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Basic AC Electricity for Industrial Instrumentation

While direct current (DC) refers to the flow of electrical charge carriers in a continuous direction, alternating current (or AC) refers to a periodic reversal of charge flow direction1. As a mode of transferring electrical power, AC is tremendously useful because it allows us to use transformers to easily and efficiently step voltage up or down at will. If an electro-physical sensor senses a physical quantity that oscillates, the electric signal it produces will oscillate (AC) as well. For both these reasons, an instrument technician needs to be aware of how AC circuits work, and how to understand them mathematically.

1It is also acceptable to refer to electrical voltages and/or currents that vary periodically over time even if their directions never alternate, as AC superimposed on DC.

Click below to read AC Electricity subtopics!




Boylestad, Robert L., Introductory Circuit Analysis, 9th Edition, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2000.

Kaplan, Wilfred, Advanced Mathematics for Engineers, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Reading, MA, 1981.

Smith, Steven W., The Scientist and Engineer’s Guide to Digital Signal Processing, California Technical Publishing, San Diego, CA, 1997.

Steinmetz, Charles P., Theory and Calculation of Alternating Current Phenomena, Third Edition, McGraw Publishing Company, New York, NY, 1900.


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written by tina, July 12, 2015

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