The Value Of Resistor

Monday, August 9th, 2021 - Passive Components

Value Of Resistor

1 kilohm, usually written as 1K, is 1,000Ω. 1 megohm, usually written as 1M or 1 meg, is 1,000K. 1 gigaohm is 1,000 megs, although the unit is rarely used. Resistances of less than 1Ω are uncommon and are usually expressed as a decimal number followed by the Ω symbol. The term milliohms (thousandths of an ohm) is used in special applications. Equivalent resistor values are shown in the following figure.

The Value Of ResistorEquivalent values in ohms, kilohms, and megohms.

A resistance value remains unchanged in DC and AC circuits, except where the AC reaches an extremely high frequency.

In common electronics applications, resistances usually range from 100Ω to 10M. Power ratings may vary from 1/16 watt to 1000 watts, but usually range from 1/8 watt to 1/2 watt in most electronic circuits (less in surface-mount applications).

Tolerance Value Of Resistor

The tolerance, or precision, of a resistor may range from plus-or-minus 0.001% up to plus-orminus 20%, but is most commonly plus-or-minus 1%, 2%, 5%, or 10%.

The traditional range of resistor values was established when a tolerance of 20% was the norm. The values were spaced to allow minimum risk of a resistor at one end of its tolerance range having the same value as another resistor at the opposite end of its tolerance range. The values were rounded to 10, 15, 22, 33, 47, 68, and 100, as illustrated in the following figure where each blue diamond represents the possible range of actual values of a 20% resistor with a theoretical value shown by the white horizontal line at the center of the diamond.

Graphical representation of standard resistor valuesGraphical representation of standard resistor values (white lines) established by the International Electrotechnical Commission, showing the acceptable range of actual values (dark blue areas) assuming precision of plus-or-minus 20%. The overlap, if any, between each range and the next is shown in black.

Resistor factors repeat themselves in multiples of 10. Thus, for example, beginning with a resistor of 100Ω, subsequent increasing values will be 150, 220, 330, 470, 680, and 1K, whereas the range of resistors beginning with 1Ω will be 1.5, 2.2, 3.3, 4.7, 6.8, and 10Ω.

Resistance multiplication factors are now expressed as a list of preferred values by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in their 60063 standard. Intermediate factors have been added to the basic sequence to accommodate better tolerances. A table showing resistor values for tolerances of plus-orminus 20%, 10%, and 5% appears in the following figure. Resistors with a tolerance of 5% have become increasingly common.

Standard values for resistors of different precisionsStandard values for resistors of different precisions. For resistors outside the range shown, values can be found by multiplying or dividing (repeatedly, if necessary) by a factor of 10.

The IEC has established 3-digit preferred values for resistors with values accurate to plus-orminus 0.5%.

Value Coding Of Resistor

Through-hole axial resistors are traditionally printed with a sequence of three colored bands to express the value of the component, each of the first two bands representing a digit from 0 through 9, while the third band indicates the decimal multiplier (the number of zeroes, from 0 to 9, which should be appended to the digits). A fourth band of silver or gold indicates 10% or 5% tolerance respectively. No fourth band would indicate 20% tolerance, although this has become very rare.

Many resistors now have five color bands, to enable the representation of intermediate or fractional values. In this scheme, the first three bands have numeric values (using the same color system as before) while the fourth band is the multiplier. A fifth band, at the opposite end of the resistor, indicates its tolerance.

In the following figure the numeric or multiplier value of each color is shown as a “spectrum” at the top of the figure. The tolerance, or precision of a resistor, expressed as a plus-or-minus percentage, is shown using silver, gold, and various colors, at the bottom of the figure.

Color coding of through-hole resistorsColor coding of through-hole resistors

Two sample resistors are shown. The upper one has a value of 1K, indicated by the brown and black bands on the left (representing numeral 1 followed by a numeral 0) and the third red band (indicating two additional zeroes). The gold band at right indicates a precision of 5%. The lower one has a value of 1.05K, indicated by the brown, black, and green bands on the left (representing numeral 1 followed by numeral 0 followed by a numeral 5) and the fourth band brown (indicating one additional zero). The brown band at right indicates a precision of 1%.

In extremely old equipment, resistors may be coded with the body-tip-dot scheme, in which the body color represents the initial digit, the end color represents the second digit, and a dot represents the multiplier. The numeric identities of the colors is the same as in the current color scheme.

In all modern schemes, the three or four bands that show the resistance value are spaced close together, while a larger gap separates them from the band that shows the tolerance. The resistor value should be read while holding the resistor so that the group of closely-spaced numeric bands is on the left.

Confusingly, some resistors may be found where the first three bands define the value, using the old three-band convention; the fourth band indicates tolerance; and a fifth band at the opposite end of the component indicates reliability. However, this color scheme is uncommon. Other color-coding conventions may be found in special applications, such as military equipment.

It is common for through-hole carbon-film resistors to have a beige body color, while throughhole metal-film resistors often have a blue body color. However, in relatively rare instances, a blue body color may also indicate a fusible resistor (designed to burn out harmlessly like a fuse, if it is overloaded) while a white body may indicate a non-flammable resistor. Use caution when replacing these special types.

Some modern resistors may have their values printed on them numerically. Surface-mount resistors also have digits printed on them, but they are a code, not a direct representation of resistance. The last digit indicates the number of zeroes in the resistor value, while the preceding two or three numbers define the value itself. Letter R is used to indicate a decimal point. Thus a 3R3 surface-mount resistor has a value of 3.3Ω, while 330 would indicate 33Ω, and 332 indicates 3,300Ω. A 2152 surface-mount resistor would have a value of 21,500Ω.

A surface-mount resistor with a single zero printed on it is a zero ohm component that has the same function as a jumper wire. It is used for convenience, as it is easily inserted by automated production-line equipment. It functions merely as a bridge between traces on the circuit board.

When resistor values are printed on paper in schematics, poor reproduction may result in omission of decimal points or introduction of specks that look like decimal points. Europeans have addressed this issue by using the letter as a substitute for a decimal point so that a 5.6K resistor will be shown as 5K6, or a 3.3M resistor will be shown as 3M3.

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