Glacial Energy Blog

Electric circuits 101

Here’s a little recap of high school chemistry for you: Electricity is formed by charged particles that originate in atoms. An atom consists of protons, electrons and neutrons. Protons are positively charged while electrons are negatively charged. The flow of electrons between two points is known as electricity.

In order for us to safely consume electricity, we need to find a way to safely contain and control the flow of charged particles. This is what we see in a battery cell. A battery cell is a chemical device capable of storing chemical energy and converting it to electric energy. A wire is capable of transferring the electrons from the negative end of the battery to the positive end of the battery. Most metals are good conductors of electricity, but copper is usually used to create wires. When a wire is connected between the negative end to the positive end of a battery, it is called as a circuit. While it is easier to see a circuit on a battery cell, the same idea and theory is used in our homes on a much larger scale.

When a light bulb is connected to a battery wires enable electrons to move from the negative end of the battery to the light bulb and then flow back to the positive end of the battery. This circuit flows the current from the battery to the light bulb, which lights up the bulb as the light bulb converts electric energy into light energy and also creates some resistance. A switch is a device present inside a circuit to turn it off and on. This is done by creating an opening in the circuit and thus we can stop the flow of electrons at our will without breaking the circuit. This is the same mechanism used in a home switch to turn a light off and on.

There are two kinds of circuits most commonly used in our daily lives.

  1. Series Circuit: In a series circuit all the devices are connected on the same path through the same wire. A common example of such a circuit is your Christmas lights. A negative effect of this circuit is when one resistor or bulb fails, the entire circuit collapses.
  2. Parallel Circuit: A Parallel circuit is created by using two different paths for the electrons to light up two separate light bulbs. This is the same kind of circuit commonly used in home fixtures. A benefit of this circuit is when one bulb fuses the other bulb remains lit.

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