There are different meanings of the term circuit. In a literal sense, a circuit is a diagram or route that begins and ends at the same point or place. The path may be circular, a square, rectangular, triangle, polygonal or any kind of geometric shape as long as the start and the end points are the same. In electronics, a circuit is the path that has two or any number of points and the path determines the flow of an electric current.
Types of Circuit
There are two types of circuits, series and parallel. A series circuit is one line connecting all points or components in the path. The shape of the circuit may vary but every component, ala lights and power outlets, will be lined up one after the other. Imagine lining up ten bulbs using a single wire connected to the power source. A single wire will allow the passage of an electric current which will light up all the bulbs. In a series circuit, all lights will glow a bit dimly because the power is being shared by all the components and is hence being split by the number of components there is in the circuit. If one component breaks in the circuit or doesn’t function, then the whole circuit will go off. If the first bulb goes off or there is a wiring problem in the circuit, then the whole apparatus would malfunction.
Parallel Circuit: Explained!
A parallel circuit is a path wherein multiple branches originate from the primary wire leading to various components and then those branches converge to meet at one or several points, eventually having a single wire close the circuit.
Imagine the wiring in your home. There is a main line that connects your home to the power grid. The main line then gets routed through the distribution box. From there, many wires branch out to power different appliances. Usually, there are various subpanels or sub-distribution boxes for different rooms or parts of the property. There are separate main lines for large appliances. For smaller appliances or uses, like lights and fans, the main line is split into different lines connecting every appliance or fixture.
A parallel circuit allows for multiple disassociated passages of electric current. A problem in the wire connecting your fan would not turn off the lights. The circuit breaker for the air conditioner or heater going kaput will not affect the washing machine or the refrigerator. They all are connected to the main line of your home but there are separate branches that work independently, being a part of the same circuit.