What is the difference between series and parallel wiring?

Within an electrical system, two basic circuits are series and parallel. Knowing the pros and cons of each within your display is important as it can affect the number of igniters you can fire on a single cue.

Continue reading to see the differences between the type of circuits and the pros and cons when using them with your COBRA system.

Parallel or Series

Firework displays that involve two or more igniters firing at the same time from a cue are wired using either a series or parallel wiring technique. Both are effective and simple to carry out, each bearing its own set of advantages and disadvantages, as discussed below.

A series connection is an all or nothing circuit, as each igniter is daisy-chained to the next, dependent on one another. If one igniter fails, the whole circuit will fail. Consider a strand of Christmas lights; if one bulb is missing or burns out, the entire strand is defective unless the faulty bulb is replaced. A defective igniter will cause the same issue in a series circuit.



A parallel connection works differently from a series in that igniters are wired together with each igniter’s lead wires directly connected to the module.


A parallel circuit, unlike the Christmas light example, has no single igniter dependent on any other igniter. If a manufacturing defect occurs with an igniter, it will not interfere with the performance of a parallel wired circuit.  

When determining which wiring method to use, it is essential to examine the pros and cons of each. Note that traditional e-match and MJG initiators can be fired in parallel or series, but Talon/Clip-on Igniters can only be fired in parallel. It is also imperative to know that COBRA does not recommend combining series and parallel circuits in a single module. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of series and parallel wiring when deciding which method will work best for you.

Series Wiring

  • The advantages for series wiring include being able to fire more igniters than in parallel, and if an igniter is defective, it is quickly identified as continuity will not be displayed due to a broken circuit.
  • A disadvantage of series wiring is that individual defective igniters could prevent all igniters from firing, depending on the defect.

Parallel Wiring

  • A beneficial component of parallel wiring is all igniters firing in the circuit even if an igniter is faulty
  • Disadvantages of parallel wiring include, fewer igniters can be fired, and not being able to identify a faulty igniter as other igniters will hide the faulty igniter by showing good continuity

Please see Continuity Clarified to learn more about series versus parallel wiring, types of shooting wire and how these might impact the continuity of your COBRA system.

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