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11.1: Introduction

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    In this chapter we introduce the analysis of AC RLC circuits configured in parallel. AC parallel circuits echo the characteristic of their DC counterpart and many of the solution techniques from DC analysis will be applicable here. This includes the use of Ohm's law and Kirchhoff's current law, along with the current divider rule. Generally, as with the series circuits presented in the previous chapter, reactance values will need to be computed from capacitor and inductor values before the main analysis may begin. Here, as in the most of the remaining chapters, we shall be concerned with determining the circuit response based on a source with a single frequency of excitation, in other words, a simple sine wave.

    Parallel circuits are in many ways the complement of series circuits. The most notable characteristic of a parallel circuit is that it has only two nodes and each component is connected from one node to the other. There are no other connections with which to create a voltage divider. Consequently, all components see the same voltage. Currents divide among the components in proportion to their conductance/susceptance (i.e., in inverse proportion to their resistance/reactance).

    The key to this is to remember that all computations involve vector quantities. This can lead to some surprising results for the uninitiated. For example, due to the 180 degree phase differential between inductors and capacitors, it is possible for an individual branch current to be greater than the source current. This does not violate Kirchhoff's current law, as we shall see. Indeed, it is reminiscent of a similar situation in AC series circuits where an individual component voltage can be greater than the source voltage without violating Kirchhoff's voltage law.

    To clarify our analyses, we shall make considerable use of both time domain plots of currents as well as phasor diagrams.

    11.1: Introduction is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by James M. Fiore.

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