What Is Tolerance in Resistors?

A closeup of an electronics band.
••• Phuwasit/iStock/Getty Images

An electrical resistor has colored bands across its body that indicate its resistance value and other specifications. The fourth band represents the resistor's tolerance, a measure of accuracy. Tolerance indicates how much the measured value of its actual resistance is different from its theoretical value, and it is calculated using percentages.

Features

Some resistors have only three bands on their outer casing, which means that the tolerance band is blank. This means the tolerance has a default value of plus or minus 20 percent. For example, a 1k-ohm resistor would have an actual value that measures from 800 to 1200 ohms, since the tolerance would be 200 ohms.

Identification

A silver band indicates a tolerance in the range of 10 percent, while a gold band means 5 percent. High-precision resistors have tolerances of 1 percent or less and have colors such as brown or green.

Considerations

A resistor color code chart lists possible colors and meanings of the fourth band. You can use a digital multimeter to measure the actual value of a resistor; you can compare the measured value to the theoretical value.

Significance

Circuits, such as those built by hobbyists, students or homeowners, often use ordinary resistors with 20 percent tolerances. Precision resistors with very small tolerances are necessary in circuits used in mission-critical projects, such as in spacecraft.

Related Articles

How to Read K5M Capacitor Values
How to Test a Blower Resistor
How to Lower Amperage
What Is J-Standard Soldering?
How to Test Diodes in Circuit
Types of Non Polarized Capacitors
What Is ARCAP Alloy?
Raw Materials Used in the Manufacture of Electronic...
What Is Basic Electronics?
Types & Functions of Capacitors
What Is the Grey Electrical Wire?
How to Measure the Ohm Value for an Inductor
What Are Some Good Conductors?
How to Test the Conductivity of Metal
How to Calculate the Size of a Cable
Tin & Lead Alloy Names
How to Test a Thermistor
How to Wire LEDs for 12V
How to Test a Diode Rectifier