A video of this demonstrate is obtainable at this link.

You are watching: Brightness of bulbs in series and parallel

OK. These are actually AC circuits. Because the tons are virtually purely resistive, i.e., there room no capacitances or inductances (or castle are little enough to it is in negligible), and since the rms (root-mean-square) AC voltage and also current act in purely resistive circuits as DC voltage and also current do, the two circuits shown above are indistinguishable to the corresponding DC circuits. The AC from the wall is sinusoidal. The rms voltage for a sinusoid is 0.707Vp, where Vp is the height voltage. Similarly, the rms existing through a resistor is 0.707ip, where ip is the height current. These effective values correspond come the DC values that would provide the very same power dissipation in the resistor. These space slightly different from the average voltage and also current, which room 0.639Vp and 0.639ip because that a sinusoid. For AC native the wall, the rms voltage is roughly 120 V, and the mean voltage is around 110 V.

Each board has three 40-watt bulbs, linked as presented by the resistor circuit painted top top it. The board on the left has actually the bulbs arranged, the course, in parallel, and the plank on the right has actually them in series. Because power, P, amounts to iV, P/V = i, so in ~ 120 V, a 40-watt pear draws 1/3 A. (The units in iV space (C/s)(N-m/C), or J/s, which space watts.) because that a provided resistance, V = iR, so the bulb’s resistance (when it has 120 volts across it) is 120/(1/3), or 360 ohms. (We also know through the two equations over that ns = i2R, which provides R together 40/(1/9), or 360 ohms.)

When the bulbs are linked in parallel, every bulb has 120 V across it, each draws 1/3 A, and each dissipates 40 watts. In this circuit, all bulbs glow at their full brightness. The full power dissipated in the circuit is 3 times 40, or 120 watts (or 3(1/3) A × 120 V = 120 W).

In the series circuit, any current that flows v one bulb need to go with the other bulbs as well, for this reason each pear draws the very same current. Because all three bulbs are 40-watt bulbs, they have the same resistance, for this reason the voltage drop across each one is the same and equals one-third the the used voltage, or 120/3 = 40 volts. The resistance that a light bulb filament transforms with temperature, but if we disregard this, we have the right to at least approximately estimate the present flow and power dissipation in the series circuit. We have 120 V/(360 + 360 + 360) ohms = 1/9 A. The strength dissipated in each pear is either (1/9)2 × 360 = 4.44 watts, or (1/9) × 40 = 4.44 watts. The total power dissipated in the circuit is 3 times this, or 13.3 watts ((1/9)2 × 3(360) = 1080/81 = 13.3 W, or (1/9) A × 120 V = 13.3 W).

With fresh irradiate bulbs, direct measurement through an ammeter shows that the actual current flowing in the parallel circuit is 0.34 A for one bulb, 0.68 A for 2 bulbs and also 1.02 A for three bulbs, and in the collection circuit the is 0.196 A. So the current, and thus the dissipated power (23.5 watts), in the series circuit are virtually twice what we arrived at above.

An “ohmic” resistance is one the stays continuous regardless that the applied voltage (and thus additionally the current). If the light bulbs behaved this way, the measured present in the collection circuit would agree with the estimate above. Even though they do not, this demonstration gives a great sense the the difference in actions between a collection and parallel circuit made through three identical resistors.

What happens if the irradiate bulbs space not every one of the exact same wattage rating?

An amazing variation of this demonstrate is to display what happens as soon as we put light bulbs the three various wattages in each circuit. A good choice is to save one 40-W light bulb in every circuit, and also then include a 60-W bulb and a 100-W bulb. In the parallel circuit, as detailed above, the voltage throughout each pear is the exact same (120 V), therefore each pear draws the current that it would if that alone were associated to the wall, and the intensities that the bulbs hence vary as you would mean from the wattage ratings. The 100-W pear is the brightest, the 40-W pear is the dimmest, and the 60-W bulb is somewhere in between. When we placed the same mix of bulbs in series, an amazing thing happens. Because both the 60-W bulb and also the 100-W bulb have lower resistance than the 40-W bulb, the current through the circuit is somewhat higher than for the 3 40-W irradiate bulbs in series, and the 40-W bulb glows an ext brightly 보다 it did once it was in collection with two various other 40-W bulbs. The existing through this circuit actions 0.25 A. This is around 76% of the 0.33 A that the 40-W pear would attract by itself, half the 0.5 A the the 60-W bulb would certainly draw, and 30% the the 0.83 A the the 100-W bulb would draw. In ~ this current, the 40-W pear lights fairly brightly, the 60-W bulb simply barely glows, and also the 100-W bulb does not light in ~ all. The photograph below shows the procedure of these 2 circuits:


The bulbs in each circuit, indigenous left come right, room a 40-W, 60-W and a 100-W light bulb. In the parallel circuit, the bulbs obviously boost in brightness native left to right. In the series circuit, the brightness decreases native left to right. The measured voltages in the circuit are 120 V across all 3 bulbs, 109 V across the 40- and also the 60-W bulbs, and 78 V throughout the 40-Watt bulb. The voltage drop across the 60-W bulb is therefore 31 V, and it is 11 V across the 100-W bulb. Multiplying each of this by the 0.25-A current, we uncover that in the series circuit, the 40-W pear dissipates about 20 watts, the 60-W pear dissipates 7.8 watts, and the 100-W pear dissipates around 2.8 watts, which coincides with the loved one intensities us observe because that the 3 bulbs.

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1) Howard V. Malmstadt, Christie G. Enke and also Stanley R. Crouch. Electronics and Instrumentation because that Scientists (Menlo Park, California: The Benjamin/Cummings publishing Company, Inc., 1981), pp. 31-32.