Tradecraft University Basic Electricity 101

1.3

The Essential Electric Circuit

We need a definition for “ circuit”

Electrical current must have a source (battery,
generator, city grid etc.), a conductive path (wires or other conductors – intentional or
not, a load (light bulb or other “user” of the power), and a return path to the source to be
defined as a practical circuit. In essence, a circuit is not a circuit unless what leaves the
source finds its way back to the source. If there is a break in the electrons journey there
is no useful purpose as the load(in this case a light bulb) cannot produce light. In the
picture, we have installed an intentional break in the circuit – we call it a switch.
You might have been wondering how electrons can continuously flow in a uniform
direction through wires without the benefit of these hypothetical electron Sources and
Destinations
.
In order for the Source-and-Destination scheme to work, both would have to have an
infinite capacity for electrons in order to sustain a continuous flow! Using the marbleand-tube analogy, the marble source and marble destination buckets would have to be
infinitely large to contain enough marble capacity for a ”flow” of marbles to be sustained.

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The answer to this paradox is found in the concept of a circuit: a never-ending looped
pathway for electrons. If we take a wire, or many wires joined end-to-end, and loop it
around so that it forms a continuous pathway, we have the means to support a uniform
flow of electrons without having to resort to infinite Sources and Destinations:

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which pushes on the one in front of it. Page 2 It must be realized that continuity is just as important in a circuit as it is in a straight piece of wire. which we’ll address in the next section of this chapter. just like a hula-hoop filled with marbles. any break in this circuit will prevent electrons from flowing through it: TradecraftUniversity. Just as in the example with the straight piece of wire between the electron Source and Destination. and so on.com . All we need to maintain this flow is a continuous means of motivation for those electrons.Tradecraft University Basic Electricity 101 Each electron advancing clockwise in this circuit pushes on the one in front of it. we have the capability of supporting a continuous flow of electrons indefinitely without the need for infinite electron supplies and dumps. and so on. Now.

Page 3 END 1. and continuous electron flow cannot occur in it.” that means its conductive elements no longer form a complete path. Unless there is a continuous. a sustained flow simply cannot be maintained. • If a circuit is ”broken. REVIEW: • A circuit is an unbroken loop of conductive material that allows electrons to flow through continuously without beginning or end. Any discontinuity in the circuit will prevent electron flow throughout the entire circuit. • The location of a break in a circuit is irrelevant to its inability to sustain continuous electron flow. unbroken loop of conductive material for electrons to flow through.com .Tradecraft University Basic Electricity 101 An important principle to realize here is that it doesn’t matter where the break occurs. anywhere in a circuit prevents electron flow throughout the circuit.3 TradecraftUniversity. Any break.