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This results in an excessive amount of current flowing into the circuit. A short circuit is an abnormal connection between two nodes of an electric circuit intended to be at different voltages. In circuit analysis, a short circuit is defined as a connection between two nodes that forces them to be at the same voltage. In an ‘ideal’ short circuit, this means there is no resistance and thus no voltage drop across the connection. In real circuits, the result is a connection with almost no resistance. In such a case, the current is limited only by the resistance of the rest of the circuit. A common type of short circuit occurs when the positive and negative terminals of a battery are connected with a low-resistance conductor, like a wire.
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In electrical devices unintentional short circuits are usually caused when a wire’s insulation breaks down, or when another conducting material is introduced, allowing charge to flow along a different path than the one intended. A short circuit may lead to formation of an electric arc. The arc, a channel of hot ionized plasma, is highly conductive and can persist even after significant amounts of original material from the conductors has evaporated. Surface erosion is a typical sign of electric arc damage. Even short arcs can remove significant amounts of material from the electrodes. A short circuit fault current can, within milliseconds, be thousands of times larger than the normal operating current of the system. Such overheating is a common cause of fires.
In industrial and utility distribution systems, dynamic forces generated by high short-circuit currents cause conductors to spread apart. Busbars, cables, and apparatus can be damaged by the forces generated in a short circuit. 105 Contact Life – Unsuppressed vs. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Short circuit.