Active Electronic Components

Written by Michael O'Brien
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To understand active electronic components, it's important to note the two basic types of components that go into the functioning of any circuit or device. These can be broken down into passive electronic components and active electronic components. The difference between them all lies in how they deal with power.

Passive Versus Active Electronic Components

In a nutshell, active electronic components need power in order to operate. Passive electronic components don't need power, and are in fact used to restrict and regulate power flow. Although all electronic devices need active components to function, the move today is to use more passive electronic components in modern technology. The reason for this has to do with power usage.

It's more desirable these days to have a device that uses and needs less power. This not only allows such a device to not eat up as much electricity, but keeps it from overheating. The more power flowing through a device, the hotter it gets. Active parts which constantly require power flow also tend to wear out faster because of the constant heat and current running through them.

If you've ever seen something like a vacuum tube or an old style transistor, they can be quite large and bulky. This allowed them to be sturdy enough to contain and amplify the power running through them. Today, however, we are moving towards smaller devices. A vacuum tube could never work in something like a laptop or MP3 player because of their compact size. Active components will always be needed to power such devices, of course. They are simply becoming more compact as well to match their passive counterparts.

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