An electric circuit is a route for the transmission of electric current. As soon as electric current moves through a circuit, electric energy in the present is moved to tools that adjust it right into other forms of power that can do work, such as providing power come lights, appliances, and also other devices.

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Understanding current and electric circuits is crucial to understanding how electrical energy works. Electric current is a flow of charged particles, including electrons, protons, and also ions. Existing is explained as either straight or alternating, depending upon how the charges relocate through a circuit. In direct present (DC), electric charges constantly move in the exact same direction through the circuit. In alternative current (AC), fees pulse back and forth countless times per 2nd as the current moves through the circuit. For a detailed discussion of electrical current, see electricity.

Electric circuits may be basic or complex, however all circuits have three main components: wires that lug the current through the circuit; a maker such as a desk lamp or engine that offers the current to perform some form of work; and a power source, such together a battery or generator. Homes and other large buildings get power from electrical power supplied through generators at a power plant. (See electrical power.)


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For a circuit to work, every one of its parts should be connected. When every one of the parts are connected, the circuit is closed and also current move freely. When a component is no connected, the circuit is open and the current stops. A switch can be supplied to turn the existing in a circuit on and off. Flipping top top a lamp switch closes that circuit. This permits current to flow freely and the lamp to light up. Transforming off the switch breaks, or opens, the circuit—the circulation of present stops and also the lamp shuts off.

Series and also Parallel Circuits


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There room two main types of electric circuits—series circuits and parallel circuits.

Series Circuit


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A series circuit consists of a single pathway v which power can flow. All of the components of a series circuit—power source, wires, and devices—are connected along the exact same pathway; the devices are linked one after ~ another, v no branches. Existing moves with one device, then the next, and also so on.

The quantity of existing is the very same at every allude in a collection circuit. However, the quantity of present for each machine in a collection circuit to reduce as an ext devices are added to the circuit. Because that example, as you add lights to a collection circuit, each light will certainly burn dimmer than it did before. The much more lights added, the less current accessible to every light. Existing is never “used up” in a collection circuit, however, nevertheless of the number of devices that room added.

If one maker in a collection circuit burns out or is disconnected, the whole circuit is broken—the circulation of current stops and every one of the tools stop working. Series circuits are most typically used in flashlights, vacation lights, and other straightforward devices.

Parallel Circuit

A parallel circuit consists of multiple pathways, or branches. Each maker in a parallel circuit is top top a different branch. The current flowing v a parallel circuit divides as it reaches each branch. Due to the fact that only component of the complete current flows through each branch, the amount of existing is different at various points in a parallel circuit.

The present in every branch that a parallel circuit is separate; therefore, including branches (and devices) does not influence the quantity of current accessible for each branch. Every light you add to a parallel circuit will certainly glow as brightly as the others, as long as each brand-new light is included on its own branch.

Because every branch in a parallel circuit is separate from the other branches, a an equipment in one branch have the right to be switched top top or turn off without affecting the others. If one device in a parallel circuit breaks or is disconnected, the tools in the various other branches will store working. Parallel circuits are used in homes, schools, offices—any ar where the is vital to store multiple tools working even when one machine burns out.

Measuring Electricity

The electrical energy in a circuit have the right to be measure up in terms of both current and also voltage. Existing is the rate at which charge flows v a circuit, whereas voltage actions how solid that charge is at a provided point. One analogy come current and also voltage is water running through a pipe: present is similar to a measure up of exactly how much water is flowing through the pipe every second; voltage is favor a measure of how forcefully the water is pushing past a provided point.

Electric current is measured as the quantity of charge (the number of charged particles) flowing previous a point in a circuit per second. Existing is measure up in systems of amperes, or amps, using an ammeter; the symbol because that amperes is A. One amp is equal to 6.25 × 1018 charged particles flowing v a circuit per second.

To measure up the current in a circuit, one ammeter is connected in collection with a an equipment in the circuit. The an ext charge (particles) flowing in between the maker and the ammeter, the better the current.

Voltage is a measure of how solid the existing is in a circuit. The is what “pushes” the current through the circuit come a device. Specifically, voltage is measured together the difference in electric energy in between two points in a circuit. Voltage is measured in devices of volts making use of a voltmeter; the symbol for volts is V.

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To measure up the voltage getting to a machine in a circuit, a voltmeter is linked in parallel through the device. The better the distinction in the quantity of electric energy between the points of connection, the stronger the voltage of the device.