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Tree limbs cause a short circuit during a storm

A short circuit (sometimes abbreviated to short or s/c) in an electrical circuit allows a current to travel along a path where essentially no (or a very low) electrical impedance is encountered. The electrical opposite of a short circuit is an "open circuit", which is an infinite resistance between two nodes. It is common to misuse "short circuit" to describe any electrical malfunction, regardless of the actual problem.

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Diagram showing a short circuit as a wire link, a zero-valued resistor or a zero-valued voltage source

A short circuit is an abnormal low-resistance connection between two nodes of an electrical circuit that are meant to be at different voltages. This results in an excessive electric current (overcurrent) limited only by the Thévenin equivalent resistance of the rest of the network and potentially causes 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 (see image), the term short circuit is used by analogy to designate a zero-impedance connection between two nodes. This forces the two nodes to be at the same voltage. In an ideal short circuit, this means there is no resistance and no voltage drop across the short. In simple circuit analysis, wires are considered to be shorts. In real circuits, the result is a connection of nearly zero impedance, and almost no resistance. In such a case, the current drawn is limited by the rest of the circuit.





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