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  • Analyze a complex circuit using Kirchhoff’s rules, using the conventions for determining the correct signs of various terms.

Many complex circuits, such as the one in [link] , cannot be analyzed with the series-parallel techniques developed in Resistors in Series and Parallel and Electromotive Force: Terminal Voltage . There are, however, two circuit analysis rules that can be used to analyze any circuit, simple or complex. These rules are special cases of the laws of conservation of charge and conservation of energy. The rules are known as Kirchhoff’s rules    , after their inventor Gustav Kirchhoff (1824–1887).

A complicated circuit diagram shows multiple resistances and voltage sources wired in series and in parallel. The circuit has three arms. The first has a cell of e m f script E sub one and internal resistance r sub one in series with a resistor R sub two. The second has a cell of e m f script E sub two and internal resistance r sub two in series with resistor R sub three. The third arm has a resistor R sub one. The three arms are connected in parallel.
This circuit cannot be reduced to a combination of series and parallel connections. Kirchhoff’s rules, special applications of the laws of conservation of charge and energy, can be used to analyze it. (Note: The script E in the figure represents electromotive force, emf.)

Kirchhoff’s rules

  • Kirchhoff’s first rule—the junction rule. The sum of all currents entering a junction must equal the sum of all currents leaving the junction.
  • Kirchhoff’s second rule—the loop rule. The algebraic sum of changes in potential around any closed circuit path (loop) must be zero.

Explanations of the two rules will now be given, followed by problem-solving hints for applying Kirchhoff’s rules, and a worked example that uses them.

Kirchhoff’s first rule

Kirchhoff’s first rule (the junction rule    ) is an application of the conservation of charge to a junction; it is illustrated in [link] . Current is the flow of charge, and charge is conserved; thus, whatever charge flows into the junction must flow out. Kirchhoff’s first rule requires that I 1 = I 2 + I 3 size 12{I rSub { size 8{1} } =I rSub { size 8{2} } +I rSub { size 8{3} } } {} (see figure). Equations like this can and will be used to analyze circuits and to solve circuit problems.

Making connections: conservation laws

Kirchhoff’s rules for circuit analysis are applications of conservation laws    to circuits. The first rule is the application of conservation of charge, while the second rule is the application of conservation of energy. Conservation laws, even used in a specific application, such as circuit analysis, are so basic as to form the foundation of that application.

This schematic drawing shows a T-junction, with one current I sub one flowing into the T and two currents I sub two and I sub three flowing out of the T junction.
The junction rule. The diagram shows an example of Kirchhoff’s first rule where the sum of the currents into a junction equals the sum of the currents out of a junction. In this case, the current going into the junction splits and comes out as two currents, so that I 1 = I 2 + I 3 size 12{I rSub { size 8{1} } =I rSub { size 8{2} } +I rSub { size 8{3} } } {} . Here I 1 size 12{I rSub { size 8{1} } } {} must be 11 A, since I 2 size 12{I rSub { size 8{2} } } {} is 7 A and I 3 size 12{I rSub { size 8{3} } } {} is 4 A.

Kirchhoff’s second rule

Kirchhoff’s second rule (the loop rule    ) is an application of conservation of energy. The loop rule is stated in terms of potential, V size 12{V} {} , rather than potential energy, but the two are related since PE elec = qV size 12{ ital "PE" rSub { size 8{"elec"} } = ital "qV"} {} . Recall that emf is the potential difference of a source when no current is flowing. In a closed loop, whatever energy is supplied by emf must be transferred into other forms by devices in the loop, since there are no other ways in which energy can be transferred into or out of the circuit. [link] illustrates the changes in potential in a simple series circuit loop.

Questions & Answers

An American traveler in New Zealand carries a transformer to convert New Zealand’s standard 240 V to 120 V so that she can use some small appliances on her trip.
nkombo Reply
What is the ratio of turns in the primary and secondary coils of her transformer?
nkombo
How electric lines and equipotential surface are mutually perpendicular?
Abid Reply
The potential difference between any two points on the surface is zero that implies È.Ŕ=0, Where R is the distance between two different points &E= Electric field intensity. From which we have cos þ =0, where þ is the angle between the directions of field and distance line, as E andR are zero. Thus
MAHADEV
sorry..E and R are non zero...
MAHADEV
By how much leeway (both percentage and mass) would you have in the selection of the mass of the object in the previous problem if you did not wish the new period to be greater than 2.01 s or less than 1.99 s?
Elene Reply
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Fayyaz
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Abdu
Describe an experiment to determine short half life
Tyson Reply
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Hassan
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Emmanuel
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Benedine
A 20MH coil has a resistance of 50 ohms and us connected in series with a capacitor to a 520MV supply
Musa Reply
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Caya Reply
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Sujitha
Physics is the branch of science that deals with the study of matter and the interactions it undergoes with energy
Junior
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AMIT
A 20MH coil has a resistance of 50 ohms and is connected in series with a capacitor to a 250MV supply if the circuit is to resonate at 100KHZ, Determine 1: the capacitance of the capacitor 2: the working voltage of the circuit, given that pie =3.142
Musa
Physics is the branch of science that deals with the study of matter and the interactions it undergoes with energy
Kelly
Heat is transfered by thermal contact but if it is transfered by conduction or radiation, is it possible to reach in thermal equilibrium?
Eden Reply
Yes, It is possible by conduction if Surface is Adiabatic
Astronomy
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Kelly
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Magret Reply
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Kalilu
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Kalilu
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Moses
Physic... Is a purging medicine, which stimulates evacuation of the bowels.
Moses
are you asking for qualities or quantities?
Noman
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Ekwunazor Reply
Universe
Noman
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Astronomy
Examine different types of shoes, including sports shoes and thongs. In terms of physics, why are the bottom surfaces designed as they are? What differences will dry and wet conditions make for these surfaces?
Lathan Reply
sports shoes are designed in such a way they are gripped well with your feet and their bases have and high friction surfaces, Thong shoes are for comfort, these are easily removed and light weight. these are usually low friction surfaces but in wet conditions they offer greater friction.
Noman
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Noman
what is wave
Ochigbo Reply
The phenomenon of transfer of energy
Noman
how does time flow in one dimension
Lord Reply
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Lord
if it flows in three dimensions does it mean if an object theoretically moves beyond the speed of light it won't experience time
Lord
but if an object moves beyond the speed of light time stops right for it
Lord
yes but at light speed it ceases
Lord
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Noman
Practice Key Terms 4

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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