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6 Things Everyone Should Know About Circuits 101


When you take a class in school, sometimes you’re not sure what you’re actually going to use later or what you’re never going to see again. We put a list together of the top 6 things from basic circuits we think you need to not just regurgitate for a test but remember for your entire career.

1. Ohm’s Law

This will be used in nearly every electrical engineering or electronics class, either a little or a lot, so you’ll see this everywhere. The equation is extremely simple but getting an intuitive feel is the most important part. On the bright side, you will be using this so frequently you’ll have ample opportunity to practice it.

2. Kirchhoff’s Laws

Kirchhoff’s current and voltage laws may not see a lot of explicit use once you leave your basic circuits class, but both the processes and conceptual understanding, this is the best way to approach understanding how different currents and voltages work together in a circuit.

3. Series and Parallel Circuits

Similar to Ohm’s law, you’ll almost certainly see resistors, inductors, and capacitors in series and parallel all through your education and your professional life. The equations are simple and easy to memorize but the most important part is getting an intuitive feel of how the voltage or current in a circuit changes when components are put together.

4. Use of Capacitors and Inductors

Resistors are a pretty straightforward component but capacitors and inductors are more difficult to understand due to the variations in how they react at different frequencies. Although most basic circuits classes don’t go into depth about the effects of AC signals on capacitors and inductors, understanding how they work and their most common applications will help make understanding and troubleshooting circuits significantly easier.

5. Power Dissipation

No matter what area of electrical engineering you go into, power dissipation is going to be a factor in what you do. Knowing what causes power dissipation and understanding the different ranges of acceptable levels can help. Beginning engineers will often select resistors without taking into account the amount of quiescent power that will be dissipated during the operation of the circuit. Small and frequently simple steps will reduce power dissipation in poorly designed circuits by 50 to 80 percent.

6. Honorable mention - Thevenin’s Equivalence

Some engineers use this method frequently while most don’t. If needed, though, it can make your life a lot easier and, if nothing else, it can kinda blow your mind how even the most complicated circuit can be reduced to something so simple.

You’ll notice that many items in this list mentioned learning a topic intuitively rather than being able to crunch numbers. Although the ability to calculate the different values is important, calculators and tools can do that. However, they can’t make intuitive leaps or have a true understanding of how a circuit should operate and how to improve it. We hope that helps you figure out what’s most important as you head into your basic circuits class. Hope you like this and please subscribe to our channel for more videos and tutorials.

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