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Why Do Electronic Circuits Use DC Current instead of AC?

Why Electronic Devices Use DC Supply instead of AC Supply ? 

One thing should be cleared that not all the electronic devices, components and circuits are using only DC supply, but AC as well. If it comes to Logic circuits and ICs (Integrated Circuits), yes, they use DC only. In short, it depends on the electronic circuit needs and purpose, whether we use AC or DC. Let’s see how.

Below are the scenarios where we use both AC and DC in electronics circuits and why most of the electronic circuits use a DC supply only.Why Most of Electronic Circuits Use DC Supply Only

AC in Electronic Circuits

  • In case of LC (resonant circuit tank circuit or tuning circuit), DC signal converted to an AC signal using capacitor and an inductor (where we know that a capacitor blocks DC but passes AC) which may further supply to the clipping circuit or amplifier to amplify or modify the shape of the signal according to the circuit needs.
  • In filters, capacitors and inductors are used to remove the ripples from the AC or pulsating DC supply to convert it to the pure DC supply.
  • Rectifiers (which contains on Diodes) are used to convert the input AC supply to the pulsating DC supply and the process is known as rectification.
  • In amplification, a biased transistor can be used as an amplifier with input AC signals.

The above discussion clearly shows that electronic circuit uses AC as well, not only the DC.

Why Most of Electronic Circuits Uses DC Only?

Below are the reasons we use a DC supply in electronic circuits instead of AC.

  • Digital Logic Gates:

We know that the basic working principle of logic gates is based on “Binary” states which is “1” (ON) and “0” (OFF).

In ICs, Microprocessors and digital computers, they need ripple free and pure DC as input signal to generate a digital binary signal (High or Low) for ON/OFF operation which is only possible with DC Supply.

This would be difficult in case of AC as it changes its direction and value multiple times in every second due to frequency. (50Hz in UK and 60Hz in US). It means, the AC input signal having the ability to changes 50 or 60 times in every second will generates lots of “ON” and “OFF” signals which is harmful for the circuit operation. In addition, the processor won’t be able to decide which is the OFF and ON signal in case of noisy AC signals.

  • Unidirectional Components:

You can’t imagine electronic engineering without the backbone which is transistor. A transistor needs a DC bias, i.e. for normal operation a positive signal is applied to the base of a transistor. In case of AC supply to the transistor or a diode, it may not work properly as constant for normal operation, but provide a continues switching operation due to multiple positive and negative signals of AC (due to frequency) and even explode if the input voltage are high.

For specific purposes like amplification and rectification, a biased transistor and diode can be used as an amplifier and a half wave rectifier respectively, but is it not always the case in circuit design. In short, AC does not maintain a unidirectional current flow where we need constant and steady state voltage for most of the electronic components.

  • Batteries:

Almost all Modern electronic devices (mobile, laptops, digital watches, etc) use batteries for storage and backup operations, where we know that batteries can’t store AC, but DC only.

These are the exact reasons why most of the modern electronic circuits, devices and components use DC instead of AC.

Good to know: The amount of power is same for both AC and DC signals i.e. 5V AC will generate the same amount of heat as 5V DC when connected to the same heating element (RMS Value).

Other reasons:

DC is much more easy to control, accurate and easier to propagate than DC signal.

If we use AC in most of electronic circuits instead of DC,

  • It will create extra work for just handling the phase-shift between signals.
  • It will be harder to supply them by batteries.
  • You lose a part of the power when the voltage cross 0.
  • If you have single phase, you have pulsating power.
  • You need to adapt the frequencies, if you expect them to work together.
  • And to design a good grounding would be a pure nightmare.

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  1. Hi,
    Can you please explain the below questions.
    1. Why 50Hz in India and 60Hz in the USA.
    2. why 3phase in AC. Why can’t we use the 4ph, 6phs, 8phs?.etc?.

    1. Because 3 phs are much economical than 6 or 9 phs.although we can use 6 or 9 but the phase angle difference will be harder to achieve..the whole electrical system will be changed generator,transformerssupporting structures for 6 phs.

    2. 50 Hz in some Countries and 60 Hz in others. Historical reasons. When the world was not as Globalized as it is today, Americans started to generate ( and distribute) electricity in 60 Hz, while in Europe and Japan 50 Hz was used. Countries Colonized by European adopted typically 50 Hz. Some converted to 60 Hz later…

      3 phase allows for more efficient machines, transformers and mainly power lines and cables, so it ís more economic (imagine transmitting and distributing high voltage lines in a 6 phase system, double the number of conductors, insulators, enlarge towers to handle all cables, etc.

  2. we know electronics circuit work at a fixed power supply that is5V or 12 V etc and AC is an continuous varying signal it can damage the circuit due uneven power supply while DC doesnot vary with time it remains constant thats why we have to convert ac into dc before giving the power supply to electronics circuits.

  3. All circuits use both AC & Dc in electronics. Dc has and advantage over AC , it can be stored in batteries and in case of temporary failures the stored power can work without interruption and critical machines and units don’t go without power.
    DC does not have any ripple. DC is used as low voltage , as most of modern electronics operate at vey low voltages and in some case batteries in small sizes can support the sensors for years like gas and fire detectors.
    Many places you can not run wires for Ac, Dc is the best solution.

  4. Ac signal varies alternatively it can damage the circuit whereas dc is constant . That is why we should convert AC into DC before giving power supply

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