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Active Component VS Passive Component - What Is The Difference

In an electronic gadget, there can be two types of devices- one that doesn’t need a power supply explicitly and one that does need explicit power source. These are identified as active and passive components. In this article, you’ll stay plugged into a debate between active component VS passive component, and learn the key features and insights into these types of components.

Table of Contents

What Are Components?

What are components
What are components

Think of any component on a PCB, such as a microcontroller, IC, transistor, capacitor, etc. They’re all components. In other words, a component (whether active component VS passive component) is just like a building block of a PCBA. Assembling these components in the right manner will give you a full-fledged and working PCBA, that’s ready to be housed in a plastic or a metal case. That’ll make up the entire electronic gadget product.

Please remember that an active component VS passive component can be as small as a light-emitting diode, or can be as large as a relay, or even a transformer.

What’s An Active Component?

So, in the debate of active component VS passive component, active components are the components that need an explicit power source. You might have heard of transistors, microcontrollers, integrated circuits, etc.

These are all active components of an electronic gadget. They have the power to manipulate the entire circuit and regulate the flow of current and voltage. There are some cool features that an active component offers:

●They can amplify the signals and control them.
●You can make them perform logical or computational operations by programming them accordingly.
●They’ll need an external power supply to function. That’s why you’ll notice that many electronic gadgets have a power adapter to supply power from an external source.

What’s A Passive Component?

So, in the debate of active component VS passive component, all the small components that don’t need an external power source are passive components. One major benefit is that they can they’re so small that they don’t take up much space on the PCB. But assembling them is, of course, very tricky owing to their tiny size.

In a PCBA, these components are used to store or filter out the power that passes through them. They can even control the flow of electricity, which means you can make them act as a barrier, so electricity doesn’t get through them.

●They just respond to the signals.
●Passive components will give you resistance and impedance to the flow of current.

Active Components VS Passive Components

Let’s take a look at the differences between active component VS passive component on different basis.

Definition

  • Active Components
    Electronic components that operate on an external power source to perform their functions and operations are active components.
  • Passive components
    Any electronic component that doesn’t rely on external power source for doing its functions are passive components.

Examples

  • Active Components
    Transistors, operational amplifiers (op-amps), microcontrollers, and integrated circuits are common examples of active components.
  • Passive Components
    Resistors, capacitors, inductors, and transformers are examples of passive components.

Role in the circuit

  • Active Components
    Their role is to generate electric signals, control them, amplify them, and actively participate in the circuit functionalities.
  • Passive Components
    Their primary role is to respond to the electric signals that any active component might have generated. Also, passive components can control and amplify the signals. If needed, they can even store or stop the current flow as and when needed.

Application

  • Active Components
  1. Amplification: These components can give strength to the weak electric signals. For example, a transistor can convert low amps to high amps. So, these components can be used to amplify volume, radio signals, etc.
  2. Signal processing: By processing signals, active components can help you respond to the frequencies and signals.
  3. Computation: In computation devices, it’s the active components that perform all the computations. These are microprocessors, encoders, decoders, MUX, DMUX, etc.
  • Passive Components
  1. Filtering: The passive components can help you in removing noise from the signals and filter out the electric signals. For example, capacitors can remove specific frequencies.
  2. Energy Storage: The passive components, again, for example, capacitors, can hold power for some time.

You might have noticed that when you turn off your TV or an electronic appliance, it doesn’t turn off right away. Instead, the power supply fades gradually, which helps in keeping the appliance safe. That’s possible because of passive components in the circuit board.

Power gain

  • Active Components
    Active components can achieve power gain, since they can amplify electrical signals. This means that active components take weak electrical signals as input and produce amplified electrical signals, which are in the form of decibels.
  • Passive Components
    It’s already been discussed that passive components are more of electrical signal storage and they do not have the capability to amplify weak electrical signals into strong electrical signals. So you won’t get power gain in them. But when a passive component blocks a certain frequency, it mimics power gain for that particular frequency.

Function

  • Active Components
  1. Analog to Digital Conversion: Active components are used to take analog signals and generate discrete values continuously in real time.
  2. Frequency Generation: You can generate desired frequencies and clock signals using active components.
    Passive Components
  3. Resistance: One function of a passive component is to generate resistance by blocking the flow of current, just like a resistor.
  4. Capacitance: In order to smoothen the flow of current throughout the circuit, capacitors are used to offer capacitance.

Control of current flow

  • Active Components
    Active components can control the flow of the current. When an active component receives electrical signals from the external source, it can modulate them and regulate the flow of current within the circuit.
  • Passive Components
    Passive components show off a far more direct way of controlling the current flow. By restricting and blocking the current, they’re controlling the power flow in the entire circuit.

Which Components Should You Use?

how to decide which components you should used
how to decide which components you should used

●Understand the circuit requirements: You cannot use just any component. Based on what your circuit needs, you will have to use an active or a passive component in it.
●Consider their performance: You can check out performance sheets on the internet for various components and decide if their performance is what you need in your circuit.

Conclusion

So far you’ve gone through a debate of active component vs. passive component and it might sound so tiring and hassling when it comes to choosing the right component. You can skip all the hassle by opting for IBE Electronics that’ll take care of which type of PCB/PCBA you need in your applications. So, if you’ve got an idea and want to implement it, IBE Electronics will be here to guide you for active component VS passive component selection.

FAQ

Electronic components that operate on an external power source to perform their functions and operations are active components.

Any electronic component that doesn’t rely on external power source for doing its functions are passive components.

  • Understand the circuit requirements: You cannot use just any component. Based on what your circuit needs, you will have to use an active or a passive component in it.
  • Consider their performance: You can check out performance sheets on the internet for

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