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WHAT IS (AC) ALTERNATING CURRENT ?
 
   

In basic terms the current running through the cables alternates a certain amount of times per second. You may have heard of 50 Hertz before? this really means that the current is moving backwards and forwards 50 times in one second on Australian circuits. In the USA this figure is 60 Hertz and is one of the reasons why electrical appliances bought in USA can not be used here in Australia/NZ (there are other reasons ie:- voltages and AS tick standards).

The power that comes from a generation station is alternating current (AC). The big advantage that alternating current provides for the power grid is the fact that it is relatively easy to change the voltage of the power, using a step up or step down transformers. You see them on your street poles, some are large some are small. There are others which are located street level and painted green. The tend to hum with noise. To transfer the electricity over the power lines the energy companies vary the voltages. The higher the voltage the lower the current and hence why they don't need extremely large cross sectional cables to complete this process.

 

How does this work? Well, let's say that you have a power plant that can produce 1 million watts of power. One way to transmit that power would be to send 1 million amps at 1 volt. Another way to transmit it would be to send 1 amp at 1 million volts. Sending 1 amp requires only a thin wire, and not much of the power is lost to heat during transmission. Sending 1 million amps would require a huge wire.

The transmission of AC across the powerlines commence from very high voltages (such as 1 million + volts), then drop it back down to lower voltages for distribution in neighbourhoods (such as 1,000 volts), and finally down to 240 volts inside the house for safety.

This page was last modified on 17 January 2010 and maybe out of date with regards to newer practices at the time of reading this article

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Other "Teleco Abbreviations"
What is ACA ?
What is ACMA ?
What are Telephone Cable Colour Codes ?
What is a ACD ?
What is ACIF ?
What is a system link cable ?
 

 

 
 
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