Functions And Working Principle of Resistor

Saturday, January 16th, 2016 - Passive Components

A resistor is one of the most fundamental components in electronics. Its purpose is to impede a flow of current and impose a voltage reduction. It consists of two wires or conductors attached at opposite ends or sides of a relatively poor electrical conductor, the resistance of which is measured in ohms, universally represented by the Greek omega symbol, Ω.

Resistor Symbols

Functions And Working Principle Of ResistorResistor symbols

The left one is more common in the United States, while the right one is widely used in Europe. The 4.7K value was chosen arbitrarily.

Schematic symbols that represent a resistor are shown in the figure above (Left: The traditional schematic symbol. Right: The more recent European equivalent). The US symbol is still sometimes used in European schematics, and the European symbol is sometimes used in US schematics. Letters K or M indicate that the value shown for the resistor is in thousands of ohms or millions of ohms, respectively. Where these letters are used in Europe, and sometimes in the US, they are substituted for a decimal point. Thus, a 4.7K resistor may be identified as 4K7, a 3.3M resistor may be identified as 3M3, and so on. (The numeric value in the figure above was chosen arbitrarily.)

Function Of Resistor

A resistor is commonly used for purposes such as limiting the charging rate of a capacitor; providing appropriate control voltage to semiconductors such as bipolar transistors; protecting LEDs or other semiconductors from excessive current; adjusting or limiting the frequency response in an audio circuit (in conjunction with other components); pulling up or pulling down the voltage at the input pin of a digital logic chip; or controlling a voltage at a point in a circuit. In this last application, two resistors may be placed in series to create a voltage divider.

A potentiometer may be used instead of a resistor where variable resistance is required.

Sample resistors of various values are shown in the following figure.

Sample resistors,A range of typical resistorsA range of typical resistors

From top to bottom, their power dissipation ratings are 3W, 1W, 1/2W, 1/4W, 1/4W, 1/4W, and 1/8W. The accuracy (tolerance) of each resistor, from top to bottom, is plus-or-minus 5%, 5%, 5%, 1%, 1%, 5%, and 1%. The beige-colored body of a resistor is often an indication that its tolerance is 5%, while a blue-colored body often indicates a tolerance of 1% or 2%. The bluebodied resistors and the dark brown resistor contain metal-oxide film elements, while the beigebodied resistors and the green resistor contain carbon film. For more information on resistor values, see the upcoming Values section.

Working Principle Of Resistor

In the process of impeding the flow of current and reducing voltage, a resistor absorbs electrical energy, which it must dissipate as heat. In most modern electronic circuits, the heat dissipation is typically a fraction of a watt.

If R is the resistance in ohms, I is the current flowing through the resistor in amperes, and V is the voltage drop imposed by the resistor (the difference in electrical potential between the two contacts that are attached to it), Ohm’s law states:

V = I / R

This is another way of saying that a resistor of 1Ω will allow a current of 1 amp when the potential difference between the ends of the resistor is 1 volt.

If W is the power in watts dissipated by the resistor, in a DC circuit:

W = V * I

By substitution in Ohm’s law, we can express watts in terms of current and resistance:

W = I2 / R

We can also express watts in terms of voltage and resistance:

W = V2 * R

These alternates may be useful in situations where you do not know the voltage drop or the current, respectively.

Approximately similar relationships exist when using alternating current, although the power will be a more complex function of resistor.

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