What’s the Difference Between Active and Passive Electronics Components

Electronic devices are filled with all sorts of components. While we enjoy modern technology, these components are busy making that technology work. Inside electronic equipment, you will find printed circuit boards that serve as the lifeblood of the modern electronics industry. Components are soldered to the board and generate an electronic circuit. That’s where the magic starts to happen.

Active and Passive Electronics Components Difference

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There are two basic types of electronic components, active and passive. Here’s a closer look at the two classifications.

Active Components

Role: Active components manage the flow of electricity. Most PCBs have at least one active component.

Examples:

  • Diode – a two-terminal component that conducts current in one main direction. It has low resistance in one direction and high in the other
  • Rectifier – a device that converts alternating current (changes direction) to direct current (which goes in only one direction)
  • Vacuum tube – a tube or valve that conducts current through a vacuum

Passive components

Role: Passive components aren’t capable of using another electrical signal to change the current.

Examples:

  • Resistor – a two-terminal electrical part that resists electricity. Resistors can decrease current flow, change signal levels, divide voltages, and more.
  • Capacitor – these components store and release electrical charge. They can filter power supply lines and block DC voltage while allowing AC signals to pass.
  • Sensor – also known as detectors, these components react to their environment by altering their electrical properties or sending an electrical signal

Through printed circuit board assembly, including surface mount technology and through-hole technology, these components come together to create the processes that make modern life far safer and more convenient than it was in past eras. While these components may become more sophisticated in the coming years, the science behind them is timeless.