A.C.
ELECTRICITY
An alternating current varies periodically with time in magnitude and direction. One
complete alternation is called a cycle and the number of cycles occurring in a second is
termed the frequency (f) of the alternating quantity.

unit of frequency is the hertz (HZ)
Generally f = 1/T
The simplest and most important alternating emf can be represented by a sine
wave.
It can be expressed by the equation.
E = E 0 sin wt
E  emf at time t
E0  peak or maximum emf
= 2 f where f is the frequency of the emf
Similarly a sinusoidal alternating current can be expressed as
I = I0sin t
ROOT MEAN SQUARE (RMS) VALUES
The r.m.s value of an alternating current is the steady direct current which dissipates
energy in a given resistance at the same rate as the a.c.
If the lamp in figure above is lit ist from a.c. and the brightness noted, then if 0.3A d.c.
produces same brightness, then the r.m.s value of the a.c is 0.3A.
In general considering energy supplied to a resistance R, we can say
I2 d.c R
= mean value of I2R
Id.c = mean value of I2
Id.c = Ir.m.s
If the a.c is sinusoidal then
I= I0sint
Irms = mean value of I2 sin 2 t
= I0 mean value of sin2 t
Sin 2 t is always positive and varies between 0 and 1. The shaded areas above and
below the dashed line are equal and symmetrical.
The mean value of Sin2 t =
Therefore:
Irms = I0
mean value of sin 2 t
1
2
=I(
IO
2
1
I0
2
= 0.707 Io
CAPACITANCE IN A.C. CIRCUITS
a) A capacitor appears to allow a.c. to pass through but not d.c.
b) Phase relationships
When d.c. flows through a resistor the current and p.d reach their peak at same
time. They are said to be in phase.
In the circuit above, current is seen to lead the p.d. across the capacitor by
current reaches its maximum value
p
2
p
2
i.e.
before the p.d reaches its peak.
Current is maximum immediately an uncharged capacitor is connected to a
supply. At o, p.d is zero through increasing at maximum rate. The rate of flow of
charge is also maximum. This decreases to minimum at A.
CAPACITIVE REACTANCE
Let a.p.d. V be applied across a capacitance C and its value at time to be given by
V = VO sin wt
Where Vo is it speak value and w = 2pf , where f is the frequency of the supply.
Charge on the capacitance at time t is
Q = CV
But Q = It,
I = Q/t = rate of flow of charge
dQ
dt
d (VC )
dV
=C
dt
dt
= C
d (VO siwt )
dt
d ( siwt )
=
dt
wCVO cos wt
CVO
Showing that current leads the p.d. by
p
2
radiant or 90o
Also I = Io Cos t
Where Io = VoC = peak current
VO
1
=
, fromabove
I O wC
But
Vrms VO
=
I rms I O
XC =
1
1
=
wC 2pf
Where Xc is called capacitive reactance
X Ca
1
f
Note that electrical power is dissipated in a resistor but not in a reactance
INDUCTANCE IN A.C. CIRCUITS
An inductor also causes a phase differences between the applied p.d. and the current.
Here the current lags behind by
radians.
From the previous diagram (A)
At 0, current is zero but its rate of change is maximum. This means that the rate of
change of flux is also maximum.
 By Faradays law, the back emf is maximum but by Lenzs law, it is negative
since it cuts to oppose the current change.
Consider an inductance L, through which current I flows at time t.
I = I O sin wt
The back emf in the inductor due to changing currents is
dI
E = L
dt
d (sin wt )
E =  LI O
dt
E =  LI O w cos wt
The applied p.d. V is equal and opposite to back e.m.f. for a pure indictor.
V = E
V =  ( LwI O ) cos wt
V = wLI O cos wt
V = VO cos wt
VO = wLI O
VO
= wL = 2pfL
IO
X L = 2pfL is called reactive inductance.
X L aL
The phasor diagram for the inductor would be
SERIES CIRCUITS
When drawing phasor diagrams, a phasor representing a quantity that is same (common)
for all circuit components is drawn 1st . For series circuits it is the current phasor.
RESISTANCE AND CAPACITNACE
Suppose an alternating p.d V is applied across a resistance R and a capacitance C in
series.
Same current flow through C and R.
Reference phasor is that representing I.
The p.d. VR across R is in phase with I, and that through C, VC lags behind by 90o
The vector sum VR and VC equals applied p.d.
V 2 = V 2 R + VC
= I 2(R
+ X
V = I ( R 2 + X 2 C )1 / 2
Z=V/I= (R2+X2C)1/2 where Z is called the impedance of the circuit.
From the phasor diagram I LEADS by phase angle
tan j =
=
VC
VR
XC
R
EXAMPLE
1. A1000F capacitor is joined in series with a 2.5V, 0.30A lamp and 50Hz
supply. Calculate,
(i)
the p.d of the supply to light the lamp to its normal brightness.
(ii)
The p.ds across the capacitor and the resistor respectively
Solution;
(i)
XC =
Reactance of the capacitor
1
= 10 / p
2pfC
Resistance of the lamp R =2.5/0.3
= 8.3
The impedance Z=
V
= (R2+X2C)1/2
I
= (8.32+10/2)
= 8.9
The applied voltage to cause a current of 0.3A is
V = IZ , = 0.30 X 8.9 = 2.7V
(ii)
P.d VC across the capacitor is
I x XC = 0.3 x 10/ = 0.96V
The p.d VR across the resistor = IR = 2.5V
VC+VR = O.96+ 2.5 = 3.46 V 2.7 V
VC and VR are not in phase.
V 2 = V 2 R + VC
RESISTANCE AND INDUCTANCE
The p.d VL leads the current and the p.d across R is again in phase with the current I.
VR = IR
But VL = IX L = IwL
V2 = I2 (R2+XL2)
V =I (R2+XL2)1/2
Z = V/I = (R2+XL2)1/2
The phase angle by which I lag behind V is given by:
tan j =
VL
VR
EXAMPLE
A 2.0H inductor of resistance 80 is connected in series with a 420 resistor and
a 240V, 50Hz supply. Find
(i)
the current in the circuit
(ii)
the phase angle between the applied p.d and the current
Solution
(i)
Reactance XL = 2fL =200
Total resistance R of the circuit is 500 while impedance Z = (R2+XL2)1/2
= 800
Therefore I = V/Z = 240/800 = 0.30 A
(ii)
Phase
tan j =
angle
between
and
is
given
by
VL X L
=
= 200p / 500
VR
R
j = 52 0
V leads I by 520
RESISTANCE, CAPACITANCE AND INDUTANCE
VL leads the current (reference) by 900.
VC lags behind it by 900 and VR is in phase with the current
If VL is greater than VC their resultant is in the direction of VL.
The vector sum of VLVC and VR equals the applied.
V2 = V
+ (V L  VC )
= I (R + ( X L  X C ) 2
2
Z=
V
= ( R 2 + ( X L  X C ))1 / 2
I
And the phase angle by which I lag behind V is given by
tan j =
V L  VC
VR
X L  XC
R
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ELECTRICAL RESONANCE
The impedance Z of an a.c circuit is given by
Z = R2 + (X L  X C )2
Z varies as the frequency varies because both XL and XC vary with frequency.
i.e.
X L = 2pfL And X C =
1
while R is independent of frequency.
2pfC
X L  X C is represented by the dotted lines. This reduces to zero for a particular
frequency fo the increases. Thus from
Z = R2 + (X L  X C )2
increases as the frequency is varied. And since current I = V
, Z decreases the
R (Z )
the current
varies as shown
The current has a maximum value at the frequency fo and this frequency is called
the resonant frequency of the circuit, given by XL = XC. This has a minimum
value equal to R (R = Z).
A series resonant circuit is called is called an acceptor circuit
2pf O L =
1
2p f O C
fo =
1
2p ( LC )
At values above and below f0 the current is smaller than the maximum.
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At resonance VL and VC both are very much greater than the total p.d V applied
across the whole circuit.
I=
V
V
, V L = IX L and VL= ( X L )
R
R
VL X L
=
In practice, R is much less than XL
V
R
The magnification or Q factor is given as
Q=
VL X L
=
V
R
EXAMPLE
A circuit consists of a 200H inductor of resistance 10 in series with a variable
capacitor and 0.10V, 1.0MHzsupply. Calculate;
(iii)
the capacitance to give resonance
(iv)
the pds across the inductor and capacitor at resonance
(v)
the Q factor of the circuit at resonance
Solution
1
=0.00013F
2p ( LC )1 / 2
(i)
f0 =
(ii)
At resonance the impedance Z = R and if V is the applied p.d (0.10V) the
current is given by I =
V 0.10
=
= 1x10  2 A
R
10
For the inductor
VL = IX L = Ix 2pfL = 13V
Since VL = VC, then VC = 13 V
(iii)
the Q factor at resonance is given by Q =
VL
= 130
V
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PRACTICE QUESTIONS ON A.C CIRCUITS
NOTE: Assume that all voltages and currents are sinusoidal unless stated
otherwise.
1. An a.c voltmeter reads 240V when connected to a mains output socket, what is the
339V
maximum voltage between the terminals?
2. A current given by the relationship I = 0.5 sin 100pt amperes flows through a 10
resistor.
(i)
What
is
the
frequency
of
the
current?
50Hz
(ii)
What power does the current dissipate in the resistor?
125W
3. A 240V source of 50Hz is connected to a 2.0H inductor, what current is drawn from
the source if the resistance of the inductor is negligible?
0.38A
4. An inductor of inductance 0.50H with resistance of 40 is connected across a 240V
with angular frequency of 50 rads1. What current does it draw?
1.55A
5. An a.c voltage of 10V r.m.s and 5.0 KHz is applied to a resistor of 4.0 in series
with a capacitor of capacitance 10F.Calculate the r.m.s p.d across the resistor and
the capacitor. Explain why the sum of these p.ds is not equal to 10V. (assume
p 2 = 10)
7.8V
6. When a certain a.c supply is connected to a lamp, it lights with the same brightness as
it does with a 12.0V battery.
(i)
What is the r.m.s value of the a.c supply?
12V
(ii)
What is the peak value of the a.c supply
17V
(iii)
The 12.0V battery is connected to the Y plates of the C.R.O
and the gain adjusted such that it deflects the spot by 1.0
cm. What will be the total length of the trace on the C.R.O
screen when the a.c supply replaces the battery?
2.8 cm
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7. When impedance consisting of an inductance L and a resistor R in series, is
connected across a 12 V 50 Hz supply a current of 0.050 A flows which differs in
phase from that of the applied p.d by 600. Find the value of R and L.
(R=120 , L=0.66H)
8. A resistor of value 300 , a capacitor of 4 F an inductor of value 200mH is
connected in series. When a p.d of 12 V,50 Hz is connected across the arrangement,
what is
(i)
the impedance
792
(ii)
the current
(iii)
The p.d across each component? 4.56V, 0.95V,12.10 V
0.0152A
9. A circuit consists of a 200 resistor, an 8 F capacitor and a 400mH inductor in
series with a voltage supply of r.m.s value 10V and frequency 200Hz. What is the
average
power
developed?
0.098W
10. Calculate the resonant frequency for a series LCR circuit in which L= 0.01 H, C = 1.0
F and R = 20
1591Hz
(i)
If the voltage supply is 12 V r.m.s, what current flows at
resonance?
(ii)
0.60 A
What is the r.m.s p,d across L and C at resonance?
VL=VC= 60V
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