# 12.4 Power in an AC Circuit

#### LEARNING OBJECTIVES

By the end of the section, you will be able to:

• Describe how average power from an ac circuit can be written in terms of peak current and voltage and of rms current and voltage
• Determine the relationship between the phase angle of the current and voltage and the average power, known as the power factor

A circuit element dissipates or produces power according to  where  is the current through the element and  is the voltage across it. Since the current and the voltage both depend on time in an ac circuit, the instantaneous power  is also time dependent. A plot of  for various circuit elements is shown in. For a resistor,  and  are in phase and therefore always have the same sign (see Figure 12.2.2). For a capacitor or inductor, the relative signs of  and  vary over a cycle due to their phase differences (see Figure 12.2.4 and Figure 12.2.6). Consequently,  is positive at some times and negative at others, indicating that capacitive and inductive elements produce power at some instants and absorb it at others.

(Figure 12.4.1)

Because instantaneous power varies in both magnitude and sign over a cycle, it seldom has any practical importance. What we’re almost always concerned with is the power averaged over time, which we refer to as the average power. It is defined by the time average of the instantaneous power over one cycle:

where  is the period of the oscillations. With the substitutions  and  this integral becomes

Using the trigonometric relation  we obtain

Evaluation of these two integrals yields

and

Hence, the average power associated with a circuit element is given by

(12.4.1)

In engineering applications,  is known as the power factor, which is the amount by which the power delivered in the circuit is less than the theoretical maximum of the circuit due to voltage and current being out of phase. For a resistor,  so the average power dissipated is

A comparison of  and  is shown in ??(d). To make  look like its dc counterpart, we use the rms values and  of the current and the voltage. By definition, these are

where

With and  we obtain

We may then write for the average power dissipated by a resistor,

(12.4.2)

This equation further emphasizes why the rms value is chosen in discussion rather than peak values. Both equations for average power are correct for Equation 12.4.2, but the rms values in the formula give a cleaner representation, so the extra factor of is not necessary.

Alternating voltages and currents are usually described in terms of their rms values. For example, the from a household outlet is an rms value. The amplitude of this source is  Because most ac meters are calibrated in terms of rms values, a typical ac voltmeter placed across a household outlet will read

For a capacitor and an inductor, and  respectively. Since  we find from Equation 12.4.1 that the average power dissipated by either of these elements is  Capacitors and inductors absorb energy from the circuit during one half-cycle and then discharge it back to the circuit during the other half-cycle. This behaviour is illustrated in the plots of, (b) and (c), which show  oscillating sinusoidally about zero.

The phase angle for an ac generator may have any value. If  the generator produces power; if  it absorbs power. In terms of rms values, the average power of an ac generator is written as

For the generator in an  circuit,

and

Hence the average power of the generator is

(12.4.3)

This can also be written as

which designates that the power produced by the generator is dissipated in the resistor. As we can see, Ohm’s law for the rms ac is found by dividing the rms voltage by the impedance.

### EXAMPLE 12.4.1

#### Power Output of a Generator

An ac generator whose emf is given by

is connected to an  circuit for which and  (a) What is the rms voltage across the generator? (b) What is the impedance of the circuit? (c) What is the average power output of the generator?

#### Strategy

The rms voltage is the amplitude of the voltage times  The impedance of the circuit involves the resistance and the reactances of the capacitor and the inductor. The average power is calculated by Equation 12.4.3, or more specifically, the last part of the equation, because we have the impedance of the circuit  the rms voltage  and the resistance

#### Solution

a.     Since  the rms voltage across the generator is

b.     The impedance of the circuit is

c.     From Equation 12.4.3, the average power transferred to the circuit is

#### Significance

If the resistance is much larger than the reactance of the capacitor or inductor, the average power is a dc circuit equation of  where  replaces the rms voltage.