Advantages and disadvantages of full-wave rectifier

Rectifier circuits are considered as one of the important circuits for electronic systems because conversion from AC to DC is done with the rectifier circuits.

full-wave rectifier graph
full-wave rectifier graph

Multiple types of rectifier circuits are available, a circuit made with two diodes is known as the full-wave rectifier.

A complete cycle of AC is a combination of negative and positive half cycles, two diodes on the rectifier circuit will conduct for each negative and positive half cycle alternatively.

Full-wave circuit

Full-wave circuit
Full-wave circuit

This is the full-wave circuit using two diodes, it is also known as the center-tapped full-wave rectifier circuit, and this is due to the usage of a center-tapped transformer on the circuit.

As you can see, both diodes are connected on two leads of the transformer, this connection will help the circuit to produce a full-wave DC output without any break.

Advantages & Disadvantages of full-wave rectifier

We already mention the importance of rectifiers on electronic systems, in total, three basic types of rectifiers are available half-wave rectifier, full-wave rectifier, and bridge rectifier.

Each of these rectifier circuits had its own merits and demerits, in this article we try to explain the advantage and disadvantages of a full-wave rectifier circuit.

Advantages of full-wave rectifier

  • The overall efficiency of the full-wave rectifier is double that half-wave rectifier.
  • Ripple factor is less on the full-wave rectifier
  • The ripple frequency is higher
  • Full-wave produce higher voltage and current values on output
  • Full-wave rectifier had a higher transformer utilization factor
  • Full-wave completely utilize AC waveform

Explain the main advantages of a full-wave rectifier

Ripple factor

The ripple factor of a waveform is called the amount of AC content in a rectified DC waveform.

The full-wave rectifier had a low ripple factor value, the lower ripple factor means the noise wave or ripple on the output is less, so we can easily remove the AC content from the output DC.

Ripple frequency

The ripple frequency of a DC output is the number of half-cycle per second, naturally, the ripple frequency is double that of the input AC wave.

Full-wave rectifiers have higher ripple frequency, the ripple frequency on the cycle is higher, the filter process is easier with capacitor or resistor filters.

Power output

The total output power of a rectifier output is the sum of voltage and current values of the output.

A full-wave rectifier produces a higher voltage and current value on output, this will help us to produce the high power output.


The efficiency of a rectifier is the amount of DC voltage produced from the AC voltage.

The efficiency of the full-wave rectifier is 81%, it is a higher efficiency value compared to a half-wave rectifier because half-wave had a 40% efficiency.

Utilization of AC waveform

The full-wave rectifier utilizes transformer and AC waveform properly, center-tapped transformers are used on full-wave, it had an important part to play on AC to DC conversion and the AC waveform will be completely utilized by the full-wave by conducting on both negative and positive half cycles.

Disadvantages of full-wave rectifier  

  • A full-wave rectifier is expensive than half-wave
  • Higher PIV (Peak inverse voltage) diode is required to build a full wave.
  • A full-wave rectifier is not suitable for lesser voltage values
  • Each diode utilizes only one-half of the transformer.
  • Tapping on the center-tapped transformer is a difficult task to do.
  • Much more complicated circuit than a half-wave rectifier
  • Frequency humming on the audio system is higher

Explain the main disadvantages of a full-wave rectifier

PIV (peak inverse voltage)

It is the maximum amount of voltage a diode can block

A high PIV (peak inverse voltage) diode is needed to build a full-wave rectifier, it is a diode that has a large size than a normal diode, and also it is expensive.

Lower voltage rectification 

A full-wave rectifier is not suitable for low voltage values, the conversion from AC to DC is not happening on much lesser voltage values.

A full-wave rectifier is expensive, this is because of the presence of a center-tapped transformer and two more bulky diodes.

It produces equal voltages on each half of the secondary windings and the output voltage is half of the secondary voltage.

Both the diodes utilize only one half of the transformer secondary voltage 

Rectification process from AC to DC waveform


Rectification process from AC to DC waveform
Rectification process from AC to DC waveform

The figure shows the full-wave rectifier input and output waveform, conversion from AC to DC is been happening in this way.

The ripples on the DC output is been removed with the filter circuits, passive components are used to build filter circuits.

pure DC waveform
pure DC waveform

After the filter process, a pure DC waveform looks like this.

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