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Grade 12/13

CAPE MODULE 1( ac theory)

At the end of this lesson students should be able to:
Use the diode for half wave rectification
Use the bridge rectifier for full wave rectification
Represent half-wave and full wave rectification graphically
Discuss the use of a capacitor for smoothing a rectified ac wave.
A rectifier is an electrical device that converts alternating current to direct current or at
least to current with only positive value, a process known as rectification. Rectifiers are
used as components of power supplies and as detectors of radio signals. Rectifiers may be
made of solid state diodes, vacuum tube diodes, mercury arc valves, and other
A circuit which performs the opposite function (converting DC to AC) is known as an

Half-wave rectification
In half wave rectification, either the positive or negative half of the AC wave is passed
easily, while the other half is blocked, depending on the polarity of the rectifier. Because
only one half of the input waveform reaches the output, it is very inefficient if used for
power transfer. Half-wave rectification can be achieved with a single diode in a one phase

Full Wave Rectification

In full wave rectification, both halves of every cycle of the input p.d produce current
pulses .i.e. 100 % of the input alternating current is converted to direct current.

One popular

arrangement is the use of four diodes in a bride circuit called the bridge

rectifier as illustrated above and below.

Capacitors and Smoothing.

Most circuits will require 'smoothing' of the DC output of a rectifier, and this is a simple matter since it involves
only one capacitor.
The output waveform in figure 2 shows how smoothing works. During the first half of the
voltage peaks from the rectifier, when the voltage increases, the capacitor charges up.
Then, while the voltage decreases to zero in the second half of the peaks, the capacitor
releases its stored energy to keep the output voltage as constant as possible. Such a
capacitor is called a 'smoothing' or 'reservoir' capacitor when it is used in this application.

If the voltage peaks from the rectifier were not continually charging up the capacitor, it
would eventually discharge and the output voltage would decrease all the way down to
0V. The discharging that does occur between peaks gives rise to a small 'ripple' voltage,
where the ripple voltage is a small variation in the smoothed d.c.

The amount of ripple is

affected by a combination of three factors:

The value of the capacitor. The larger the capacitor value, the more charge it
can store, and the slower it will discharge. Therefore, smoothing capacitors are
normally electrolytic capacitors with values over 470F.
The amount of current used by the circuit. If the circuit connected to the
power supply takes a lot of current, the capacitor will discharge more quickly and
there will be a higher ripple voltage.
The frequency of the peaks. The more frequent the voltage peaks from the
rectifier, the more often the capacitor will be charged, and the lower the ripple
voltage will be.
The capacitor and the load resistance have a typical time constant = RC where C and R
are the capacitance and load resistance respectively. As long as the load resistor is large
enough so that this time constant is much longer than the time of one ripple cycle, the
above configuration will produce a well smoothed DC voltage across the load resistance