Batteries in Series and Parallel

The battery is a device that consists of one or more electrochemical cells with external connections for powering electrical appliances. When there are multiple batteries in a given circuit, they are either wired in parallel or series. Understanding the difference between series and parallel is crucial as they determine how batteries perform in different applications. In this article, let us look at batteries’ series and parallel connection and when each method is appropriate.

Batteries in Series and Parallel Explained

Batteries can either be connected in series, parallel or a combination of both. In a series circuit, electrons travel in one path and in the parallel circuit, they travel through many branches. The following sections will closely examine the series battery configuration and the parallel battery configuration.

Connecting Batteries in Series

A set of batteries are said to be connected in series when the positive terminal of one cell is connected to the negative terminal of the succeeding cell.

Series Battery

The overall emf of the battery is the algebraic sum of all individual cells connected in series.

If E is the overall emf of the battery combined by n number of cells, then

E = E1 + E2 + E3 + E4 + ………..+ En

Similarly, if r1, r2, r3 are the internal resistances of individual cells, then the internal resistance of the battery will be equal to the sum of the internal resistance of the individual cells.

r = r1 + r2 + r3 + ……..+ rn.

Watch what happens when ‘n’ number of identical cells are connected in series with the same polarity!

Advantages

Wiring batteries in series provides a higher system voltage resulting in a lower system current. Low current indicates that you can use thinner wiring and suffer less voltage drop in the system. 

Disadvantages

In a series-connected battery system, a converter is needed to achieve low voltages.

Connecting Batteries in Parallel

A set of batteries are said to be connected in parallel when the positive terminals are connected in a battery, and similarly, negative terminals of these cells are connected. These combinations are referred to as parallel batteries.

If the emf of each cell is identical, then the emf of the battery combined by n numbers of cells connected in parallel is equal to the emf of each cell. The resultant internal resistance of the combination is,

Internal Resistance of Parallel Combination

The current delivered by the battery is the sum of currents delivered by individual cells.

Advantages

One of the prominent advantages of batteries connected in parallel is that if one of the batteries in the system fails to operate, the remaining batteries can still provide power.

Disadvantages

Connecting batteries in parallel results in a higher current draw. This indicates thicker cables and more voltage drop.

Mixed Grouping of Batteries

Batteries can be connected in a mixture of both series and parallel. This combination is referred to as a series-parallel battery. Sometimes the load may require more voltage and current than what an individual battery cell can offer. For achieving the required load voltage, the desired numbers of batteries are combined in series to achieve the current needed, and these series combinations are connected in parallel.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What are the advantages of the series connection of batteries?

Wiring batteries in series provides a higher system voltage resulting in a lower system current. Low current indicates that you can use thinner wiring and suffer less voltage drop in the system.

What are the advantages of the parallel connection of batteries?

One of the prominent advantages of batteries connected in parallel is that if one of the batteries in the system fails to operate, the remaining batteries can still provide power.

What are the disadvantages of the series connection of batteries?

In a series-connected battery system, a converter is needed to achieve low voltages.

What are the disadvantages of the parallel connection of batteries?

Connecting batteries in parallel results in a higher current draw. This indicates thicker cables and more voltage drop.

What is the mixed grouping of batteries?

Batteries can be connected in a mixture of both series and parallel. This combination is referred to as a series-parallel battery.

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