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# THEVENIN’S THEOREM

INTRODUCTION
THEVENIN’S EQUIVALENT CIRCUIT
ILLUSTRATION OF THEVENIN’S THEOREM
FORMAL PRESENTATION OF THEVENIN’S THEOREM
PROOF OF THEVENIN’S THEOREM
WORKED EXAMPLE 2
WORKED EXAMPLE 3
WORKED EXAMPLE 4
SUMMARY
INTRODUCTION

Thevenin’s theorem is a popular theorem, used often for analysis of electronic
circuits. Its theoretical value is due to the insight it offers about the circuit. This
theorem states that a linear circuit containing one or more sources and other linear
elements can be represented by a voltage source and a resistance. Using this
theorem, a model of the circuit can be developed based on its output characteristic.
Let us try to find out what Thevenin’s theorem is by using an investigative
approach.

THEVENIN’S EQUIVALENT CIRCUIT

In this section, the model of a circuit is derived based on its output characateristic.
Let a circuit be represented by a box, as shown in Figure 8. Its output
characteristic is also displayed. As the load resistor is varied, the load current
varies. The load current is bounded between two limits, zero and Im, and the load
voltage is bounded between limits, E Volts and zero volts. When the load resistor
is infinite, it is an open circuit. In this case, the load voltage is at its highest,
which is E volts and the load current is zero. This is the point at which the output
characteristic intersects with the Y axis. When the load resistor is of zero value,
there is a short circuit across the output terminals of the circuit and in this instance,
the load current is maximum, specified as Im and the load voltage is zero. It is the
point at which the output characteristic intersects with the X axis.

It has an output of E volts. it can be stated that the internal resistance of circuit absorbs E volts at a current of Im. 10. 8. called as RTh. In this case. This means that the internal resistance of the circuit. When the output terminals are short- circuited. The task is to get an expression for the load current IL and express it in terms of Thevenin’s voltage and Thevenin’s resistance.The circuit in Figure 9 reflects the output characteristic. the load resistor is named as R3. . as shown by the equation displayed in Fig. has a value of E over Im. Let us see how we can apply what we have learnt. This resistor is the resistance of the circuit. Thevenin’s voltage is the voltage obtained across the load terminals. Hence the circuit model consists of a voltage source of value E volts and a resistor RTh. A simple circuit is presented in Fig. as viewed from the load terminals. Hence the model of the circuit can have a voltage source of E volts. when the load current is zero. with the load resistor removed. 9. displayed in Fig.

Use the current division rule to get an expression for the load current. As shown by equation (17). C Get an expression for the equivalent resistance Req. Now some mathematical manipulations are required to get Thevenin’s voltage and Thevenin’s resistance. C Divide the source voltage by the equivalent resistance to get current IS supplied by the source. The numerator of equation (21) is Thevenin’s voltage. Once Thevenin’s voltage and Thevenin’s resistance are known.At first. the equivalent resistance is obtained by adding resistor R1 to the parallel value of resistors. as shown by equation (19). To get the load current. containing resistors R1 and R2 . the steps involved are as follows. the load current can be obtained as shown by equation (21). It is the parallel value of resistors R1 and R2 . R2 and R3 . R2 and R3 connected in parallel. is Thevenin’s resistance.. R1 and R2 . The source current is the ratio of source voltage to the equivalent resistance. Divide both the numerator and the denominator of equation (20) by the sum of resistors. This source current flows through resistors. . seen by the source. as expressed by equation (18). Then the load current through resistor R3 is obtained using the current division rule. an expression for the load current is obtained without the use of Thevenin’s theorem. as shown in Fig. The first part of the denominator. and then we get equation (21). 11. The expression for the load current is expressed by equation (20).

Thevenin’s resistance is the parallel value of resistors R1 and R2 . the voltage across resistor R2. This voltage can easily be obtained by using the voltage division rule. with both the load resistor and the sources in the circuit removed. we can obtain a circuit and this circuit is presented in Figure 12.Equation (22) defines the expressions for Thevenin’s voltage and Thevenin’s resistance. the load resistor is R3 and it is replaced by an open circuit. Then Thevenin.s voltage is the open circuit voltage. The voltage division rule states the division of source voltage is proportionate to resistance. the load resistor is replaced by an open circuit. Thevenin’s resistance is the resistance. FORMAL PRESENTATION OF THEVENIN’S THEOREM . We can now ask what Thevenin’s voltage and Thevenin’s resistance represent? How do we obtain them in a simpler way? They can be obtained as shown next. From the expression for the load current. They are obtained from equation (21). as viewed from the load terminals. Here removal of the voltage source means that it is replaced by a short circuit. and the load resistor is replaced by an open circuit. In other words. Thevenin’s voltage is the voltage across the load terminals with the load resistor removed. In this instance. Next Thevenin’s theorem is presented in a formal manner.

This open-circuit voltage can be obtained as the algebraic sum of voltages. acting alone. Thevenin’s voltage is the open-circuit voltage across the load terminals. It can be seen that Thevenin’s theorem is an outcome of superposition theorem. due to each of the independent sources acting alone. meaning that it is obtained across the load terminals without any load connected to them. As shown in Fig. 15. Here it is assumed that we have a resistive circuit with one or more sources. 14. due to each of the independent sources in the circuit. Thevenin’s theorem states that the network can be replaced by a single equivalent voltage source. Thevenin’s voltage is the algebraic sum of voltages across the load terminals. Thevenin’s voltage is also referred to as the open-circuit voltage. Given a circuit. marked as Thevenin’s Voltage or open-circuit voltage and a resistor marked as Thevenin’s Resistance. Proof of this theorem is presented below.Thevenin’s theorem represents a linear network by an equivalent circuit. Thevenin’s equivalent circuit consists of Thevenin’s voltage and Thevenin’s resistance. Figure 15 shows how Thevenin’s voltage is to be obtained. Thevenin’s theorem can be applied to linear networks only. . Let a network with one or more sources supply power to a load resistor as shown in Fig. The load is replaced by an open-circuit and hence Thevenin’s voltage is called as the open-circuit voltage. Thevenin’s voltage can be obtained as outlined below. The voltage obtained across the load terminals without the load being connected is the open-circuit voltage.

Then. Equation (1) in the diagaram expresses an external voltage VY connected to the load terminals. It can be seen that k1 reflects resistance of the circuit as seen by external voltage source VY. PROOF OF THEVENIN’S THEOREM The circuit in Fig. replace each independent ideal voltage source in the network by a short circuit. since we are dealing with a linear circuit. is left in the circuit. as the case may be. A few examples are presented after this page to illustrate the use of Thevenin’s theorem. If a source is not ideal. as marked in Fig. 16. as a function of current IY and some constants. since we are dealing with a linear circuit. Let us some that the internal independent sources remain fixed. current IY will vary. and replace each independent ideal current source by an open circuit. only the ideal part of that source is replaced by either a short circuit or an open circuit. Coefficient k2 reflects the contribution to terminal voltage by internal sources and components of the circuit. 17 can be used to prove Thevenin’s theorem.Figure 16 shows how Thevenin’s resistance is to be obtained. as the external voltage VY is varied. reflecting the non ideal aspect of the circuit. It is valid to do so. Thevenin’s resistance is the resistance as seen from the load terminals. named as k1 in equation (1). It is valid to do so. The internal resistance of the source. Each independent internal source within the circuit contributes . Then Thevenin’s resistance is the ratio of this source voltage to its current. To obtain this resistance. A voltage source is connected across the load terminals. and a linear circuit obeys the principle of superposition. as it is where it is. and the variation IY with VY is accounted for by provision of a coefficient .

WORKED EXAMPLE 2 A problem has been presented now. For the circuit in Fig. As shown by equation (2). Adjust external voltage source such that current IY becomes zero. To determine Thevenin’s resistance.its part to terminal voltage and constant k2 is the algebraic sum of contributions of internal sources. We have already looked at this circuit. as shown by equation (3). current IY will be negative and coefficient k1 is Thevenin’s resistance. set external source voltage to zero. This concludes the proof of Thevenin’s theorem. Solution: . If the internal sources are such as to yield positive Thevenin’s voltage. the coefficient k2 is Thevenin’s voltage. The step involved in the application of Thevenin’s theorem are summarized below. but the purpose here is to show. how to apply Thevenin’s theorem. you are asked to obtain the load current using ThevEnin’s theorem. 18.

Here source V1. The steps are as shown above. Remove the load resistor. Thevenin’s resistance is obtained as the reciprocal of the sum of conductances of the two resistors. as shown in Fig. Equation (23) is obtained using the voltage division rule. . You can obtain Thevenin’s resistance from the circuit shown in Fig. the equivalent conductance is the sum of conductances of the resistors. The solution is obtained in four steps. From Fig.It is a good practice to learn to apply a theorem in a systematic way. it is seen that Thevenin’s resistance is the equivalent of resistors. 19 in order to get the value of Thevenin’s voltage. has been replaced by a short circuit. The two resistors are connected in series and the current through them is the same. 20. When two resistors are connected in parallel. The resultant value of Thevenins resistance is obtained as shown by equation (24). This voltage can be obtained is shown next by equation (23). which is the voltage across resistor R2. As shown by equation (24). in parallel. R1 and R2. and represent the circuit. 20. The first step is to obtain Thevenin’s voltage as described now. and hence the voltage division rule can be applied.

. Equation (25) shows how the load current can be obtained. The last two steps are to draw the Thevenin’s equivalent circuit and then to obtain the load current.Now the part of the circuit containing source V1 and resistors R1 and R2. 21 shows the load resistor connected to the Thevenin’s equivalent circuit. Thevenin’s equivalent circuit contains only the Thevenin’s voltage and Thevenin’s resistance. the load current can be calculated. The circuit containing the small signal model of a bipolar junction transistor looks similar to this circuit in Fig. WORKED EXAMPLE 3 We take up another example now. From this circuit. 22. can be replaced by the Thevenin’s equivalent circuit as shown in Fig. The source voltage is 10 Volts. Another worked example is presented next. Figure 22 contains the circuit. 21. The circuit in Fig.

voltage V2 is the open circuit voltage. The short circuit current is obtained by replacing the load resistor by a short circuit. and it is the current that flows through the short circuit. and then obtain Thevenin’s resistance as the ratio of open circuit voltage to the short circuit current. Given a circuit with dependent sources. which is the same as the Thevenin’s voltage. This problem is a bit more difficult. the following equations are obtained. 22.Solution: You are asked to obtain the Thevenin’s equivalent of the circuit in Fig. it may at times be preferable to obtain the open circuit voltage and the short circuit current. This technique has been used in the proof of Thevenin’s theorem. since it has dependent sources. To obtain the open circuit voltage. The Thevenin’s theorem can be applied to circuits containing dependent sources also. Steps involved can be listed as follows: C Obtain the Thevenin’s Voltage. . C Obtain the Thevenin’s Resistance. The only constraint in applying Thevenin’s theorem to a circuit is that it should be a linear circuit. Since there is no load connected to the output terminals. C Draw the Thevenin’s equivalent circuit.

23 is used for this purpose. current I is the ratio of source voltage to resistor R1 and it equals one Ampere. and the current through it can be obtained as shown by equation (27). is ten times current I.Equation (26) expresses the voltage across resistor R2. The value of resistor R1 is 10 W. as illustrated by equation (29). known also as the Nortons current. it is preferable to obtain the short circuit current and then obtain Thevenin’s resistance as the ratio of Thevenin’s voltage to short circuit current. Equation (28) is obtained by replacing voltage V2 in equation (27) by its corresponding expression in equation (26). the short circuit current. 23 is used to obtain the short circuit current. Equations . When the output terminals are shorted. Equation (27) is written for the loop containing the independent source voltage. When the output voltage is zero. and the value of resistor R2 is 100 W. as displayed by equation (31). Note that the source voltage is 10 Volts. The independent source voltage is 10 Volts. To obtain Thevenin’s resistance of a circuit with dependent source. 23. we can obtain the value of current I. as shown by equation (30). On simplifying. The circuit in Fig. Equations (30) to (33) are obtained from the circuit in Fig. The second step is to obtain Thevenin’s resistance. and the Thevenin’s voltage. The current through resistor R2 is ten times current I. The circuit in Fig.

Connect a source at the output as shown in Fig. Alternate Method to obtain RTh Remove the independent voltage source and replace it by a short circuit. Now it is shown how the Thevenin’s resistance can be obtained by another way. 24 is presented for this purpose. contained in the circuit.(32) and (33) show how Norton’s current and Thevenin’s resistance can be obtained. 24. The expression obtained for current I in equation (35) is used to replace the current I in equation (36) and this leads to . Equations (35) to (38) are obtained from the circuit in Fig. 24. It is obtained with the independent source voltage. Then Thevenin’s resistance is obtained as follows. The circuit in Fig. 24. Thevenin’s resistance is expressed by equation (34). as shown in Fig. the sum of voltage across resistor R1 and the voltage across the dependent voltage source is zero and we get equation (35). Equation (36) is obtained by using KVL at node a. being replaced by a short circuit. Since the source voltage is zero.

Equations (40) and (41) illustrate how Thevenin’s resistance is obtained. . Then the current through the load resistor RL can be determined. Equation (39) shows how this current is obtained. The parallel value of two resistors is the Thevenin’s resistance. Since Thevenin’s voltage and Thevenin’s resistance are known. Find Thevenin’s voltage. Remove RL. Another View It is possible to obtain an expression for the current Ix marked in Fig. 24. as shown in Fig. we get equation (38) and the value of Thevenin’s resistance is 2 Ohms. the equivalent circuit can be drawn.equation (37). Find the current through the short-circuit. 24. Then Thevenin’s resistance is the ratio of the open-circuit voltage and the short- circuit current. WORKED EXAMPLE 4 Find the current through the load resistor RL. Since we know the voltage across the dependent current source and the current through it. Solution: Thevenin’s theorem is used to get the solution. we can replace it by a resistor. On simplifying. Replace RL by a short-circuit.

by using the current division rule. Thevenin’s voltage can be obtained as shown by equation (46). . the current IA supplied by the source can be obtained. From the circuit in Fig. The value of RB can be obtained. as shown by equation (47). as seen by the source be RB. 26. as shown by equation (42). 26. 26. Let the resistance of the circuit in Fig. we can obtain currents I3 and I5. as shown by equation (43). Let the resistance of the circuit in Fig. we use the circuit in Fig. marked in Fig. 27. The circuit without RL is shown below. as seen by the source be RA. To find the short-circuit current IN .First let us obtain Thevenin’s voltage. Once RA is known. The value of RA can be obtained. 27. Once the values of currents I3 and I5 are known.

we can obtain the Thevenin’s resistance. The difference of currents I2 and Ic is the short-circuit current IN. as shown by equation (48). marked in Fig. the current IB supplied by the source can be obtained. Use the current division rule. From the Thevenin’s voltage and the short-circuit current.Once RB is known. Find currents I2 and Ic. the load current can be determined. Once the Thevenin’s voltage and the Thevenin’s resistance are known. . 27.

Equation (53) expresses the load current. SUMMARY This page has described the Thevenin’s theorem. The next page is on Norton’s theorem. It is somewhat more difficult to solve using either mesh or nodal analysis. .Equation (51) expresses the short-circuit current. Equation (52) expresses the Thevenin’s resistance. Its use has been illustrated by using a few examples.