loading
There are two basic types of electrical circuits; series and parallel. A complex circuit can consist of sub circuits of each kind.

Step 1: Series Circuit

Picture of Series Circuit
In a series circuit, the path of electrons from the negative (-) side to the positive (+) side goes through all the electrical components of the circuit. Another way to think of this is that if you open the circuit at one point, on either side of a component, there is no complete path for the electrons to follow from - to + for any of the components. A good example of this for those of you old enough to remember is the old style Christmas lights where if one light were to burn out, the whole series of lights would go out. Series circuits are used extensively in electronics but rarely by someone who is providing power to electrical components such as supplying power to a group of lights as in the case of low voltage LED lights sold by Berkeley Point. A simple schematic of a series circuit containing three electrical components (represented as light bulbs below - icky incandescent light bulbs at that), is illustrated below:

Series Circuit:
 
I have 5 AA Batteries that run at 1.2V and 2.5 Amperes each. I want to wire them together so that the total current output is the same as a lead acid I want to replace; which is 6 V 2.5 Amps. Would I have to wire them together in series or in parallel to do so?
Saprobic5 years ago
Just wondering if anyone can help me. I am setting up an array of LEDs that will include a few colours. The problem is that most of the leds have the same forward voltage (2.0) but the blue is different (3.6). Can I run a series that includes diodes with different voltages?
My source is a 12VDC. What I would like to do is run 2 blue 2 red for a total of 7.2 + 4.0 = 11.2 Volts with a resistor, rinse and repeat in parallel until I finish the array.
Any chance this can work?
iProton5 years ago
Series circuits add the resistance of the circuit, while parallels split the voltage. However, the light bulbs glow better in a parallel circuit.
punkatsub6 years ago
yeah i'm pretty new to the whole led part of electronics and i was wondering something, if you have four leds all 3v, and put them in a series on a 12v, would i need a resistor
joeleefinn6 years ago
I am pretty new to electronics, however, the negative lead from the negative side on the battery connects to the positive pole on the light bulb ending up with the negative pole on the light bulb connecting to the positive pole on the battery. Does this matter? Thanks.
It does if there is a diode in there somewhere.
collard416 years ago
finally somewhere to send people if they do not know the difference between them. i had made a special document that i posted in comments when people asked these questions. anyway a lot of people dont understand this so it is good that you have done it
trainwrek7 years ago
Geez, thank you so much! Trying to figure the simple stuff is sometimes way more difficult than it should be, thanks for being a navigator!
jds16327 years ago
I run an electronic security dept at a college and have 2 guys for instance, 1 with a degree in electronics from ITT tech who doesn't understand these theories and another who says he's a $30 a hr tech who can't spell basic electonics.Both hired by my boss. I'd like to have a place to direct my guy's to look for instruction when I don't have the time. Infact I'm going to have them check here for the projects to hopefully get them to want to inprove their skills.
worthing8 years ago
I'm most grateful to tjayfowler for posting this. I am an older beginner and found this site eventually by googling. I'm relieved to have found all levels of electricity and fun projects to do. Brenda
Totally helpful.
bobbyfiend8 years ago
Some people might need to take a deep breath, and then practice thinking about how *others* might view the world. And practice using non-insulting language. I found this instructable both useful and clear. Thank you.
Upstate8 years ago
Actually, I did cover this when I was in sixth grade. But, that was 27 years ago and frankly, I did not major in engineering during university. So yes, bite-size and easily understood explanations of electronics in the context of DIY projects are very helpful for some of us as we slowly refresh our memories. Why not post some of the basics? If there are objections to this by the more advanced users, then perhaps there should be a category or section dedicated entirely to theory and basics.
tjayfowler (author) 8 years ago
I posted this because I made it for myself to reference when I'm wiring or sharing the LEDs I make and share with others. I'm thinking of posting an instructable along the lines of "If you don't have anything constructive to add other than 'you are arrogant,' then don't post anything at all." But then I realized that it's only you who would be my audience and not the users of instructables.com as a whole. Anyway, thanks for making this a better place.