What Is the Difference Between AC and DC Power?

The primary distinctions between direct and alternating currents are described in this article. You will also learn how to use a compact, inexpensive bridge rectifier circuit to convert the AC power supply in your house to DC. You can power the DC circuits in your DIY projects by converting AC to DC.

What Is Alternating Current?

Ac Voltage Symbol

The type of electric current known as alternating current (AC) continuously changes in strength and direction many times each second. At regular intervals, the electron flow in AC changes. Our houses have an AC supply because, unlike DC, AC voltage travels great distances with little power loss.

What Is Direct Current?

Direct Current Supply Symbol

Electrons flow in a single direction with a direct current. It is a steady current that does not change direction over time.

What Are the Main Differences Between AC and DC Power?

There are two main differences:

  • In DC, the current flow is continuous, but in AC, the flow of the current is constantly changing.
  • The voltage does not drop over long distances with AC as it does with DC.

How Do You Convert AC to DC?

There are two ways to convert AC to DC, depending on what you want to do with the output.

The first way is to mathematically convert AC to DC while knowing the source AC value. You may convert the value if you simply want to use it for computations.

But if you plan to physically convert AC to DC for any equipment, you may do it by creating a small circuit.

Let's discuss both ways here:

1. Mathematical Conversion

You simply need to know the AC value of your source to convert it to DC. You may measure it using a multimeter.

  • Attach the multimeter connectors and set the multimeter to voltage measurement mode by rotating the knob to V~.
  • Attach the other end of the probes to the positive and negative terminals of the power source and record the display readings.

Converting DC to AC

For converting AC to DC, use the following mathematical formula:


For simple calculations, round off √(2) to 1.4. You can thus divide without a calculator.

Let's say the measured value was 120 volts. Calculate it by adding the VAC value you just measured to the formula.

VDC = (120/1.4)

VDC = 85.71 Volts

Several parameters depending on DC voltage may be calculated using this value. Let's now move on to making the physical circuit.

2. Making the Physical Circuit

To build the physical circuit, you will need the following equipment:

  1. Step-down transformer
  2. Four diodes
  3. Perfboard
  4. Wires
  5. Capacitor
  6. Multimeter

Let's take a look at the functions of each circuit component.

  1. Step-down transformer: This is used to convert high-voltage, low-current power into low-voltage, high-current power. A step-up transformer may be used to convert AC to DC with a magnitude greater than the source.
  2. Diodes: They enable electricity to flow in one direction when forward-biased and block it in another direction. In this circuit, a bridge rectifier is built using four diodes.
  3. Perfboard: a board for prototyping electronic circuits.
  4. Wires: Components are later joined with wires after being connected.
  5. Capacitor: a charge-storage electronic component that smooths the circuit's current flow.
  6. Multimeter: an electronic device used to measure voltage, circuit resistance, current, and other parameters. It is used in this instance to measure DC voltage.

Other components are connected directly in the primary circuit, but with a bridge rectifier, you must connect diodes in a diamond shape.

How to Make a Bridge Rectifier:

  1. In the shape of an L, connect two diodes. Make sure their negative ends are connected.
L-Shape Connection of Diodes in Rectifier Bridge
  1. In the same way, connect the remaining two diodes. this moment, join their positive ends.
Second L-Shaped Connection of Rectifier Bridge
  1. As seen below, connect the two sets of diodes in a diamond shape.
Bridge Rectifier Connection

Ensure that your bridge rectifier is operational and that the diodes are properly connected.

Making the Final Circuit:

Let's see how to include these components in a circuit to produce DC output from an AC power supply.

  1. Attach the step-down transformer tightly to the printed circuit board using nuts and bolts.
Transformer - AC and DC Power
  1. To the circuit, connect the bridge rectifier.
Bridge Rectifier Connection - AC and DC Power
  1. The black and white wires of the transformer should be connected to the AC power supply. The bridge rectifier should be connected to the other two transformer wires as indicated below.
Transformer Rectifier First Connection - AC and DC Power
  1. In the two points where the transformer is connected to the rectifier, wrap the wires. After that, solder the connections.
  1. The positive end of the capacitor should be connected to the left corner of the rectifier, and the negative end should be connected to the right side, as shown by points 3 and 4 on the circuit diagram. The circuit could run without a capacitor, but you should use one to prevent changes in the current.
Capacitor Connection with Rectifier - AC and DC Power
  1. Turn on the AC power supply and connect the transformer to the AC power source.
  1. The voltage measuring mode on the multimeter should be set. Connect the two connectors on the capacitor's or bridge rectifier's positive and negative sides. It will show a readout of the DC power converted from AC power.
Circuit Connection to Source - AC and DC Power


  • Be sure not to touch the solder while soldering the endpoints to prevent burning yourself.
  • Turn on the AC power supply only after completing the circuit.

Convert AC to DC for Your DIY Projects

A useful way of converting AC to DC is the inexpensive bridge rectifier circuit. The DIY DC circuits may be powered by the direct AC supply in your house. Turn the circuit on after you are convinced that all connections were secure during assembly. Before making the circuit, remember to take the appropriate measures.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are AC and DC wires the same?

Positive and negative poles make up the pretty simple structure of DC wire. However, three-phase, four, or five wires in an AC line have a complex structure. Moreover, the AC cable could be more expensive than the DC one.

Can DC appliances work on AC?

No, to prevent your appliance from malfunctioning, always feed it the right input.

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