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The Main Difference between Active and Passive Components

What is the Difference between Active and Passive Components?

The following basic explanatory post with examples shows the main difference between Active and Passive Components.

Active Components:

Those devices or components which require an external source to operate in a circuit are called Active Components.

For Example: Diode, Transistor, SCR etc…

Explanation: As we know that Diode is an active component. Therefore, it requires an external source to work and operate in a circuit.

This is because if we connect a Diode in a circuit which is further connected to the supply voltage, the diode will not conduct the current (either in forward or reverse bias) until the level of voltage reaches to 0.3V (In case of Germanium) or 0.7V (In case of Silicon).

Passive Components:

Those devices or components which do not require an external source to operate in a circuit are called Passive Components.

For Example: Resistor, Capacitor, Inductor etc…

Explanation: Passive Components (such as resistors. capacitors, inductors etc.) do not require an external source to their operation.

Like a Diode, Resistor does not require 0.3V or 0.7 V. i.e., when we connect a resistor to the supply voltage, it starts work and responds instantly in the circuit without using additional and conditional specific voltage like in case of diodes etc. Same is the case for inductors and capacitors etc.


Comparison between Active and Passive Elements and Devices

Active Component Passive Component
Active Device transforms and injects power or energy into a circuit. Passive Device utilizes power or energy into a circuit.
Examples: Diode, Transistor, SCR, ICs, DC generator, Current & Voltage sources etc. Examples: Resistors, Capacitors, Inductors, Transformer, Motors etc.
Active element produces energy in the form of voltage or current. Passive element stores energy in the form of voltage or current.
They have function and provide power gain (Amplifier). They do not have function provide power gain.
It can control the flow of current. It cannot control the flow of the current.
Active components require an external & conditional source to operate in the circuit. Passive Components do not require any external source to operate in the circuit.
They have gain more than 1, so they can amplify the signal. They have gain less than 1, so they can’t amplify the signal.
They are energy donor. They are energy acceptor.
They lay in Linear category. They lay in Non-Linear category.

In other words:

Active Components:

Those devices or components which produce energy in the form of Voltage or Current are called Active Components

Examples: Diodes, Transistors SCR etc…

Passive Components:

Those devices or components which store or maintain Energy in the form of Voltage or Current are known as Passive Component

Examples:  Resistor, Capacitor, Inductor etc…

In very Simple words;

  • Active Components: Energy Donor
  • Passive Components: Energy Acceptor

As a final touch, passive components lays in a linear and active components are in non linear category.

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  1. Hi Admin,<br />Thanx for great efforts on this.<br /><br />I am confused with Diode.I&#39;ve seen many sites as it is passive component.Whether the diode is active component or passive component.

    1. Passive devices don’t deliver power they on accept power. Active devices deliver power. Batteries deliver power. Diodes are passive devices.

    2. Actually semi conductor diode , Zenar diode are all active components .So i think that diode is an active component

    1. so how do u xplain with diode alone, leaving apart L.E.D? also doesnt LED require a source for its operation?<br /> even a bulb gives out light energy when applied to a source, does that make bulb an active component?<br />can u make it clear to me?

  2. Yeah! These explanations are very vague! Active components don&#39;t HAVE to produce power, and Passive components don&#39;t HAVE to store charge. A resistor does NOT store charge, it merely lessens the current flow.

    1. thats why he said OR maintain energy. resistor like u said, lessens the current flow. isnt it part of maintaining the energy?

  3. You said devices which produce energy are called active components, on the other hand, you said active components are energy aceptors?<br />sorry I really can&#39;t get it!

  4. The capacitor stores charge initially and then it starts conducting, why is it not an active component then, like the diode which does not start conducting till it gets 0.7 volt for itself.

    1. it is not about conducting…but working &amp; Operation!<br />except ideal case, in 1st, 2nd &amp; 3rd approximation, we assume that diode will never conduct until it gets 0.7V.. I.e we assume that it is not in working mode… whereas, in case of capacitor… it direct operates when we give supply to the capacitor terminals… no matter what is its working,,,, Storing charge or conduction of

  5. Actually, the direction of Voltage & Current defines component type.
    If current flows from +ve to -ve potential => Passive
    If current flows from -ve to +ve potential => Active
    R=> Always Passive
    L , C => Sometimes Active & sometimes Passive

  6. Awesome yaar… i was little confused b/w active and passive components. but it is no longer. You have specified it in very easy way. Thanks!

  7. No you are going to have to rerun all new service. Its not hard. first go and buy the breekar and wire you need. you can get that at your local hardware store. take the face of your service pannel off ( be carefull people die from this stuff.) you should have room to expand add the 230 breekar in it justs pops in run your wires red and black go to the breekar and are hot and the bare one will go to the neutral ground bar. and just wire it up from there. if this seems to dificult hire a professional to do it.

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