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Open Circuit vs. Closed Circuit: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 29, 2023
An open circuit is a broken electrical path, preventing current flow; a closed circuit is a complete path, allowing current to flow.

Key Differences

In an open circuit, the electrical path is interrupted, halting the flow of current. Conversely, a closed circuit offers an unbroken path, allowing electricity to circulate.
Open circuits are often the result of breaks or gaps in wiring or components. In contrast, closed circuits are characterized by continuous, connected paths that facilitate electrical flow.
An open circuit is non-functional for powering devices, as it cannot conduct electricity. A closed circuit, however, is essential for the operation of electrical appliances, as it enables current flow.
Diagnosing electrical problems often involves identifying open circuits. For efficient and safe electrical systems, ensuring all circuits are closed is crucial.
Safety devices, like circuit breakers, intentionally create open circuits to prevent damage, while closed circuits are maintained for the regular operation of electrical systems.

Comparison Chart

Current Flow

No current flows due to a break in the path.
Current flows uninterrupted through the circuit.


Non-functional for powering devices.
Essential for the operation of electrical appliances.

Electrical Path

Characterized by breaks or gaps.
Continuous and connected path.

Safety Mechanism

Created intentionally for safety in some cases.
Maintained for regular operation of electrical systems.

Problem Diagnosis

Involves identifying gaps or disconnections.
Involves ensuring all connections are secure and complete.

Open Circuit and Closed Circuit Definitions

Open Circuit

A safety feature in some electrical systems.
The circuit breaker created an open circuit to prevent overload.

Closed Circuit

A complete electrical loop allowing current to flow.
The light worked perfectly in the closed circuit.

Open Circuit

A diagnostic indicator of electrical issues.
The technician looked for an open circuit in the faulty system.

Closed Circuit

An uninterrupted path in electrical wiring.
The closed circuit ensured continuous operation of the machine.

Open Circuit

A state where electrical devices cannot function.
The radio stopped working because of an open circuit.

Closed Circuit

Indicates a well-maintained electrical system.
The inspection confirmed that the system was a closed circuit.

Open Circuit

A break in the electrical path.
An open circuit was found in the old wiring.

Closed Circuit

Essential for the functionality of electrical devices.
All appliances require a closed circuit to operate.

Open Circuit

An electrical circuit with a disruption preventing current flow.
The lamp didn't work due to an open circuit.

Closed Circuit

A target state in electrical repair and maintenance.
The electrician restored the closed circuit to fix the blackout.

Closed Circuit

An electric circuit providing an uninterrupted, endless path for the flow of current.

Closed Circuit

A television transmission circuit with a limited number of reception stations and no broadcast facilities.

Closed Circuit

That consists of a closed circuit

Closed Circuit

Relating to or consisting of a closed circuit;
Closed-circuit television


What causes an open circuit?

It is caused by a break or gap in the conducting path, like a disconnected wire or switch.

What is an open circuit?

An open circuit is an electrical circuit that is not complete, preventing the flow of electric current.

How can you detect an open circuit?

By using a multimeter to check for continuity or the absence of voltage.

What is an example of an open circuit?

A light switch in the off position creates an open circuit.

What happens in a closed circuit?

Electrical current flows freely through the connected path.

Is an open circuit safe?

Generally safer than a closed circuit, as there is no current flow, but it depends on the context.

Can an open circuit cause a fire?

Unlikely, as there is no current flow, but faulty wiring can be a fire hazard.

What happens in an open circuit?

Electrical current does not flow because the circuit is incomplete.

Does an open circuit have voltage?

Voltage can be present, but current does not flow.

What's the resistance in an open circuit?

The resistance is considered infinitely high since no current flows.

What is a closed circuit?

A closed circuit is a complete electrical path that allows current to flow.

What causes a closed circuit?

It occurs when all components are connected without any breaks, allowing current flow.

Does a closed circuit have voltage drop?

Yes, voltage drops across components as current flows through them.

Can a closed circuit be controlled?

Yes, using switches and regulators to control the current flow.

How can you detect a closed circuit?

By measuring the flow of current or checking for continuity using a multimeter.

Is a closed circuit dangerous?

It can be if the current is too high or if it overheats, leading to hazards.

Can a closed circuit cause a fire?

Yes, if the circuit is overloaded or improperly wired.

Can an open circuit be intentional?

Yes, it can be intentionally created using switches or other devices.

What is an example of a closed circuit?

A light bulb connected to a battery forms a closed circuit when the switch is on.

What's the resistance in a closed circuit?

Resistance depends on the components but is finite, allowing current flow.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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