Difference Between Open Circuit and Closed Circuit

Modern society is entirely based on electricity. Like cell phones and the internet, electricity is the primary requirement of human lives.


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Electricity needs other equipment to be utilized in the desired manner. Electricity flows in the form of current, monitoring and controlling this current.

A person is suggested to use circuits, and these circuits are known to open circuits and closed circuits.

Key Takeaways

  1. The electrical current cannot flow in an open circuit due to a break or gap.
  2. A closed circuit allows electrical current to flow continuously through a complete, unbroken path.
  3. The primary distinction lies in the presence or absence of a continuous path for the current to flow.

Open Circuit vs Closed Circuit

A path is broken in an open circuit. There is no flow of current in the open circuit due to the broken path. The resistance is high in an open circuit. A closed circuit is a complete circuit in which current flows easily. There is no broken path in a closed circuit. The resistance is low in a closed circuit.

Open Circuit vs Closed Circuit

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Open circuit, also called open-circuit voltage, is an incomplete electrical circuit.

In an open circuit, the continuity of the path is interrupted; hence the current can not flow.

This interruption can be caused by a frayed wire or an open switch; for instance, if one bulb fuses or goes out, the entire electrical string stops functioning.

A closed-circuit is an electric circuit through which the current can flow. It is generally compared to a bridge on a river for people to pass through.

It consists of positive and negative power source terminals and a complete path between both of them.

It is the opposite of an open circuit and is used to flow the current.

Comparison Table

Parameters Of ComparisonOpen CircuitClosed Circuit
PathThe path in an open circuit is closed and has no continuity. The path in a closed circuit is open and has complete continuity
FlowIn an open circuit, the current does not flow due to an interrupted path. In a closed circuit, the current flows perfectly because the path is not broken anywhere.
On/OffIn the diagram of an open circuit, the key used to symbolize the switch is ( ). In the diagram of a closed circuit, the key used to symbolize the switch is ( • ).
Potential differenceThe potential difference found between the terminals of open circuits does not occur in an electrical circuit. The potential difference found between the terminals of closed circuits occurs in an electrical circuit.
ResistanceThe amount of resistance in an open circuit is comparatively very high. The amount of resistance in a closed circuit is comparatively meager.

What is Open Circuit?

The open circuit is generally known by its abbreviated form OCV. By open circuit, one can understand that there is no current flowing through the cell.

The continuity of the electric path is dismissed, and it becomes a significant obstacle for the current to flow.

An open circuit has infinite resistance because it does not provide a passage when a potential difference is generated.

This electrical potential difference results from open-circuit voltage, which is found between two terminals of the circuit.

Even the current can not flow due to the break in the passage in an open circuit, and there is some voltage drop found between the two points or terminals.

These terminals in the open circuit are disconnected.

Hence, a current flowing through the open circuit is zero, and since the voltage is found, it is considered non-zero.

In other words, the current is equivalent to zero, and the power is comparable to voltage.

Ohm’s law describes the behavior of resistance in an open circuit, where voltage found in the resistor is directly proportional to the current.

The equation of Ohm’s law used to describe the behavior is,

V = I R

R = V/I

V (voltage) R (resistance) I (current)

Since the current is zero i.e. (I = 0),

R = V/0

R = ∞

Hence, the resistance in an open circuit is infinite.

What is Closed Circuit?

An electrical circuit that allows the current to when voltage is applied is known as a closed circuit.

The path through which current flows from one point to another is not interrupted.

The electric electrons become free to move or flow in a closed circuit.

A switch in the closed circuit provides the path for current to make connections between two terminals.

Closed-circuit frees the electrons with a negative charge from atoms existing in conductive materials.

These electrons can be released from particles with some effort and then induced to the flow in a uniform and definite direction.

There is a continuity found in the electrical path of a closed circuit that is responsible for moving the charge forward.

These electrons are transferred to higher potential energy from lower potential points with voltage (electric potential).

The most popular medium of potential electric power is a battery.

Batteries come with two terminals to allow the circuit to make a connection. One of the terminals has a negative charge, and the second has a positive charge.

A copper wire is generally used to connect between batteries and closed circuits.

The electric field influences the atoms in a copper wire due to negative-charged free electrons.

These electrons in copper wire are simultaneously pushed and pulled by the terminals consisting of opposite charges to create electricity.

Main Differences Between Open Circuit and Closed Circuit

  1. An open circuit is always considered to be functioning in the off state. On the other hand, a closed circuit is always considered to be operating as always turned on.
  2. An insufficient channel is created by open circuits for active energy to pass through. On the other hand, a closed circuit provides a complete path for dynamic energy to travel.
  3. In an open circuit, the current doesn’t flow from one point to another. On the other hand, in a closed circuit, current flows from one point to another.
  4. The symbol used in the open circuit to denote its off state is ( ). On the other hand, The symbol used in the closed-circuit to indicate its ‘on’ state is ( • ).
  5. An open circuit provides the highest amount of resistance due to some factors. On the other hand, a closed circuit provides a minimum amount of resistance.
Difference Between Open Circuit and Closed Circuit
  1. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2012/jm/c2jm33719c
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0002716202250802
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