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Car Electronics: All About Circuits

Many of the things we use in our everyday life require electric circuits, but not everyone understands what they are or how they work. Electric circuits are what power our electronic devices and appliances. Almost anything electrical found in the home is powered by an electric circuit. A car is also partially powered by circuits. Without the circuits carrying power from the battery, the car would be unable to run properly.

What Is an Electric Circuit?

Electric circuits are the paths that electricity travels. Electric circuits are the reason that electronics can turn on. Things like lamps, computers, lights, and appliances need an electric current to be able to draw power and operate. Electric circuits need to include a source of power like batteries or generators. Wires connect the power source to the object or appliance that needs to be powered. Once these parts of the circuit are connected, the electric current can flow to the device.

Parts of a Circuit

There are three main parts to an electric circuit. The first part is the power source. The power source is generally a battery or a generator of some kind. The next part is the wires, which form the passageway that the electric current travels through. The last part of the electric circuit is the receiver. The receiver is the object that the circuit is powering. Some electric circuits may also have a switch. Turning this switch on will allow the power to flow from the power source to the receiver; turning the switch off will restrict the flow of power.

Series Circuit

A series circuit is the type of circuit that only has one path for the current to flow through. If any part of a series circuit fails, the whole circuit will no longer work. Series circuits are simpler to create and simpler to troubleshoot if they stop working.

Parallel Circuit

A parallel circuit is a type of circuit that has multiple different pathways for the electric current to take. If one path fails, the electric circuit can still work. The most common example of a parallel circuit is the wiring that operates the lights of a home. If one light bulb burns out, the rest of the lights in the house are still able to work as normal.

Series-Parallel Circuit

A series-parallel circuit is made up of both series circuits and parallel circuits. To know which rules apply to any part of this circuit, you will have to identify whether the part you're looking at is wired in series or in parallel. These types of circuits are growing more popular in houses.

Closed, Open, and Short Circuits

A closed circuit is when the entire circuit is working correctly and electricity can flow through the circuit freely. An open circuit is a circuit that is not closed or complete. Switches can be used to open a circuit at will, cutting the flow of power to the connected device. A short circuit occurs when there are two points that connect that were never supposed to connect. Electricity will always take the shortest route; if it can travel a shorter distance between two points that are outside of the intended path, it will.

Measuring Electricity

Electricity is measured using units called watts, kilowatts, megawatts, and gigawatts. A watt is the smallest form of measurement, and a gigawatt is the biggest. One gigawatt is equal to 1,000 megawatts or 1,000,000,000 watts. A watt is very small and therefore used to measure the electricity in small objects, like a light bulb.

Simple Electronic and Circuit Projects

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