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Calculating Equivalent Resistance and Current in a Complex Circuit

Author: The Organic Chemistry TutorTime: 2024-01-19 17:20:00

Table of Contents

Introduction to Circuit Analysis Fundamentals Including Circuit, Analysis, Fundamentals

Circuit analysis is key to understanding and designing electrical and electronic circuits. Some fundamentals concepts in circuit analysis include common circuit configurations, Ohm's law, and Kirchhoff's laws. Understanding these basic building blocks is crucial for analyzing any circuit.

In this blog post, we will provide an overview of some key circuit analysis fundamentals, walk through an example circuit analysis problem, and highlight some key takeaways.

Common Circuit Configurations

There are a few common circuit configurations that are good to recognize. These include: Series circuits: Components connected end-to-end form a single path for current flow Parallel circuits: Components with shared connection points, providing multiple paths for current Series-parallel or combination circuits: Contains both series and parallel elements

Ohm's Law and Kirchhoff's Laws

Ohm's law describes the relationship between voltage, current, and resistance in an electrical circuit. It states that the current through a conductor is directly proportional to the voltage across it, for a given resistance. Kirchhoff's current law (KCL) states that the currents entering and exiting a node must sum to zero. Kirchhoff's voltage law (KVL) states that the voltage drops and rises around any closed circuit path must sum to zero.

Finding the Equivalent Resistance Including Equivalent, Resistance, Series, Parallel

Determining equivalent resistance allows complex resistor networks to be reduced to an equivalent single resistor. This is useful for both analysis and practical circuit design.

In the example circuit, there were both series and parallel resistor combinations. Let's examine the key concepts.

Series and Parallel Resistors

Resistors in series simply sum resulting in a higher net resistance. For two resistors R1 and R2 in series, the total resistance is: R_total = R1 + R2 For parallel resistors, the reciprocal of the total resistance equals the sum of the reciprocals of the individual resistances. For two resistors R1 and R2 in parallel: 1/R_total = 1/R1 + 1/R2

Calculating Total Resistance

In the example circuit, there were two parallel 5 ohm and 20 ohm resistors. Using the parallel resistance formula: 1/R_{eq} = 1/20 + 1/5 = 0.25 R_{eq} = 4 ohms This 4 ohm equivalent resistor was in series with the 6 ohm resistor, so the total resistance was: R_{total} = R_{eq} + R = 4 + 6 = 10 ohms

Determining Circuit Currents Including Circuit, Currents, Ohm's Law, Voltage Divider

Once the equivalent resistance of a network is known, the total circuit current can be determined by using Ohm's law.

Additionally, the current divider and voltage divider rules allow individual branch currents and voltages to be calculated.

Using Ohm's Law

With the total 10 ohm resistance determined, Ohm's law was used to find the total circuit current: I = V/R = 20 V / 10 ohms = 2 A So, 2 A was the total current supplied by the battery and flowing through the circuit.

Voltage Divider Rule

The voltage divider rule, along with Ohm's law, provided a second method to determine the individual branch currents:

  • The voltage across R3 (6 ohms) was V3 = IR3 = (2 A)(6 ohms) = 12 V
  • Total voltage (20 V) minus V3 gave the voltage across the parallel branches (20 V - 12 V = 8 V)
  • Individual currents were then: I1 = V1/R1 = 8 V / 20 ohms = 0.4 A and I2 = V2/R2 = 8 V / 5 ohms = 1.6 A

Calculating Power Dissipation Including Power, Dissipation, Resistor

The power dissipated in a resistor is the product of the voltage across it and the current through it. There are a few equivalent formulas that can be used:

  • P = IV (Using voltage and current)

  • P = I^2R (Using current and resistance)

  • P = V^2/R (Using voltage and resistance)

Individual Resistor Power

The power dissipated in each resistor was calculated:

  • R1: P = I^2R = (0.4 A)^2 * 20 ohms = 3.2 W
  • R2: P = IV = (8 V)(1.6 A) = 12.8 W
  • R3: P = V^2/R = (12 V)^2 / 6 ohms = 24 W

Total Circuit Power

The total power supplied by the battery must equal the total power dissipated in the resistors. This provided a check:

  • Battery power = IV = (20 V)(2 A) = 40 W
  • Total resistor power = 3.2 W + 12.8 W + 24 W = 40 W

Applying Conservation of Energy Including Conservation, Energy

As the previous section demonstrated, conservation of energy is a useful principle for verifying circuit calculations. The power supplied to the circuit (by the battery) must equal the power dissipated by resistors and other elements.

By summing the individual power dissipations and checking against the battery power, errors in analysis can be detected.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways Including Circuit Analysis, Fundamentals, Resistance

In analyzing the example circuit, we applied several fundamental circuit analysis concepts:

  • Determined an equivalent resistance for a resistor network

  • Used Ohm's law to find total circuit current

  • Applied current and voltage divider rules to determine branch currents and voltages

  • Calculated power dissipation for each circuit element

  • Used conservation of energy to validate the analysis

Understanding and being able to apply these basic analysis techniques is essential for working with electrical and electronic circuits.


Q: Why is it important to calculate equivalent resistance?
A: Determining the equivalent resistance allows simplifying complex circuits to find properties like total current and individual branch currents.

Q: How do you determine if your circuit analysis is correct?
A: Using conservation of energy, the total power delivered by the source must equal the power dissipated by all resistors.

Q: What is the easiest way to analyze a circuit?
A: Redrawing the circuit schematic clearly labeling all nodes and components makes analysis much simpler.

Q: How do series and parallel resistors affect resistance?
A: Series resistors add, parallel resistors follow the reciprocal sum rule to find equivalent resistance.

Q: Why does current divide unevenly in parallel branches?
A: Branch currents are inversely proportional to the branch resistances according to Ohm's law.

Q: What equations relate voltage, current and resistance?
A: Ohm's law in the forms V = IR, I = V/R, and R = V/I along with the power equations P = IV and P = I^2R.

Q: What basic rules govern circuit analysis?
A: Ohm's law, Kirchhoff's current and voltage laws, along with conservation of energy.

Q: How is power dissipation calculated?
A: Using expressions like VI for the resistor branch or I^2R for the resistor alone.

Q: What are the key steps in analyzing any circuit?
A: 1. Redraw schematic clearly 2. Find equivalent resistance 3. Determine total current 4. Calculate branch currents 5. Find resistor powers 6. Verify with conservation of energy

Q: What takeaways help when analyzing new circuits?
A: Focus on systematically applying fundamental circuit analysis concepts like Ohm's and Kirchhoff's laws to find unknowns like resistance, current and power.