Division of Power

When combinations of resistances are connected to a source of voltage, they draw current. You can figure out how much current they draw by calculating the total resistance of the combination, and then considering the network as a single resistor.

If the resistors in the network all have the same ohmic value, the power from the source is evenly distributed among them, whether they are hooked up in series or in parallel. For example, if there are eight identical resistors in series with a battery, the network consumes a certain amount of power, each resistor bearing 1⁄ 8 of the load. If you rearrange the circuit so that the resistors are in parallel, the circuit will dissipate a certain amount of power (a lot more than when the resistors were in series), but again, each resistor will handle 1⁄ 8 of the total power load.

If the resistances in the network do not all have identical ohmic values, they divide up the power unevenly. Situations like this are discussed in the next section.