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There are two ways to hook together electrical components. Series circuits use components connected one after the other, while parallel circuits connect components along parallel branches. The way resistors are hooked up determines how they contribute to the total resistance of the circuit.
Steps
Method 1
Method 1 of 4:Series Circuit

1Identify a series circuit. A series circuit is a single loop, with no branching paths. All the resistors or other components are arranged in a line.

2Add all resistances together. In a series circuit, the total resistance is equal to the sum of all resistances.^{[1] X Research source } The same current passes through each resistor, so each resistor does its job as you would expect.
 For example, a series circuit has a 2 Ω (ohm) resistor, a 5 Ω resistor, and a 7 Ω resistor. The total resistance of the circuit is 2 + 5 + 7 = 14 Ω.
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3Start with current and voltage instead. If you don't know the individual resistance values, you can rely on Ohm's Law instead: V = IR, or voltage = current x resistance. The first step is to find the circuit's current and total voltage:
 The current of a series circuit is the same at all points on the circuit.^{[2] X Research source } If you know the current at any point, you can use that value in this equation.
 The total voltage is equal to the voltage of the supply (the battery). It is not equal to the voltage across one component.^{[3] X Research source }

4Insert these values into Ohm's Law. Rearrange V = IR to solve for resistance: R = V / I (resistance = voltage / current). Plug the values you found into this formula to solve for total resistance.
 For example, a series circuit is powered by a 12 volt battery, and the current is measured at 8 amps. The total resistance across the circuit must be R_{T} = 12 volts / 8 amps = 1.5 ohms.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 4:Parallel Circuit

1Understand parallel circuits. A parallel circuit branches into multiple paths, which then join back together. Current flows through each branch of the circuit.
 If your circuit has resistors on the main path (before or after the branched area), or if there are two or more resistors on a single branch, Skip down to the combination circuit instructions instead.

2Calculate the total resistance from the resistance of each branch. Since each resistor only slows current passing through one branch, it only has a small effect on the total resistance of the circuit. The formula for total resistance R_{T} is , where R_{1} is the resistance of the first branch, R_{2} is the resistance of the second branch, and so on up to the last branch R_{n}.
 For example, a parallel circuit has three branches, with resistances of 10 Ω, 2 Ω, and 1 Ω.
Use the formula and solve for R_{T}:
Convert fractions to a common denominator:
Multiply both sides by R_{T}: 1 = 1.6R_{T}
R_{T} = 1 / 1.6 = 0.625 Ω.
 For example, a parallel circuit has three branches, with resistances of 10 Ω, 2 Ω, and 1 Ω.

3Begin with total current and voltage instead. If you don't know the individual resistances, you'll need the current and voltage instead:
 In a parallel circuit, the voltage across one branch is the same as the total voltage across the circuit.^{[4] X Research source } As long as you know the voltage across one branch, you're good to go. The total voltage is also equal to the voltage of the circuit's power source, such as a battery.
 In a parallel circuit, the current may be different along each branch. You need to know the total current, or you won't be able to solve for total resistance.

4Use these values in Ohm's Law. If you know the total current and the voltage across the whole circuit, you can find the total resistance using Ohm's Law: R = V / I.
 For example, a parallel circuit has a voltage of 9 volts and total current of 3 amps. The total resistance R_{T} = 9 volts / 3 amps = 3 Ω.

5Watch out for branches with zero resistance. If a branch on the parallel circuit has no resistance, all of the current will flow through that branch. The resistance of the circuit is zero ohms.
 In practical applications, this usually means a resistor has failed or been bypassed (shortcircuited), and the high current could damage other parts of the circuit.^{[5] X Research source }
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Method 3
Method 3 of 4:Combination Circuit

1Break down your circuit into series sections and parallel sections. A combination circuit has some components linked together in series (one after the other), and others in parallel (on different branches). Look for areas of your diagram that simplify to a single series or parallel section. Circle each one to help you keep track of them.
 For example, a circuit has a 1 Ω resistor and a 1.5 Ω resistor connected in series. After the second resistor, the circuit splits into two parallel branches, one with a 5 Ω resistor and the other with a 3 Ω resistor.
Circle the two parallel branches to separate them from the rest of the circuit.
 For example, a circuit has a 1 Ω resistor and a 1.5 Ω resistor connected in series. After the second resistor, the circuit splits into two parallel branches, one with a 5 Ω resistor and the other with a 3 Ω resistor.

2Find the resistance of each parallel section. Use the parallel resistance formula to find the total resistance of a single parallel section of the circuit.
 The example circuit has two branches with resistance R_{1} = 5 Ω and R_{2} = 3 Ω.
Ω
 The example circuit has two branches with resistance R_{1} = 5 Ω and R_{2} = 3 Ω.

3Simplify your diagram. Once you've found the total resistance of a parallel section, you can cross out that whole section on your diagram. Treat that area as a single wire with resistance equal to the value you found.
 In the example above, you can ignore the two branches and treat them as one resistor with resistance 1.875Ω.

4Add up resistances in series. Once you've replaced each parallel section with a single resistance, your diagram should be a single loop: a series circuit. The total resistance of a series circuit is equal to the sum of all individual resistances, so just add them up to get your answer.
 The simplified diagram has a 1 Ω resistor, 1.5 Ω resistor, and the section with 1.875 Ω you just calculated. These are all connected in series, so Ω.

5Use Ohm's Law to find unknown values. If you do not know the resistance in one component of your circuit, look for ways to calculate it. If you know the voltage V and current I across that component, find its resistance using Ohm's Law: R = V / I.Advertisement
Method 4
Method 4 of 4:Formulas Using Power

1Learn the formula for power. Power is the rate that the circuit consumes energy, and the rate it delivers energy to whatever the circuit is powering (such as a light bulb).^{[6] X Research source } The total power of a circuit is equal to the product of the total voltage and the total current. Or in equation form: P = VI.^{[7] X Research source }
 Remember, when solving for total resistance, you need to know the total power of the circuit. It's not enough to know the power flowing through one component.

2Solve for resistance using power and current. If you know these two values, you can combine two formulas to solve for resistance:
 P = VI (power = voltage x current)
 Ohm's Law tells us that V = IR.
 Substitute IR for V in the first formula: P = (IR)I = I^{2}R.
 Rearrange to solve for resistance: R = P / I^{2}.
 In a series circuit, the current across one component is the same as the total current. This is not true for a parallel circuit.

3Find resistance from power and voltage. If you only know the power and voltage, you can use a similar approach to find resistance. Remember to use the total voltage across the circuit, or the voltage of the battery powering the circuit:
 P = VI
 Rearrange Ohm's Law in terms of I: I = V / R.
 Substitute V / R for I in the power formula: P = V(V/R) = V^{2}/R.
 Rearrange to solve for resistance: R = V^{2}/P.
 In a parallel circuit, the voltage across one branch is the same as the total voltage. This is not true for a series circuit: the voltage across one component is not the same as the total voltage.
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Community Q&A

QuestionHow do I calculate the resistance of 2 resistors when I know the sum of the resistors?Community AnswerAssuming you mean total resistance, you first need to determine if they are in series or parallel. In series the total resistance simply equals the sum of the resistors. In parallel, the inverse of the total resistance equals the sum of the inverse of each individual resistor. Therefore, you will not be able to calculate total resistance in a parallel circuit if you only know the sum.

QuestionIf V = IR, how do I calculate if one cell = 2V and the resistor is 4 ohm?Community AnswerI = V/R . This is derived from the equation V =I R. In the question the value of potential difference (v) is mentioned as 2V, i.e, 2 volts. The value of resistance of the resistor is given as 4 ohms. Substitute these values in the first equation; i.e, l = V/R, so, I = 2/4. Therefore, I = 0.5 amps.

QuestionCan I use frequency to calculate resistance?Community AnswerResistance does not change with frequency. However, AC circuits do have a similar quality called reactance which does change with frequency. Learn more here.

QuestionHow do I find total resistance in a series RL circuit with two resistors?Community AnswerThe resistors are connected in series, so just add them together. You may also need to calculate impedance using the inductor's reactance.

QuestionThere are four resistors connected in parallel. We know three resistor values, but how do we find the missing resistor value if no other info is given?Community AnswerThe problem is not possible to solve if this is the only info. If you know the circuit's total current and voltage, you can use Ohm's Law R = V/I to find the total resistance, then the formula for resistors in parallel to solve for the missing resistor value.

QuestionIs a battery's internal resistance included in total resistance?Community AnswerTextbooks often use "perfect batteries" with zero resistance, but in the real world they do have a small amount of resistance. If this is relevant to the circuit diagram, the internal resistance is drawn in series with the voltage drop, with a box around them indicating that they are both part of the battery.

QuestionHow do I find resistance in a skeleton cube?Community AnswerFollowing the path of the current, draw the skeleton cube (12 wires joined into a hollow cube frame) as a twodimensional circuit diagram. Use Kirchhoff's laws to write equations for each juncture and solve for unknown values. (Remember, if you know the voltage of the power source and can find the total current of the circuit, you can use Ohm's Law to solve for total resistance.)

QuestionHow do I calculate resistance?Community AnswerThe resistance R in ohms (Ω) is equal to the voltage V in volts (V) divided by the current I in amps (A): Since the current is set by the values of the voltage and resistance, the Ohm's law formula can show that if you increase the voltage, the current will also increase.

QuestionHow do I calculate a resistor if I know total resistance?Community AnswerRearrange the total resistance formula to solve for the unknown resistor. For example, if a series circuit has total resistance 10 ohms, one 7 ohm resistor, and one unknown resistor R, use the formula for total resistance in a series circuit: 10 = 7 + R.

QuestionWhat is the equivalent resistance between point A and point B in a parallel circuit?Community AnswerEquivalent resistance in a parallel circuit formula is 1/eqR= 1/R1+1/R2. First, calculate 1/R1+1/R2 and then you will get a small decimal value. Then you do 1/ANS (1 over the answer) to find the value of the resistance.
Tips
 Power is measured in watts (W).Thanks!
 Voltage is measured in volts (V).Thanks!
 Current is measured in amps (A), or in milliamps (mA). 1 ma = A = 0.001 A.Thanks!
 The power value P used in these formulas refers to instantaneous power, or power at a specific moment in time. If the circuit uses AC power, the power is changing constantly. Electricians calculate the average power for AC circuits using the formula P_{average} = VIcosθ, where cosθ is the power factor of the circuit.^{[8] X Research source hyperphysics.phyastr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/powfac.html#c1 }Thanks!
References
 ↑ http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/higher/physics/elect/resistors/revision/1/
 ↑ http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/higher/physics/elect/resistors/revision/1/
 ↑ http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/circuits/Lesson4/CombinationCircuits
 ↑ https://www.swtc.edu/ag_power/electrical/lecture/parallel_circuits.htm
 ↑ http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/textbook/directcurrent/chpt5/componentfailureanalysis/
 ↑ http://www.physicsclassroom.com/Class/circuits/u9l2d.cfm
 ↑ http://hyperphysics.phyastr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/elepow.html
 ↑ hyperphysics.phyastr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/powfac.html#c1
 Allan H. Robbins, Wilhelm C. Miller, Circuit Analysis: Theory and Practice, 4th Edition, Thomson Delmar Learning.
About This Article
To calculate total resistance in series circuits, look for a single loop with no branching paths. Add all of the resistances across the circuit together to calculate the total resistance. If you don’t know the individual values, use the Ohm’s Law equation, where resistance = voltage divided by current. Plug in the values for voltage and current and solve for R to get the total resistance in a circuit. Keep reading the article if you want to learn how to calculate the resistance on a parallel or combination circuit!
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