ELI5: How does energy get anywhere in an AC system when the electrons move back and forth?

In AC, the elections all still flow from the hot to the neutral, they don't flow backwards. But they don't flow continuously like in DC. Instead, they are pushed forward in cycles, which is why you can measure Hz in AC (60 Hz being 60 times a second).

The alternating part of AC comes from the power generation. The generator sends these pulses to the two hot wires alternately. So standard 110v 60hz power is being generated at 220v at 120 hz but being sent down two different hot wires and coming back through the neutral.

In your house, a standard or light uses one or the other of these hot circuits. The stove or dryer (or any appliances that need 220w) have both hot wires coming in.

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