Direct Current

After reading this section you will be able to do the following:

  • Explain what DC stands for and what it means.
  • Define what a good source of DC would be.

The battery we have been using for a current/voltage source generates direct current (DC), which simply means the current flows in only one direction.

Direct current will cause the electrons in a circuit to flow in one direction only.

As long as electrons are flowing through the atoms of the circuit, work is being done. We can see that work is being done in this circuit because it lights the light bulb. The actual amount of electrons that are flowing is determined by the type and size of the battery as well as by the size and type of the light bulb. We could reverse the polarity of the battery by switching the contacts (wires), and the current would flow in the opposite direction and the bulb would still light.

Either way the battery is connected to the circuit, current can only flow in one direction. Direct current can also be generated by means other than batteries. Solar cells, fuel cells, and even some types of generators can provide DC current.


  1. DC, or direct current, means the electrical current is flowing in only one direction in a circuit.
  2. Batteries are a good source of direct current (DC).