# Series-Parallel Circuits

**Series-Parallel Circuits** are circuits which are composed of series and parallel connections.

To analyse these we need to identify the **series **and **parallel **pieces and apply their rules to them.

Below are summaries of the key rules for series and parallel circuits which will help us to identify and simplify them.

## Series Circuits

- Series circuit elements share a
**single common terminal**between them - The
**current is the same**through series elements **Voltage****adds**in series**Resistance adds**in series

## Parallel Circuits

- Parallel circuit elements share
**two common terminals** - The
**voltage**is the**same**through**parallel elements** **Current adds**in parallel**Resistance reduces**when elements are connected in parallel

## Series-Parallel Circuit Analysis

Series-parallel circuit analysis differs from simple series and parallel circuits in that we need to first **identify** the **series** and **parallel** **elements**. We need to work out which circuit elements are in series and which are in parallel to then proceed with simplifying the circuit and applying the appropriate circuit rules.

The general process is as follows:

**Identify**the**series**and**parallel connections**in the circuit- Determine the
**equivalent resistances**and continue to**redraw**the circuit and identify the resulting**series and parallel connections** - Once the circuit has been simplified to a
**single resistor**, the**total voltage**or**current**can be found. - Use the above to go back and determine all of the
**voltages**and**currents**in the circuit as required, it can be helpful to redraw the circuit back again in stages during this phase.

The identification phase can be challenging as the subcircuit connections are **not always obvious** on first inspection and the resulting analysis is also more complex than simple series and parallel circuits.

The best way to learn how to tackle series-parallel circuits is lots of **practice**, which is why the remainder of this topic is examples and questions :)

### Examples:

**1. a)** What is the total current **Is** in the circuit below:

**total current It**splits into

**currents I1 and I2**through resistors R2 and R3 which share two

**common terminals**at the end points which means they are

**connected in parallel**. We can then simplify R2 and R3 into a single equivalent series resistor connected to R1 and we can calculate this resistance with the product over sum equation: The circuit can now be drawn with the parallel resistance of R2||R3 in series with R1: This can be simplified further by combining these two resistances in series to find the equivalent total resistance: From here we can use Ohm's Law to determine the total current:

**b)** What is the voltage drop across R1?

**c)** What is the voltage drop across R2?

**d)** Calculate I1:

**e)** Calculate I2:

**2. a)** What is the total current **It** in the circuit below:

**It**splits into 2 currents which flow through resistors R1 and R2 which recombine and then split again into 2 currents flowing through R3 and R4. The current then flows through R5 before returning to the voltage sources. This means that R1 is in parallel with R2 and R3 is in parallel with R4 and these equivalent resistors are in series with R5. Now to determine R1||R2 we could use the product over sum equation, however, recall that we also found that parallel resistances of the

**same value**simplify to the

**resistance value divided by the total number of resistors**. Hence the equivalent resistance is simply given by: R3||R4 can then be calculated using the product over sum equation: The circuit can then be redrawn with the equivalent parallel resistances connected in series to R5: Adding the series voltage sources and resistances results in the final simplified circuit: From here Ohm's law can be used to determine the total current:

**b)** What is the voltage drop across R5?

**c)** What is the voltage drop across R1?

**d)** What is the current flowing through R1?

**e)** What is the current flowing through R2?

**f)** What is the voltage drop across R4?

**g)** What is the current flowing through R3?

**h)** What is the current flowing through R4?

**3. a)** What is the voltage provided by the current source in the circuit below?

**redraw the circuit**. We can see that the total current flows into a network consisting of R1, R2, R3 and R4. To break this down further it is helpful to recall that series resistors share only a single terminal. From this we can see that resistors R1 and R2 share a terminal in common and that R3 and R4 share a common terminal which means these pairs of resistors are in series with each other. We can then redraw the circuit as follows to make this clearer: From the above it is clear that the equivalent resistances Rx (R1 and R2) and Ry (R3 and R4) are in parallel and we can also see that the current It flows through R5 and R6 which means they are in series. We can calculate the parallel resistance and then add the result with R5 and R6 to determine the final resistance: Hence the equivalent circuit is: Now we can use Ohm's Law to calculate the current provided by the current source, Vs:

**b)** What is the current flowing through R1?

### Questions:

**1. a) **What is the total current **Is** in the circuit below:

#### Answer

**b)** What is the voltage drop across R1?

#### Answer

**c)** What is the voltage drop across R2?

#### Answer

**d)** What is the current flowing through R2?

#### Answer

**e)** What is the current flowing through R3?

#### Answer

**f)** What is the current flowing through R4?

#### Answer

**2. a)** What is the source current Is in the circuit below?

#### Answer

**b)** What is the voltage drop across R1?

#### Answer

**c) **What is the voltage drop across R3?

#### Answer

**d)** What is the voltage drop across R4?

#### Answer

**e)** What is the current flowing through R3?

#### Answer

## Lab:

I'd like to leave this as an exercise, its really important to try experimenting with various circuit configurations to get a feel for how **series-parallel circuits in particular** **work **and as everyone is different I think it's best that you fire up LTSpice and connect up interesting circuits to build intuition :)