How to Wire a Parallel Circuit

Written by michael logan
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How to Wire a Parallel Circuit
Circuit boards are comprised of series and parallel circuits working together. (circuit board, computer image by JoLin from Fotolia.com)

There are two ways to wire a circuit, in series or in parallel. A parallel circuit is defined as a circuit in which electricity is not used before it goes through any device on the circuit. Devices on a parallel circuit have two wires to each device. A series circuit has only one wire that goes from one device to the next device and electricity must travel through each device before it gets to the next one. Series circuit wiring is rarely used for anything besides building electronic circuits.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Small electronic project breadboard
  • Stripped jumper wires
  • 6-volt battery
  • 1000 ohm resistor
  • Red LED
  • Green LED

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Connect the positive battery terminal to a jumper wire. Insert the other end of the jumper wire into a hole in a vertical block of five holes on the breadboard near the end of the breadboard. Insert one lead of the resistor into another hole within the same block and the other lead into the horizontal double row of holes along the top of the breadboard.

  2. 2

    Insert the red LED anode lead --- the lead on the rounded edge --- to the horizontal row of holes along the top of the breadboard. Insert the other lead, the cathode, into the long row of holes along the bottom of the breadboard.

  3. 3

    Insert the green LED anode lead --- the lead on the rounded edge --- to the horizontal row of holes along the top of the breadboard. Insert the other lead, the cathode, into the long row of holes along the bottom of the breadboard.

  4. 4

    Connect the negative battery terminal to a jumper. Insert the other end of the jumper into the bottom horizontal row of the breadboard. The two LEDs will light when the negative lead is inserted into the horizontal row because the two LEDs are wired in parallel with each other.

Tips and warnings

  • The two LEDs are wired in parallel with each other. Notice how the instructions are exactly the same for both? This simple parallel circuit demonstrates the principle of parallel circuits. Each parallel device --- in this case the two LEDs --- is wired between the two power strips of the breadboard.
  • The resistor serves to limit the current and keep the LEDs from burning out quickly. The resistor is wired in series between the battery positive terminal and the positive power strip on the breadboard.

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