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TERMINAL LEARNING OBJECTIVES: 1. Provided cables, connectors, Test Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment, tools and a unit under test; test ground electronics equipment, per the references. (2800ACT-1303) Given a faulty electronic device, Test Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment and tools, diagnose basic electronic circuits, per the references. (2800-ACT-1305)


ENABLING LEARNING OBJECTIVES: 1. Without the aid of references, select the statement that identifies a characteristic of DC power in a parallel resistive circuit configuration. (2800-ACT-1305be) Without the aid of references, select the statement that identifies the characteristics of a parallel resistive circuit, per the references. (2800-ACT-1303r) Without the aid of references, given a parallel resistive circuit schematic and specified parameters, select the statement that identifies the unknown circuit parameter, per the references. (2800-ACT-1303p) STUDENT INFORMATION: Parallel configurations are prevalent everywhere in todays electronic equipment. In this lesson you are going to learn about Parallel Resistive Circuits. You will accomplish this by learning the characteristics of voltage, current, resistance, and power in parallel resistive circuits. This lesson relates to Series/Parallel Circuits, Voltage Dividers, Current Dividers, Potentiometers, and Rheostats. These principles will also be used for most of the other annexes in BEC. STUDENT HANDOUT PRESENTATION: I. Definition of a Parallel Circuit: A parallel circuit is any circuit in which there is more than one path for current flow.




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A. Current: Since multiple paths exist, each parallel branch in the circuit determines its own current. A branch is a term used to identify each current path in a parallel circuit. 1. To calculate branch current in parallel, Ohm's Law is used. Applied Voltage divided by the branch resistance is equal to the branch current.

2. To measure individual branch currents in parallel, the meter must be placed in series with the branch resistance. Making a break in the branch and filling that break with the meter will accomplish this.

3. Kirchhoff's Current Law: The algebraic sum of the currents entering and leaving a node must equal zero. A node is a point in the circuit where there is more than one path for current flow. Current will split at a node and travel in multiple directions, or the currents will be recombined at the node. In other words, all the current entering a given point must exit that point. In figure 09-01, 10mA of current flows into the node, and 10mA exits the node (7mA + 3mA).


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Figure 09-01 4. Based on this law, total current supplied to the circuit equals the sum of all the branch currents, as shown in figure 09-02.





Figure 09-02 5. The first rule that we will discuss on parallel resistive circuits is that current is additive. B. Voltage: In a totally parallel circuit, all of the resistors are connected to the same electrical point as shown in Figure 09-03. Therefore, the voltage is the same on each resistor. It can be measured, or calculated (using Ohm's Law, E=IR). The next rule of parallel resistive circuits is that Voltage is Common.


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VA 12V

V1 12V

V2 12V

V3 12V

Figure 09-03 C. Resistance: Individual branch resistances and total resistance in a parallel circuit can be calculated and/or measured. 1. Calculating total resistance in parallel is done by using a formula derived from Kirchhoff's Current Law. a. Since current is additive in parallel, the equation is written as:
I T = I R1 + I R 2

b. By substituting the Ohms law equation I =

the original current equation, there is a resultant equation of:

ET E E = R1 + R 2 R1 R2 RT



c. Further, since voltage is common in parallel, ET is the same value as ER1 and ER2. These three values, being equal, can algebraically be replaced with 1 in the equation. This leaves the formula:
1 1 1 = + RT R1 R2

d. To solve for RT, the reciprocal must be taken from each side of the equation; leaving the formula:


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RT =

1 1 1 + R1 R2

e. This is known as the reciprocated sum of the reciprocals method. This very long title is most often shortened and referred to as the Reciprocal Method. This method is accurate for all parallel circuits regardless of the number or value of resistors in parallel, and it works in any parallel resistive circuit. f. There are two short cut methods for finding parallel resistance that can be used when certain conditions exist. (1) The first is called the product over the sum method, and it may only be used for two parallel branches. The total resistance of the circuit equals the two resistor values multiplied together (their product), divided by their sum.
RT = R1 R2 R1 + R2


The second method is called the value over the number method. This method can only be used when the resistors in the parallel branches are of the same value. By taking the value of a single resistor and dividing it by the number of parallel branch resistances, the total can be accurately calculated.
RT = R1 #

2. Total resistance can also be measured. The circuit must be de-energized first. Since each resistive branch is connected to the same electrical point, lead position is only limited to the top, and to the bottom of one branch (which is the same


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electrical point as each resistive branch). Since parallel circuit resistance is measured this way, the designator REQ is occasionally used to represent the specific value of a parallel section, in an entire circuit. D. Power: Power (P) is the measure of work done over a period of time. 1. In a resistor, power is dissipated in the form of heat. As you may remember from the series resistive circuits lesson, the unit of measure for power is Watts (W). 2. Power can be measured with a wattmeter (this will not be done while here in BEC). It can also be calculated, based on other measurements, using variations of the formula:

P = I E

I =




3. Ohm's Law equivalents can be substituted into the basic equation to find power when certain variables are unknown. a. If voltage is not known:
P = I (E )

Since E = I R , substitute for E :

P = I ( I R )

Therefore ... P = I 2 R b. If current is not known:

P = (I ) E

Since E = I R , substitute for I :

P =( E ) E R


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Therefore ... P = E

4. Power is dissipated by individual resistors in the form of heat. Therefore, more resistors in a circuit will cause a higher usage of power. Since it is a measure of work done over time, total power is additive in all applications. The last rule for parallel circuits is that Power is always additive.

Property Current Voltage (I) (E)

Unit Ampere (A) Volt Ohm Watt (V) () (W)

Description Current is additive in parallel (Kirchhoff's Current Law) Voltage is common in parallel Reciprocal, Product/Sum, Value/# Power is always additive.

Resistance(R) Power (P)

Figure 09-05 Parallel Resistive Circuit Properties II. Practice Problems:





Figure 09-04

Example A:
GIVEN VA = 15V Solve For: RT = _________ IT = _________


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R1 = 1k R2 = 3k R3 = 5k

VR1 = _________ VR2 = _________ VR3 = _________ PR1 = _________ PR3 = _________

IR1 = _________ IR2 = _________ IR3 = _________ PR2 = _________ PT = _________

Example B:
GIVEN IT = 26mA R1 = 1k R2 = 10k R3 = 5k Solve For: RT = _________ VR1 = _________ VR2 = _________ VR3 = _________ PR1 = _________ PR3 = _________ PRACTICE PROBLEMS: 1) GIVEN VA = 15V R1 = 12k R2 = 2k R3 = 1k Solve For: RT = ________ VR1 = ________ VR2 = ________ VR3 = ________ IT = ________ IR1 = ________ IR2 = ________ IR3 = ________ PT = ________ PR1 = ________ PR2 = ________ PR3 = ________ VA = _________ IR1 = _________ IR2 = _________ IR3 = _________ PR2 = _________ PT = _________

2) GIVEN IT = 20mA

Solve For: RT = ________ VA = ________ PT = ________


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R1 = 1k R2 = 1.25k R3 = 750

VR1 = ________ VR2 = ________ VR3 = ________

IR1 = ________ IR2 = ________ IR3 = ________

PR1 = ________ PR2 = ________ PR3 = ________

3) GIVEN VA = 13V R1 = 900 R2 = 146 R3 = 230

Solve For: RT = ________ VR1 = ________ VR2 = ________ VR3 = ________ IT = ________ IR1 = ________ IR2 = ________ IR3 = ________ PT = ________ PR1 = ________ PR2 = ________ PR3 = ________

REFERENCES: 1. 2. 3. 4. Operator Manual: Fluke 77/BN Basic Electronics (9th Edition), Grob Introductory Electric Circuits, Robert T. Paynter WinFACET, Lab-Volt Systems Inc.


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PREPARED BY: ____________________________________________ TITLE: __________________________________________________ SIGNATURE: ________________________ DATE: ______________ MODIFIED BY: _A.L.JOHNSON__________ DATE: _10/21/2008___ APPROVED BY: ____________________________________________ TITLE: __________________________________________________ SIGNATURE: ________________________ DATE: ______________ NOTES:


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