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What is Current Load?

By Christy Bieber
Updated May 17, 2024
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Current load is the amount of electrical current that is passed from a power source to the device or appliance receiving the power. Most power sources are only capable of providing certain amounts of power before they become too hot or short out. This means the current load capabilities of a power source and the load requirements of the item being used should be taken into consideration before any item is connected to a power source. Any item being connected to a power source may be damaged if the load that is provided by the power source is greater than the load the item is capable of handling. When this aspect is not taken into consideration and an item is connected to a power source that provides much greater current load than the item is capable of handling, the item may overheat and become damaged.

In most cases, an energy source isn’t measured directly in current load terms. Instead, power sources are usually measured in terms of voltage and can even be referred to as voltage sources in many cases. These types of voltage sources send a constant current to whatever item is connected to them.

Voltage and current power systems work effectively as long as the amount of electrical current that is required from the power source is within the power source’s current load capabilities. When a device which requires power needs to pull more current from the power source than the source is able to provide, a short circuit typically occurs. This means the power source is unable to provide the sufficient amount of current to effectively power the device.

Wiring also plays an important role in the current load a device is capable of handling, due to the fact that certain sizes of wires — often referred to as gauges — can only handle a certain amount of current or voltage being sent through them. When the load is far too great for the wiring that delivers the power from the source to the device using the power, the wire itself can become very hot and even burn out in some cases. Making sure the size of the wire being used is the correct gauge for the amount of current the item will require is very important to ensure that neither the item nor the power source will be compromised or damaged when power is drawn.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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