Why isn't an incandescent lightbulb a short? Or any heating element? On a similar thought, why doesn't a motor short through its brushes(I admittedly have a narrow understanding of motors)?

thanks

- Thread starter JoeNorm
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Why isn't an incandescent lightbulb a short? Or any heating element? On a similar thought, why doesn't a motor short through its brushes(I admittedly have a narrow understanding of motors)?

thanks

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- New Jersey

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- Journeyman Electrician

For a short circuit the only resistance is that of the conductors which is very low and allows for a large amount of current to flow. Short together the two 240 volt hot legs and calculate the current using only the resistance of the conductors. That would create a large amount of current that will open the OCPD.

This is what I thought, thanks for clarifying.

For a short circuit the only resistance is that of the conductors which is very low and allows for a large amount of current to flow. Short together the two 240 volt hot legs and calculate the current using only the resistance of the conductors. That would create a large amount of current that will open the OCPD.

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- Electrical Contractor

- Location
- Chapel Hill, NC

- Occupation
- Electrical Contractor

I will get hell for this but that is how I would describe it to someone just for simplicity sake.

- Occupation
- Electrical Contractor

That is exactly the way I learned it.In a normal circuit, the current flows through the intended load.

If a path is created (normally unintentionally) that allows the current to bypass the load (take a “shortcut”), that is a “short”.

Simplistic, I know.

- Occupation
- Electrician

Same here.That is exactly the way I learned it.

Then I'll I get hell for this?....................

Why isn't an incandescent lightbulb a short? Or any heating element? On a similar thought, why doesn't a motor short through its brushes(I admittedly have a narrow understanding of motors)?

thanks

For a typical 100W incandescent lamp isn't a short. It is roughly ten times the instantaneous current falling to the continuous level. Roughly 4A to 0.4A.

So no, it isn't a short.

Same with electric motors. DC motors can be about 10-30 initial starting. AC cage motors have a typical starting of typically six times.

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- Electrician

A

The NEC doesn't define the word circuit, but uses it as a term, branch circuit, which by their definition is just the conductors.

I think Dennis is confusing 'circuit' with 'short circuit'. The NEC definition doesn't help much in that respect.

- Location
- New Jersey

- Occupation
- Journeyman Electrician

I had been taught that as well, simple yes but that definition would also include a ground fault which IMO is not the same as a short circuit. I think of a short circuit as a shortcut between normal current carrying conductors.In a normal circuit, the current flows through the intended load.

If a path is created (normally unintentionally) that allows the current to bypass the load (take a “shortcut”), that is a “short”.

Simplistic, I know.

So I guess we call both a ground fault and a short circuit a

- Occupation
- Electrical Contractor

Short to ground, but yes, I agree.I had been taught that as well, simple yes but that definition would also include a ground fault which IMO is not the same as a short circuit. I think of a short circuit as a shortcut between normal current carrying conductors.

So I guess we call both a ground fault and a short circuit ashort?

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- Electrical Contractor

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- NE Nebraska

How about if it doesn't have some continuity.If a load doesn't havesomeresistance, current cannot flow. A load...anyload.... with infinite resistance is, by definition, an insulator. And if current cannot flow, no work can be done. Work being a motor turning, an element heating etc.

Infinite resistance is just resistance that is higher than what is capable of being measured or what is higher than some other maximum threshold for the application.

Really high resistance may conduct current too low to measure with a certain measuring device if source is only 10 volts, but increase voltage to 10kV through same circuit and maybe measurable current does flow.

How about if it doesn't have some continuity.

Infinite resistance is just resistance that is higher than what is capable of being measured or what is higher than some other maximum threshold for the application.

Really high resistance may conduct current too low to measure with a certain measuring device if source is only 10 volts, but increase voltage to 10kV through same circuit and maybe measurable current does flow.

We can talk about 'there is no such thing as infinite resistance' and 'there is no such thing as a perfect conductor'. Yes, technically all insulation is in reality a semi-conductor. But that's theory, not in actual practice.

100' of #10 copper has a resistance of .124 ohms. Put that wire across a 120V voltage source, and 967 amps will flow. Most people would call that a short circuit.

Put a 9.6 ohm heating element across a 120V voltage source, and 12.5 amps will flow from that 120V source. This will dissipate 1500 watts which is hopefully what was desired by choosing a 9.6 ohm element.

So a short circuit is just a resistive load with a very low resistance.

- Location
- Massachusetts

Part of your post is mixing up resistance and conductance.If a load doesn't havesomeresistance, current cannot flow. A load...anyload.... with infinite resistance is, by definition, an insulator. And if current cannot flow, no work can be done. Work being a motor turning, an element heating etc.

It takes conductance for a current to flow, not necessarily resistance. Zero resistance is infinite conductance, and vice versa. Infinite resistance is an ideal insulator, zero resistance is a superconductor. For a pure resistive load, conductance is 1/resistance.

If a load has strictly zero resistance, and no other form of impedance to go with it, infinite current would flow. The charges would accelerate indefinitely as a consequence of the voltage like a body in free fall. In real world circuits, this short circuit really means that the circuit will draw more current than the source was designed to supply, and overheat it to amounts not intended in its design.

Where are you going to find infinite current?Part of your post is mixing up resistance and conductance.

It takes conductance for a current to flow, not necessarily resistance. Zero resistance is infinite conductance, and vice versa. Infinite resistance is an ideal insulator, zero resistance is a superconductor. For a pure resistive load, conductance is 1/resistance.

If a load has strictly zero resistance, and no other form of impedance to go with it, infinite current would flow. The charges would accelerate indefinitely as a consequence of the voltage like a body in free fall. In real world circuits, this short circuit really means that the circuit will draw more current than the source was designed to supply, and overheat it to amounts not intended in its design.

- Location
- Massachusetts

In the zero gravity shop, in the next aisle after the massless inextensible ropes, and frictionless pulleys.Where are you going to find infinite current?

Joking aside, that's what would happen on a theoretical circuit with an ideal DC voltage source and a superconductor to short circuit it. By ideal voltage source, what I mean is a voltage source that always produces a constant fixed DC voltage output, independent of the load current drawn, and that has no internal resistance. No such voltage source exists in reality. This is just the way it is represented as a theoretical example to simplify the math and physics needed to solve the problem.