Although alternating current, or AC, is the standard emission system around the world, most electric devices still run on direct current or DC. To compensate for the mismatch, electrical services must install converters in these devices for them to power up.
From cars to lights, to houses and commercial buildings, DC is the way to go. This is because DC has been shown to be more effective and more efficient in conducting energy. But if that’s the case, why is AC the preferred method of emission, and how does converting to an all-DC system help save on energy costs?
The “War of Currents”
It all started in the late 1880’s, with the birth of commercialized electricity in the country. Two scientists, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, developed two different types of energy emission: Edison created the direct current system, while Tesla developed the alternating current method.
The two battled it out, with both parties trying to convince major energy distributors to use their system as the national standard. In the end, Tesla’s alternating current system, which at the time was cheaper, won over direct current. In 1893, General Westinghouse decided to use DC as their main form of emission.
While it may seem that AC won, the war of currents was not over. Thomas Edison, not wanting to lose the profits he gained with his DC patents, decided to mass produce devices with DC power cells, thereby mitigating the impact of AC.
Increasing Energy Efficiency
To understand the currents situation, it’s best to look at how both systems work. Both AC and DC take their names from how they transmit their power: DC uses a direct flow of electricity that provides a steady voltage, while AC uses an alternating flow that oscillates between voltages. Both systems have their advantages, with DC being able to provide higher voltages but in shorter distances, and AC transmitting to larger areas but at lower voltages.
To bridge the gap between the two, manufacturers use a system in which AC power is transmitted into a building, and transformers are used in every outlet to convert the energy to DC. The transformers convert the AC energy into DC. This process creates a lot of wasted energy.
To find a more efficient way of transmitting power, companies like data centers have started studying ways to maximize the energy they receive, while minimizing the energy wasted.
Because most devices run on DC energy anyway, data centers have opted to build an electrical system that is fully DC, with the AC electricity being converted at the point-of-entry of the main power feed, and then emitted as DC across all outlets in the building. Data centers typically use massive amounts of electricity to continuously power all their devices. But despite their energy needs, a study conducted by Lawrence Berkeley Labs indicates that data centers that use a full DC system were able to reduce energy consumption by up to 7% and increase energy efficiency by 28%, allowing them to save at least 15% in energy costs.
Coupled with energy-saving devices such as solar panels (which create DC energy as well) and LED lights, DC power can create a more efficient energy-distribution system for commercial buildings, which use less power than data centers.
Switching to DC power has seen moderate success in saving on energy costs for both commercial and residential buildings. To get the best out of this conversion, and to learn more, it’s always best to consult with experts.
Legendary Electric has been servicing the Dallas and Fort Worth areas with over three generations of quality electrical services. Our in-house team of licensed service personnel is known for their professionalism and their skill.
To learn more about our services, or to learn more about AC/DC conversion, contact us today.