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What Do You Think?

If static electricity relates to the presence of an

electric charge, what is current electricity?
What is needed to have an electric current?

Electric Circuits Video

Current Electricity
An Electric Current is the flow of charge. Charge (or
electrons) flow due to a difference in electric potential.
Electrical Potential:
Similar to potential energy (lifting something higher
against the force of gravity gives it greater potential to
do work, increasing its potential energy.)
When given the opportunity, objects will move from
higher potential energy to an area of lower potential

Batteries - Electrochemistry
1. Converts chemical energy into electrical energy
2. Consists of two different metals the electrodes
3. Electrodes immersed in a chemical bath that conducts electricity
called the electrolyte
4. The part of the electrodes above the electrolyte is the terminal and
used to connect the battery to the circuit.

There is a chemical reaction between the electrodes and the electrolyte resulting in a
buildup of electrons on one of the terminals (it becomes the - terminal)
The other terminal gives up its electrons and becomes the + terminal.
This difference sets up the electrical potential difference of the system or Voltage

Dry Cell and Wet Cell

Wet Cell the electrolyte is a liquid (car battery)

In a car battery, electrolyte is sulfuric acid the + terminal is lead oxide
and the - terminal is lead metal
Dry Cell the electrolyte is not really dry; but is a paste
Standard AA, C, D type batteries


Voltage: Causes current to flow through an electrical circuit. The chemical energy
of the battery is transferred to the electron as it moves through the battery.
Volt: Unit of measure to measure this potential
A Voltage Source (battery or generator) is required to maintain the electrical
potential in a circuit.

A battery is
connected to two
identical lightbulbs.

4 J of energy given
to each coulomb of

2 J of energy changed
into heat and heat and
light energy by each
coulomb of charge

2 J of energy
changed into heat
and heat and light
energy by each
coulomb of charge

Electric Current
Current is the rate at which charge is flowing in a circuit. It is the amount of charge that passes through any point of the circuit per unit time.

Current is measured in ampere, A, where 1 A = 1 C/s.



Electric Current
Scientist first thought that positive charges flow from the
positive terminal of a cell to the negative terminal. This is
called the conventional current direction.
However, it was found that a current in a metal wire is in
fact a flow of negatively-charged electrons in the
opposite direction. Nevertheless, the conventional
current is still used.

electron flow

Electric Current
Water flowing thru a pipe depends on more than the angle
of the pipe. It also depends on the length of the pipe,
diameter of the pipe and if the pipe is clogged or open.
Amount of electrical current (amps) depends on more than
just voltage, it depends on the resistance found in the

Example 1
A hair dryer draws a current of 3 A. If it is switched on for 5 minutes,
how much charge, and
how many electrons have passed through it?





Q 900C

5min 60
charge of 1 electron =min
1.6 x 10-19 C

no. of electron = 900C / (1.6 x 10-19) = 5.625 x 1021


Electric Current

The battery here is represented by an escalator

which raises charges to a higher level of energy.
As the charges move through the resistor
(represented by the paddle wheel) they do work on
the resistor and as a result, they lose energy.
By the time each charge makes it back to the battery,
it has lost all the energy given to it by the battery.
As the charges move through a wire, they lose no
energy (assuming the wires are short and are a good
The potential drop ( - potential difference) across
the resistor is the same as the potential rise ( +
potential difference) across the battery. This
demonstrates that a charge can only do as much
work as was done on it by the battery.

A simple circuit contains the

minimum things needed to have
a functioning electric circuit. A
simple circuit requires three
A source of electrical potential
difference or voltage. (typically a
A conductive path which would
allow for the movement of
charges. (typically made of wire)
An electrical resistance
(resistor) which is loosely
defined as any object that uses
electricity to do work. (a light
bulb, electric motor, heating
element, speaker, etc.)

Connected to a source of voltage, an electric lamp circuit looks

something like this:

Because it takes energy to force electrons to flow against the opposition

of a resistance, there will be a drop in voltage between any points in a
circuit with resistance between them. It is important to note that although
the amount of current (the quantity of electrons moving past a given
point every second) is uniform in a simple circuit, the amount of voltage
(potential energy per unit charge) between different sets of points in a
single circuit may vary considerably.

Electrical Resistance

Resistance: The opposition to the flow of electricity

Measured in Ohms symbol is the Greek letter Omega Electricity will always take the path of least resistance
The greater the resistance, the less current there is for a
given voltage.

Ohm's Law

Series Circuits
Series Circuits: Provides only one path for the electrons to follow
A break in the circuit stops the flow of electricity to all other
parts of the circuit
With multiple light bulbs (more resistance) the current reduces
and the dimmer the lights become
Ammeters (to measure the current) must be wired in series.

Series Circuits

Resistors are in series have equal currents through them because there
is only one path for the current to follow.
The voltage across each resistor in series will add to the total voltage of
the battery.
Several resistors in series can be replaced by a single resistor that will
have the same current through it as the resistors it replaces. This is the
total resistance of the combination.

VT V1 V2 V3
V IR and I T I1 I 2 I 3
RT R1 R2 R3

Parallel Circuits

Parallel circuits: different parts of the circuit are on separate

branches electrons must choose a path
A break (burned out light bulb) in the circuit does not stop the flow to
the remaining devices
Multiple identical light bulbs will remain the same brightness since
the resistance is not decreasing as it does in a series circuit.
Each pathway can be separately switched off w/out affecting the
Household circuits are wired in parallel, with a standard of 120 volts
Voltmeters are wired in parallel to measure the change in volts
between two points in the circuit.

Parallel Circuits
Resistors in parallel have the same
voltage across them because the
current much choose a path to
Several resistors in parallel can be
replaced by a single resistor that will
have the same voltage across it as
any of the resistors it replaced. This
is the total resistance of the
The total current will be the sum of
the currents through the resistors it

I T I1 I 2 I 3
V IR and VT V1 V2 V3

RT R1 R2 R3

RT R1 R2 R3

Parallel Circuits
The more paths to choose from the LESS the
Water example again: Added pipes coming from a
large tank will allow more water to flow out than a
single pipe.
Therefore as resistance decreases, current
increases; they are inversely proportional

Schematic Diagrams
All circuits need at least the
Power supply, wire, and
There is a set of standard symbols
used to represent these items in a
diagram of the circuit

Electric Power
Electric power Remember that power is the rate at which
work is done and the unit of power is the Watt. Power
applies to electrical power as well as mechanical power.

W qV q



P - power in Watts
I - current in Amperes
V- voltage in Volts

A 6 Volt battery produces a current of 0.5 A. What is the power in the circuit?

P = 6 V x 0.5 A
P = 3 Watts
A potential difference of 120V is operating on a 500
Watt microwave oven. What is the current through the
500 = 120 x I
I = 4.2 A

Calculating Energy Cost

Paying for energy: We are charged by the electric
company for the power we use. It is calculated and billed
to us by the kilowatt hour.
Energy = Power x Time
Kilowatt hours = Kilowatts x Hours

A coffee pot operates on 2 amperes of current on a 110 V circuit for 3 hours. Calculate
the total kilowatt hours used.

P = 110 x 2 = 220 Watts = 0.22 kW
Energy used in kilowatt-hours

0.22 kW x 3 hours

0.66 kWhr