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Parallel dc Circuits

6.1 - Introduction

There are two network configurations series and parallel.

In Chapter 5 we covered a series network. In this chapter we will
cover the parallel circuit and all the methods and laws associated
with it.
6.2 Parallel Resistors

Two elements, branches, or circuits are in parallel if

they have two points in common as in the figure below

Insert Fig 6.2

Parallel Resistors
For resistors in parallel, the total resistance is determined from

Note that the equation is for the reciprocal of RT rather than for RT.
Once the right side of the equation has been determined, it is necessary to
divide the result into 1 to determine the total resistance
Parallel Resistors

For parallel elements, the total conductance is

the sum of the individual conductance values.

GT G1 G2 G3 ... GN
As the number of resistors in parallel increases, the
input current level will increase for the same applied
This is the opposite effect of increasing the number
of resistors in a series circuit.
Parallel Resistors

The total resistance of any number of parallel

resistors can be determined using

1 1 1 1
R1 R2 R3 RN
The total resistance of parallel resistors is
always less than the value of the smallest
Parallel Resistors

For equal resistors in parallel:

Where N = the number of parallel resistors.

Parallel Resistors
A special case: The total resistance of two resistors is the product of
the two divided by their sum.

The equation was developed to reduce the effects of the inverse

relationship when determining RT
Parallel Resistors
Parallel resistors can be interchanged without changing the total
resistance or input current.
For parallel resistors, the total resistance will always decrease as
additional parallel elements are added.
6.3 Parallel Circuits
Voltage is always the same across parallel elements.

V1 =V =E

The voltage across resistor 1 equals the voltage across resistor 2, and both equal the
voltage supplies by the source.
Parallel Circuits

For single-source parallel networks, the

source current (I ) is equal to the sum of the

individual branch currents.

Is I1 I 2
For a parallel circuit, source current equals the sum
of the branch currents. For a series circuit, the
applied voltage equals the sum of the voltage drops.
Parallel Circuits

For parallel circuits, the greatest current will exist in the

branch with the lowest resistance.

Is I1 I 2
R1 R2
6.4 Power Distribution in a Parallel Circuit

For any resistive circuit, the power applied by the battery will
equal that dissipated by the resistive elements.

PE PR1 PR2 PR3 ... PRN

The power relationship for parallel resistive

circuits is identical to that for series resistive
6.5 - Kirchhoffs Current Law

Kirchhoffs voltage law provides an important

relationship among voltage levels around any closed loop
of a network.
Kirchhoffs current law (KCL) states that the algebraic
sum of the currents entering and leaving an area, system,
or junction is zero.
The sum of the current entering an area, system or
junction must equal the sum of the current leaving the
area, system, or junction.

I in Iout
Kirchhoffs Current Law
Most common application of the law will be at the junction of two or
more paths of current.
Determining whether a current is entering or leaving a junction is
sometimes the most difficult task.
If the current arrow points toward the junction, the current is entering the
If the current arrow points away from the junction, the current is leaving the
6.6 Current Divider Rule
The current divider rule (CDR) is used to find the current through a resistor
in a parallel circuit.
General points:
For two parallel elements of equal value, the current will divide equally.
For parallel elements with different values, the smaller the resistance, the greater
the share of input current.
For parallel elements of different values, the current will split with a ratio equal to
the inverse of their resistor values.
Current Divider Rule
6.7 - Voltage Sources in Parallel

Voltage sources are placed in parallel only if

they have the same voltage rating.
The purpose for placing two or more batteries in
parallel is to increase the current rating.
The formula to determine the total current is:

E1 E 2
at the same terminal 1
Voltage Sources in Parallel

Two batteries of different terminal voltages placed in parallel

When two batteries of different terminal voltages are placed in parallel, the
larger battery tries to drop rapidly to the lower supply
The result is the larger battery quickly discharges to the lower voltage
battery, causing the damage to both batteries
6.8 - Open and Short Circuits

An open circuit can have a potential difference

(voltage) across its terminal, but the current is
always zero amperes.
Open and Short Circuits
A short circuit can carry a current of a level
determined by the external circuit, but the potential
difference (voltage) across its terminals is always zero

Insert Fig 6.44

6.9 Voltmeter Loading Effects
Voltmeters are always placed across an element to measure the
potential difference.
The resistance of parallel resistors will always be less than the resistance of the
smallest resistor.
A DMM has internal resistance which may alter the resistance of the network
under test.
The loading of a network by the insertion of a meter is not to be taken lightly,
especially if accuracy is a primary consideration.
Voltmeter Loading Effects

A good practice is to always check the meter

resistance against the resistive elements of the
network before making a measurement.
Most DMMs have internal resistance levels in excess
of 10 MW on all voltage scales.
The internal resistance of a VOM depends on the
scale chosen.
Internal resistance is determined by multiplying the maximum voltage of the
scale setting by the ohm/volt (W / V) rating of the meter, normally found at the
bottom of the face of the meter.
6.11 Troubleshooting Techniques
Troubleshooting is a process by which acquired knowledge and
experience are employed to localize a problem and offer or implement
a solution.
Experience and a clear understanding of the basic laws of electrical
circuits is vital.
First step should always be knowing what to expect
6.13 Applications

Car system
The electrical system on a car is essentially a parallel system.
Parallel computer bus connections
The bus connectors are connected in parallel with common connections to
the power supply, address and data buses, control signals, and ground.

House wiring
Except in some very special circumstances the basic wiring of a house is
done in a parallel configuration.
Each parallel branch, however, can have a combination of parallel and series
Each branch receives a full 120 V or 208 V, with the current determined by
the applied load.