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Thevenin's theorem

An example of Thévenin's theorem being used

Thevenin's theorem for electrical networks states that any combination of voltage sources and resistors with two terminals is electrically equivalent to a single voltage source V and a single series resistor R. The theorem was first discovered by German scientist Hermann von Helmholtz in 1853, but was then rediscovered in 1883 by French telegraph engineer Léon Charles Thévenin (1857-1926).

When calculating a Thevenin-equivalent voltage, the voltage divider principle is often useful, by declaring one terminal to be Vout and the other terminal to be at the ground point.

When calculating a Thevenin-equivalent resistance, it is important to first replace all voltage- and current-sources with their internal resistances. For an ideal voltage source, this means replace the voltage source with a short circuit. For an ideal current source, this means replace the current source with an open circuit. Resistance can then be calculated across the terminals using the formulae for series and parallel circuits.

See also: Norton's theorem.