What is the difference between maximum instantaneous current vs maximum operating current? Can you please provide a simple explanation or analogy? Which current is always higher?

  • \$\begingroup\$ In what context? Please provide where you are reading this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike
    Feb 27 at 18:49

1 Answer 1


The maximum operating current is the current at which a device can operate indefinitely.

Maximum instantaneous current is the current above which damage will occur if applied only for an instant. This is obviously higher than the operating current.

Take as an example light bulb. It will run for a long time at the max operating current but if you apply more than the max instantaneous current even for an instant the filament will burn out.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks for your answer. Is the instantaneous current directly related to DC voltage (e.g. voltage spike) and this instantaneous current can be measured in terms of duration and frequency as well? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ybx Nop
    Feb 27 at 15:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ There will probably be a separate specification for voltage limits. There is sometimes a time limit associated with the maximum instantaneous current and a repetition frequency limit. \$\endgroup\$
    – RoyC
    Feb 27 at 16:03

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