Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!
Print

Science

Current and voltage in electrical circuits

Electrical circuits can be represented by circuit diagrams. The various electrical components are shown by using standard symbols in circuit diagrams. Components can be connected in series, or in parallel. The characteristics of the current and potential difference (voltage) are different in series and parallel circuits.

Circuit symbols

You need to be able to draw and interpret circuit diagrams.

Standard symbols

The diagram below shows the standard circuit symbols you need to know.

 

two horizontal lines with a gap where one line is at 45 degrees

Open Switch

two horizontal lines with a join in the centre

Closed Switch

a circle with an 'x' inside, attached to a horizontal line either side

Lamp

two 't' shapes head to head, one with a thicker top

Cell

three t-shapes, the one on left  flipped to the right, the two on the right flipped 90 degrees to the left. the two on the right side have a thicker "top".

Battery

a circle with a 'V' in the centre. two horizontal lines come out from either side of the circle.

Voltmeter

a rectangle lying flat with two horizontal lines coming out of its sides

Resistor

a rectangle lying flat with one horizontal line running through the centre of it and out of both sides

Fuse

a circle with an 'A' in the centre with two horizontal lines coming out of the sides of the circle

Ammeter

a rectangle lying flat with an arrow running through it at a 45 degree angle. two horizontal lines run out of the sides of the rectangle

Variable resistor

a rectangle lying flat with two horizontal lines running out either side of it. A 45 degree line runs through the rectangle which bends at the bottom to run parallel with the base of the rectangle

Thermistor

a rectangle lying flat with two horizontal lines running out of either side. a circle runs around the rectangle, and two arrows point downwards at the rectangle, from the top left.

Light dependent resistor (LDR)

Circuit symbol for LED

Light emitting diode (LED)

Circuit symbol for diode

Diode

Back to Electricity index

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.