I've recently attempted to find the best way to recover something that was lost in a [shallow] lake. While that may be unrelated from the question at hand (suggestions appreciated), I've been trying to figure out how to get the most out of my magnet purchase.
Say I purchase a single rare earth magnet (N&S poles labeled as being on the same side), with a 3" diameter and ~300lbs of pull. Then, I purchase 3 rare earth magnets, with a 1" diameter and ~100lbs of pull each. If I arranged the smaller magnets into a triangle pattern, would they produce a magnetic field similar to the single magnet? Would they only ever produce one third the force of the larger magnet? What if I connected them to a metal plate?
As I've tried to visualize magnet fields (with my small amount of knowledge on them), I keep imagining a larger magnet being better, even if it has a slightly less powerful field. Would a 10" magnet with a pull of ~100lbs act upon an object with about 10x the force at a given distance (in the center) than one of the smaller (1") magnets?
I've tried my best to research and find my answer to this question, but I must be terrible and searching because I can't find anything that even hints at what I'm looking for. I apologize for my naivete and greatly appreciate any answers I might receive!