Electrical Circuits

A complete path, or circuit, is needed before voltage can cause a current flow through resistances to perform work.

There are several types of circuits, but all require the same basic components. A power source (battery or alternator) produces voltage, or electrical potential. Conductors (wires, printed circuit boards) provide a path for current flow. Working devices, or loads (lamps, motors), change the electrical energy into another form of energy to perform work. Control devices (switches, relays) turn the current flow on and off. And, protection devices (fuses, circuit breakers) interrupt the current path if too much current flows. Too much current is called an overload, which could damage conductors and working devices. A list of five things to look for in any circuit:

1. Source of Voltage

2. Protection Device

3. Load

4. Control

5. Ground

We will be identifying these items when we look at Automotive Circuits a little later in this book.

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