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I am confused about the current and voltage. My intuitive example would be that of a pipe of say water. The diameter of the pipe determines the amount of water flowing per second but the pressure is comparable to voltage. Am I right?

And what is the difference between voltage source and current source? In what class our electric sockets on the wall do fall?

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6 Answers 6

The voltage source is like a pump which creates specific pressure under which the water in the pipe flow . As,the diameter increase large amount of water can be transmitted with maximum pressure likewise in large diameter wire large amount of current flows with maximum voltage.The electric socket has a plug hole arrangement used to transfer electrical energy from one circuit to other .

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Welcome to Physics SE! Please answer the part of the question concerning the destinctive feature of a curent source. This helps to grasp the difference to a non-constant current source. Is a battery an intuitive example? –  Stefan Bischof Mar 19 '13 at 17:31
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If you think of it from practical side, it's

Voltage source = stabilized (fixed) voltage. That is what we usually expect to see as a power source.

Current source = stabilized (fixed) current. This kind of source will increase/decrease its output voltage to match required current. This is used to power non-linear devices like LEDs, lasers, gas discharge tubes.

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A voltage source provides a constant voltage but variable current and a current source provides constant current and variable current at given load.

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Just to put it slightly differently, in high school physics more than fifty years ago we learned that in the water analogy the voltage corresponds to pressure which corresponds to the height of the head in the water system. Of course this corresponds to DC and our wall sockets are AC. But the voltage is fixed, so they are voltage sources, just as our water pipes are fixed pressure sources. We regulate water flow by turning valves (faucets) to change the size of the opening. We regulate current flow, say in an electric stove or a light with a dimmer switch by changing the resistance. In each case the control acts like a choke point in the piping system.

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Your analogy with water flow through a pipe is correct. In that analogy a voltage source corresponds to a pump that generates a specific pressure, and a current source corresponds to a pump that generates a specific water displacement (volume per second).

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A voltage source is assumed to deliver energy with a specific terminal voltage which does not depend upon the current from the source. A current source on the other hand is assumed to deliver energy with a specified current through the terminals.

Both current and voltage sources are ideal. In practice, we represent a real voltage source as an ideal voltage source in series with a resistance and a real current source as an ideal current source in parallel with a resistance.

All the best.

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protected by Qmechanic Aug 16 '13 at 13:26

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