How to Connect LED Strip Lights – Series and Parallel Instructions for RGB LED Strip Lights
Series circuits are sometimes called current-coupled or daisy chain-coupled. The current in a series circuit goes through every component in the circuit. Therefore, all of the components in a series connection carry the same current. There is only one path in a series circuit in which the current can flow.
A series circuit’s main disadvantage or advantage, depending on its intended role in a product’s overall design, is that because there is only one path in which its current can flow, opening or breaking a series circuit at any point causes the entire circuit to “open” or stop operating. For example, if even one of the light bulbs in an older-style string of Christmas tree lights burns out or is removed, the entire string becomes inoperable until the bulb is replaced.
If two or more components are connected in parallel they have the same potential difference (voltage) across their ends. The potential differences across the components are the same in magnitude, and they also have identical polarities. The same voltage is applicable to all circuit components connected in parallel. The total current is the sum of the currents through the individual components, in accordance with Kirchhoff’s current law.
Circuits consisting of just one battery and one load resistance are very simple to analyze, but they are not often found in practical applications. Usually, we find circuits where more than two components are connected together.
Now that you know the two basic ways in which to connect more than two circuit components: series and parallel, we can have a look at a few examples. First, an example of a series circuit:
Here, we have three resistors (labeled R1, R2, and R3), connected in a long chain from one terminal of the battery to the other. (It should be noted that the subscript labeling — those little numbers to the lower-right of the letter “R” — are unrelated to the resistor values in ohms. They serve only to identify one resistor from another.) The defining characteristic of a series circuit is that there is only one path for electrons to flow. In this circuit the electrons flow in a counter-clockwise direction, from point 4 to point 3 to point 2 to point 1 and back around to 4.
Now, let’s look at the other type of circuit, a parallel configuration:
Again, we have three resistors, but this time they form more than one continuous path for electrons to flow. There’s one path from 8 to 7 to 2 to 1 and back to 8 again. There’s another from 8 to 7 to 6 to 3 to 2 to 1 and back to 8 again. And then there’s a third path from 8 to 7 to 6 to 5 to 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 and back to 8 again. Each individual path (through R1, R2, and R3) is called a branch.
The defining characteristic of a parallel circuit is that all components are connected between the same set of electrically common points. Looking at the schematic diagram, we see that points 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all electrically common. So are points 8, 7, 6, and 5. Note that all resistors as well as the battery are connected between these two sets of points.
And, of course, the complexity doesn’t stop at simple series and parallel either! We can have circuits that are a combination of series and parallel, too:
In this circuit, we have two loops for electrons to flow through: one from 6 to 5 to 2 to 1 and back to 6 again, and another from 6 to 5 to 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 and back to 6 again. Notice how both current paths go through R1 (from point 2 to point 1). In this configuration, we’d say that R2 and R3 are in parallel with each other, while R1 is in series with the parallel combination of R2 and R3.
This is just a preview of things to come. Don’t worry! We’ll explore all these circuit configurations in detail, one at a time!
The basic idea of a “series” connection is that components are connected end-to-end in a line to form a single path for electrons to flow:
The basic idea of a “parallel” connection, on the other hand, is that all components are connected across each others leads. In a purely parallel circuit, there are never more than two sets of electrically common points, no matter how many components are connected. There are many paths for electrons to flow, but only one voltage across all components:
OK so by now you should have a reasonable understanding of the differences between series and parallel wiring and hopefully a better understanding of where and when to apply such systems and for what reason.
With this information in hand we can now look at how we intend to wire up our LED Strip Lights.
To make things a little easier while you are setting up your LED Strip Lights we have the following Series and Parallel Instructions for RGB LED Strip Lights that you can download and print out for quick reference.
Click the download button below to download the document.