Power Distribution In The Home – AC or DC?


Typical AC circuit breaker panel
This panel does not speak DC.

When you think about electrical power distribution in your home, do you contemplate….. wait, what? You mean you never really thought about this? OK, well let me back up a bit and explain why you should.

Most homes were electrified in the 1930s, and some as late as the 40s. That’s right, we’ve been flying through the air and traveling in cars for longer than most have had electricity in the home. By the time electricity came down your street, it was pretty well established that it was going to be high voltage AC power, unless your neighbor was Edison, but that’s another story.

For pretty much half of this time, the common things to run power to were lights and motors. Even the electronics of the 50s and 60s required the high voltage AC to run vacuum tubes. But starting in the 1970s, electronics in the home began multiplying rapidly, and internally they started to run off lower and lower DC voltages. Catching up to today, our homes are a sea of low voltage DC devices, and a few big items that still need that high voltage AC. However the method for getting the power to our homes has not changed, and how the power gets around your home has not changed. Not at all. Not one bit.

A quick survey around the Techenstein secret undersea HQ reveals that there are 76 items connected to AC power. Of those, 10 actually require AC power. These are things like the HVAC system, refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, garbage disposal, and countertop appliances. There are also 26 lights, most of which are LED bulbs that screwed into high voltage AC light sockets. The remaining 50 devices are electronics of various sorts, TVs, computers, DVRs, wifi routers, device chargers, etc.

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