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What is a parallel circuit?

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A parallel circuit is a type of electrical circuit configuration in which multiple electrical components are connected in such a way that they share the same two end points, forming multiple paths for current to flow. In a parallel circuit, the components are connected side by side, rather than one after the other, as is the case in a series circuit.

The distinguishing feature of a parallel circuit is that the voltage across each component remains the same, while the current divides among the branches based on the resistance of each individual component. This means that the total current entering the parallel circuit is equal to the sum of the currents flowing through each individual branch.

In simple terms, think of it as a water pipe analogy: Imagine water flowing from a single source and then splitting into multiple pipes that run independently before merging back into a single pipe. In this analogy, the water pressure (voltage) remains constant across all branches, while the flow of water (current) divides among the separate paths.

The key characteristics of a parallel circuit are as follows:

Voltage: Voltage across each component is the same and equal to the total voltage of the source.
Current: The total current entering the parallel circuit is the sum of the currents through each branch.
Resistance: The total resistance of a parallel circuit is less than the smallest individual resistance among the components. As more branches are added, the total resistance decreases.

Parallel circuits have numerous practical applications, such as in household wiring, electrical circuits in buildings, electronic devices, and many other electrical systems. They are particularly useful when you need to power multiple devices independently or when you want to ensure that if one component fails, others can still function properly without interruption.
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