor alternates back and forth just like the driving voltage, since I=V/RI=V/R size 12{I = ital "V/R"} {}. If the resistor is a fluorescent light bulb, for example, it brightens and dims 120 times per second as the current repeatedly goes through zero. A 120-Hz flicker is too rapid for your eyes to detect, but if you wave your hand back and forth between your face and a fluorescent light, you will see a stroboscopic effect evidencing AC. The fact that the light output fluctuates means that the power is fluctuating. The power supplied is P=IVP=IV size 12{P = ital "IV"} {}. Using the expressions for II size 12{I} {} and VV size 12{V} {} above, we see that the time dependence of power is P=I0V0sin2 2πftP=I0V0sin2 2πft size 12{P= I rSub { size 8{0} } V rSub { size 8{0} } "sin" rSup { size 8{2} } " 2"π ital "ft"} {}, as shown in Figure 20.21.

Making Connections: Take-Home Experiment—AC/DC Lights

Wave your hand back and forth between your face and a fluorescent light bulb. Do you observe the same thing with the headlights on your car? Explain what you observe. Warning: Do not look directly at very bright light.

A graph showing the variation of power P with time t. The power is along the vertical axis and time is along the horizontal axis. The curve is a sine wave starting at the origin on the horizontal axis and having the crests and troughs both above the positive horizontal axis. The maximum value of power is given by the peak value, which is the product of I sub zero and V sub zero. The average power is indicated by a dotted line through the center of the wave parallel to the horizontal axis with a value half of the product of I sub zero and V sub zero.
Figure 20.21 AC power as a function of time. Since the voltage and current are in phase here, their product is non-negative and fluctuates between zero and I0V0I0V0 size 12{I rSub { size 8{0} } V rSub { size 8{0} } } {}. Average power is (1/2)I0V0(1/2)I0V0 size 12{ \( 1/2 \) I rSub { size 8{0} } V rSub { size 8{0} } } {}.

We are most often concerned with average power rather than its fluctuations—that 60-W light bulb in your desk lamp has an average power consumption of 60 W, for example. As illustrated in Figure 20.21, the average power PavePave size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } } {} is

Pave=12I0V0.Pave=12I0V0. size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } = { {1} over {2} } I rSub { size 8{0} } V rSub { size 8{0} } } {}
20.40

This is evident from the graph, since the areas above and below the (1/2)I0V0(1/2)I0V0 size 12{ \( 1/2 \) I rSub { size 8{0} } V rSub { size 8{0} } } {} line are equal, but it can also be proven using trigonometric identities. Similarly, we define an average or rms current IrmsIrms size 12{I rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} and average or rms voltage VrmsVrms size 12{V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} to be, respectively,

I rms = I 0 2 I rms = I 0 2 size 12{I rSub { size 8{"rms "} } = { {I rSub { size 8{0} } } over { sqrt {2} } } } {}
20.41

and

Vrms =V02.Vrms =V02. size 12{V rSub { size 8{"rms "} } = { {V rSub { size 8{0} } } over { sqrt {2} } } } {}
20.42

where rms stands for root mean square, a particular kind of average. In general, to obtain a root mean square, the particular quantity is squared, its mean (or average) is found, and the square root is taken. This is useful for AC, since the average value is zero. Now,

Pave=IrmsVrms,Pave=IrmsVrms, size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } = I rSub { size 8{"rms"} } V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {}
20.43

which gives

Pave=I02V02=12I0V0,Pave=I02V02=12I0V0, size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } = { {I rSub { size 8{0} } } over { sqrt {2} } } cdot { {V rSub { size 8{0} } } over { sqrt {2} } } = { {1} over {2} } I rSub { size 8{0} } V rSub { size 8{0} } } {}
20.44

as stated above. It is standard practice to quote IrmsIrms size 12{I rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {}, VrmsVrms size 12{V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {}, and PavePave size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } } {} rather than the peak values. For example, most household electricity is 120 V AC, which means that VrmsVrms size 12{V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} is 120 V. The common 10-A circuit breaker will interrupt a sustained IrmsIrms size 12{I rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} greater than 10 A. Your 1.0-kW microwave oven consumes Pave=1.0 kWPave=1.0 kW size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } =1 "." 0`"kW"} {}, and so on. You can think of these rms and average values as the equivalent DC values for a simple resistive circuit.

To summarize, when dealing with AC, Ohm's law and the equations for power are completely analogous to those for DC, but rms and average values are used for AC. Thus, for AC, Ohm's law is written

Irms=VrmsR.Irms=VrmsR. size 12{I rSub { size 8{"rms"} } = { {V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } over {R} } } {}
20.45

The various expressions for AC power PavePave size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } } {} are

Pave=IrmsVrms,Pave=IrmsVrms, size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } = I rSub { size 8{"rms"} } V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {}
20.46
Pave=Vrms2R,Pave=Vrms2R, size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } = { {V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } rSup { size 8{2} } } over {R} } } {}
20.47

and

Pave=Irms2R.Pave=Irms2R. size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } = I rSub { size 8{"rms"} } rSup { size 8{2} } R} {}
20.48

Example 20.9 Peak Voltage and Power for AC

(a) What is the value of the peak voltage for 120-V AC power? (b) What is the peak power consumption rate of a 60.0-W AC light bulb?

Strategy

We are told that VrmsVrms size 12{V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} is 120 V and PavePave size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } } {} is 60.0 W. We can use Vrms =V02Vrms =V02 size 12{V rSub { size 8{"rms "} } = { {V rSub { size 8{0} } } over { sqrt {2} } } } {} to find the peak voltage, and we can manipulate the definition of power to find the peak power from the given average power.

Solution for (a)

Solving the equation Vrms =V02Vrms =V02 size 12{V rSub { size 8{"rms "} } = { {V rSub { size 8{0} } } over { sqrt {2} } } } {} for the peak voltage V0V0 size 12{V rSub { size 8{0} } } {} and substituting the known value for VrmsVrms size 12{V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} gives

V0=2Vrms= 1.414(120 V)= 170 V.V0=2Vrms= 1.414(120 V)= 170 V. size 12{V rSub { size 8{0} } = sqrt {2} V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } =" 1" "." "414" \( "120"" V" \) =" 170 V"} {}
20.49

Discussion for (a)

This means that the AC voltage swings from 170 V to –170 V–170 V and back 60 times every second. An equivalent DC voltage is a constant 120 V.

Solution for (b)

Peak power is peak current times peak voltage. Thus,

P0=I0V0= 212I0V0= 2Pave.P0=I0V0= 212I0V0= 2Pave. size 12{P rSub { size 8{0} } = I rSub { size 8{0} } V rSub { size 8{0} } =" 2" left ( { {1} over {2} } I rSub { size 8{0} } V rSub { size 8{0} } right ) =" 2"P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } } {}
20.50

We know the average power is 60.0 W, and so

P0= 2(60.0 W)= 120 W.P0= 2(60.0 W)= 120 W. size 12{P rSub { size 8{0} } =" 2" \( "60" "." "0 W" \) =" 120 W"} {}
20.51

Discussion

So the power swings from zero to 120 W one hundred twenty times per second (twice each cycle), and the power averages 60 W.

Why Use AC for Power Distribution?

Most large power-distribution systems are AC. Moreover, the power is transmitted at much higher voltages than the 120-V AC (240 V in most parts of the world) we use in homes and on the job. Economies of scale make it cheaper to build a few very large electric power-generation plants than to build numerous small ones. This necessitates sending power long distances, and it is obviously important that energy losses en route be minimized. High voltages can be transmitted with much smaller power losses than low voltages, as we shall see. (See Figure 20.22.) For safety reasons, the voltage at the user is reduced to familiar values. The crucial factor is that it is much easier to increase and decrease AC voltages than DC, so AC is used in most large power distribution systems.

Photograph of transformers installed in transmission lines.
Figure 20.22 Power is distributed over large distances at high voltage to reduce power loss in the transmission lines. The voltages generated at the power plant are stepped up by passive devices called transformers (see Transformers) to 330,000 volts (or more in some places worldwide). At the point of use, the transformers reduce the voltage transmitted for safe residential and commercial use. (Credit: GeorgHH, Wikimedia Commons)

Example 20.10 Power Losses Are Less for High-Voltage Transmission

(a) What current is needed to transmit 100 MW of power at 200 kV? (b) What is the power dissipated by the transmission lines if they have a resistance of 1.00Ω1.00Ω size 12{1 "." "00" %OMEGA } {}? (c) What percentage of the power is lost in the transmission lines?

Strategy

We are given Pave=100 MWPave=100 MW size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } ="100"`"MW"} {}, Vrms=200 kVVrms=200 kV size 12{V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } ="200"`"kV"} {}, and the resistance of the lines is R=1.00ΩR=1.00Ω size 12{R=1 "." "00"` %OMEGA } {}. Using these givens, we can find the current (from P=IVP=IV size 12{P = ital "IV"} {}) and then the power dissipated in the lines (P=I2RP=I2R size 12{P = I rSup { size 8{2} } R} {}), and we take the ratio to the total power transmitted.

Solution

To find the current, we rearrange the relationship Pave=IrmsVrmsPave=IrmsVrms size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } = I rSub { size 8{"rms"} } V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} and substitute known values. This gives

Irms=PaveVrms=100 × 106 W200 × 103 V= 500 A.Irms=PaveVrms=100 × 106 W200 × 103 V= 500 A. size 12{I rSub { size 8{"rms"} } = { {P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } } over {V rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } } = { {"100 " times " 10" rSup { size 8{6} } " W"} over {"200 " times " 10" rSup { size 8{3} } " V"} } =" 500 A"} {}
20.52

Solution

Knowing the current and given the resistance of the lines, the power dissipated in them is found from Pave=Irms2RPave=Irms2R size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } = I rSub { size 8{"rms"} } rSup { size 8{2} } R} {}. Substituting the known values gives

Pave=Irms2R=(500 A)2(1.00 Ω)= 250 kW.Pave=Irms2R=(500 A)2(1.00 Ω)= 250 kW. size 12{P rSub { size 8{"ave"} } = I rSub { size 8{"rms"} } rSup { size 8{2} } R = \( "500 A" \) rSup { size 8{2} } \( 1 "." "00 " %OMEGA \) =" 250 kW"} {}
20.53

Solution

The percent loss is the ratio of this lost power to the total or input power, multiplied by 100:

% loss=250 kW100 MW×100=0.250 %.% loss=250 kW100 MW×100=0.250 %. size 12{%" loss=" { {"250"" kW"} over {"100"" MW"} } ´"100"=0 "." "250 %"} {}
20.54

Discussion

One-fourth of a percent is an acceptable loss. Note that if 100 MW of power had been transmitted at 25 kV, then a current of 4000 A would have been needed. This would result in a power loss in the lines of 16.0 MW, or 16.0% rather than 0.250%. The lower the voltage, the more current is needed, and the greater the power loss in the fixed-resistance transmission lines. Of course, lower-resistance lines can be built, but this requires larger and more expensive wires. If superconducting lines could be economically produced, there would be no loss in the transmission lines at all. But, as we shall see in a later chapter, there is a limit to current in superconductors, too. In short, high voltages are more economical for transmitting power, and AC voltage is much easier to raise and lower, so that AC is used in most large-scale power distribution systems.

It is widely recognized that high voltages pose greater hazards than low voltages. But, in fact, some high voltages, such as those associated with common static electricity, can be harmless. So it is not voltage alone that determines a hazard. It is not so widely recognized that AC shocks are often more harmful than similar DC shocks. Thomas Edison thought that AC shocks were more harmful and set up a DC power-distribution system in New York City in the late 1800s. There were bitter fights, in particular between Edison and George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla, who were advocating the use of AC in early power-distribution systems. AC has prevailed largely due to transformers and lower power losses with high-voltage transmission.

PhET Explorations: Generator

Generate electricity with a bar magnet! Discover the physics behind the phenomena by exploring magnets and how you can use them to make a bulb light.

Figure 20.23
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