September 03, 2009

Thevenins Theorem

Thevenins Theorem states that "Any linear circuit containing several voltages and resistances can be replaced by just a Single Voltage in series with a Single Resistor". In other words, it is possible to simplify any "Linear" circuit, no matter how complex, to an equivalent circuit with just a single voltage source in series with a resistance connected to a load as shown below. Thevenins Theorem is especially useful in analyzing power or battery systems and other interconnected circuits where it will have an effect on the adjoining part of the circuit.

Thevenins equivalent circuit.

As far as the load resistor RL is concerned, any "One-port" network consisting of resistive circuit elements and energy sources can be replaced by one single equivalent resistance Rs and voltage Vs, where Rs is the source resistance value looking back into the circuit and Vs the open circuit voltage at the terminals.

For example, consider the circuit from the previous section.

Firstly, we have to remove the centre 40Ω resistor and short out (not physically as this would be dangerous) all the emf´s connected to the circuit, or open circuit any current sources. The value of resistor Rs is found by calculating the total resistance at the terminals A and B with all the emf´s removed, and the value of the voltage required Vs is the total voltage across terminals A and B with an open circuit and no load resistor Rs connected. Then, we get the following circuit.

Find the Equivalent Resistance (Rs)

Find the Equivalent Voltage (Vs)

We now need to reconnect the two voltages back into the circuit, and as VS = VAB the current flowing around the loop is calculated as:

so the voltage drop across the 20Ω resistor can be calculated as:

VAB = 20 - (20Ω x 0.33amps) = 13.33 volts.

Then the Thevenins Equivalent circuit is shown below with the 40Ω resistor connected.

and from this the current flowing in the circuit is given as:

which again, is the same value of 0.286 amps, we found using Kirchoff´s circuit law in the previous tutorial.

Thevenins theorem can be used as a circuit analysis method and is particularly useful if the load is to take a series of different values. It is not as powerful as Mesh or Nodal analysis in larger networks because the use of Mesh or Nodal analysis is usually necessary in any Thevenin exercise, so it might as well be used from the start. However, Thevenins equivalent circuits of Transistors, Voltage Sources such as batteries etc, are very useful in circuit design.


The basic procedure for solving Thevenins Analysis equations is as follows:

  • 1. Remove the load resistor RL or component concerned.
  • 2. Find RS by shorting all voltage sources or by open circuiting all the current sources.
  • 3. Find VS by the usual circuit analysis methods.
  • 4. Find the current flowing through the load resistor RL.


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Electronics is the study and use of electrical that operate by controlling the flow of electrons or other electrically charged particles in devices such as thermionic valves. and semiconductors. The pure study of such devices is considered as a branch of physics, while the design and construction electronic circuits to solve practical problems is called electronic engineering.

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