Equivalent circuit diagram

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An equivalent circuit diagram is the graphic representation of an equivalent circuit that behaves in the same way electrically as the original electrical circuit . Instead of a confusing, possibly unknown original circuit, the equivalent circuit diagram should be used with an easily comprehensible representation that enables predictability.

Reality and model

Different parts of an entire circuit often influence each other. The behavior of electrical components is often dependent on several influencing variables (e.g. current strength, frequency, temperature) and must be described by several parameters. Nonlinear relationships make mathematical treatment more difficult. This can make a circuit difficult to see through.

Equivalent circuit diagrams often represent a simplification compared to reality in a compromise between an easy-to-use and exact description of the system. It is a question of the accuracy requirement as to what level of simplification is used. In particular, the equivalent circuit is suitable in practice when the difference to the real circuit is in the order of magnitude of measurement errors and component tolerances.

For the equivalent circuit, models of ideal components are defined in circuit theory, which do not exist in their perfection, but which facilitate the description of the real behavior and the mathematical treatment. The simulation of the real behavior requires the equivalent circuit from several idealized elements. These include the voltage source , the current source and the linear resistors .

Equivalent circuit diagram of a real voltage source (with consumer)

It may well be that a component of the equivalent circuit diagram does not even exist as a single component. For example in the first picture the resistor is usually not as discreet as a resistor that could be soldered in.

Series equivalent circuit diagram of a capacitor


Examples of components

Examples of circuits

Wheatstone measuring bridge
Equivalent circuit diagram of the bridge as voltage source with equivalent circuit diagram of the voltmeter (framed)

In terms of its output voltage , it can be replaced by a linear voltage source. Together with the equivalent circuit diagram for a real voltage measuring device, the right picture results. The equations for determining the open circuit voltage , the source resistance and the voltage that can ultimately be measured can be found in the reference article.

These equations hold without approximations. Linearization in the vicinity of an operating point for which the calibrated state is used is only used if a change in resistance is shown as a function .


The method of equivalent circuit diagrams or the equivalent circuit was first introduced by Charles P. Steinmetz at the end of the 19th century to calculate transformers and applied to three-phase machines at the beginning of the 20th century. After the First World War, it became common practice to create equivalent circuit diagrams for electron tubes in order to describe and calculate these non-ideal and non-linear components using a circuit made up of ideal components. Heinrich Barkhausen taught to differentiate between the high-frequency circuit diagram and the circuit diagrams at low frequency.


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Heinrich Frohne, Karl-Heinz Locher, Hans Müller, Thomas Harriehausen, Dieter Schwarzenau: Moeller Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering. Vieweg + Teubner, 22nd edition 2011, p. 20
  2. Heiner Herberg: Electronics: Introduction for all courses. Vieweg, 2002, p. 88