Varistor

 
Varistor

What is a varistor? A varistor is a voltage dependent resistor (VDR). The resistance of a varistor is variable and depends on the voltage applied. The word is composed of parts of the words “variable resistor”. Their resistance decreases when the voltage increases. In case of excessive voltage increases, their resistance drops dramatically. This behavior makes them suitable to protect circuits during voltage surges. Causes of a surge can include lightning strikes and electrostatic discharges. The most common type of VDR is the metal oxide varistor or MOV. Definition Varistors are nonlinear two-element semiconductors that drop in resistance as voltage increases. Voltage dependent resistors are often used as surge suppressors for sensitive circuits. Packages Here are some examples of different packages which are often encountered. The block packages are used for higher power ratings. Characteristics A voltage dependent resistor has a nonlinear varying resistance, dependent on the voltage applied. The impedance is high under nominal load conditions, but will sharply decrease to a low value when a voltage threshold,  the breakdown voltage, is exceeded. They are often used to protect circuits against excessive transient voltages. When the circuit is exposed to a high voltage transient, the varistor starts to conduct and clamps the transient voltage to a safe level. The energy of the incoming surge is partially conducted and partially absorbed, protecting the circuit. The most common type is the MOV, or metal oxide varistor. They are constructed of a sintered matrix of zinc oxide (ZnO) grains. The grain boundaries provide P-N junction semiconductor characteristics, similar to a diode junction. The matrix of randomly oriented grains can be compared to a large network of diodes in series and parallel. When a low voltage is applied, only very little current flows, caused by the reverse leakage through the junctions. However when a [… read more]

Resistor types

 
Resistor types

There are a lot of different resistor types, all with their own applications, characteristics and construction. This page lists the different resistor types which are described on the resistor guide. Fixed resistors The fixed resistor type is the most common resistor, when people talk about a resistor they most probably mean a fixed resistor. The picture to the right shows an axial carbon film resistor, the most common type. Fixed resistors have a constant resistance value. Different resistor materials are used for fixed resistors. For all resistor types the used materials has influence on the resistor properties like the tolerance, cost and noise. Fixed resistors are available in axial and SMD packages. Variable resistors There are several variable resistor types, their general property is that the resistance value is adjustable. Most variable resistors are adjusted by mechanical movement (linear or rotary). When they are used as a variable voltage divider, they are called potentiometers. When they are used as a variable resistance to control the current in a circuit, they are called rheostats. Digital potentiometers are controlled electronically instead of by mechanical action. In general variable resistors have a higher tolerance of 20% compared to fixed resistors where 5% is the most common. Thermistors Thermistors are resistors of which the resistance changes significantly when temperature changes. Different thermistor types exist, the two most common types are the NTC and PTC thermistor. NTC thermistors decrease in resistance when the temperature rises, while PTC thermistors increase in resistance when the temperature rises. Thermistors are often used as temperature sensors or thermal protection devices. Varistors Varistors have a non-linear resistance which is dependent on the voltage over the varistor. Above a certain threshold voltage the resistance of a varistor drops very fast. Different varistor types exist, but nowadays the MOV varistor is the [… read more]