Electric Circuit and Electrical Symbols

Electric Circuit and Electrical Symbols are everywhere, all around you. Technology has penetrated every inch of our life and this is the electronic age. The remote you use has digital circuits, your digital watch does too, so does your TV. Let’s just say life as we know it would have been a dream without electric circuits. So it becomes very important for us to figure out what exactly electrical circuits are.

What is Electric Circuit?

An electric circuit is a path through which electricity can flow in the form of a small particle called electrons. These electrons flow through the electric circuit doing work for us like rotating our fans or moving the hands of our clocks etc.

The circuit and the components of a ‘How Steady are your Hands?’ game.

Electric Circuit and Electrical Symbols

Electric circuits are amazing. Have you ever seen the game of Steady Hands? It is a circuit with a twisty wire between two points. The point of the game is to move a metallic object from one end of the electric wire to the other. If you touch the wire while moving this metallic object, the circuit buzzes and you are out. It’s a really fun game that can be made with stuff you can find at home. Let’s analyse an electric circuit and dive deeper into its components.

Electric Circuit and Electrical Symbols

Components of an Electric Circuit

  • The Electric Cell (Dry Cell): The electric cell also known as a dry cell is the main component of the electric circuit. This provides our tools and devices with the electrical energy to do work. The cells have a positive and negative terminal. If you pick up a normal AA or an AAA cell, the end of the cell that is smooth is the negative pole and the end with a cylinder jutting out is positive. This is represented in an electric circuit as two parallel lines of unequal length.

Electric Circuit and Electrical Symbols

In the representation, the longer line represents the positive end and the shorter line represents the negative terminal. You definitely must have heard the term Battery. Battery refers to a combination of cells and are used when a single cell cannot supply enough electrical energy by itself. It is important to remember that while connecting two cells, the opposite terminals should be connected together. Such connections can be seen in remotes where you have to put two cells. Other examples of batteries include the large ones used in lorries and cars.

  • Electric Bulb: The electric bulb here represents the component of the electric circuit that is doing the work with the electrical energy of the cell. In this case the bulb uses the electrons to heat up the filament in the bulb and create light. This bulb can be replaced in the circuit with a variety of things, such as fans, refrigerator depending on the electric circuit being discussed. The symbol for a bulb is;

Electric Circuit and Electrical Symbols

  • Electrical Switches: Electric circuits don’t need to be working constantly. You need the fan only when you are at home and when you are going out you switch it off. The on off switching is possible because of electrical switches. For an electric circuit to do work, the electricity has to be flowing and it should be continuous. If there is a discontinuity in an electric circuit, no work is possible.

Electric Circuit and Electrical Symbols

Electric switches are like bridges, in the ON position, the circuit is continuous and the electrons can pass over the bridge to the other side to do work. In the OFF position, the bridge is broken thereby not allowing electrons to pass through which means that the bulb is not getting any energy do work. When  switch is off, electrical current cannot flow through the electric circuit.

  • Electrical Wiring: If electric circuits can be linked to cities, the electrons are the work force, the batteries supply the work force, the bulb is where the work force goes to work in the electric circuit. Here the electrical wiring plays the role of a highway. Electrical wiring consists of thin conducting wires that allow electrons to pass from one component to another and complete the circuit.

electric circuit

If you found this article illuminating, watch this video to learn more about electricity and resistance,


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Practise This Question

The work done in stretching an elastic wire per unit volume is or strain energy in a stretched string is