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Discharge of a capacitor through a common ground

  1. Feb 28, 2017 #1
    Let's say a switch causes a capacitor to charge and the switch opening causes the capacitor to discharge from its positive plate through a common ground to its negative plate. This common ground is connected to other components, if there is a difference in potential in other components to the positive plate tied to ground, will current flow? If so, will it cause heating issues? I've just started studying circuits a couple of months ago so I apologize if anything is unclear. Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2017 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF. :smile:

    Can you post a sketch of the circuit you are asking about? That would make it easier for us to respond. Thanks.
  4. Feb 28, 2017 #3
    I don't really have a schematic. It was just a random thought I had when I saw a two zener diodes like the one linked(Sorry it's not a complete circuit lol). When a switch was put into place the capacitor charged, and when the switch was open the capacitor was tied to ground to discharge to the negative plate. I was just wondering if there was a difference in potential between the positive plate and other components tied to the ground would current flow in those branches as well.
  5. Feb 28, 2017 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    There's no switch shown in the circuit, but if you are asking what happens when the cap is charged up and the charging voltage source is removed...

    The capacitor charging voltage will be limited by the reverse Zener clamping voltage of the two Zener diodes. Once the voltage source is removed, the capacitor will discharge at a rate determined by the reverse leakage current of the Zener diodes. Does that help?

    You could use Google Images to look for other circuits that may express your question better...
  6. Feb 28, 2017 #5
    Yes that was very helpful. The explanation cleared up that my earlier thought was based on a faulty assumption about the operation of that circuit. I'll try to design a circuit that better expresses my question.
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