What can cause a short circuit

Short circuit

We will deal with the electrical short circuit in this electrical engineering article. You will learn what a short circuit is and how fuses can protect against their effects.

In the following we would like to deal with the electrical short circuit. In order to be able to understand this, however, it is very important that you already know some basic electrical engineering terms. If the following topics don't mean anything to you, please read them first:


The electrical short circuit

As a reminder: A voltage source - for example a battery - has a plus pole and a minus pole. If you connect these two poles directly with each other, i.e. without a consumer or energy converter in between, a short circuit occurs. In the event of a short circuit, a lot of current flows, which can lead to excessive heating and thus to the destruction of the system. In the news you hear again and again that an electrical short circuit has led to a (house) fire.

The current always tries to take the path of least resistance. The following graphic shows a circuit in which the current should actually flow through the lamp. However, a short circuit is caused by a second line, which causes a direct current flow between the poles of the voltage source (shown in red).



Basically, of course, you should avoid short circuits. In practice, however, short circuits happen again and again. For this reason, it makes sense to use so-called backups. Here is a brief introduction to two types of backups:

  • Fuses: When the circuit is set up, a short point is inserted in the circuit that quickly burns out when the current is high. This is to prevent a consumer (television, lamp, etc.) from being destroyed. The disadvantage of the fuse is obvious: if the fuse has blown, a new one must be installed.
  • Magnetic lock: If too much current flows in a circuit, a magnetic fuse flips a switch and thereby interrupts the circuit. Advantage: After the fuse has "blown out", it can be reinserted and does not have to be replaced by a new fuse.


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