Wiring lights in series increases the resistance between the power source and the lights, so the overall voltage from the power source gets divided by the voltage of the lights in the circuit. For example, if you use a 12 volt battery and wire four 3-volt lights in series, the 12 volts from the battery is divided by 4 and each light uses 3-volts, which means your lights glow brightly. Series wiring is fairly straightforward and is ideal as a fun and educational tool for introducing your children to the basics of electric circuits.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Light bulbs
- Light bulb holders (optional)
- AWG 18 gauge wire
- Wire strippers
- Insulating tape
Match your battery to the lights you want to wire in series. You need to do a quick calculation so the total voltage of the lights equals, or is slightly greater, than the voltage from the battery. This ensures your lights don't blow. For example, if your lights need 3 volts each and you have three lights, your battery needs to produce 9 volts.
Put the battery and the lights you want to wire in series on a table. Put your lights into light bulb holders, if you have them, as it makes wiring easier.
Work out how many strips of wire you need to cut. Use the number of lights you're wiring and add 1 to the figure. So if you're wiring three lights you need four strips of wire.
Cut the numbers of strips of wire you worked out using a knife. Cut two strips long enough to connect between your first light and a battery terminal and the other long enough to connect between the last light and the other battery terminal. The remaining strips need only be about 4 or 5 inches long.
Use wire stripper and remove ¼ inch of plastic off the ends of the all the strips of wire. The internal copper wire connects to the lights and the battery terminals.
Loosen the screws on the light bulb holder terminals using a screwdriver, if you're using light bulb holders. Attach the end of one of the long strips of wire onto one of the terminals on the first light bulb holder then tighten the screw. If you aren't using light bulb holders use a strip of insulating tape and place the wire on one of the two light terminals and hold the wire in place using the tape.
Attach one end of a short strip of wire to the other terminal on the light bulb holder or light and tighten the screw or use tape to hold it in place. Attach the opposite to the second light bulb holder or light using the same method.
Attach a second short strip of wire onto the other terminal of the second light bulb holder or light and the opposite end onto a terminal on the third light bulb holder or light. Continue until you have attached all the short wires to the lights. Attach one end of the second long strip of wire to the last terminal on the last light bulb holder or light.
Attach the opposite end of the long strip of wire connected to the first light to one of the battery terminals. You probably need to hold it in place using tape, unless the battery has terminal connectors.
Attach the opposite end of the other long strip of wire connected to the last light to the remaining battery terminal. As you connect the last wire your lights wires in series illuminate.
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