A short circuit (sometimes abbreviated to short or s/c) is an electrical circuit that allows a current to travel along an unintended path with no or very low electrical impedance. This results in an excessive current flowing through the circuit. The opposite of a short circuit is an open circuit, which is an infinite resistance (or very high impedance) between two nodes. A short circuit is an abnormal connection between two nodes of an electric circuit intended to be at different voltages. This results in an electric current limited only by the Thévenin equivalent resistance of the rest of the network which can cause circuit damage, overheating, fire or explosion. Although usually the result of a fault, there are cases where short circuits are caused intentionally, for example, for the purpose of voltage-sensing crowbar circuit protectors. In circuit analysis, a short circuit is defined as a connection between two nodes that forces them to be at the same voltage. In an 'ideal' short circuit, this means there is no resistance and thus no voltage drop across the connection. In real circuits, the result is a connection with almost no resistance. In such a case, the current is limited only by the resistance of the rest of the circuit. A common type of short circuit occurs when the positive and negative terminals of a battery are connected with a low-resistance conductor, like a wire. With a low resistance in the connection, a high current will flow, causing the delivery of a large amount of energy in a short period of time. A high current flowing through a battery can cause a rapid increase of temperature, potentially resulting in an explosion with the release of hydrogen gas and electrolyte (an acid or a base), which can burn tissue and cause blindness or even death. Overloaded wires will also overheat causing damage to the wire's insulation, or starting a fire. In electrical devices, unintentional short circuits are usually caused when a wire's insulation breaks down, or when another conducting material is introduced, allowing charge to flow along a different path than the one intended.
About this result
This page is automatically generated and may contain information that is not correct, complete, up-to-date, or relevant to your search query. The same applies to every other page on this website. Please make sure to verify the information with EPFL's official sources.
Related publications (9)

Potential Induced Degradation Mechanism in Rear-Emitter Bifacial Silicon Heterojunction Solar Cells Encapsulated in Different Module Structures

Christophe Ballif, Olatz Arriaga Arruti, Quentin Thomas Jeangros, Alessandro Francesco Aldo Virtuani, Luca Gnocchi

Recent studies showed that silicon heterojunction (SHJ) solar cells can be prone to potential induced degradation (PID) when encapsulated with ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). Here, to gain understanding

Electrical effects in winding of large electrical ac machines application to advanced large size DFIM

Frédéric Michael Maurer

To meet the electrical grid's demand on pump power variation, GE Renewable Energy develops since 10 years variable speed machines (also called Doubly Fed Induction Generators or DFIG). Within turbogen

Insights into photovoltaic properties of ternary organic solar cells from phase diagrams

Jakob Heier, Philippe Schwaller, Roland Hany, Surendra Babu Anantharaman

The efficiency of ternary organic solar cells relies on the spontaneous establishment of a nanostructured network of donor and acceptor phases during film formation. A fundamental understanding of pha
Show more
Related units

No results

Related concepts (43)
Circuit breaker
A circuit breaker is an electrical safety device designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by overcurrent. Its basic function is to interrupt current flow to protect equipment and to prevent the risk of fire. Unlike a fuse, which operates once and then must be replaced, a circuit breaker can be reset (either manually or automatically) to resume normal operation. Circuit breakers are made in varying sizes, from small devices that protect low-current circuits or individual household appliances, to large switchgear designed to protect high voltage circuits feeding an entire city.
Fuse (electrical)
In electronics and electrical engineering, a fuse is an electrical safety device that operates to provide overcurrent protection of an electrical circuit. Its essential component is a metal wire or strip that melts when too much current flows through it, thereby stopping or interrupting the current. It is a sacrificial device; once a fuse has operated it is an open circuit, and must be replaced or rewired, depending on its type. Fuses have been used as essential safety devices from the early days of electrical engineering.
Electric arc
An electric arc (or arc discharge) is an electrical breakdown of a gas that produces a prolonged electrical discharge. The current through a normally nonconductive medium such as air produces a plasma, which may produce visible light. An arc discharge is initiated either by thermionic emission or by field emission. After initiation, the arc relies on thermionic emission of electrons from the electrodes supporting the arc. An arc discharge is characterized by a lower voltage than a glow discharge.
Show more
Related courses (34)
EE-382: Electrical machines (for ME)
L'objectif de ce cours est d'acquérir les connaissances de base liées aux machines électriques (conversion électromécanique). Le cours porte sur le circuit magnétique, le transformateur, les machines
EE-371: Power distribution networks
Le cours a pour objectif de présenter les éléments principaux relatifs à la conception et l¿exploitation des réseaux électriques de distribution (moyenne et basse tension) tout en tenant compte de la
EE-370: Electric power systems
Ce cours décrit les composants d'un réseau électrique. Il explique le fonctionnement des réseaux électriques et leurs limites d'utilisation. Il introduit les outils de base permettant de les piloter.
Show more
Related lectures


Related MOOCs