# Unit 15: Electrical Circuits and their Applications

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1 Unit 15: Electrical Circuits and their Applications Level: 3 Unit type: Internal Guided learning hours: 60 Unit in brief This unit covers the principles of electricity, including measurements of electrical values and health and safety, the construction of circuits and their use in society today. Unit introduction In this unit, you will explore what electricity is, how to use measuring devices and construct circuits, as well as gain an understanding of the many varied applications of electricity in our everyday lives. Since Thomas Edison s first demonstration of the electric lamp in 1879, it is difficult to imagine life without electricity and the immediate effects it provides. Despite advances in modern electronic devices, fundamental electrical principles still form the basis of electrical and electronic development in all aspects of life. The unit will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to undertake essential tasks related to electrical circuits and their components. You will perform practical investigations and report on aspects of electrical measurement, using mathematical relationships to explain readings while developing an understanding of the importance of correct calculations in order to determine how circuits behave. You will study health and safety in relation to alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) circuits and develop an understanding of the principles used by electrical safety devices. The different types of measuring devices will also be covered in detail, providing you with information about the methods used by various types of electrical equipment and the part played by transducer devices. This unit will help you progress to further education, to specialised electrical qualifications or help you to pursue a career as a science technician working in industry, education, health or modern research laboratories. The unit will give you knowledge and understanding of key electrical concepts. It can also help to develop your confidence in the use of instruments and measuring devices under safe working conditions. Learning aims In this unit you will: A Understand electrical symbols, units, definitions, relationships and properties of circuit components for use in the construction of circuits B Construct series and parallel circuits for use in standard electrical applications and measure electrical values C Examine AC and DC production and health and safety aspects in domestic and industrial applications D Examine the uses of transducers, sensors and other measurement devices. 167

2 Summary of unit Learning aim Key content areas Recommended assessment approach A Understand electrical symbols, units, definitions, relationships and properties of circuit components for use in the construction of circuits B Construct series and parallel circuits for use in standard electrical applications and measure electrical values A1 Electrical symbols, units and definitions A2 Electrical formulae and relationships A3 Electrical properties and uses of materials B1 Circuit characteristics B2 Measurement devices A scientific report including use of terms, symbols, units and example calculations. Practical investigation of ohmic/non-ohmic conduction devices. Practical circuit assembly, combination circuits and recorded results. Records of measurement results of circuit values, resistance values, calculated and predicted comparison. Potential divider circuit work diagrams and report. C Examine AC and DC production and health and safety aspects in domestic and industrial applications C1 DC production C2 AC production and transmission C3 Domestic applications and mains supply C4 Industrial applications C5 Safety, human physiology, and electricity and legislation A report using laboratory and research notes on domestic mains characteristics. A practical investigation into production of induced current/voltage. A general study of uses of AC and DC electricity in the home. A case study comparing industrial uses. A report on physiological study of electric shock effects (AC and DC). An industrial site visit to produce a site safety report and outline of safety devices. D Examine the uses of transducers, sensors and other measurement devices D1 Uses of passive transducers D2 Uses of active transducers D3 Uses of sensors and other measurement devices Circuit construction and a report on transducers, sensors and other measurement devices. A report on applications and operation of transducers, sensors and measurement devices. 168

3 Content Learning aim A: Understand electrical symbols, units, definitions, relationships and properties of circuit components for use in the construction of circuits A1 Electrical symbols, units and definitions Symbols: cell, battery, switch, filament lamp, fixed resistor, thermistor, light-emitting diode (LED), light-dependent resistor (LDR), rheostat, capacitor, voltmeter, ammeter. Definitions: current (ampere), potential difference (volt), electrical charge (coulomb), resistance (ohm), conductance (siemen), electrical power (watt), capacitance (farad and sub-units). Definition of current in terms of rate of flow of mobile charge carriers. Definition of electromotive force (EMF) as measure of ratio of energy supplied per unit charge. Definition of conductance and resistance in relation to density of mobile charge carriers. A2 Electrical formulae and relationships Energy supplied W = VIt Use of Ohm s Law V = IR Kirchoff s Laws. Power P = IV, P = I 2 R Charge Q = It Conductance G = 1 = 1 R V Resistivity R = pl A (Ωm) Capacitors: o charge stored by capacitors Q = CV in operation as a reservoir o charging and discharging graph representations o calculations of capacitances (C T = C 1 + C 2 for parallel capacitors, for series capacitors) = +... C C C T 1 2 A3 Electrical properties and uses of materials Conductivity and resistivity. Insulators and conductors. Ohmic and non-ohmic conductors. Capacitors as a filter in AC circuits. Semiconductors. Learning aim B: Construct series and parallel circuits for use in standard electrical applications and measure electrical values B1 Circuit characteristics Correct assembly of series and parallel resistive circuits using up to three resistors in series, parallel and series parallel combination. Calculation of resistance and conductance (R T = R 1 + R 2 for series circuits for parallel circuits and similarly for conductance) = +... R R R T

4 B2 Measurement devices Use of ammeters and voltmeters (digital and analogue types for simple comparison). Nature of voltage drop across components as the energy dissipates per unit charge by a resistor (where the energy dissipated is transferred from electricity into heat). Potential divider circuits and potential divider calculation. Internal resistance and EMF with use of E = I(R + r) Learning aim C: Examine AC and DC production and health and safety aspects in domestic and industrial applications C1 DC production Battery (dry cell) construction (zinc, zinc chloride/ammonium chloride and carbon/ manganese dioxide). Passage of electrons as unidirectional. DC produced by thermocouples and solar cells. DC motor/generator (reverses polarity of AC motor). C2 AC production and transmission Magnetic fields around permanent magnets and a wire carrying a current. Fleming s left hand rule. Fleming s right hand rule. Electromagnetic induction and Faraday s Law. Principles of Lenz s law. Transformer principles and equation (step-up and step-down). Transmission of power from supply to load. Power loss from cables (I 2 R). C3 Domestic applications and mains supply Domestic ring main circuit. Nature of AC voltage as changing polarity with instantaneous values varying sinusoidally. Root mean square (RMS). Peak and peak-to-peak voltages. Domestic fuse ratings. Powering DC equipment from AC supply. Earthing systems. Fuses. Significance of double insulation. Residual current and earth leakage circuit breakers (RCCB and ELCB). C4 Industrial applications DC, e.g. transport, lifting gear, electrolysis. AC, e.g. induction furnace, speedometer. Line isolation monitors. Variable socket design. Isolating transformers (for outside use). C5 Safety, human physiology and electricity and legislation Typical resistance values for current pathways in the body. Skin resistance and changes of environment, e.g. moisture levels of the skin, contact with the ground. Heart responses to electric shock. Principles of the defibrillator. Effect of the length of current exposure time and amount of electrical current. Safe levels of DC voltage. The Electricity at Work Regulations

5 Learning aim D: Examine the uses of transducers, sensors and other measurement devices D1 Uses of passive transducers As defined by: devices that change the electrical characteristics within a circuit by the influence of external physical factors (sensors). For example, light-dependent resistor (LDR) and their practical uses, thermistors, reed switch, strain gauge and Wheatstone bridge arrangement, and potential divider circuits. Uses of light meters, automatic cameras, alarm systems. D2 Uses of active transducers Production of EMF by conversion of energy from external physical source, e.g. operation and structure of a thermocouple. Piezoelectric devices and fundamental principles. Understanding of the need for signal amplification for these devices. D3 Uses of sensors and other measurement devices Oscilloscopes for voltage measurement and AC/DC display. Multi-meters and range of measurements. Data-logging devices, such as those that sense and store information from physical sources for use with visual/audio display and processing. ph meters, temperature sensors, moisture sensors, pressure sensors, light sensors. 171

6 Assessment criteria Pass Merit Distinction Learning aim A: Understand electrical symbols, units, definitions, relationships and properties of circuit components for use in the construction of circuits A.P1 Explain principle electrical terms, quantities and relationships for given situations. A.M1 Demonstrate, by calculation, the use of principle electrical terms, quantities and relationships for given situations. Learning aim B: Construct series and parallel circuits for use in standard electrical applications and measure electrical values B.P2 Accurately construct a range of circuits and record appropriate values accurately using suitable measurement devices. B.M2 Compare predicted and calculated fundamental electrical values for a range of circuit assemblies. Learning aim C: Examine AC and DC production and health and safety aspects in domestic and industrial applications C.P3 Explain the similarities and differences of AC and DC electrical circuits. C.P4 Explain the dangers of working with electricity and its effects on human physiology. C.M3 Compare RMS and peak values of AC electricity. C.M4 Discuss the procedures and practices used to minimise risk when working with electricity. Learning aim D: Examine the uses of transducers, sensors and other measurement devices D.P5 Determine the basic principles of operation of transducers, sensors and electrical measurement devices. D.M5 Demonstrate the correct basic principles and uses of transducers, sensors and electrical measurement devices in practical situations. AB.D1 Evaluate, by calculation and graphical representation, the operation of a range of circuit assemblies using measured values. C.D2 Evaluate the principles of AC production and transmission for safe use in suitable applications. D.D3 Evaluate the use of transducers, sensors and measurement devices in practical situations in terms of their fitness for purpose. 172

7 Essential information for assignments The recommended structure of assessment is shown in the unit summary along with suitable forms of evidence. Section 6 gives information on setting assignments and there is further information on our website. There is a maximum number of three summative assignments for this unit. The relationship of the learning aims and criteria is: Learning aims: A and B (A.P1, B.P2, A.M1, B.M2, AB.D1) Learning aim: C (C.P3, C.P4, C.M3, C.M4, C.D2) Learning aim: D (D.P5, D.M5, D.D3) 173

8 Further information for teachers and assessors Resource requirements For this unit, learners must have access to: DC electrical circuit boards and the components identified in unit content suitable range ammeters, voltmeters, multi-meters and high-impedance analogue or digital (DSO) oscilloscopes single or dual trace a signal generator, microphone and speakers standard transformer packs 12 V DC power supplies and suitable single cells domestic wiring/fuse samples rheostats electrolysis apparatus RCCB and ELCB (for demonstration purposes) a variety of sensors for circuit use thermocouple components, piezoelectric example model data loggers and associated sensors (ph, moisture, light, temperature, pressure) a working model for AC transmission (demo) or National STEM Centre e-library video. 174

9 Essential information for assessment decisions Learning aims A and B For distinction standard, learners will perform fully independent calculations of essential electrical quantities using studied relationships. As many graphical representations for electrical relationships will be produced as are necessary (for example resistance, power, charge). Ohmic and non-ohmic examples will be used and evaluated. Learners will use data gathered from circuit construction and their calculations to compare measured and calculated values. They will provide a report with an evaluation of the operation of suitable circuits and the measured and calculated values obtained. This could also include a comparison of resistivity values obtained with the actual research values, for example. Any discrepancies between these values will be explained by example calculations and circuit and component understanding. For merit standard, learners will demonstrate competence in using correct electrical relationships and calculating values of electrical quantities. Teachers can provide formulae sheets that incorporate many or all examples of standard suitable calculations that can be performed by learners and assessed. These calculations will be linked to a variety of circuit situations to provide suitable reference and context. Learners will use the values obtained in their circuit measurements to make accurate circuit calculations. Using calculations, learners will be able to predict values of current, voltage and resistance at various points in circuits. These predicted values can then be generally compared to measured values obtained from a variety of both series and parallel circuits. Practical determination and subsequent calculation of resistivity values could be incorporated into the work to enhance the electrical investigative work and understanding of electrical relationships. For pass standard, learners will produce a comprehensive list all of the electrical terms and symbols given in the unit content, with a brief explanation of each. This may be carried out by producing a catalogue or poster. A list of the main electrical formulae used in this unit will also be provided by the teacher and accompanied by an explanation linking the formulae to their purpose in electrical circuit work. Learners will be able to obtain measurements of voltage, current and resistance from the construction of series and parallel circuits and to record them in an appropriate tabular form for clarity. Circuit construction will incorporate a minimum of three resistors in a variety of configurations. There is no specific number of circuits to be completed, but teachers must ensure that they are varied and that learners are given guidance where necessary. In general, the expectation is that learners will construct functional series and parallel resistor circuits with resistors, filament lamps and capacitors. Learning aim C For distinction standard, learners will provide a clear explanation, with diagrams, to illustrate how AC electricity is produced, using the fundamental aspects of Fleming s left hand rule for electrical motors and right hand rule for electrical generators, and expanding this to include the generators in power stations. Learners will explain how electricity is transmitted to homes and industry and mathematically account for the need to use transformers and high voltages. The use of AC and DC in the home or industry will then be outlined in detail to identify the applications of AC and DC and the safety mechanisms in place. This will incorporate work covered at merit standard for safety devices and their operation, correct practices and procedures and the Electricity at Work Regulations It is expected that this work will be presented in a formal, well-written and well-organised report that attempts to combine all of the important aspects covered in the learning aim. For merit standard, learners will provide a thorough review of AC production and the relationships that determine movement and current flow direction from Fleming s left and right hand rules. Detailed explanation of the sinusoidal waveform, with labelled diagrams, will be used to outline the key aspects of AC representation. In addition, learners will produce work that demonstrates how a generator operates and include the use and operation of step-up and step-down transformers 175

10 when transmitting AC on the national grid. Learners will give valid explanations of how specific safety devices reduce risk from electricity, both AC and DC. Each device studied will be described with the aid of clearly labelled diagrams and explanatory notes on how the device is activated within its circuit. They will also include information on the ways in which organisations maintain health and safety in relation to hazards posed by the use of electrical equipment. Learners will be able to explain the operation of electrical safety devices and the safety practices and procedures used to help reduce or eliminate specific risks. They will include details of typical circuit breakers, line isolation monitoring, equipotential earthing systems and double insulation. Learners will then link their work to the Electricity at Work Regulations For pass standard, learners will outline, by means of effective diagrams and clear descriptions, the essential similarities and differences between AC and DC when applied to simple electrical circuits. Learners work will include AC changing in direction and DC one-directional current flow, loss of energy in DC circuits and power loss reduction of AC when transmitted, frequency of zero for DC and display as a horizontal line on an oscilloscope, no change in DC size with time, DC chemically produced in a cell or battery, AC from a generator, the use of a transformer to increase or decrease AC, and the fact that AC current cannot be stored in batteries. Learners will illustrate the effects of both AC and DC on the human body with artistic work or a simple report that also reviews the work for covering differences between the two types of electricity. They will produce an explanation of the factors that contribute to the severity of the electric shock, such as the length of time involved and the amount of current. Learning aim D For distinction standard, learners will produce an analytical account of the suitability of a chosen transducer/sensor/measurement device from those studied in the unit for a particular application. Evidence can focus on a working example of a device in industry and be presented as a case study, outlining its history, development and technological advancement to date. Alternatively, learners could present the work by developing an appraisal of each transducer/sensor/measuring device from initial practical study. This could then take the form of an evaluative report on the suitability of the equipment used for a given application, discussing its mode of operation, circuit suitability, accuracy and precision (i.e. fitness for purpose). For merit standard, learners will demonstrate qualitative research capabilities and may use various order catalogues from equipment manufacturers to supplement their work. Learners will produce circuit diagrams of the transducers and sensors chosen and explain their operation and uses, referring to levels of potential difference, current and resistance. Practical investigation of the devices will provide operational evidence and correct values obtained can be verified by the teacher or research text. A suitable transducer for practical construction and calibration is the thermocouple. Learners will also produce a detailed comparison of an analogue and digital measurement device (data logger) for a given use. For pass standard, learners will present a full list of various transducers and the uses of measurement devices commonly in operation from the unit content. The uses to which these devices are put will be clearly contextualised and evidence for this section will come from practical circuit work. Learners will demonstrate and describe the operational principles of at least one transducer and a range of sensors in simple circuits by carrying out suitable practical investigations, outlining their findings using accepted reporting standards. Links to other units This unit links to Unit 3: Science Investigation Skills. Employer involvement It may be possible to arrange visits to regional electricity distributors, equipment and component manufacturers, large-scale industries and power stations. In addition, speakers from local electrical businesses, suppliers and manufacturers, or electricians will give learners an idea of how this unit links with everyday practice in industry. 176

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