Electric Circuit or Electrical Networks: What Are They?

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Key learnings:
  • Electrical Circuit Definition: An electrical circuit is a closed loop made up of components like batteries and resistors that allow electric current to flow.
  • Component Function: The main roles of electrical circuit components include delivering power, controlling and regulating flow, and protecting against electrical faults.
  • Current Flow: In electrical circuits, electrons flow from the negative to the positive terminal, establishing a basis for how devices operate.
  • Circuit Types: Different types of circuits such as open, closed, short, series, and parallel are crucial for understanding how electrical systems are structured and function.
  • Practical Application: Most real-world electrical systems use series-parallel circuits, demonstrating the need for a versatile approach in electrical design.

What is an Electrical Circuit?

An electrical circuit (also known as an electrical network or electric circuit) is an interconnection of various active and passive components in a prescribed manner to form a closed path. Electric current must be able to flow from the source through some conductive medium and then back to the other terminal of the source.

The main parts of an ideal electric circuit are:

  1. Electrical sources for delivering electricity to the circuit and are mainly electric generators and batteries
  2. Controlling devices for controlling electricity and are mainly switches, circuit breakers, MCBs, and potentiometer-like devices, etc.
  3. Protection devices for protecting the circuit from abnormal conditions and are mainly electric fuses, MCBs, switchgear systems.
  4. Conducting path to carry electric current from one point to other in the circuit and these are mainly wires or conductors.
  5. Load.

Thus, voltage and current are the two basic features of an electric element. Various techniques by which voltage and current across any element in any electric circuit are determined is called electric circuit analysis.

simple electrical circuit

In this figure shows a simple electric circuit containing

Due to this, a current I, flows in the circuit and a potential drop of V volts appears across resistor.

Basic Properties of Electric Circuits

The basic properties of electric circuits include:

  • A circuit is always a closed path.
  • A circuit always contains at least an energy source that acts as a source of electrons.
  • The electric elements include an uncontrolled and controlled source of energy, resistors, capacitors, inductors, etc.
  • In an electric circuit, electrons flow from the negative to the positive terminal, while conventional current flows from positive to negative.
  • The direction of flow of conventional current is from positive to negative terminal.
  • The flow of current leads to a potential drop across the various elements.

Types of Electric Circuits

The main types of electric circuits are:

  1. Open circuit
  2. Closed circuit
  3. Short circuit
  4. Series Circuit
  5. Parallel Circuit
  6. Series Parallel Circuit

Open Circuit

An open circuit occurs when a disconnection in any part of an electrical circuit stops the flow of current.

open circuit

Closed Circuit

If there is no discontinuity in the circuit and current can flow from one part to another part of the circuit, the circuit is said to be closed circuit.

electric circuit

Short Circuit

If two or more phases, one or more phases and earth or neutral of AC system or positive and negative wires or positive or negative wires and earth of DC system touch together directly or connected together by a zero impedance path then the circuit is said to be short circuited.

Short Circuit

Electric circuits can be further categorized according to their structural features into either:

  1. Series Circuits
  2. Parallel Circuits
  3. Series Parallel Circuits

Series Circuit

When all elements of a circuit are connected one after another in tail to head fashion and due to which there will be only one path of flowing current then the circuit is called series circuit.

The circuit elements then are said to be series-connected. In the series electrical circuit, the same current flows through all elements connected in the series.

series circuit

Parallel Circuit

If components are connected in such a way that the voltage drop across each component is same then it is known as parallel circuit.

In parallel circuit the voltage drop across each component is same but the currents flowing through each component may differ. The total current is the sum of currents flowing through each element.

An example of a parallel circuit is the wiring system of a house. If one of the electric lamp burns out, current can still flow through the rest of the lights and appliances.

In a parallel circuit the voltage is the same for all elements.

When the resistors are connected in parallel:

To find the total resistance of all components, add the reciprocals of the resistances of each component and take the reciprocal of the sum.

When the inductors are connected in parallel:

The total inductance of non-coupled inductors in parallel is equal to the reciprocal of the sum of the reciprocals of their individual inductances.

When the capacitors are connected in parallel:

The capacitors connected in parallel act as a series combination. The total capacitance of capacitors in parallel is equal to the sum of their individual capacitance.

parallel circuit

Series Parallel Circuit

An electrical circuit in which some of the elements are connected in series and some of the elements are connected in parallel is called a series-parallel circuit.

Most of the practical circuits are series-parallel circuits. A very common example is the connection of conductors in the rotor of the DC motor.

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