Tag: ohms

In a Series circuit (loads connected in a row end to end) it’s easy to calculate total circuit resistance because you simply add up all the resistances and you have the total.

In a Parallel circuit the voltage is the same across all the loads, the amperage is simply added up but the resistance is a bit more tricky.

It gets tricky to imagine because the total circuit resistance of parallel loads goes down the more loads you add.

For example, if you have one light bulb connected to a power source, the total resistance of the circuit is just the resistance of the bulb.

Add in another bulb in PARALLEL and the resistance of the circuit goes DOWN

When you are calculating the total resistance of a parallel circuit you take each individual resistance and divide it into (not by) one. You then add up all the resistances that were divided into one and divide that sum into one. The formula looks like this for the diagram at the top of the article.

1÷Rt (total resistance)= 1÷R1 + 1÷R2 + 1÷R3

For this particular application as shown above it would be.

1÷Rt(total resistance)=1÷120 + 1÷45 + 1÷360

So 1 ÷ 120 = .0083 + 1 ÷ 45 = .022 + 1 ÷ 360 = .0028

Then we add them all up

.0083 + .022 + .0028 = .0331 

Then to find the total you divide one by the total

1 ÷ .0331 = 30.21 Ohms total 

As you will notice, 30.21 Ohms is less than the lowest resistance in the circuit. This makes sense when you think about ohms law.

The lower the resistance the higher the amps. Adding in additional parallel loads INCREASES the amperage in a circuit, and we see this ever day when we notice that compressor amps and condenser fan amps added together equals total condenser amps.

So it stands to reason if lower resistance equals higher amps and adding in more parallel loads increases the amps, then adding in more parallel loads reduces the resistance.

Another myth this busts is the idea that electricity ONLY takes the path of least resistance. Electricity actually takes all paths between positive and negative charges and every additional path (parallel circuit) just decreases the resistance between the two points of potential difference. This increases the total circuit amperage, which is why when you try to run two hair dryers on one 15a circuit the breaker trips. Two hair dryers in parallel = lower  total circuit resistance = higher amps.

Not that I would use two hair dryers….. maybe that’s why I’m almost bald.

— Bryan


One of the most common mistakes I hear techs make is confusing Zero ohms with infinite ohms. The fuse above is showing near zero Ohms which means a good electrical path with very little resistance.

If there is a perfect path it would have zero ohms (which isn’t actually possible unless you happen to be testing a superconductor).

If there is no path, the circuit has infinite ohms. This would be shown as Open or OL or something similar.

Often when I ask what ohm reading a tech is getting they will say “none”… None could easily mean zero or infinite so it’s important to clarify.

Once again.

Zero ohms = shorted / closed / directly connected

Infinite ohms = open/ no path

Try to remember to say either Infinite or zero instead of  “no ohms” or “none” to avoid confusion

— Bryan

Some quick basics –

An Ohmmeter is used to measure the resistance to electrical flow between two points. The Ohmmeter is most commonly used to check continuity. Continuity is not a “measurement” as much as it is a yes / no statement. To say there is continuity is to say that there is a good electrical path between two points. To say there is no continuity means there is not a good electrical path.

In other words, continuity means low or zero ohms and no continuity means very high or infinite ohms. Don’t get the terms zero ohms and infinite ohms confused, they mean opposite things.


This type of testing is commonly used to check fuses, Trace wires, check for short and open circuits Etc… Resistance readings are necessary for identifying motor terminals, and checking for a breakdown in insulation. An Ohmmeter continuity can be used to identify normally open, and closed terminals on a relay. Simply place the leads of the meter across the relay points, if there is continuity the relay is normally closed. Now apply power to the magnetic coil of the relay, the contacts that were closed should now open, or vice versa. An Ohmmeter can be used to identify a single wire in a bundle. Go to the opposite end of the wire and expose two separate wires in one sheath. Twist the two wires together and list the colors. Go back to the other end and check for continuity between all wires of that color.


Once you find two wires with continuity, you have found the correct wire. If you suspect that a particular wire is shorted to another wire, simply disconnect both wires on each end and check for continuity between the two wires. If continuity is read between the wires you have found a short.

These are only a few examples of ways to utilize an Ohmmeter.  Remember an Ohmmeter should only be used in un-energized circuits, Otherwise the meter could be damaged.


— Bryan

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