How to Calculate the RMS Value of an Arbitrary Waveform

Previous articles on MasteringElectronicsDesign.com talked about how to calculate the RMS of simple signals like a sine wave, trapezoidal and triangle signals, pulse and square signals. But, what about an arbitrary waveform? How do we calculate its RMS? Starting with the definition, as shown in previous articles, applying the integral, might not be an easy task. We need a different method. Enters the square root of the sum of squares.

The RMS value based on the square root of the sum of squares

If we have a few signals going through the same heating element, each signal heats the element independently of the other signals. This is valid, as long as the signals can be considered uncorrelated, that is, independent one of each other. The formula can be written as follows:

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