Overview of Batteries in Series or Parallel


#1

This post will focus on the arrangement of batteries and how they behave in a circuit. We will be using typical household alkaline batteries for examples.

(BTW - Digi-Key is an excellent source to purchase batteries for electronics in your home such as remote controls, smoke detectors, kids toys, clocks, flashlights, etc. So if you’re not already buying batteries already for your home, I recommend considering it! I have found that the prices are superb over the commercial packaged versions at big box stores. Some part numbers are listed below.)

Lets take a look at the output voltage and capacity for alkaline batteries. Please note, these are typical battery values, please refer to datasheets of your exact battery to confirm electrical specs:

Battery Type Voltage Capacity Examples
AAAA 1.5V 600 mAh Energizer # N539-ND
AAA 1.5V 1.3 Ah Panasonic # P645-ND; Energizer # N146-ND
AA 1.5V 2.8 Ah Panasonic # P646-ND; Energizer # N107-ND
C 1.5V 7.5Ah Panasonic # P644-ND; Energizer # N106-ND
D 1.5V 15Ah Panasonic # P643-ND; Energizer # N105-ND
9V 9V 600 mAh Panasonic # P687-ND; Energizer # N145-ND

Many electronics utilize not only one, but two, three, even four or more batteries. The batteries can be combined and arranged in a few different methods for different reasons to either utilize more voltage or more capacity.

Batteries in Parallel

Batteries in Parallel = Same Voltage and Increased Capacity

Schematic equivalent:
schematic%20parallel

Batteries in Series

Batteries in Series = Increased Voltage and Same Capacity.

Schematic Equivalent:
schematic%20series|440x97,

Battery Holders

So how do you know if the battery holder you are ordering is set up in series or parallel? The easiest way is to look for a wire connecting the positive and negative terminal. If you see such a wire, then the battery is in series connection. A series connection battery holder is the most common.

image
BC2AAPC-ND

Parallel battery holders are few and far in between. If you really need this type of configuration, I recommend considering electrically connecting the wire leads of the holders to replicate the parallel configuration.

Here is an example of creating a Series / Parallel battery source from using two battery holders with two individual battery cells within each one.

Batteries%20in%20SeriesParallel
If a 1.5V / 1.3 Ah AA battery is used, this set up would provide a voltage of 3V and a capacity of 2.6Ah.

Safety

Last but not least, never set up a battery by connecting the leads in a fashion to create a short circuit (for more info, see Short Circuit on Wikipedia)

donotdo

Helpful Links

Digi-Key product offerings:

Calculator


#2

AAAA thru D are not batteries, they are cells.

Batteries contain multiple cells.

The definition of cell is “a unit of electrochemical potential that has a voltage dependent on the cells chemistry”

A 9 volt battery contains 6, 1.5V cells in series. 1.5V x 6 = 9!


#3

For those that may be interested, further info relating to the care & feeding of series-connected cells/batteries can be found here.