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Applying kirchhoff’s rules

By applying Kirchhoff’s rules, we generate equations that allow us to find the unknowns in circuits. The unknowns may be currents, emfs, or resistances. Each time a rule is applied, an equation is produced. If there are as many independent equations as unknowns, then the problem can be solved. There are two decisions you must make when applying Kirchhoff’s rules. These decisions determine the signs of various quantities in the equations you obtain from applying the rules.

  1. When applying Kirchhoff’s first rule, the junction rule, you must label the current in each branch and decide in what direction it is going. For example, in [link] , [link] , and [link] , currents are labeled I 1 size 12{I rSub { size 8{1} } } {} , I 2 size 12{I rSub { size 8{2} } } {} , I 3 size 12{I rSub { size 8{3} } } {} , and I size 12{I} {} , and arrows indicate their directions. There is no risk here, for if you choose the wrong direction, the current will be of the correct magnitude but negative.
  2. When applying Kirchhoff’s second rule, the loop rule, you must identify a closed loop and decide in which direction to go around it, clockwise or counterclockwise. For example, in [link] the loop was traversed in the same direction as the current (clockwise). Again, there is no risk; going around the circuit in the opposite direction reverses the sign of every term in the equation, which is like multiplying both sides of the equation by –1.

[link] and the following points will help you get the plus or minus signs right when applying the loop rule. Note that the resistors and emfs are traversed by going from a to b. In many circuits, it will be necessary to construct more than one loop. In traversing each loop, one needs to be consistent for the sign of the change in potential. (See [link] .)

This figure shows four situations where current flows through either a resistor or a source, and the calculation of the potential change across each. The first two diagrams show the potential drop across a resistor, with the current flowing from left to right or right to left. The other two diagrams show a potential drop across a voltage source, when the terminals are in one orientation and then another.
Each of these resistors and voltage sources is traversed from a to b. The potential changes are shown beneath each element and are explained in the text. (Note that the script E stands for emf.)
  • When a resistor is traversed in the same direction as the current, the change in potential is IR size 12{- ital "IR"} {} . (See [link] .)
  • When a resistor is traversed in the direction opposite to the current, the change in potential is + IR size 12{+ ital "IR"} {} . (See [link] .)
  • When an emf is traversed from to + (the same direction it moves positive charge), the change in potential is +emf. (See [link] .)
  • When an emf is traversed from + to (opposite to the direction it moves positive charge), the change in potential is size 12{ - {}} {} emf. (See [link] .)

Calculating current: using kirchhoff’s rules

Find the currents flowing in the circuit in [link] .

The diagram shows a complex circuit with two voltage sources E sub one and E sub two and several resistive loads, wired in two loops and two junctions. Several points on the diagram are marked with letters a through h. The current in each branch is labeled separately.
This circuit is similar to that in [link] , but the resistances and emfs are specified. (Each emf is denoted by script E.) The currents in each branch are labeled and assumed to move in the directions shown. This example uses Kirchhoff’s rules to find the currents.


This circuit is sufficiently complex that the currents cannot be found using Ohm’s law and the series-parallel techniques—it is necessary to use Kirchhoff’s rules. Currents have been labeled I 1 size 12{I rSub { size 8{1} } } {} , I 2 size 12{I rSub { size 8{2} } } {} , and I 3 size 12{I rSub { size 8{3} } } {} in the figure and assumptions have been made about their directions. Locations on the diagram have been labeled with letters a through h. In the solution we will apply the junction and loop rules, seeking three independent equations to allow us to solve for the three unknown currents.

Questions & Answers

Determine the total force and the absolute pressure on the bottom of a swimming pool 28.0m by 8.5m whose uniform depth is 1 .8m.
Henny Reply
for the answer to complete, the units need specified why
muqaddas Reply
That's just how the AP grades. Otherwise, you could be talking about m/s when the answer requires m/s^2. They need to know what you are referring to.
Suppose a speck of dust in an electrostatic precipitator has 1.0000×1012 protons in it and has a net charge of –5.00 nC (a very large charge for a small speck). How many electrons does it have?
Alexia Reply
how would I work this problem
how can you have not an integer number of protons? If, on the other hand it supposed to be 1e12, then 1.6e-19C/proton • 1e12 protons=1.6e-7 C is the charge of the protons in the speck, so the difference between this and 5e-9C is made up by electrons
what is angular velocity
Obaapa Reply
angular velocity can be defined as the rate of change in radian over seconds.
Why does earth exert only a tiny downward pull?
Mya Reply
Why is light bright?
Abraham Reply
what is radioactive element
Attah Reply
an 8.0 capacitor is connected by to the terminals of 60Hz whoes rms voltage is 150v. a.find the capacity reactance and rms to the circuit
Aisha Reply
thanks so much. i undersooth well
Valdes Reply
what is physics
Nwafor Reply
is the study of matter in relation to energy
physics can be defined as the natural science that deals with the study of motion through space,time along with its related concepts which are energy and force
a submersible pump is dropped a borehole and hits the level of water at the bottom of the borehole 5 seconds later.determine the level of water in the borehole
Obrian Reply
what is power?
aron Reply
power P = Work done per second W/ t. It means the more power, the stronger machine
e.g. heart Uses 2 W per beat.
A spherica, concave shaving mirror has a radius of curvature of 32 cm .what is the magnification of a persons face. when it is 12cm to the left of the vertex of the mirror
Alona Reply
did you solve?
my name is Abu m.konnek I am a student of a electrical engineer and I want you to help me
the magnification k = f/(f-d) with focus f = R/2 =16 cm; d =12 cm k = 16/4 =4
what do we call velocity
A weather vane is some sort of directional arrow parallel to the ground that may rotate freely in a horizontal plane. A typical weather vane has a large cross-sectional area perpendicular to the direction the arrow is pointing, like a “One Way” street sign. The purpose of the weather vane is to indicate the direction of the wind. As wind blows pa
Kavita Reply
what about the wind vane
If a prism is fully imersed in water then the ray of light will normally dispersed or their is any difference?
Anurag Reply
the same behavior thru the prism out or in water bud abbot
If this will experimented with a hollow(vaccum) prism in water then what will be result ?
Practice Key Terms 4

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