I am confused about the difference between a passive component like resistor and an electronic device like diode. I know about their functionality. But my question is why resistor is not called an electronic device? Because as far as i know, resistors deal with electrons so do diodes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In fact electrons are there everywhere, say in the animal body too. We have active devices and passive devices, linear and non linear devices, unipolar and bipolar devices... We don't discriminate devices as electronic components and non electronic components. IMO. Still all the components present on an PCB such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, ICs, connectors and wiring, jumpers etc.. All are electronic components. \$\endgroup\$
    – User323693
    Mar 11, 2017 at 7:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the difference you mean is between electric parts vs. electronic parts. Both names have the electron in it, see? Electric parts are those known before the invention of the electron tube. That's where the name electronics comes from. \$\endgroup\$
    – Janka
    Mar 11, 2017 at 7:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Umar So resistors,inductors,capacitors can be called as electronic devices? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2017 at 8:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ May be not a device but an electronic item. \$\endgroup\$
    – User323693
    Mar 11, 2017 at 9:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Umar thanks for your response.But so resistors can be called electronic component as well as electrical component.I know that electrical components cannot manipulate the flow of electricity but electronic components can.Then through this defination where does the resistor place? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2017 at 13:40

2 Answers 2


Actually your classification is not common. In the webshops that sell components the transistors and the resistors bot are electronic components to keep them separate from parts for other areas, for ex. nuts and bolts or glues and paints.

The separation between active and passive electronic components is widely used due their very different nature. Transistors and ICs are active due their ability to make one signal to control another without moving parts.

But the question: The electronics is a subfield in the general electric theory and practice. The resistors have applications in most of the subfields of that. Even some very old AC motors urgently needed resistors for proper starting. But diodes are mostly used in the area that is called "the electronics". That area is based on components that have a design based on electron physics. Diode is one of them.

Resistors can as well be called electric or electronic parts because they are massively needed in the electronics as well as in other areas of electrics.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So resistors can be called electronic component as well as electrical component.I know that electrical components cannot manipulate the flow of electricity but electronic components can.Then through this defination where does the resistor place? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2017 at 13:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @debo.stackoverflow Resistors are passive because one voltage does not control another. Resistors are electronic because they are needed in the cicuits that belong to the electronics. Resistors are electric components, too., A 100kV powerline insulator is not electronic component, but it is electric component. \$\endgroup\$
    – user136077
    Mar 11, 2017 at 13:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok i got it now.As they are used in both electronic as well as electrical circuit they can be considered both electrical as well as electronic components.Please add this note to your answer and I wll also upvote and accept your answer \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2017 at 13:56

The first classification is for active devices and passive devices.

Active devices require an additional power supply or input voltage to operate (transistors and therefore ICs, valves).

Passive devices produce their effect on their own without additional power (resistors, capacitors, inductors). They are made from conductors and insulators with a very large impedance difference between the two materials to set them apart. (Even a 100 megohm resistor is still a conductor compared to the insulating material wrapped around.) Passive properties are like those produced by 'found' materials or materials not made for electrical purposes, such as copper, carbon (coal/coke), glass and plastic. Their behaviour is usually described by fairly simple mathematics and independent of exact current and voltage magnitudes i.e. the devices readily scale from very small to very large with only construction and materials the major considerations.

Some components seem passive in not requiring power but pass current through semiconductors rather than conductors. For example, a diode does not conduct significantly until it is forward-biased by Vf volts (where Vf depends on the device but is something like 0.2..0.8 V). It then conducts a relatively high current but with this voltage drop still present and spoiling otherwise resistor-like-ish behaviour. These characteristics are artificial and come from its materials having properties not found in nature but created by manufacturing processes specific to electronics. This leads them to be categorised as electronic components because they do not fit 'passive'.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Downvoter, why did you downvote? \$\endgroup\$
    – TonyM
    Mar 11, 2017 at 14:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your insight.Upvoting as the answer helped me.Also for the record I didnt downvoted !!! :) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2017 at 5:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @debo.stackoverflow, thanks, didn't think it was you. Don't mind criticism, just thought this answered squarely and well so like to know why. Never mind and thanks again :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – TonyM
    Mar 18, 2017 at 7:30

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