Kirchhoff's Voltage Law (KVL

Let's take another look at our example series circuit, this time numbering the points in the circuit for voltage reference:

If we were to connect a voltmeter between points 2 and 1, red test lead to point 2 and black test lead to point 1, the meter would register +45 volts. Typically the "+" sign is not shown, but rather implied, for positive readings in digital meter displays. However, for this lesson the polarity of the voltage reading is very important and so I will show positive numbers explicitly:

When a voltage is specified with a double subscript (the characters "2-1" in the notation "E2-1"), it means the voltage at the first point (2) as measured in reference to the second point (1). A voltage specified as "Ecd" would mean the voltage as indicated by a digital meter with the red test lead on point "c" and the black test lead on point "d": the voltage at "c" in reference to "d".

If we were to take that same voltmeter and measure the voltage drop across each resistor, stepping around the circuit in a clockwise direction with the red test lead of our meter on the point ahead and the black test lead on the point behind, we would obtain the following readings:

We should already be familiar with the general principle for series circuits stating that individual voltage drops add up to the total applied voltage, but measuring voltage drops in this manner and paying attention to the polarity (mathematical sign) of the readings reveals another facet of this principle: that the voltages measured as such all add up to zero:

This principle is known as Kirchhoff's Voltage Law (discovered in 1847 by Gustav R. Kirchhoff, a German physicist), and it can be stated as such: "The algebraic sum of all voltages in a loop must equal zero" By algebraic, I mean accounting for signs (polarities) as well as magnitudes. By loop, I mean any path traced from one point in a circuit around to other points in that circuit, and finally back to the initial point. In the above example the loop was formed by following points in this order: 1-2-3-4-1. It doesn't matter which point we start at or

This is because the resistors are resisting the flow of electrons being pushed by the battery. the voltage sum will still equal zero. Notice the polarities of the resistor voltage drops with respect to the battery: the battery's voltage is negative on the left and positive on the right.which direction we proceed in tracing the loop. we can tally up the voltages in loop 3-2-1-4-3 of the same circuit: This may make more sense if we re-draw our example series circuit so that all components are represented in a straight line: It's still the same series circuit. whereas all the resistor voltage drops are oriented the other way: positive on the left and negative on the right. In other words. Here we see what a digital voltmeter would indicate across each component in this circuit. as laid out in horizontal fashion: . just with the components arranged in a different form. the "push" exerted by the resistors against the flow of electrons must be in a direction opposite the source of electromotive force. black lead on the left and red lead on the right. To demonstrate.

starting with only R1 on the left and progressing across the whole string of components.If we were to take that same voltmeter and read voltage across combinations of components. we will see how the voltages add algebraically (to zero): .

which is the same as the battery's output. And. either.The fact that series voltages add up should be no mystery. positive right). and R3 equals 45 volts. but we notice that the polarity of these voltages makes a lot of difference in how the figures add. as necessary to complete the circuit. That we should end up with exactly 0 volts across the whole string should be no mystery. . and R1--R2--R3 (I'm using a "double-dash" symbol "--" to represent the series connection between resistors R1. except that the battery's polarity is opposite that of the resistor voltage drops (negative left. R2. we can see that the far left of the string (left side of R1: point number 2) is directly connected to the far right of the string (right side of battery: point number 2). so we end up with 0 volts measured across the whole string of components. we see how the voltages measure successively larger (albeit negative) magnitudes. R1--R2. because the polarities of the individual voltage drops are in the same orientation (positive left. The sum of the voltage drops across R1. they are electrically common to each other. R2. Since these two points are directly connected. and R3). the voltage between those two electrically common points must be zero. Looking at the circuit. While reading voltage across R1. negative right). as such.

its component configuration completely hidden from our view. the voltage across every resistor is the same as the supply voltage: 6 volts. with only a set of exposed terminals for us to measure voltage between -. we get: Note how I label the final (sum) voltage as E2-2. Since we began our loop-stepping sequence at point 2 and ended at point 2. the circuit could be a "black box" -. Note how it works for this parallel circuit: Being a parallel circuit. not just simple series. Tallying up voltages around loop 2-3-4-5-6-7-2. The fact that this circuit is parallel instead of series has nothing to do with the validity of Kirchhoff's Voltage Law. the algebraic sum of those voltages will be the same as the voltage measured between the same point (E2-2).and KVL would still hold true: . For that matter. which of course must be zero.Kirchhoff's Voltage Law (sometimes denoted as KVL for short) will work for any circuit configuration at all.

the "loop" we trace for KVL doesn't even have to be a real current path in the closed-circuit sense of the word. All we have to do to comply with KVL is to begin and end at the same point in the circuit. stepping around back to the original terminal. and you'll find that the algebraic sum of the voltages always equals zero. Consider this absurd example. Furthermore.Try any order of steps from any terminal in the above diagram. tracing "loop" 2-3-63-2 in the same parallel resistor circuit: . tallying voltage drops and polarities as we go between the next and the last point.

Take the following complex circuit (actually two series circuits joined by a single wire at the bottom) as an example: To make the problem simpler.KVL can be used to determine an unknown voltage in a complex circuit. making voltage measurements between the two circuits possible. The two series circuits share a common wire between them (wire 7-8-9-10). I've omitted resistance values and simply given voltage drops across each resistor. where all other voltages around a particular "loop" are known. If we wanted to determine the voltage between points 4 and 3. we could set up a KVL equation with the voltage between those points as the unknown: .


measuring with the red test lead on the point ahead and black test lead on the point behind as we progress around the loop. The voltage from point 3 to point 8 is a positive . Therefore. the voltage from point 9 to point 4 is a positive (+) 12 volts because the "red lead" is on point 9 and the "black lead" is on point 4.Stepping around the loop 3-4-9-8-3. we write the voltage drop figures as a digital voltmeter would register them.

of course. because those two points are electrically common.(+) 20 volts because the "red lead" is on point 3 and the "black lead" is on point 8. Our final answer for the voltage from point 4 to point 3 is a negative (-) 32 volts. the initial placement of our "meter leads" in this KVL problem was "backwards. precisely what a digital voltmeter would indicate with the red lead on point 4 and the black lead on point 3: In other words. the final answer would have been E3-4 = +32 volts: . The voltage from point 8 to point 9 is zero. stepping around the same loop with the opposite meter lead orientation." Had we generated our KVL equation starting with E3-4 instead of E4-3. telling us that point 3 is actually positive with respect to point 4.

we arrive at the correct assessment of voltage between the two points." In both cases.It is important to realize that neither approach is "wrong. • REVIEW: • Kirchhoff's Voltage Law (KVL): "The algebraic sum of all voltages in a loop must equal zero" Discuss this topic | Feedback Page» «Previous Page | Next • Published under the terms and conditions of the Design Science License Sitemap Disclaimer Contact . 3 and 4: point 3 is positive with respect to point 4. and the voltage between them is 32 volts.

1. the easiest method is to replace voltage sources by short circuits and current sources by open circuits. RI. Here’s how to arrange for the maximum power transfer. the maximum power can be found: In addition to the maximum power. we might want to know another important quantity: the efficiency. Find the internal resistance. then the solution is simple. Efficiency is defined by the ratio of the power received by the load to the total power supplied by the source. As we have shown in the Thevenin’s Theorem and Norton’s Theorem chapters.MAXIMUM POWER TRANSFER THEOREM NORTON’S THEOREM SUPERPOSITION THEOREM Sometimes in engineering we are asked to design a circuit that will transfer the maximum power to a load from a given source. Finally. According to the maximum power transfer theorem. with no load connected. then find the total resistance between the two load terminals. we must first use Thevenin’s or Norton’s theorem to obtain the equivalent circuit. This is the resistance one finds by looking back into the two load terminals of the source with no load connected. If the circuit is not in the form of a Thevenin or Norton equivalent circuit. Once we have found RI. Find the open circuit voltage (UT) or the short circuit current (IN) of the source between the two load terminals. If the source circuit is already in the form of a Thevenin or Norton equivalent circuit (a voltage or current source with an internal resistance). a load will receive maximum power from a source when its resistance (RL) is equal to the internal resistance (RI) of the source. For the Thevenin equivalent: . 2. we know the optimal load resistance (RLopt = RI).

the power on RL divided by the maximum power. . The next graph shows P/Pmax. and η as a function of RL. it is easy to draw P. Pmax. as a function of RL (for a circuit with internal resistance RI=50). Now let’s see the efficiency η as a function of RL.and for the Norton equivalent: Using TINA’s Interpreter. P/Pmax.

Note that we we also used the editing tools of TINA’s Diagram window to add some text and the dotted line.The circuit and the TINA Interpreter program to draw the diagrams above are shown below. .

where RL = RTh. radio receivers or transmitters However. This is acceptable for some applications in electronics and telecommunication. such as amplifiers. 50% efficiency is not acceptable for batteries. The efficiency is: which when given as a percentage is only 50%. .Now let’s explore the efficiency (η ) for the case of maximum power transfer.

is a nearly constant load voltage. in fact. A 50% drop in source voltage can be a real problem. but with a current source: Click here to load orsave this circuitFind the maximum power of the resistor RL . . To illustrate the application of the maximum power transfer theorem. let’s find the optimum value of the resistor RL to receive maximum power in the circuit below. Click here to load orsave this circuit We get the maximum power if RL= R1. so RL = 1 kohm. Another undesirable consequence of arranging a load to achieve maximum power transfer is the 50% voltage drop on the internal resistance. The maximum power: A similar problem. It would also result in load voltages that would randomly fluctuate between 100% and 200% of the nominal value as consumer power usage varied. What is needed. Imagine a 10 GW power plant operating at or close to maximum power transfer. This would mean that half of the energy generated by the plant would be dissipated in the transmission lines and in the generators (which would probably burn out). This calls for systems where the internal resistance of the source is much lower than the load resistance.power supplies. and certainly not for power plants.

so first we must reduce it to a simpler circuit. Click here to load orsave this circuit First find the Norton equivalent using TINA. Find RI to achieve maximum power transfer. Click here to load orsave this circuit Finally the maximum power: . and calculate this maximum power.We get the maximum power if RL = R1 = 8 ohm. The maximum power: The following problem is more complex.

R3)/(R1+Replus(R2. the Optimization analysis mode. IN=[250u] RN=[80k] Pmax=[1.{Solution by TINA's Interpreter} O1:=Replus(R4. the following screen appears: . To carry out the optimization in TINA v6 and above. Analysis/Mode/Optimization. Click on the Power meter to open its dialog box and select Maximum. Next. In older versions of TINA. use the Analysis menu or the icons at the top right of the screen and select Optimization Target. After running Optimization for the problem above.(R1+Replus(R. and set the limits within which the optimum value should be searched. click on RI. select Control Object.R3)))). Pmax:=sqr(IN)/4*RN.(R1+Replus(R2.R4))). RN:=R3+Replus(R2. To set up for an Optimization.R3)))/(R+Replus(R4. IN:=Vs*O1*Replus(R2. you can set this mode from the menu. and then execute a DC Analysis.25m] We can also solve this problem using one of TINA’s most interesting features.R3))/R3. simply use the Analysis/Optimization/DC Optimization command from the Analysis menu.(R1+Replus(R2.

If we next run an interactive DC analysis by pressing the DC button. the maximum power is displayed as shown in the following figure.After Optimization. . the value of RI is automatically updated to the value found.

if it is not already given. which is equivalent to replacing the current source with an open circuit. When removing a current source. SUPERPOSITION THEOREM MAXIMUM POWER TRANSFER THEOREM KIRCHHOFF'S LAWS The superposition theorem states that in a linear circuit with several sources. It is best to assign a reference direction to each unknown quantity. all the other sources must be removed and replaced without affecting the final result. it has a positive sign in . Inc. To calculate the contribution of each source independently. The total voltage or current is calculated as the algebraic sum of the contributions from the sources. which is equivalent to replacing the voltage source with a short circuit. When you sum the contributions from the sources.NORTON’S THEOREM SUPERPOSITION THEOREM Copyright © 2011 DesignSoft. its current must be set to zero. you should be careful to take their signs into account. If a contribution from a source has the same direction as the reference direction. the current and voltage for any element in the circuit is the sum of the currents and voltages produced by each source acting independently. All rights reserved. its voltage must be set to zero. When removing a voltage source.

Let us illustrate the method of superposition by the following example. it must remain in the circuit and still be considered. you could replace the source with a resistor equal to its internal resistance. In order to use the superposition theorem with circuit currents and voltages. which leaves the source internal resistance intact. Note that If the voltage or current sources have internal resistance. for all resistive components. . Note that the superposition theorem is not applicable to power. Since it has the opposite direction. Next. then a negative sign. you can assign an internal resistance to the DC voltage and current sources. calculate V’. since power is not a linear quantity. that is. all of the components must be linear. the voltage produced by the voltage source VS. Therefore. The total power delivered to a resistive component must be determined using the total current through or the total voltage across the component and cannot be determined by a simple sum of the powers produced by the sources independently. you should only set the source voltage (or current) to zero. find the voltage caused by the current source IS. Alternatively. while using the same schematic symbol. the current must be proportional to the applied voltage (satisfying Ohm’s law). Follow the method step by step: First. Click here to load orsave this circuit Find the voltage across resistor R.the sum. if it has the opposite direction. using voltage division: V’ = VS * R / (R+R1) = 10*10/(10+10) = 5 V. In TINA. if you want to illustrate the superposition theorem and at the same time use sources with internal resistance.

the unknown voltage is the sum of V’ and V”: V = V’ + V” =5 + (-10) = -5 V. Clickhere to load or save thiscircuit . {Solution by TINA's Interpreter} {Using the superposition theorem} V1:=-Is*R*R1/(R+R1). V2=[5] V:=V1+V2. Note that the signs of the partial answers V’ and V’’ had an important role in the solution. Be careful to determine and use the correct signs. V1=[-10] V2:=Vs*R/(R+R1). Finally.V” = -IS * R*R1/(R+R1) = -2*10*10/(10+10) = -10 V. V=[-5] Example 1 Find the currents shown by the ammeters.

we calculate the contributions I1’ and I2’ produced by the source V2. . to calculate I1’ (the current through R1). Finding I1’ first. we should calculate R13 (the total resistance of parallel connected R1 and R3) and then use the voltage division rule to calculate V13. In the first step (left side of the figure above). In the second step (right side of the figure). we should use Ohm’s law and divide V13 by R1. the common voltage across these two resistors. we calculate the contributions I1’’ and I2’’ produced by the source V1.The following figure shows the steps of the superposition method for the solution. Finally.

the result: .With a similar consideration for all the quantities: And Finally.

You can check the correctness of the steps using TINA as shown in the figures above. Clickhere to load or save thiscircuit The figure shows how can you use the superposition theorem: . I3=[-300m] Example 2 Find the voltage V and the current I. {Solution by TINA's Interpreter} {Use the superposition method!} {We use doubled subscript because the Interpreter does not allow the' and " as an index. the second subscript means the first or second measuring} I11:=V2*R1*R3/(R1+R3)/(R2+R1*R3/(R1+R3))/R1. I22:=V1*R2/(R2+R3)/(R1+R2*R3/(R2+R3)). I32:=V1*R3/(R2+R3)/(R1+R2*R3/(R2+R3)). I1:=I11+I12. I12:=-V1/(R1+R2*R3/(R2+R3)). I2=[250m] I3:=I31+I32. I1=[50m] I2:=I21+I22. I31:=-V2/(R2+R1*R3/(R1+R3)). I21:=V2*R1*R3/(R1+R3)/(R2+R1*R3/(R1+R3))/R3.

V:=V1+V2. I2:=-Vs/(R1+R1) I:=I1+I2. Click here to load or save thiscircuit And the superposition: . V=[2] Example 3 Find the voltage V. I=[0] V1:=0. V2:=Vs.{Solution by TINA's Interpreter!} {Using the superposition method !} I1:=Is*R1/(R1+R1).

V=[120] You can see that using the superposition theorem for circuits containing more then two sources is pretty complicated. more advanced methods described in later chapters. the more steps are required. This is not necessarily the case with the other.{Solution by TINA's Interpreter} {Using superposition theorem} V1:=Vs1*R2*R4/(R2+R4)/(R1+R2*R4/(R2+R4)). If superposition requires you to . V3=[60] V:=V1+V2+V3. V2=[10] V3:=Vs2*R1*R2/(R1+R2)/(R4+R1*R2/(R1+R2)). V1=[50] V2:=Is1*R2*R4*R1/(R2+R4)/(R1+R2*R4/(R2+R4)). The more sources there are in the circuit.

Inc.analyze a circuit three or more times. where it is employed in proving other theorems. All rights reserved. it is all too easy to mix up a sign or make some other mistake. While the superposition theorem can be useful for solving simple practical problems. its main use is in the theory of circuit analysis. So if the circuit has more than two sources--unless it is very simple--it is better to use Kirchhoff’s equations and its simplified versions. MAXIMUM POWER TRANSFER THEOREM KIRCHHOFF'S LAWS Copyright © 2011 DesignSoft. the methods of nodal voltages or mesh currents described later. Circuit Diagram For Half-wave Rectifier: .

DC voltage and current of a half-wave rectifier are as follows VDC = Vm/π – (1/2)VDO IDC = {Vm/π – (1/2)VDO}/R Where VDO ≈ 0. Diode conducts only when it is forward biased.The input and output of the rectifier are drawn in Figere-1. For Vs = Vm sinωt. PIV = Vm Circuit Diagram For Full-wave Rectifier: - .7 V PIV (Peak Inverse Voltage): PIV is the Peak Reverse Voltage that appears across the diode when it is reverse-biased.

r = 0. The DC value is 5V The rms value is 0. I’ rms and V’ rms denote the rms value of the ac components of the current and voltage.5 = 1 For C = 47μF. Peak voltage across each diode when it is reverse-biased PIV = Vm – VDO DC Voltage.9/5 = 0. The DC value is 0. A measure of the fluctuating component is given by the ripple factor r.9 = 0.9V So the Ripple Factor is 0. periodically fluctuating components still remaining in the output wave. The DC value is 0.482 Calculating Ripple Factor for Half-wave Rectifier: For C = 1μF.5/0.5V So the Ripple Factor is 0. r = 1.9V The rms value is 0.22V So the Ripple Factor is 0.5V The rms value is 0.24 For C = 47μF. which is defined as R = rms value of alternating components of wave/Average value of wave = I’ rms/Idc = V’ rms/Vdc Where.18 Calculating Ripple Factor for Full-wave Rectifier: For C = 1μF.18V .21 and for a full wave rectifier.The bridge rectifier circuit and their input and output voltage as a function of time is shown below.22/0. The DC value is 8. respectively. VDC = 2Vm/π – 2 VDO Ripple Factor: A rectifier converting alternating currents into a unidirectional current. For a half-wave rectifier.78V The rms value is 6.

18 /8. <!--[endif]-->Replace 1μF capacitor by 47μF for Figure-2 and repeat step-4. Vo simultaneously. <!--[endif]-->Construct circuit of Figure-1 without the capacitor. <!--[endif]-->Connect 1μF capacitor across the load resistor. <!--[if !supportLists]-->5. <!--[if !supportLists]-->3. Measure Vo with multimeter. DO NOT TRY to observe Vi. Observe and sketch Vi. <!--[endif]-->Replace 1μF capacitor with 47μF and repeat step-2. Observe Vi and Vo simultaneously on the oscilloscope.7 Procedure: <!--[if !supportLists]-->1. BE CAREFUL about the polarity of the capacitor. <!--[if !supportLists]-->2.78 = 0. Sketch input and output waveforms. <!--[if !supportLists]-->4. Vo. Measure AC and DC components of Vo with multimeter. <!--[endif]-->Connect 1μF capacitor as shown in Figure-2 and repeat step-4. Sketch input and output waveforms. . Measures Vo with multimeter in dc and ac mode. <!--[endif]-->Construct the circuit of Figure-2 without the capacitor. <!--[if !supportLists]-->6.So the Ripple Factor is 6.