Electrical Resistance Definition

Electrical Resistance Definition explained

Resistance occurs in every part of a circuit, including wires and especially powertransmission lines.

Electrical Resistance occurs in an electrical circuit when current-carrying charged particles collide with fixed particles that make up the structure of the conductors. Resistance occurs in every part of a circuit, including wires and especially power transmission lines.

Dissipation of electric energy in the form of heat affects the amount of driving voltage required to produce a given current through the circuit. In fact, volts are mesured across a circuit divided by the current I (amperes) through that circuit defines quantitatively the amount of electrical resistance R. The ohm is the common unit of electrical resistance, equivalent to one volt per ampere and represented by the capital Greek letter omega, Ω. The electrical resistance of a wire is directly proportional to its length and inversely proportional to its cross-sectional area. Resistance also depends on the material of the conductor. For instance, the resistance of a conductor generally increases with increasing temperature. This is why some conductors have almost zero resistance when cooled to extremely low temperatures, as is the case with superconductors.

Alternating-current resistors for current measurement require further design consideration. For example, if the resistor is to be used for current-transformer calibration, its ac resistance must be identical with its dc resistance within 1/100th% or better, and the voltage difference between its voltage terminals must be in phase with the current through it within a few tenths of a minute. Thin strips or tubes of resistance material are used to limit eddy currents and minimize "skin" effect, the current circuit must be arranged to have small self-inductance, and the leads from the voltage taps to the potential terminals should be arranged so that, as nearly as possible, the mutual inductance between the voltage and current circuits opposes and cancels the effect of the self-inductance of the current circuit. In (a) a metal strip has been folded into a very narrow U; in (b) the current circuit consists of coaxial tubes soldered together at one end to terminal blocks at the other end; in (c) a straight tube is used as the current circuit, and the potential leads are snugly fitting coaxial tubes soldered to the resistor tube at the desired separation and terminating at the center.

Electrical Resistance coils consist of insulated resistance wire wound on a bobbin or winding form, hard-soldered at the ends to copper terminal wires. Metal tubes are widely used as winding form for dc resistors because they dissipate heat more readily than insulating bobbins, but if the resistor is to be used in ac measurements, a ceramic winding form is greatly to be preferred because it contributes less to the phase-defect angle of the resistor. The resistance wire ordinarily is folded into a narrow loop and wound bifilar onto the form to minimize inductance. This construction results in considerable associated capacitance of high-resistance coils, for which the wire is quite long, and an alternative construction is to wind the coil inductively on a thin mica or plastic card. The capacitive effect is greatly reduced, and the inductance is still quite small if the card is thin.

Resistors in which the wire forms the warp of a woven ribbon have lower time constants than either the simple bifilar- or card-wound types. Manganin is the resistance material most generally employed, but Evanohm and similar alloys are beginning to be extensively used for very high resistance coils. Enamel or silk is used to insulate the wire, and the finished coil is ordinarily coated with shellac or varnish to protect the wire from the atmosphere. Such coatings do not completely exclude moisture, and dimensional changes of insulation with humidity will result in small resistance changes, particularly in high resistances where fine wire is used.

Electrical Resistance boxes usually have two to four decades of resistance so that with reasonable precision they cover a considerable range of resistance, adjustable in small steps. For convenience of connection, terminals of the individual resistors are brought to copper blocks or studs, which are connected into the circuit by means of plugs or of dial switches using rotary laminated brushes; clean, well-fitted plugs probably have lower resistance than dial switches but are much less convenient to use. The residual inductance of decade groups of coils due to switch wiring, and the capacitance of connected but inactive coils, will probably exceed the residuals of the coils themselves, and it is to be expected that the time constant of an assembly of coils in a decade box will be considerably greater than that of the individual coils.

Measurement of resistance is accomplished by a variety of methods, depending on the magnitude of the resistor and the accuracy required. Over the range from a few ohms to a megohm or more, an ohmmeter may be used for an accuracy of a few percent. A simple ohmmeter may consist of a milliammeter, dry cell, and resistor in a series circuit, the instrument scale being marked in resistance units. For a better value, the voltage drop is measured across the resistor for a measured or known current through it. Here, accuracy is limited by the instrument scales unless a potentiometer is used for the current and voltage measurements. The approach is also taken in the wide variety of digital multimeters now in common use. Their manufacturers' specifications indicate a range of accuracies from a few percent to 10 ppm (0.001%) or better from the simplest to the most precise meters. Bridge methods can have the highest accuracy, both because they are null methods in which two or more ratios can be brought to equality and because the measurements can be made by comparison with accurately known standards. For two-terminal resistors, a Wheatstone bridge can be used; for four-terminal measurements, a Kelvin bridge or a current comparator bridge can be used. Bridges for either two- or four-terminal measurements also may be based on resistive dividers. Because of their extremely high input impedance, digital voltmeters that be used with standard resistors in unbalanced bridge circuits of high accuracy.

Digital multi meters are frequently used to make low-power measurements of resistors in the range between a few ohms and a hundred megohms or so. Resolution of such instruments varies from 1% of full scale to a part per million of full scale. These meters generally use a constant-current source with a known current controlled by comparing the voltage drop on an internal "standard" resistor to the EMF produced by a Zener diode. The current is set at such a level as to make the meter direct-reading in terms of the displayed voltage; that is, the number displayed by the meter reflects the voltage drop across the resistor, but the decimal point is moved and the scale descriptor is displayed as appropriate. Multimeters typically use three or more fixed currents and several voltage ranges to produce seven or more decade ranges with the full-scale reading from 1.4 to 3.9 times the range. For example, on the 1000-0 range, full scale may be 3,999.999 Q. Power dissipated in the measured resistor generally does not exceed 30 mW and reaches that level only in the lowest ranges where resistors are usually designed to handle many times that power. The most accurate multimeters have a resolution of 1 to 10 ppm of range on all ranges above the 10-0 range. Their sensitivity, linearity, and short-term stability make it possible to compare nominally equal resistors by substitution with an uncertainty 2 to 3 times the least count of the meter. This permits their use in making very accurate measurements, up to 10 ppm, or resistors whose values are close to those of standards at hand. Many less expensive multimeters have only two leads or terminals to use to make measurements. In those cases, the leads from the meter to the resistor to be measured become part of the measured


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