Series vs. Parallel Batteries: A Practical Introduction for Rookies | The Xperts Pakistan

Written by: Azhar Farooq

11/07/2024

Series vs. Parallel Batteries


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I will introduce the topic of connecting batteries in series vs parallel from a practical perspective. Imagine you’re planning an outdoor adventure, packing a tent, a portable power station, and other supplies, and driving to a beautiful, remote location for a three-day, two-night trip. are You may feel overwhelmed by the different parameters of batteries. Searching online for information often leads to articles that use technical terms to explain other technical terms, leaving you even more confused. It seems counterintuitive – if one understood all these terms, one wouldn’t need to read these articles, right? This article is intended for beginners, especially those who want to try outdoor camping without diving deep into the technical details.

How to connect batteries in series or parallel

Let’s recall some basic science lessons from middle school. Our teachers taught us that when connecting multiple batteries with wires, connecting the positive terminal of one battery to the negative terminal of another battery is called a series connection. Positive to positive and negative to negative are called parallel connections. This may sound abstract, but it’s easier to understand with a visual representation.

Connect in series
Batteries in series vs parallelBatteries in series vs parallel
Connect in parallel

What happens when batteries are in series vs. parallel

When batteries are connected in series, they provide a higher voltage. For example, connecting two 12V batteries in series gives you a 24V battery pack. Conversely, batteries in parallel provide a higher total capacity (Ah), but the voltage remains the same—two 12V batteries in parallel still provide 12V. In a series-connected battery pack, the current is the same all the time, meaning that if one battery fails or loses capacity, the overall performance of the pack drops significantly, like a barrel that Keeps water level with its smallest plank. In a parallel connected battery pack, it is like merging several side roads into one main road. If one battery fails, the other can still provide power, and the pack continues to operate.

When to use series or parallel connection?

Many articles raise this question, but when you understand the characteristics of series and parallel connections, the answer becomes clear: use series for higher voltage and parallel for higher capacity. Check the label on your appliances to determine their voltage and capacity requirements. While series and parallel connections have other features, this guide focuses on giving beginners the easiest and fastest way to get started. Remember this rule of thumb for choosing between series and parallel connections.

Important Safety Points

At this point, I should explain the different battery types, parameters, and characteristics to illustrate when you can safely connect batteries in series or parallel and when you should avoid it. However, this is a quick practical guide for beginners, so I’ll get straight to the advice:

Buy two identical batteries!

You may remember your science teacher advising against mixing old and new batteries in TV remotes. The same principle applies to rechargeable batteries. Mixing different batteries can cause problems. Understanding the details requires a lot of effort, so for a beginner looking for simplicity, buying two identical batteries is the best choice. This completely avoids compatibility issues. If you plan to be out for a long time, consider buying three batteries or a portable solar panel to recharge your batteries. That way, you can use it on your travels and at home, making it more cost-effective than buying an extra battery for just a few days.

Result

At the end of batteries in series vs. parallel, series connections increase voltage, parallel connections increase capacity, and different batteries should not be connected together. For simplicity, buy one large battery or two identical batteries. If you want to understand the changes in batteries when connected in series or parallel from a professional point of view, you can refer. More detailed articles.

 


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