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Capacitors in Parallel
Two capacitors connected in parallel.

When we connect two capacitors in parallel, as with resistors in parallel, the same source voltage is applied to each capacitor. The figure to the right shows such a parallel connection.

When this is done with capacitors, each capacitor charges to the same voltage, without regard to the behavior of the other capacitor. Logically, then, it would seem that the total capacitance would simply be the sum of the capacitance values of the individual capacitors connected in parallel. This is in fact the case, and the equation to determine the total capacitance, CT, of any number of capacitors in parallel is:

CT = C1 + C2 + C3 + ···


In essence, by connecting capacitors in parallel we have increased the surface area of the plates without changing the distance between them. If we do this with two identical capacitors, we effectively double the surface area of the plates while leaving the spacing between them unchanged. This doubles the capacitance of the combination.


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