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2.4.2: Series-Parallel Connections

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  • A basic series-parallel system is shown in Figure 5.2.1 . It should be obvious that this system is neither a simple series connection nor a simple parallel connection, but rather some combination of the two. In order for it to be series, the current through each component would have to be the same. This does not have to be true here. Consider the connection node directly above block C. This also connects to items B, D and E. All we really know about that node is that there are four paths leading to it and that the four associated currents must sum to zero, thanks to KCL. There is nothing that requires the current through, say, block D to be the same as that through block E. Similarly, there is nothing that stipulates that the voltage across block C must be the same as that across block F. After all, that is the hallmark of a parallel configuration, and that would require those two blocks to be connected to the same two nodes, which they aren't.


    Figure 5.2.1 : A series-parallel configuration.

    What we can say about the configuration of Figure 5.2.1 is that some of the components are in series among themselves, and some are in parallel among themselves. We might recognize these groupings as sub-circuits. For example, it is true that blocks A and B are in series with each other because the current through one of them must be the same as the current through the other. The same is true of blocks C and F; they are in series with each other. Similarly, we can say that blocks D and E are in parallel with each other because they must see the same voltage as they are each connected to the same two nodes.

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