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Potential Difference in Series Circuits

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A series of free GCSE/IGCSE Physics Notes and Lessons.

Potential Difference (Voltage) in a Series Circuit

In this lesson, we will
• Explain what is meant by potential difference.
• Describe how we can measure potential difference.
• Describe potential difference in a series circuit.

A potential difference, also called voltage, across an electrical component is needed to make a current flow through it. Cells or batteries often provide the potential difference needed.
A potential difference of 1 volt tells us that 1 joule of energy is transferred for each coulomb of charge that is moving through the circuit.

When two or more components are connected in series, the total potential difference of the supply is shared between them. This means that if you add together the voltages across each component connected in series, the total equals the voltage of the power supply.

Two identical resistors connected in series will share the potential difference. They will get half each. If resistors connected in series are not the same then the potential difference is larger across the larger of the resistors.

Potential difference (voltage) in series circuits
The potential difference (voltage) of the supply is shared between components in a series circuit.

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