There are two types of circuit parallel and series. If you have 4 x 12v batterys and want to connect them together then you want parallel. 4 x 12v in series would give you an output of 48v. A series circuit is where all the cells are in line i.e + to -.
If youn imagine AA batery this would look like all baterys in a long line with the top ( the nipple ) of each cell touching the bottom ( flat end ) of the next.
A parallel circuit looks different. Again using the AA's as an example again, If you stood each batery up on its base one next to the other no pole is touching another. What you would do is connect all the tops together (nipple to nipple) from the first to the last one, then connect all the bases n(flat end ) together from the first cell to the last. You could then take a reading of the voltage from any point accross the the top (+) and any point accross the bottom (-) and your reading will be that of one cell.
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plus to plus, minus to minus
the + of all batteries go to main + wire
the - of all batteries go to main - wire
in practice this connection is NOT suitable for many types of batteries (like lead acid). such batteries will charge / discharge each other if connected like that. its bad for the batteries and can be dangerous if current is high
the batteries have to be be the same type and capacity and condition (wear and tear)
if you want to use batteries that normally cannot be connected in parallel add high current diode on the + of each battery in the right direction between the battery and the main + wire. the diode allows current from the battery out but not in. this way you can use any type and combination of batteries. to charge you have to disconnect the batteries and charge each alone