Parallel and Series Circuits

  • In a series circuit, the current is constant around the circuit and total resistance is the sum of individual resistances which can be calculated as:

RTotal = R1 + R2 + R3 + Rx….

  • In the series circuit, the voltage drops as it passes through a resistance/load, and the total sum of these voltage drops equals the applied voltage. Therefore, 2 or more loads connected in series act as voltage dividers.
  • Regarding power in the series circuit, the power dissipated in each load should add up to the total power provided by the source. Thus, power dissipated can be calculated as:

Power Total = PowerR1 + PowerR2 + PowerR3 + PowerRX…..

A series circuit showing 3 loads (marked by X in a circle) connected in series
  • Each parallel path in a parallel circuit is called a branch, and each branch has its own current, though all branches have the same voltage. The sum of branch current equals the total current drawn from the source, and this is calculated as:

Current (I)Total = I1 + I2 + I3 + IX…..

  • The total resistance in a parallel circuit can be calculated using this equation:

1/Resistance(R)Total = 1/R1 + 1/R2 + 1/R3 + 1/RX….

  • The combination of all the branches in the parallel circuit is called a bank.
  • In the series-parallel circuit, some components are connected in series if there is need to ensure that the same current flows through them, while other components are connected in parallel to ensure that the same voltage flows through them.
A series-parallel circuit showing 3 loads, with 2 loads connected in series, and 3 switches.

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