What’s the difference between alternating currents and direct currents?

Direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) have been argued since the late 1800’s when electricity was be produced commercially. Think I am joking? The War of the Currents was a serious national argument about which current was better.

Alternating Current won the war

AC came out as being the premier choice because it was able to transfer larger amounts of electricity over longer distances due in large part to the ability to easily step voltage up or down. At that time there was not the technology to support DC in doing the same. As technology has advanced, DC can now support the transmission of large amounts of electricity and is a competitor to AC again.

Some might even argue that DC power systems are returning to common use because of how wasteful AC electricity can be.

From your experience, is AC or DC the best?

Below is a chart that compares alternating current versus the direct current: