Series circuits

In a television series, you get several episodes, one after the other. A series circuit is similar. You get several components one after the other.

If you follow the circuit diagram from one side of the cell to the other, you should pass through all the different components, one after the other, without any branches.

A circuit with a battery and two lamps connected in seriesTwo lamps in series

In a series circuit, if a lamp breaks or a component is disconnected, the circuit is broken and all the components stop working.

A circuit with a battery and two lamps connected in series. The second lamp has blown and the circuit is broken, so the first lamp doesn't lightIn a series circuit, if one lamp is removed or broken the other goes out

Series circuits are useful if you want a warning that one of the components in the circuit has failed. They also use less wiring than parallel circuits.

Current in series circuits

The current is the same everywhere in a series circuit. It does not matter where you put the ammeter, it will give you the same reading.

The circuit has a cell, ammeter 1 reading 0.5A, a lamp, ammeter 2 reading 0.5A, another lamp, ammeter 3 reading 0.5AAll three ammeters read 0.5 A in this series circuit

Adding more cells

The current in a series circuit depends upon the number of cells. If you make the cells face in the same direction, the more cells you add, the greater the current.

The first circuit has one cell, an ammeter reading 0.5A and a lamp. The second circuit has two cells, an ammeter reading 1.0A, and a lamp. The third circuit has three cells, an ammeter reading 1.5A and a lamp.The current in this series circuit increases as more cells are added

Current is not used up

If you put more lamps into a series circuit, the lamps will be dimmer than before because less current will flow through them.

You might think that the current gets less as it flows through one component after another, but it is not like this. The current is not used up by the components in a circuit. This means that the current is the same everywhere in a series circuit, even if it has lots of lamps or other components.

Circuit has two cells, an ammeter reading 0.3A, a lamp, a second ammeter reading 0.3A, another lamp, a third ammeter reading 0.3A, another lamp, and a fourth ammeter reading 0.3AThe current flowing through each lamp is less when there are more lamps, but it is still the same everywhere in this series circuit