Search

Copyright 2017 Electrical101.com All Rights Reserved.

Sitemap

Sitemap

Terms of Use

Electrical101

Full website

Conductor and Insulator Properties

An electrical current (the movement of electrons) happens when there is a potential difference (voltage) between the ends of a conductor.

Conductor atom

Insulator atom

Basic Electricity

Conductor atom

Single electron in outer orbit

Insulator atom

Multiple electrons in outer orbit

Direct and Alternating Current

Current flows in one direction. A battery operated flashlight is a very common example of direct current.

0 deg

0 sec

0 V

120 V Sine Wave

120 V Sine Wave

180 deg

1/2 sec

0 V

360 deg

1 sec

0 V

120 V

+170 V

0 V

-170 V

Degrees

Time

Voltage

Peak voltage

Nominal voltage

Peak voltage

At 0 degrees the voltage is at 0 volts and starts to rise to a peak voltage of 170 volts at 90 degrees. At 90 degrees the voltage goes back down to 0 volts at 180 degrees. The current then reverses direction and rises to a peak voltage of -170 volts  at 270 degrees. To complete the cycle the current goes back to 0 volts at 360 degrees and the cycle starts over.

For detailed information about electrical circuits see All About Circuits

Direct current (DC) Diagram Alternating current (AC) Diagram

Alternating current (AC)

Direct current (DC)

Current flows in both directions. 120 VAC (120 VAC) household power is an example of AC current. The current in 120 VAC changes direction 120 times per second as shown below.