What Is Voltage In Series Circuit: Detailed Facts

This article gives an overview of What Is Voltage In Series Circuit, its definition and calculation. Series connection is done by placing two or more resistors side by side in a line or keeping some wires in between.

Voltage is the pushing force of electrons. The more the voltage, higher the electron flow. In a circuit with a resistor and a battery, the potential difference across the resistor is the battery voltage. But if we add more resistors in series, voltages across them change according to the equivalent resistance.

How would you define voltage?

Voltage can be defined as the difference in electrical potential energy per unit charge between two points. Volts push electrons to start moving around, thus pushing current around an electrical circuit.  

There is a chemical reaction happening inside a battery that generates the voltage. Voltage is measured between two points and usually referred to as “voltage difference”. It is the measure of strength of the driving force that pushes electricity from one point to another or how much an electron wants to go to a place.

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What Is Voltage In Series Circuit - bulbs in series
Two bulbs in series ; Image credit: seekpng

What Is Voltage In Series Circuit- FAQs

Voltage in series formula:

Total voltage in a series circuit is the product of current and equivalent resistance (obtained from summing up the resistances of the resistive elements in the circuit). Sole voltages are calculated using the circuit current and individual resistance.

We can also add the individual voltages of the resistors to get the total voltage.

Vnet = I. Req = V1 + V2 + V3+……Vn

Vn = I. Rn

Where Vnet is the net voltage

V1, V2, V3….Vn are voltages across individual resistors

Rn is the resistance of nth resistor

Req is the equivalent resistance (summation of all the resistance values)

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Does voltage stay the same in series circuit?

Voltage in a series circuit differs from a resistor to another. Whenever current keeps flowing in the circuit, the net voltage “drops” through the resistors. We have previously known the process of getting the individual voltage.

Let us think of an electrical circuit connected to a 28 V battery. The resistances present in the circuit are 4 ohm, 8 ohm and 16 ohm respectively. Therefore Req= 4+8+16= 28 ohm.

So current i = Vnet/Req = 1 amp

Now, V1 = 4 x 1 = 4V, V2 = 8 x 1 = 8V, V3 = 16 x 1 = 16V. So we can clearly see the voltage drop values are different.

What is the rule for voltage in a series circuit?

We know, voltage in a series circuit is the addition of all individual voltage drops through the resistors. We can evaluate the voltage drops by multiplying the particular resistance value with the total current in the circuit.

The general rules for voltage in a series circuit are-

  • Same current goes through all the resistors. Therefore only if the resistance values are equal, the voltage drops across them will be equal. 
  • The voltage drops add up to a net voltage value.
  • Supply voltage is larger than the individual voltage drops.
RLC Series circuit
RLC series circuit with AC voltage; “File:Rajz RLC soros.svg” by Zátonyi Sándor, (ifj.) Fizped is licensed under CC BY 3.0

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Why is voltage used in series circuits?

Voltage is one of the major elements of a series circuit. It acts as a driving force for the current. If there is no voltage supplied to a series circuit, there will be no current flow and no utility of the circuit.

Voltage in a circuit can be compared to the pressure in a water tank. Current is analogous to the water flow. The water present in the tank is equivalent to the charge. When we free the tap, water begins flowing. Just the way pressure pushes the water, voltage pushes the electrons to flow in circuit generating current.

Current voltage resistance water analogy; Image Credits: Wikimedia

Why is the voltage divided in series circuits?

In a series circuit, current passes through each resistor that opposes the current flow by different amounts ( depends upon the value of the resistor). For this, per coulomb of charge loses some energy in the form of heat.

The energy per unit coulomb charge is known as voltage drop. By the law of conservation of energy,

total energy supplied = total energy consumed 

So, the total energy supplied per unit coulomb by the battery (joules supplied/coulomb = EMF in volts) is dissipated by each resistance generating a loss of energy of each coulomb.

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