What Are Resistors Used for?

••• Andreas Frank

Resistors are electrical components that help control the amount of current in a circuit. The most common types are regular or ohmic ones, where the higher the resistance is, the less current there is that is available for a given voltage.

Significance

Resistors are vital components in most circuits. Their primary role is that of current limiters, which can protect other devices from overload or destruction.

Features

When combined with certain electrical components they form important, fundamental circuits. When coupled with capacitors they perform as filters or voltage dividers, and when coupled with capacitors and inductors, they form oscillatory AC circuits.

Construction

Michael Frey

Resistors are composed of conductors or semiconductors. The most common ones are formed from carbon encased in lacquer. The next most common ones are made from coils of metal wire.

Types

Regular resistors are basically linear. Other types may be variable or nonlinear or both and these include potentiometers, varistors, thermistors and photoresistors.

Function

An important function is when a resistor is used as a heating element as in the case of irons, toasters, heaters, electric stoves and hair dryers. Resistors also produce light as filaments in light bulbs. Variable ones may function as sensors, switches or voltage dividers.

About the Author

Kim Lewis is a professional programmer and web developer. She has been a technical writer for more than 10 years and has written articles for businesses and the federal government. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Science, and occasionally teaches classes on how to program for the Internet.

Photo Credits

  • Andreas Frank

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