Voltage is a term just about everyone on the planet is familiar with, but few have more than a passive knowledge of what the term means. Also known as the electromotive force, voltage is the potential energy of a units charge.
There are two types of electrical current flow, alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). Alternating current is a bit more complicated than direct current and the polarity will switch periodically. AC is more commonly used in homes, office buildings, warehouses, etc… Instead of the electrical current flowing in just one direction, as is the case with DC, the current changes direction periodically. The circuits most also reverse to accommodate the change in the flow in current. Alternating current uses a specialized electrical generator, called an alternator, to produce alternating current. AC has some unique benefits over DC, such as the ability to have its voltage levels converted using a transformer.
Direct current is not as commonly used by cable installers as it is most commonly used in most electronics, radios, phones, laptops and similar items. DC voltage maintains a consistent polarity. Batteries are the most common supplier of DC current, but it can also be produced with a rectifier, which converts AC to DC, or a commutator which is connected to an AC generator. Even though a cable installer will more commonly work with AC, knowledge of DC is required to recognize modifications which have been made to make current direct.
Voltage, regardless of if it is AC or DC produce an electromagnetic field which is present even if no current is flowing. Indoor distribution systems will either be 110 volts (110V) or 220 volts (220V). 110 is what is found in most households, and this is based on congruity of appliances more than benefit. The first system used in the United States was 110V. Once this voltage became widespread, switching to 220 would have been costly for homeowners, appliance makers, and electrical companies.
The use of 22V would have some advantages over 110V though. For one, it uses less conductor material and the loss of electricity is generally less. Most household appliances need more than 110V to run at their optimum capacity. The use of 220V would greatly reduce blown circuits since very few machines are in use that require greater than 220V to operate, in fact most appliances wouldn’t come close.
There are several instruments used for measuring voltage and for setting voltage; a multimeter, voltmeter, potentiometer, and an oscilloscope. They measure voltage either using Ohm’s Law or by balancing the unknown voltage against the known voltage in a process called a bridge circuit. The oscilloscope deflects an electron beam which is proportional to the voltage.
A new product is in the experimental stages, a solar roadway which would harness the energy of the sun and convert the suns rays to usable, viable electricity. The product is still in its infancy, but the potential for job creation is something to get excited about, especially for those who know how to use this system. It is possible that these roadways could be installed in select location within 20 years. As an added bonus, they would be self heating which would make snow shoveling a lot less prevalent.