|Topics||Capacitors, Circuit Breakers, Current, Fuses, Insulators, Load, Resistance, Semiconductors, Transformers|
Capacitors store electricity and are used in circuits as temporary batteries. Capacitors are charged by DC current (AC current passes through a capacitor) and that stored charge can later be dissipated into the circuit as needed. Capacitors are often used to maintain power within a system when it is disconnected from its primary power source or to smooth out or filter voltage within a circuit.
Like fuses, circuit breakers stop current flow once it reaches a certain amount. They have the advantage of being reusable (fuses must be replaced when "blown") but respond more slowly to current surges and are more expensive than fuses.
Current is the rate of flow of electrons per unit time and is measured in amperes (A). A coulomb (C) is the quantity of electricity conveyed in one second by a current of one ampere.
Fuses are thin wires that melt when the current in a circuit exceeds a preset amount. They help prevent short circuits from damaging circuit components when an unusually large current is applied to the circuit, either through component failure or spikes in applied voltage.
Insulators have valence shells that are more than half full of electrons and, as such, are tightly bound to the nucleus and difficult to move from one atom to another.
A load is a source of resistance that converts electrical energy into another form of energy. The components of a microwave, for example, are loads that work together to convert household electricity into radation that can be used to quickly cook food.
Resistance is opposition to the flow of current and is measured in ohms (Ω). One ohm is defined as the amount of resistance that will allow one ampere of current to flow if one volt of voltage is applied. As resistance increases, current decreases as resistance and current are inversely proportional.
Semiconductors have valence shells that are exacly half full and can conduct electricity under some conditions but not others. This property makes them useful for the control of electrical current.
A transformer utilizes an inductor to increase or decrease the voltage in a circuit. AC flowing in a coil wrapped around an iron core magnetizes the core causing it to produce a magnetic field. This magnetic field generates a voltage in a nearby coil of wire and, depending on the number of turns in the wire of the primary (source) and secondary coils and their proximity, voltage is induced in the secondary coil.