Wednesday, October 28, 2009


What is a VARISTOR?

The name varistor came from variable resistor. Varistor is a pure electronic component used to protect circuits from transient over voltages making the circuit triggered. The function of a varistor is to provide increased current when voltage becomes excessively high. Varistor is also known as Voltage Dependent Resistor (VDR) since it depends on voltage.

The most common type we are dealing with now days is Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV). It is just like a Unijunction Transistor, since it allows current flow only in one direction. It contains mass of ceramic grains enclosed between two metal plates. The boundary between and its neighbour forms a diode junction. So when a small voltage is applied across the electrodes, only a small current passes due to the reverse break down at the junctions. Similarly when a large voltage is applied, due to thermionic emission large current passes through the junction. This behavior results in nonlinear current voltage characteristic.

Varistor can absorb surge in some ways but to some to extent. A typical surge protector power strip can be made using MOV’s. A varistor provides no equipment protection from inrush surge current. A varistor doesn’t control such events. Varistors have many applications on different electronic circuits. It can replace ordinary resistor in almost all functions, basically it can vary its resistance. So using varistors we can control voltage and current to the circuit. Thus we can protect the circuit from internal damage and severe short circuits.

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