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Science

Circuits

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Circuit diagrams are used to represent electrical circuits. Using standard symbols shows the various electrical components. Components can be connected in series or in parallel. The characteristics of the current [current: Moving electric charges, for example, electrons moving through a metal wire. ] and potential difference (voltage) are different in series and parallel circuits.

Series and parallel circuits

You should know the difference between series and parallel connections in circuits.

Series connections

Components that are connected one after another on the same loop of the circuit are connected in series. The current [current: Moving electric charges, for example, electrons moving through a metal wire. ] that flows across each component connected in series is the same.

Two lamps connected in series

The circuit diagram shows a circuit with two lamps connected in series. If one lamp breaks, the other lamp will not light.

Parallel connections

Components that are connected on separate loops are connected in parallel. The current is shared between each component connected in parallel. The total amount of current flowing into the junction, or split, is equal to the total current flowing out. The current is described as being conserved.

Two lamps connected in parallel

The circuit diagram shows a circuit with two lamps connected in parallel. If one lamp breaks, the other lamp will still light.

Which of the circuits below are connected in series, and which are connected in parallel? Move your mouse over each circuit to check your answers.

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