3 Advantages of a Series Circuit

string lights with large bulbs in an outdoor space

A series circuit is the arrangement of resistors in a chain, enabling current flow along a single path. Current in such circuits remains constant as it passes through individual resistors. If one of the components fails, the entire circuit stops working.

Series circuits are also referred to as current-coupled or daisy chain-coupled. A common example of such a circuit is old string lighting. If one bulb in such a circuit burns out, the rest of the string goes off until the bulb is replaced (some newer versions can handle a few bulbs going out, by using multiple circuits). To clearly understand a series circuit, you need to familiarize yourself with three basic principles; current, resistance, and voltage.

Current

Current is constant in a series circuit and remains the same through each component. This means that no matter where in a circuit you take your reading with an ammeter, you should get the same result.

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The number of cells determines the current output. Facing all the cells in the same direction will increase current production.

Resistance

The combined resistance of any series circuit is equal to the sum of the resistances of the connected parts. Resistors in series circuits have similar current flowing through them since current flowing has a single route. It can be important to remember that because it's cumulative, the total resistance in a sequence will be larger than the effect of the most resistant element.

Voltage

Connecting in series divides up the source voltage in proportion to the loads' individual impedances. In a series circuit, you can measure voltage using a voltmeter, which should be connected parallel to the component. This ensures that the reading is accurate since the voltage shared among the components in a series circuit is equal to the voltage supplied.

voltmeter for measuring electric current

Advantages of Series Circuits

Additional Power

The number of batteries in a circuit determines how much current is being produced, but the amount of current won't necessarily affect performance. The bulbs in a string of lights, for instance, will not necessarily get brighter with more power output. Battery life tends to be better in a series circuit, which makes this approach more efficient for portable appliances.

Simplicity

Series circuits are relatively easy to create, and their simplicity makes them easy to understand without a technician. This ease of use makes it simple to calculate the voltage produced within a given circuit.

Least Likely to Overheat

Series circuits can stay connected for long periods without posing a fire risk, which is another reason they've been popular in decorative applications like string lights, which often stay on for sustained periods.

string lighting in a dark, outdoor space

Disadvantages

Because the supply voltage is shared among elements, series circuits are less efficient for systems that require more power. The fact that any break in the circuit, such as a burnt-out bulb, renders the entire circuit inoperable, also limits its usefulness in large-scale devices. It can be hard to figure out which part of the system is causing the problem, which can put machines and systems out of operation for longer.

Another disadvantage is that series circuits require a lot of wires, which can become slightly difficult to identify when a circuit needs repair.

Bottom Line

Series circuits are quite useful in simple and portable devices, whereas parallel circuits are more effective in appliances that require more power. It may not be advisable to use series circuits in a building, since it will be challenging to identify the exact area that needs repair when there's an issue. For larger systems, parallel circuits allow maximum voltage and flexibility, since they can be operated individually.

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