An RLC circuit (or LCR circuit) is an electrical circuit consisting of a resistor, an inductor, and a capacitor, connected in series or in parallel. The RLC part of the name is due to those letters being the usual electrical symbols for resistance, inductance and capacitance respectively. The circuit forms a harmonic oscillator for current and will resonate in a similar way as an LC circuit will. The main difference that the presence of the resistor makes is that any oscillation induced in the circuit will die away over time if it is not kept going by a source. This effect of the resistor is called damping. The presence of the resistance also reduces the peak resonant frequency somewhat. Some resistance is unavoidable in real circuits, even if a resistor is not specifically included as a component. A pure LC circuit is an ideal which really only exists in theory.
There are many applications for this circuit. They are used in many different types of oscillator circuit. Another important application is for tuning, such as in radio receivers or television sets, where they are used to select a narrow range of frequencies from the ambient radio waves. In this role the circuit is often referred to as a tuned circuit. An RLC circuit can be used as a band-pass filter, band-stop filter, low-pass filter or high-pass filter. The tuning application, for instance, is an example of band-pass filtering. The RLC filter is described as a second-order circuit, meaning that any voltage or current in the circuit can be described by a second-order differential equation in circuit analysis.
The three circuit elements can be combined in a number of different topologies. All three elements in series or all three elements in parallel are the simplest in concept and the most straightforward to analyse. There are, however, other arrangements, some with practical importance in real circuits. One issue often encountered is the need to take into account inductor resistance. Inductors are typically constructed from coils of wire, the resistance of which is not usually desirable, but it often has a significant effect on the circuit.