# What are the steps in a typical circuit?

Every electric circuit, no matter where it is or how large or little it is, has four fundamental components: an energy source (alternating current or direct current), a conductor (wire), an electrical load (device), and at least one controller (switch). Consider what occurs when you turn on a light in a room. You have just created a circuit between the light fixture and the wall outlet. The circuit may be completed through either of two paths: from the wall outlet to the light fixture or from the floor plug to the light socket. If the chain of connections is complete, electricity will flow through the room, lighting up the bulb in time with the on/off action of your switch.

The basic circuit diagram shows only the essential parts of a system. It omits many other elements that are necessary for the circuit to function properly. For example, most circuits have a "ground" or "earth" wire which should always be connected to a metal enclosure or some other continuous conductive surface. This prevents electrical charges from accumulating on any single point and creating a dangerous situation such as a spark when you touch something metallic. The ground connection also prevents someone else's conductive object from providing a path back to the power line if they happen to be touching something with a lot of voltage running through it. Without this protection, anyone could be killed by merely walking across a carpeted floor or standing next to a metal desk chair.

## What does a simple circuit consist of?

A basic electric circuit can be made up of a battery (or other energy source), a light bulb (or other energy-consuming device), and conducting wires connecting the two terminals of the battery to the two ends of the light bulb. A simple circuit only controls current through the lamp; it doesn't supply any power directly from the battery to the lamp. The battery must be able to deliver at least as much electricity as the lamp requires.

Conducting wires are essential in any circuit. Other components may use magnetic materials or fluids instead, but they would still require some form of wire to connect them all together. Wire is used because it is easy to work with and its resistance remains constant regardless of how much current is flowing through it. Other types of conductor could be used instead, such as copper tape or metal mesh. They would need to be insulated from each other and from other elements of the circuit to prevent dangerous problems caused by electricity leaking into other parts of the system.

In a simple circuit, all the connections between the various components are made with wires. The term "wire connection" refers to anything that connects two circuits together, including cables, pins, posts, plugs, and terminals. The word "wire" is used here in a broad sense to include all conductors, whether solid metals like copper or plastic fibers such as nylon.

## What three things make up a simple circuit?

Every circuit is made up of three primary parts:

• A conductive “path,” such as wire, or printed etches on a circuit board;
• A “source” of electrical power, such as a battery or household wall outlet, and,
• A “load” that needs electrical power to operate, such as a lamp.

## What are the functions of a simple circuit?

A basic circuit consists of wires, a switch, a load, and a power source. The following are the functions of each component: Conductors: Typically, they are copper wires with no insulation. They create the channel for the energy to travel through. The current from the power source (cell) is connected to the load by one piece of wire. This is called the hot wire. The other hot wire goes to the switch. When the switch is closed, it connects both hot wires together so that electricity can flow through them both into the load.

Switches: A switch controls an electrical connection either directly or indirectly. Directly controlled switches connect two different circuits together. Indirectly controlled switches control one circuit while another circuit is already connected to the same pole of the switch. For example, a light switch controls the connection between the live wire and the lamp socket. A radio-frequency (RF) switch controls which of several antennas sends incoming RF signals to the receiver.

Loads: Anything that uses electricity but isn't part of the circuit itself is called a load. For example, a light bulb is a load because it uses electricity but not part of the transmission line from the power station to the house. Resistors: These are pieces of material with many thin layers of metal on glass or plastic. They show a constant value of resistance to electricity; that is, they always give back the same amount of voltage when current is passed through them.

##### Oscar Holstine

Oscar Holstine is an expert on batteries and electrical engineering. He knows all about how batteries work and what they're used for. If there's something that needs fixing with an electric device, Oscar can probably help!

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