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1/3 MODULE CONTENT (Engr. C. J. Ofuase. Email: james.ofuase@uniben.edu)

- Electromagnetic Theory – Ampere’s and Faraday’s Law, Inductances

- Network Analysis – Kirchhoff’s Law, Three Phase Circuits, Star-Delta Connections
- Measurements – S.I Units D.C and Indicating Instruments


The key idea behind electromagnetism is that an electric current should produce a magnetic
field. This phenomenon was discovered in 1820, when Hans Christian Oersted observed that
a compass needle was deflected by an electric current through a neighbouring wire.

An Electromagnet is a magnet that employs an electric current in a coil to produce a magnetic

field. Electromagnetism is involved in the operation of some basic electric devices which
have played a key role in the civilisation of our modern society. For instance, in operation of
generators, motors, measuring instruments, and transformers. Understanding the
fundamental principles of magnetism is key to understanding the operation of electrical

A magnet is a material that has the ability of attracting iron or steel. They are found in a natural
state in the form of the mineral called magnetite. But, natural magnets have no practical value
and commercial magnets are made artificially from iron and steel or alloy materials. In general,
materials that are repelled and attracted by magnets are called magnetic materials.

Depending on their ability to retain magnetism, magnets may be classified as being permanent
(when the magnet has the ability to retain its magnetism indefinitely, e.g. a magnetized
hardened steel) or temporary (magnetic material only retains a small part of its magnetism after
the magnetizing force is removed e.g. a magnetized soft iron).

Permanent magnets are used widely in electric instruments, meters, telephone receivers, etc. In
electric generators and motors where it is desirable to control the amount of magnetism present
in the magnet, soft-iron temporary magnets are useful.

A straight bar of steel when magnetized is called a bar magnet. When a bar magnet is dipped
into iron filings, it is noticed that the filings arrange themselves in definite paths or lines
between the poles and most are attracted to the ends of the bar while very few are attracted to
the center of the magnet. The areas at the end of the magnet where the attractive force is the
greatest are called the poles of the magnet. Opposite poles attract while like poles repel, similar
to the electric charge, opposite charges attract while like charges repel. Main difference being
that the north and south pole of a magnet are aligned in such a manner that they cannot travel
individually, unlike the electric charges that move towards one terminal or the other. The north
and south pole rotate and align themselves with the direction of the field lines. That is to say,
if you cut a magnet in half, you get two smaller magnets that still each have a north and a south
pole (north cannot exist without south). Another key difference is that the flow of current in an
electric circuit involves continuous expenditure of energy, but in a magnetic circuit, energy is
needed only to create the initial flux, but not to maintain it.

Generally, a magnet will tilt/position itself in a north and south direction when freely
suspended. The end of the magnet pointing north is called the north pole of the magnet, while
the end pointing south is called the south pole [4, 5]. Furthermore, if a compass (which is
simply a freely suspended magnetized steel needle) is placed in a magnetic field at various
positions, the direction of the lines of flux may be determined by noting the direction of the
compass pointer. The pole toward which the needle points is called the south pole of the
magnet, and the other pole is called the north pole.

The area around a magnet is called the magnetic field or circuit (The flow of magnetic flux
induced in the ferromagnetic core can be made analogous to an electrical circuit hence the
name magnetic circuit) and it is in this area that the effects of the magnetic force produced by
the magnet can be detected. Magnetic fields are the key mechanism by which energy is
converted from one form to another in electric machinery. Note, the magnetic field is a vector
field. That is to say that at every point in space, the field has a magnitude and a direction [10].

Figure 1. Field around a bar magnet.

The magnetic field or entire quantity of magnetic lines surrounding a magnet taken as a whole
is called magnetic flux (ɸ) with its units called weber, (Wb). The number of lines of force per
unit area is called the magnetic flux density (B) with its units in telsa (T) or gauss (G) ;

T = 1 Wb/m2

𝑚𝑎𝑔𝑛𝑒𝑡𝑖𝑐 𝑓𝑙𝑢𝑥 ɸ
Magnetic flux density = ; B = 𝐴 Telsa or Wb/m2….. Where Area (A) is m2

Magnetomotive force (MMF) is the cause of the existence of a magnetic flux in a magnetic
circuit. It drives or tends to drive the flux through a magnetic circuit, similar to the EMF in
electric circuits.

MMF, Fm = NI; N is the number of conductors (or turns) and I is the current in amperes.

The unit of MMF is sometimes expressed as N/Wb or ‘ampere-turns’. However since ‘turns’
have no dimensions, the SI unit of MMF is the ampere.

Magnetic field strength, H (or magnetizing force),

H= , where l is the length of flux path in meters; Thus Fm = NI = Hl amperes

The opposition offered to the establishment of magnetic lines of force in a magnetic circuit is
called the reluctance of the circuit. In other words, Reluctance (S or RM) is the ‘magnetic
resistance’ of a magnetic circuit to the presence of magnetic flux.

𝐹𝑚 𝑁𝐼 𝐻𝑙 𝑙 𝑙
Reluctance (S) = = = 𝐵𝐴 = 𝐵 =μ
ɸ ɸ ( )𝐴 0 μ𝑟 𝐴

μ0 is the permeability of free space (or the magnetic space constant) and is equal to 4π X 10-7
H/m or Newton/Ampere2, i.e., for air, or any non-magnetic medium, (B/H) = μ0 ; But for all
other media other than free space, B/H = μ0 μ𝑟 .
The unit of reluctance is 1/H (or H-1) or A/Wb. “H” here stands for henry. [5, 8]
Air has a much higher reluctance than does iron or steel. For this reason, magnetic circuits
such as are used in generators and motors are designed with very small air gaps, the greater
part of the path followed by the lines of force being iron.
A summary of the comparison between electrical and magnetic quantities is shown below in
table 1.

Table 1. Comparison between electrical and magnetic quantities [8].


As mentioned earlier, magnetic fields can be created not just by permanent magnets, but by
electric currents. To demonstrate this, put a piece of wire, arranged to pass vertically through a
horizontal sheet of cardboard, on which is placed some iron filings, as shown in Figure 2(a). If
a current is now passed through the wire, then the iron filings will form a definite circular field
pattern with the wire at the centre, when the cardboard is gently tapped. By placing a compass
in different positions the lines of flux are seen to have a definite direction (see figure 2b). If the
current direction is reversed, the direction of the lines of flux is also reversed. When the current
supply is switched off, the effect on the iron fillings disappear, thus, we may conclude that the
magnetic field is produced by the electric current. The magnetic flux produced has similar
properties as the flux produced by a permanent magnet. If the current is increased the strength
of the field increases and, as for the permanent magnet, the field strength decreases as we move
away from the current carrying conductor [5].

Figure 2. Demonstration of magnetic field induced by electric flow. (a) Cardboard sheet
showing iron fillings with a wire passed through it and (b) Alignment of iron fillings due to
electric current [5].

To show this in another way, if we took two parallel wires close to each other and ran a current
through them in same direction, the wires would attract each other and also repel each other
when you ran the current through the two wires in opposite directions. This attraction and
repulsion is due to the presence of a magnetic field induced by the flow of current.

To understand this better, we may apply the Fleming's first right hand rule. The basic idea is
that if you put your right thumb in the direction of the current, and then curl your fingers, the
magnetic field would be in the direction of your fingers.
Figure 3. Fleming's first right hand rule.

Also, when a current carrying conductor comes in contact with a magnetic field like the one
that would be induced by one of the two wires on the other, there would be a force acting on
the conductor. Fleming’s second rule suggest that if your index finger points in the direction of
a magnetic field, and your middle finger, at a 90o a to your index, points in the direction of the
current flow, then your extended thumb points in the direction of the force exerted upon that

Figure 4. Fleming’s left hand rule.

Andre-Marie Ampere conducted some experiments in the 1820s involving wires to learn more
about the connection between currents and the magnetic field they create. His research led to
one of the basic laws of electromagnetism.


This is the basic law governing the production of a magnetic field by a current. It states that
the integral around a closed path of the component of a magnetic field tangent to the direction
of the path equals the magnetic constant (μ0 ) times the current intercepted by the area within
the path.

Mathematically, this can be written as

∫ 𝐵 cos 𝜃 𝑑𝑠 = μ0 • 𝐼………. (1)

Where B is the magnetic field

Cos θ is the angle between the enclosed current and the magnetic field

Ds is the infinitesimal element of the loop

μ0 is the magnetic constant (4π X10-7 H/m or Newton/Ampere2) and,

I is the current in the enclosed loop

Amperes law helps us calculate the strengths of the currents and magnetic field between
loops of current carrying conductors. Generally, the magnetic field developed by typical
currents is not very strong for single piece of wire, hence they are usually wrapped together
to form a coil of wire called a solenoid. When a solenoid has current running through it, it
produces a magnetic field which passes through inside of the coil and the magnetic field is
similar to that of a bar magnet. If the solenoid is wound on a ferromagnetic material, an even
stronger magnetic field is produced, the iron becoming magnetized and behaving like a
permanent magnet. In general, most electromagnets are often confined in a ferromagnetic
core to reduce the “losses” (leakage flux) in the circuit. The solenoid, provides the basis of
many items of electrical equipment, like electric bells, relays, lifting magnets and telephone

Figure 5. (a) magnetic field of solenoid and (b), magnetic field of a solenoid wrapped around
an iron core [5].

The equation for ampere’s law applies to any kind of loop of wires, not just a circle surrounding
current, no matter how arranged or shaped. The law is valid as long as the current is constant.
The algebraic signs of the current are observed (i.e. those going “out” of the surface are
positive, while those going “in” are negative).

In equation 1 above, the idea behind the summation symbol is that we are adding up every little
bits of magnetic field around the loop and ds because every tiny infinite section of the loop is
added. Recall that integral is used when infinite small values are added.

Also, if we consider a current carrying conductor, we notice that the magnetic field coming
from the wire is parallel to the wire at every point, therefore, the angle θ is 0 and cos 0 =1.
Additionally, every point of the circle is the exact same distance from the wire, thus, B would
be same at every point (B is constant throughout). Knowing this, we may re-write the LHS of
equation 1 as

𝐵 ∫ 𝑑𝑠 ; and ∫ 𝑑𝑠 = 2πr (circumference of a circle)

Thus, equation 1 could be written as

B2πr = μ0 • 𝐼…………. (2)

𝛍𝟎 •𝑰
B= …………… (3)

Recall that the magnetic field produced by neighboring wires produce a force in each other.
The force direction of the force can always be determine by applying Flemings rule. The
magnitude of the force created by the magnetic field is given as

F = I LB sinθ

Where I is the current

L is the length of the wire

B is the magnetic field

θ is the angle between current and magnetic field

However, since θ is 90o and sin 90o is 1, the force (F) is given as

F = I LB……… (4)

- Principle of Simple DC Motor

A motor is the basic device used to convert electrical energy to mechanical energy. It is
employed in almost all facets of our daily lives, in fans and washing machines as well as
being employed in many industrial applications. If you stick a loop of current carrying wires
in the magnetic field, which is free to rotate about its own axis, the loop of wire turns. This is
because the magnetic field would create a torque on the coil of wire.
Figure 6. Principle of Simple DC Motor [5].

When current flows in the coil (The DC is fed to the coil through carbon brushes bearing on a
commutator), a magnetic field is set up around the coil which interacts with the magnetic field
produced by the magnets. This causes a force F to be exerted on the current-carrying
conductor which, by Fleming’s left-hand rule, is downwards between points A and B and
upward between C and D for the current direction shown. This causes a torque and the coil
rotates anticlockwise. When the coil has turned through 90° from the position shown in
Figure 6 the brushes connected to the positive and negative terminals of the supply make
contact with different halves of the commutator ring, thus reversing the direction of the
current flow in the conductor. This current reversal is crucial, otherwise, if the coil rotates
past this position, the forces acting on it change direction and it rotates in the opposite
direction thus never making more than half a revolution. The current direction is reversed
every time the coil swings through the vertical position and thus the coil rotates anti-
clockwise for as long as the current flows. This is the principle of operation of a DC motor.
An AC motor operates in a similar way, just that the power reversal is made possible by the
alternating nature of the current.

Example 1

A conductor 350 mm long carries a current of 10A and is at right-angles to a magnetic field
lying between two circular pole faces each of radius 60 mm. If the total flux between the pole
faces is 0.5mWb, calculate the magnitude of the force exerted on the conductor.


L = 350 mm = 0.35 m; I = 10 A;
Area of pole face A = πr2 = π(0.06)2;

ɸ = 0.5mWb = 0.5 X 10-3Wb

F = IBL, and B = 𝐴

ɸ 0.5 𝑋 10−3
F = (𝐴)IL = (10)(0.35)𝑁

F = 0.155N

Example 2

A current of 50A flows east on a stationary wire. A second wire is 1cm below it. How much
current must be flowing in the second wire so that it doesn’t fall due to gravity? What is the
direction of the flow of current? The mass per unit length of the second wire is 5g/m.


I1 = 50A; I2 =? ; r = 1cm; Mass per unit length, l = 5g/m

Since the current in the first wire is flowing east and we want the second wire below it not to
fall due to gravity, it then follows that an upward force, pulling the second wire towards the
first would be required. Since there is an attraction when a current is run between two wires
in same direction, the current in the second wire would also need to flow in the direction of
the first (i.e flowing east)

Thus, in the second wire, there would be a gravitational force (mg) downwards and a force in
the direction of the magnetic field, towards the first wire. It then follows that the total forces
acting on the second wire is

ΣF2 = +FB – mg (+ve and –ve signs used to indicate direction of force)

If the second wire is required not to fall due to mg, the force acting in opposite direction
should be same to keep the wire in same position. i.e ΣF2 = 0; +FB = mg.

The mass of the wire is not given but the mass per unit length is given, if we divide the both
side of the equation by l (forces acting on wire 2)

FB/l = (m/l)g ; m/l is mass per unit length which is 5g/m = 0.005kg/m

Thus, force per unit length, FB/l = 0.005kg/m X 9.8m/s2 = 0.049N/m

To calculate current flowing in wire 2, putting equation 3 and 4 above together,

𝛍𝟎 •𝑰𝟏 𝑰𝟐 𝑳 𝑭 𝟐𝛑𝐫
F= ; I2 = 𝑳 • 𝛍
𝟐𝛑𝐫 𝟎 •𝑰𝟏
I2 = = 49A
𝟒𝝅 𝑿 𝟏𝟎−𝟕 (𝟓𝟎)

Example 3

Determine the current required in a 400 mm length of conductor of an electric motor, when
the conductor is situated at right-angles to a magnetic field of flux density 1.2T, if a force of
1.92 N is to be exerted on the conductor. If the conductor is vertical, the current flowing
downwards and the direction of the magnetic field is from left to right, what is the direction
of the force?


F = 1.92N; L = 400mm = 0.4m; B = 1.2T

F = IBL, I = F/(BL)
Thus, Current, I = (0.4)(1.2) = 4A

Applying Fleming’s left-hand rule, the force on the conductor will be from back to front (i.e.
toward the viewer).


Faraday found that it is possible to induce a current through a magnetic field but under certain
conditions; when the magnetic field is changing with time. This application is used in many
electrical machines/appliances. E.g. Generators, transformers, etc.

He achieved this by setting up an experiment with an electric current flowing through a coil
of wire and watched if the magnetic field would induce a current in a nearby second coil of
wire. But there was NO current induced. However, he noticed that when he turned the current
on and off in the first coil, there was a brief spike of current induced in the second coil. This
means that a constant magnetic field did not induce a current in a nearby wire, only a
changing magnetic field.

Faraday discovered this 1831, that a changing magnetic field would induce an EMF (which is
what causes electrons to move, forming a current or sometimes called “induced current”) in a
loop of wire. Faraday also noticed that a magnetic field is not only altered by switching as
mentioned above, it may also be altered by changing the area of the coil as well as changing
the angle between the coil and the magnetic field (i.e. moving the coil through the magnetic

Consequently, the amount of EMF induced also depends on the number of coils. Each coil has
an EMF induced in it and since the turns are in series, the total EMF of the coil is the sum of
the EMFs of each of the turns. This concept is applied to production of step up and step down
transformers. The amount of EMF induced increases directly with the number of turns on the

Also, when the speed at which a given coil is moved into the field is increased, the induced
EMF is greater, the EMF being directly proportional to the speed at which the lines of force
are cut. Furthermore, the strength of the field is also a factor affecting the induced EMF since,
at a given speed, more lines of force are cut per second in a strong field than in a weak field.

The magnetic flux is simply a measure of the magnetic field running through the loop of wire.
The magnetic flux (ɸ) is given by

ɸ = B•A

Furthermore, the magnitude of the induced EMF in any circuit is proportional to the rate of
change of the magnetic flux linking the circuit. Thus, the EMF (V) induced by the changing
magnetic field is given by the expression

V= 𝜟𝒕

OR V = -N 𝒅𝒕

Where N is number of turns of wire in coil.

Also, the –ve sign signify the fact that the induced EMF sets up a current in such a direction
that the magnetic effect produced by it opposes the very cause producing it. This effect was
investigated by Emil Lenz in 1834. Lenz’s law says that “The direction of an induced EMF is
always such that it tends to set up a current opposing the motion or the change of flux
responsible for inducing that EMF”

From the equation above, we see that the magnitude of the EMF induced is a function of the
magnetic field strength as well as time.

Consequently, if the flux linking the coil does not change, such as when the coil simply sits
still in a magnetic field of fixed strength, dφ/dt = 0, and the induced voltage (EMF)

V = N(dφ/dt) = N(O) = O.

As mentioned above, the concept of Faraday’s law is used in construction of basic electrical
machines like the transformer and the generator. In the case of a transformer, they are static
machines that are used to transfer power from one circuit to another without changing its
frequency. They can also be used to alter voltage levels between the two circuits. In electrical
engineering, the need arises to change voltage levels for different reasons. For example, when
transporting electrical energy over long distances, it is economical to do so at high voltages to
reduce the losses. The voltages produced by conventional generators are not high enough for
effective transmission over long distances. The energy produced at “nominal” voltage level is
then fed to a step up transformer, where the voltage is stepped up and then transmitted over
long distances. A step down transformer is usually at the receiving end, to step the voltage
down to a level acceptable by the appliances they are required to power.

A transformer is made up of two sets of windings, wound in a ferromagnetic core (to confine
the magnetic field to the core). The primary winding is connected to the power supply which
induces a magnetic field. Due to the nature of AC currents (going from a maximum positive
value to a maximum negative value in) the magnetic field is altered and asuch an EMF is
induced in the secondary winding within the vicinity of the primary winding. The voltage
induced is in the secondary winding is same as the voltage of the primary winding. However,
the number of turns in the secondary winding dictates if the voltage is increased or reduced. If
there are more number of turns in the secondary winding, a greater voltage is induced, while a
smaller voltage is induced if the number of turns in the secondary winding is smaller compared
to the number of turns in the primary winding. The induced EMF in the secondary winding
enables it to deliver current to an external load connected across it.

In the case of a generator, conductors forming an electric circuit are made to move through a
magnetic field. Thus the magnetic field is altered and an EMF is induced in the conductors,
thus, a source of EMF is created. The conductor is connected to an external load. Therefore, a
generator converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.


Inductance is the property of a circuit whereby an EMF is induced into the circuit by the change
of flux linkages produced by a change in current change.

When the EMF is induced in the same circuit as that in which the current is changing, the
property is called self-inductance (L). For brevity, the prefix self is usually dropped. Inductance
is measured in Henries (H), after the American physicist Joseph Henry.

When the EMF produced by the changing magnetic field is induced in an adjacent circuit, the
property is called mutual inductance (M).

A circuit has an inductance of one henry when an EMF of one volt is induced in it by a current
changing at the rate of one ampere per second.

Inductors are coils of various dimensions designed to introduce specified amounts of

inductance into a circuit. The inductance of a coil varies directly with the magnetic properties
of the coil. Ferromagnetic materials, therefore, are often employed to increase the inductance
by increasing the flux linking the coil.

Earlier, the expression for induced EMF (in terms of N turns) due to the change in a magnetic
field was given. However, induced EMF in a coil of inductance L in Henry is

V = -L 𝒅𝒕

Where dI is the change in current in amperes and,

dt is the time taken for the current to change in seconds(i.e., dI/dt is the rate of change of

Again, the minus sign in the equation is to remind the reader of EMF direction (given by Lenz’s

If a current changing from 0 to I amperes, produces a flux change from 0 to ɸ Webers, then dI
= I and dɸ = ɸ. Thus from the above equations on inductance, induced EMF,

V = Nɸ/t = LI/t,

Thus, L= 𝑰

Equations for the inductance of coils different from those shown above can be found in
reference texts. Most of the equations are more complex than those just described.

Also, an ideal inductor has the ability to store energy (with no loss associated with it) like a
capacitor. The energy stored, W, in the magnetic field of an inductor is given by:

W = ½ LI2 Joules

The resistance offered by an inductor is called inductive reactance (X) and is given by

X = 2πFL

Where, F is the frequency and L is inductance. In electronics, it is sometimes desirable to

allow a DC signal to pass through while also blocking an AC signal. Based on the equation
for inductor resistance above, inductors are often employed for this purpose.

Recall that a DC signal has its frequency = 0. Thus X is 0 (offers very low resistance to DC).
But in AC, the value of F is never 0, Thus, X ≠ 0 (offers maximum resistance to AC).

This is the reason why an inductor passes a DC signal and blocks an AC signal.

Inductors are classified according to core type. The core is the center of the inductor just as the
core of an apple is the center of an apple. The inductor is made by forming a coil of wire around
a core. The core material is normally one of two basic types: soft-iron or air. The schematic
symbol of an iron-core inductor is shown in figure 7a below (which is represented with lines
across the top of it to indicate the presence of an iron core). An iron-cored inductor is often
called a choke since, when used in AC circuits, it has a choking effect, limiting the current
flowing through it. The air-core inductor (schematic symbol shown in figure 7(a) below) may
be nothing more than a coil of wire, but it is usually a coil formed around a hollow form of
some nonmagnetic material such as cardboard. This material serves no purpose other than to
hold the shape of the coil.

Inductance is often undesirable in a circuit. To reduce inductance to a minimum the wire may
be bent back on itself, as shown in Figure 7(b), so that the magnetizing effect of one
conductor is neutralized by that of the adjacent conductor. The wire may be coiled around an
insulator, as shown, without increasing the inductance.

Figure 7.(a) Inductor symbols and (b) Inductor designed in such a way to reduce inductance

Example 4

A flux of 25 mWb links with a 1500 turn coil when a current of 3A passes through the coil.
Calculate (a) the inductance of the coil, (b) the energy stored in the magnetic field, and (c) the
average EMF induced if the current falls to zero in 150ms.


𝑁ɸ (𝟏𝟓𝟎𝟎)(𝟎.𝟎𝟐𝟓)
(a) Inductance L = = = 12.5H
𝐼 𝟑

(b) Energy stored, W = ½ LI2 = ½ (12.5)(32) = 56.25J

𝑑I 3−0
(c) Induced EMF, V = -L 𝑑𝑡 = (-12.5) (0.15) = -250V

OR we may use the other expression for induced EMF because if the current falls o
zero, so does the magnetic flux.

𝑑ɸ 0.025
V = -N = -(1500) = -250V
𝑑𝑡 0.15

Example 5

A 750 turn coil of inductance 3H carries a current of 2 A. Calculate the flux linking the coil
and the EMF induced in the coil when the current collapses to zero in 20ms.


Coil inductance, L = ;

𝐿𝐼 3•2
Flux ɸ = = 750 = 0.008 = 8mWb
𝑑I 2−0
Induced EMF, V = -L 𝑑𝑡 = (-3) (0.02) = -300V

𝑑ɸ 0.008
(OR using V = -N = -(750) = -300V)
𝑑𝑡 0.02


- Kirchhoff’s Law

Putting aside ohm’s law and the laws of resistors connected in series and parallel, Kirchhoff’s
laws are one of the vital laws in determining the currents and voltage drops in an electrical

Before proceeding, it is important to understand the following terminologies and definitions

commonly used in electric circuit analysis.

- Electric Network; this is a connection of several elements. The circuit diagram in figure
8 below is an electric network.

- Electric Circuit; this is a connection of several elements of an electric network, forming

a closed path. This closed path is often called loop or mesh. In figure 8, meshes BDEB,
ABCA and BCDB are electric circuits because they form a closed path.

- Node; also called a junction, is a connection point of several circuit elements. For
example, A, B, C, D and E are five nodes in the electric network of figure 8.

- Branch; this is the path in an electric network between two nodes. AB, BE, BD, BC,
CD and DE are branches in the network of figure 8.

Figure 8. An electric network showing nodes, branches, elements and loops/meshes [9].
Kirchhoff’s laws are the basic laws that must be satisfied among the currents and voltages in
a circuit. These laws are known as Kirchhoff’s current law (KCL) and Kirchhoff’s voltage
law (KVL).

Kirchhoff’s current law (KCL) states that, at any node of any circuit and at any instant of
time, the sum of all currents entering the node is equal to the sum of all currents leaving the
node. That is, the algebraic sum of all currents (entering or leaving) at any node is zero, or no
node can accumulate or store charge.

That is to say that if we consider node B in figure 8, according to KCL,

I1 + I4 = I2 + I3

Example 6

Consider the circuit shown in Figure 9 and determine the unknown currents using KCL [7].

Figure 9.


Let us assign a +ve sign for currents entering the node and a –ve sign for currents leaving the
node. Applying KCL at node a,

+is −i1 −i4 −i5 =0

10 – 5 – 3 – i5 = 0

I5 = 2A

Applying KCL at node b,

+i1 −i2 −i3 =0

5 - 4 – i3 = 0

I3 = 1A

Note: Try assigning a –ve sign for currents entering the node and a +ve sign for currents
leaving the node; and apply the statement that the sum of the currents entering a node is equal
to the sum of the currents leaving that node. You find that the solution is same.

Kirchhoff’s voltage law (KVL), states that the algebraic sum of the voltages (drops or rises)
encountered in traversing any loop (which is a closed path through a circuit in which no
electric element or node is encountered more than once) of a circuit in a specified direction
must be zero.

If we consider the mesh BEDB in figure 8,

V3 = V4 + V5

(If current flows away from the positive terminal of a source, that source is considered by
convention to be positive. Thus moving anticlockwise around the loop of Figure 8, V3 is +ve
just like V4 and V5 are –ve)

Example 7

For the circuit shown in Figure 10, use KCL and KVL to determine i1, i2, Vbd and Vx. Also,
find Veb [7].

Figure 10


Applying KCL at node c, we get

i1 =8 + (−3) =5A

Applying KCL at node f, we have

ibf = i1 −(−3) = 5+3= 8A

Applying KCL at node b, we get

10= i2 +ibf = i2 +8

i2 =2A

Using KVL around the loop “abdea” in the clockwise direction, we have

Vab +Vbd + Vde+ Vea =0

5 + Vbd + 8 – 20 = 0

Vbd = 20 − 8− 5

Vbd = 7V

Note that in writing KVL equations with +ve and –ve polarity symbols, we write the voltage
with a +ve sign if the + is encountered before the – and with a -ve sign if the – is encountered
first as we move around the loop.

Applying KVL around the loop “abfcea” in the clockwise direction, we get

Vab + Vbf + Vfc+ Vce + Vea =0

5 + 0 + 3 + Vx + (−20) = 0

Vx = 20 – 3 – 5

Vx = 12V

Note: Note that a direct connection between b and f infers an ideal connection, and thus,
negligible voltage between these points. The reader is encouraged to rewrite the loop
equations by traversing the closed path in the anticlockwise direction.

Also, Veb = Ved + Vdb,

Then, Veb = − 8 −7= −15 V

OR Veb = Vec + Vcf + Vfb= − Vx + Vcf + 0= −12 −3= −15 V

The reader should note that Vbe = − Veb = 15 V and node “b” is at a higher potential than node
Example 8

Use Kirchhoff’s laws to determine the currents flowing in each branch of the network shown
in Figure 11.

Figure 11.


Apply KCL and label current directions on the original circuit diagram. The directions chosen
are arbitrary, but it is usual, as a starting point, to assume that current flows from the positive
terminals of the batteries. This is shown in Figure 12 where the three branch currents are
expressed in terms of I1 and I2 only, since the current through R is I1 + I2.

Also, divide the circuit into two loops and apply KVL to each. From loop 1 of Figure 12, and
moving in a clockwise direction as indicated (the direction chosen does not matter), gives

E1 = I1•r1 + (I1 + I2)R,

4 = 2I1 + 4(I1 + I2)

4 = 6I1 + 4I2………. (5)

Figure 12

From loop 2 of Figure 12, and moving in an anticlockwise direction as indicated (once again,
the choice of direction does not matter; it does not have to be in the same direction as that
chosen for the first loop), gives

E2 = I2•r2 + (I1 + I2)R

2 = I2 + 4(I1 + I2)

2 = 4I1 + 5I2………. (6)

We can solve equations 5 and 6 as a simultaneous equation, i.e

From equation 5,

I2 = (4-6I1)/4………… (7)

Substituting this value for I2 (equation 7) into equation 6, we have

(4−6𝐼1 )
2 = 4I1 + 5 4

Multiplying each term by 4, we have 8 = 16I1 + 20 – 30I1

8 = -14I1 + 20; -14I1 = -12

I1 = 12/14 = 0.857 A

Impute value for I1 into equation 7,

4−(6•0.857) 4−5.142
I2 = = = -0.286 A
4 4

-ve sign signifies that I2 is flowing in opposite direction as shown in figure 12

Thus, current flowing through resistance R is I1 + I2 = 0.857 + (-0.286) = 0.571 A

Note that a third loop is possible, as shown in Figure 13 below, giving a third equation which
can be used as a check:

Figure 13

E1 - E2 = I1•r1 - I2•r2

4 - 2 = 2I1 - I2

2 = 2I1 - I2

Check: 2(0.857) – (-0.286) = 2

Other laws/theorems used in circuit analysis are Superposition theorem, Thevenin’s theorem,
Norton’s theorem, etc. However, these circuit theories are beyond the scope of this module.
But the reader may refer to reference texts for understanding of these circuit theories.


Earlier, when describing transformer, generation and circuit operation, single phase AC
systems was used. Recall that the conventional electric power used to do work is in the form
of AC. Even though AC power cannot be stored, require some level of insulation for safe
delivery to load and produce more heat when compared to DC, AC power is highly efficiency
in production and distribution (resistance to AC decreases at HV) as well as being considerably
cheaper to generate. A generator, which is the basic source of AC electricity, could be classified
by the number of phases (i.e. windings or circuit) it possesses. A generator with one phase is
called a single phase generator, two phases called two phase generator, three phases called three
phase generator and so on. In general, generators with more than one phase are called polyphase
generators and they produce as many independent voltage waves as the number of phases they
At the point of utilization, single phase voltage is used (for residential and smaller
commercial loads) while three phases voltage is often distributed to industrial/large
commercial buildings. But in general, most of all electric power used in modern day power
system (Generation, transmission, and distribution) uses three-phase systems. One major
drawback of the single-phase circuit is the oscillatory nature of the instantaneous power flow
(the consequent shaft vibration and noise in single-phase machinery are rather undesirable).
Three-phase operation makes more efficient use of generator copper and iron. Also, for a
given capacity, three phase systems uses less materials, cost less than single phase apparatus
and consequently, three-phase power is used almost exclusively for power distribution
because it is an efficient method of transporting electrical energy. Furthermore, three-phase
motors start more conveniently and, having constant torque, run more satisfactorily than
single-phase motors. Knowing that increase in the number of phases would increase
efficiency, why not add more number of phases? This is because the complications of
additional phases are not compensated for by the slight increase of operating efficiency when
polyphase systems other than three-phase are used.

In a three-phase generator, the three phases are generally identified as R, Y, B (Red, yellow
and Blue). Although it is also common practice to name them phases A, B and C OR 1, 2 and
3. If we identify the three phases as phases A, B, and C, as the magnetic field piece (The
rotor, carries a field winding excited by the dc supply through brushes and slip rings) rotates
in an anticlockwise direction, it passes first by phase coil A, then by phase coil B, and then by
phase coil C. Because of this action, the voltage is generated in coil A first, then in coil B, and
finally in coil C (see figure 14). The generator thus has a phase sequence of A-B-C. But if the
rotor spins in a clockwise direction, the phase sequence is reversed, giving an A-C-B
sequence. The phase sequence helps in determining the direction of rotation.

Figure 14. Elementary three phase, two pole AC Generator.

Each of the phase windings is separated by 120°, therefore the output voltage of the generator
also is offset for each phase by 120°.

Figure 15. Output waveform of a three phase generator.

Since the three coils in figure 14 rotate at the same velocity (ω = 2πf), the generated voltages
have the same frequency. Also, since the coils are identical, the generated voltages have the
same magnitudes, but there is a phase difference of 120° between these voltages. The
generated voltages in the coils are given by

VAA' = Vm sin ωt

VBB' = Vm sin (ωt-1200)

VCC' = Vm sin (ωt -240°)

OR VCC' = Vm sin (ωt + 1200)

It is to be noted that a phase angle of -240° is the same as + 120°.


Since a voltage is generated in each coil, it may be considered as a source of voltage. The three
coils together constitute a three-phase system and each coil is a phase. If a load is connected
across each phase as shown in figure 16, each phase or circuit would require two conductors,
which implies that a total of six conductors would be needed to connect the three loads. This
implies that transmission and distribution cables would require six conductors which would
lead to a rather complicated and expensive the power system.
Figure 16. Three phase, six wire system [8]

The number of connecting wires may be reduced by the interconnection of the phases to form
a single three-phase AC source. There are two methods of interconnecting the three phases.
These are called star or wye and delta or mesh connections.


In this type of connection, one of the ends of each phases (e.g. finishing ends in figure 16) are
connected together to a common point at shown in figure 17. Noting that the three vectors
seem to form a semblance of the letter Y, it is apparent that all three of these voltage vectors
begin at a “zero” or common point. This common point is called the neutral point, N (or star
point). The other ends (e.g. start ends in figure 16) are connected to external circuit through
three conductors called lines [6,8].

Figure 17. Three phase four wire Y connected system [8]

Under normal operating conditions, the three phase voltage system is connected across a
balanced symmetrical load (equal in magnitude and are 120o apart, i.e. angles between them
are equal), the neutral conductor would carry three currents which are the same in magnitude
but 120o out of phase from each other. Thus the three vectors, IR, IY and IB sum up to zero.
Since there is no current in the neutral wire the term neutral is used.

i.e. IR + IY + IB = 0

The neutral wire is unnecessary in a balanced system and therefore it may be omitted without
affecting the system. This gives a three-phase, three

In some cases, the wye/star connection is connected such that there is no neutral conductor,
thus forming a three phases three wire connected system (The neutral wire is not mandatory
in a balanced system and therefore it may be omitted without affecting the system). The other
ends of the three phases are connected together. One phase acts as a return path for another.
Remember that the three phases are 120o apart therefore the current flowing outward in one
or two conductors is equal to the current flowing inwards in the remaining conductor(s).
However, the majority of three-phase systems are four-wire, wye-connected systems, in
which the neutral conductor is grounded. Because the neutral current is nearly zero under
normal operating conditions, neutral conductors for transmission lines are typically smaller in
size and current-carrying capacity than the phase conductors. Thus, the cost of a neutral
conductor is substantially less than that of a phase conductor. The capital and operating costs
of three-phase transmission and distribution systems, with or without neutral conductors, are
comparatively much less than those of separate single-phase systems [7, 11].

The voltage across each coil is called the phase voltage. This is also the voltage between each
line and neutral. Therefore the phase voltage in star connection is also called the line-to-
neutral voltage. The voltage between any two lines is called the lie-to-line voltage or simply
the line voltage. Similarly, the current in each phase is called the phase current while the
current flowing from each line is called the phase current.

The line-to-line voltage is equal to phase voltage (line to neutral) voltage multiplied by √3.

i.e for star connection VLL = √3 • VPH

If we consider the currents in a star connection, it is always true that the phase current is
equal to the line current


The total active power in the circuit is the sum of all the individual phase powers.

i.e. Power, P = 3 • VPH • IPH • cos θ

But VLL = √3 • VPH and ILL = IPH

Thus, in terms of line values, P = 3• √3 • ILL cos θ OR P = √3• VLL •ILL cos θ

The angle θ is the angle between each phases. cos θ is called the power factor (P.F)


In this type of connection, the three phases are connected such that the start of one coil is
connected to the finish of the next coil, resulting in a delta connection as shown in figure 18.
As can the seen, the circuit resembles the greek letter delta (Δ).

Figure 18. Three phase three wire delta connected system.

Although it might appear that this sort of connection would lead to a short circuit, but under
normal operating conditions (a balanced system), then the sum of the three voltages across
the closed mesh is zero, thus, there will be no circulating current in the mesh in the absence
of an external load. Not that at all times, the voltage in one phase is equal and opposite to the
resultant of the two other phases.

Again, the voltage between any two lines is the line voltage VLL and phase voltage VPH. Since
the phase coils are now connected between lines, the phase voltage is equal to the line

i.e for delta connected system, VLL = VPH

If we consider the currents flowing (and assume a “parallel” connection), we find that the the
line-to-line current is equal to √3 multiplied by the phase current.

i.e. IL = √3 IPH

If we consider the power of produced by such an arrangement, the total power would be a sum
of the individual power in each phase,

i.e. Total Power, P = 3 • VPH • IPH • cos θ

In this case, VLL = VPH and IPH = √3

Thus in terms of line values,

P = 3 • VLL √3 • cos θ = √3•VLL•ILL cos θ

Where θ is the phase power factor angle.

[1] Stephen W. Fardo Dale R. Patrick, “Electrical Power Systems Technology” Third Edition,
[2] Debapriya Das, “Electrical Power Systems”, 2006
[3] Stephen J. Chapman, “Electric Machinery Fundamentals”, fourth edition
[4] Dr Houssem Rafik El Hana Bouchekara, “Electrical Power System Analysis; Basics of
Electric Power System theory”
[5] John Bird, “Electrical Circuit Theory and Technology”, Revised second edition, 2003
[6] John M. Paschal, Jr., P.E., “EC&M’s Electrical Calculations Handbook”, 2001.
[7] Mulukutla S. Sarma, “Introduction to Electrical Engineering”, 2001.
[8] B. I. Theraja and A. K. Theraja, “A textbook of Electrical Technology”,
[9] Dr. Wasif Naeem, “Concepts in electric circuits”, 2009.
[10] Ralph Morrison, “Grounding and Shielding; Circuits and Interference”, fifth edition,
[11] Omoicgui, M, “Shell Nigeria Graduate Training Programme, Electrical power &
Devices: Three Phase Systems”