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ALTERNATING CURRENT VALUES
In discussing alternating current and voltage, you will often find it necessary to express the current and voltage in terms of MAXIMUM or PEAK values, PEAKtoPEAK values, EFFECTIVE values, AVERAGE values, or INSTANTANEOUS values. Each of these values has a different meaning and is used to describe a different amount of current or voltage. PEAK AND PEAKTOPEAK VALUES Refer to figure 113. Notice it shows the positive alternation of a sine wave (a halfcycle of ac) and a dc waveform that occur simultaneously. Note that the dc starts and stops at the same moment as does the positive alternation, and that both waveforms rise to the same maximum value. However, the dc values are greater than the corresponding ac values at all points except the point at which the positive alternation passes through its maximum value. At this point the dc and ac values are equal. This point on the sine wave is referred to as the maximum or peak value. Figure 113.  Maximum or peak value. During each complete cycle of ac there are always two maximum or peak values, one for the positive halfcycle and the other for the negative halfcycle. The difference between the peak positive value and the peak negative value is called the peaktopeak value of the sine wave. This value is twice the maximum or peak value of the sine wave and is sometimes used for measurement of ac voltages. Note the difference between peak and peaktopeak values in figure 114. Usually alternating voltage and current are expressed in EFFECTIVE VALUES (a term you will study later) rather than in peaktopeak values. Figure 114.  Peak and peaktopeak values. Q.24 What is meant by peak and peaktopeak values of ac? INSTANTANEOUS VALUE The INSTANTANEOUS value of an alternating voltage or current is the value of voltage or current at one particular instant. The value may be zero if the particular instant is the time in the cycle at which the polarity of the voltage is changing. It may also be the same as the peak value, if the selected instant is the time in the cycle at which the voltage or current stops increasing and starts decreasing. There are actually an infinite number of instantaneous values between zero and the peak value. AVERAGE VALUE The AVERAGE value of an alternating current or voltage is the average of ALL the INSTANTANEOUS values during ONE alternation. Since the voltage increases from zero to peak value and decreases back to zero during one alternation, the average value must be some value between those two limits. You could determine the average value by adding together a series of instantaneous values of the alternation (between 0° and 180°), and then dividing the sum by the number of instantaneous values used. The computation would show that one alternation of a sine wave has an average value equal to 0.636 times the peak value. The formula for a verage voltage is E_{avg} = 0.636 X E_{max} where E_{avg} is the average voltage of one alternation, and E_{max} is the maximum or peak voltage. Similarly, the formula for average current is I_{avg} = 0.636 X I_{max} where I_{avg} is the average current in one alternation, and I_{max} is the maximum or peak current. Do not confuse the above definition of an average value with that of the average value of a complete cycle. Because the voltage is positive during one alternation and negative during the other alternation, the average value of the voltage values occurring during the complete cycle is zero. Q.26 If any point on a sine wave is selected at random and the value of the current or
voltage is measured at that one particular moment, what value is being measured? 