Electronic components and their use, a brief guide

Electronic components are found in every electronic device. They slightly resemble cities viewed from above at night. Electronic components are packed with parts (similar to buildings) that perform different jobs. All these tiny bits are linked together by cables or printed metal connections (similar to streets). Electronic circuits are built up from a small number of standard components yet, you can put these components together in an infinite number of different places so they perform an infinite number of different jobs.

Electronic equipment generally works on information in either analog or digital format. When signals travel in digital format they travel as coded numbers. Most modern forms of electronic equipment (including computers, cell phones, digital cameras, digital radios, and televisions) use the digital electronic format.

There are 2 types of electronic components:

Active – they provide and control energy

Passive – they respond to the voltage flow and dissipate or store energy


Below we present some of the most important electronic components and what they are used for in an electronic circuit:



Resistors are the simplest components in any circuit. Their job is to restrict the flow of electrons and reduce the current or voltage flowing, they do this by converting electrical energy into heat.

Variable resistors, also known as potentiometers, have a dial control on them and are used to change the amount of resistance in the circuit. Such variable resistors are used in audio equipment to control the volume.




Diodes allow an electric current to flow through them in one direction only.

Diodes can be used to change alternating currents (those flowing back and forth round a circuit, constantly swapping direction) into direct currents (those that always flow in the same direction).



Capacitors consist of two pieces of conducting material (such as metal) separated by a non-conducting (insulating) material called a dielectric. They are often used as timing devices, but they can transform electrical currents in other ways too. In a radio, one of the most important applications – tuning into the station you want to listen to, is done by a capacitor.



Transistors are the most important components in computers, they can switch tiny electric currents on and off or amplify them.

Transistors that work as switches act as the memory of computers.

Transistors that work as amplifiers boost the volume of sounds in hearing aids.

Inductors/ Reactors/ Coils:


An inductor is a two-terminal passive electrical component, which stores voltage within the form of magnetic energy.


Transformers are made of 2 coils of wire that are joined by an iron core. They are used for changing the current and voltage levels in an easy manner. The main function of the transformer is to increase (step-up) or decrease (step-down) AC (alternating current) voltages.



Batteries are electrical devices which are employed to convert chemical energy into voltage through electrochemical discharge reactions.


A fuse is a material or a bit of wire which is employed to protect the components from destruction due to excessive current flowing through them.

Integrated circuits:

Integrated Circuit

An integrated circuit is a set of interconnected electronic components, such as transistors and resistors which are imprinted on a tiny piece of semiconductor material, normally silicon.


Relays are switches used to control the circuits by employing a low power signal. The relays comprise of a magnet, a coil, a series of electrical contacts and a spring.


Motors are used to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy.


Electronic Components Types


There is no device you use today which does not work based on electronic components and electronic circuits. Whether you are or aren’t into electronics, you should at least have some knowledge about the above mentioned electronic components.

Testing Electronic Components

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