How does the speed of alternating current compare to direct current?

Speed of Electric Current

The speed of the electrical current refers to the rate at which an electric field (or) energy passes through a conductor rather than how fast electrons flow along a wire.

The speed at which electric energy propagates in both

  • Alternating Current (AC) &
  • Direct Current (DC)

is often extremely near to the speed of light.

How speed of current is determined?

The speed of an electrical current is determined by the dielectric constant of the substance through which the current flows.

The speed of the electrostatic field in a vacuum, and in a pure conductor, will be exactly similar to the speed of the light.

As a result, the current will also move at the speed of light.

The electron’s speed is known as drift velocity, and it is quite slow (in the millimetres per second range) (mm/sec).

When compared to the size of an electron, you can presume that this speed is also quite quick.

The speed of electrons moving through a conductor, on the other end, can fluctuate.

Comparison of DC and AC circuit

Electrons in a DC circuit normally flow steadily in the one direction.

Electrons in an AC circuit fluctuate back and forth, not travelling in a constant direction.

The speed in which electrons flow in a circuit is determined by parameters such as

  • Voltage,
  • Resistance, and
  • Conductor material qualities,

but it is typically substantially slower than the speed of electric field propagation.

Although the speed of the electric field in the both AC & DC is approximately the same, the speed at which electrons move in a circuit can vary depending on the types of current and other factors.