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Apr 18 2020

Resistor Basics: Types of Resistors

I Introduction

There are a wide range of types of resistors, and with the development of electronic technology, new types of resistors will continue to increase.

Resistors are generally divided into two categories: fixed resistors and variable resistors. Fixed resistors can be divided into two types of wire-wound type and non-wire-wound type according to the material of the resistor body. The non-wire-wound type resistors can also be divided into two types: film type and composite type; according to the structure of the resistor, it can be divided into tubular resistors, disc resistors and planar resistors, etc .; according to the form of the lead wire, the resistors can be divided into lead type, radial lead type, co-lead type and no lead type, etc. . According to different protection methods, resistors can be divided into unprotected, painted, plastic pressed, sealed and vacuum sealed.

This article will mainly introduce the classification of resistors, as well as the characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of different types of resistors. It is definitely worth reading as the basics of resistor.

Types of Resistor


I Introduction

II Classification of Resistors Based on Material

 2.1 Film Resistor

 2.2 Composition Resistor

 2.3 Alloy Resistor

III Classification of Resistors Based on the Purpose

IV Types of Sensitive Resistors

V Types of Potentiometer

 5.1 What is a Potentiometer?

 5.2 Classification of Potentiometers

VI Introduction of Common Resistors and A List of Advantages and Disadvantages

 6.1 Mind Map of Resistor Classification

 6.2 Brief Introduction and Advantages & Disadvantages of Commonly Used Resistors

 6.3 The List of Types of Resistors

VII One Question Related to Resistor Classification

 7.1 Question

 7.2 Answer

II Classification of Resistors Based on Material

2.1 Film Resistor

(1) Carbon Film Resistor

Carbon film resistors are made by depositing crystalline carbon which is thermally decomposed by vacuum high temperature on a cylindrical or tubular ceramic skeleton. Control the thickness of the carbon film and the groove to control the resistance value.

Carbon film resistors have good stability, low negative temperature coefficient, good high frequency characteristics, less influenced by voltage and frequency, less electric noise, stable pulse load, wide resistance range, simple production process, low production cost. So it is widely used in various electronic products.

The Appearance and Structure of Carbon Film Resistor

Figure1. The Appearance and Structure of Carbon Film Resistor

(2) Metal Film Resistor

Metal film resistors are made by heating and evaporating metal or alloy materials on a ceramic substrate to form a thin film on the ceramic substrate. They can also be manufactured by methods such as pyrolysis, chemical deposition, and infiltration.

Metal film resistors have good stability and heat resistance, a small temperature coefficient, a large operating frequency range, and a small noise electromotive force. They are often used in high-frequency circuits.

Metal Film Resistor

Figure2. Metal Film Resistor

(3) Metal Oxide Film Resistor

Metal oxide film resistors are made by spraying metal salt solutions (tin tetrachloride and antimony trioxide), such as tin and antimony, onto the surface of the hot ceramic skeleton in a heating furnace at about 550 ° C and depositing them. The conductive film layer of this kind of resistor is uniform, the film and skeleton matrix are firmly combined, and some performances are better than metal film resistors. The shape of the ordinary metal oxide film resistor is basically the same as that of the metal film resistor, and its structure is mostly cylindrical and is an axial lead-out wire.

Metal oxide film resistors have stronger oxidation resistance, acid resistance and salt resistance than metal film resistors, and have good heat resistance. The disadvantage of metal oxide film resistors is that due to the limitations of material characteristics and film thickness, the resistance range is small, and the resistance range is 1Ω ~ 200 kΩ; the rated power is 1/8 ~ 10 W; 25 W ~ 50 kW.

Metal Oxide Film Resistor

Figure3. Metal Oxide Film Resistor

2.2 Composition Resistor

Composition resistors can be divided into solid core resistors and paint film resistors according to resistor shape; they can be divided into organic types (such as phenolic resin) and inorganic types (such as glass, ceramics, etc.) according to the type of binder. It can be divided into general-purpose type, high-resistance type and high-pressure type according to usage.

The most prominent advantage of synthetic resistors is high reliability. For example, the reliability of high-quality solid core resistors is usually 5 to 10 times higher than that of metal film and carbon film resistors. Therefore, despite its poor electrical performance (large noise, poor linearity, low accuracy, poor high-frequency characteristics, etc.), due to its high reliability, it is still widely used in some special fields, such as aerospace industry, submarine cables Wait. Here are some common synthetic resistors.

(1) Solid Core Resistor (model S)

The common model is RS11 type, the resistance value range is 4.7Ω ~ 22MΩ, the accuracy is ± 5%, ± 10%, ± 20%, the volume is the same as the metal resistor at the same power.

(2) High Voltage Composite Film Resistor

Common domestic models are RHY-10 and RHY-35. The withstand voltage of the former can be 10kV, and the latter can reach 35kV; the resistance range is 47MΩ ~ 1000MΩ, and the accuracy is ± 5% and ± 10%.

(3) Carbon Film Composition Resistor

Carbon Film Composition resistors are made by mixing carbon black, filler and organic binder into a suspension, coated on an insulating skeleton, and polymerized by heating. Its resistance range is high, which can reach 10 ~ 106 MΩ; rated power is 1/4 ~ 5 W; maximum working voltage is 35kV. The disadvantages are poor moisture resistance, low voltage stability, poor frequency characteristics, and high noise.

This kind of resistor is not suitable for general-purpose resistors, but mainly suitable for high-voltage and high-resistance resistors. It is usually packaged in a glass shell to make a vacuum megohm resistor for micro-current testing.

(4) Organic Solid Composition Resistor

Organic Solid Composition resistors are made of carbon black, graphite and other conductive substances and fillers mixed with organic binders to form powders, which are hot pressed by special equipment and made into plastic shells. The leads of solid resistors are compression molded in the resistor body. One is a resistor without end cap, and the other is a resistor with end cap and using the end cap as an electrode.

This resistor has high mechanical strength, good reliability, and strong overload capacity; small size and low price; large inherent noise, large distribution parameters, poor voltage and temperature stability, and resistance range of 4.7Ω ~ 22 MΩ; Working voltage is 250 ~ 500 V; rated power is 1/4 ~ 2 W.

However, such resistors are not suitable for use in demanding electrical circuits. At present, common organic synthetic solid resistors are RS11 type and RS type. RS type organic solid resistors are commonly used in automobile instruments (oil pressure gauges).

(5) Glass Glaze Resistor

The glass glaze resistor is made of metal silver, rhodium, ruthenium and other metal oxides mixed with glass glaze adhesive to form a slurry, which is coated on the ceramic skeleton and sintered at high temperature. At present, resistors are often made of ruthenium oxide and glass glaze adhesives. Metal glass glaze resistors have ordinary and precision types.

This resistor has high temperature resistance, good humidity resistance, good stability, low noise, small temperature coefficient, large resistance range, resistance range is 4.7Ω ~ 200 MΩ; rated power is 1/8 W, l / 4 W, l / 2 W, 1 W, 2 W, high power 500 W; maximum voltage is 15 kV.

Different Types of Resistors

Figure4. Different Types of Resistors

2.3 Alloy Resistor

(1) Precision Wire Wound Resistor (model RX)

In the measurement instrument into other circuits that require high precision, precision wire-wound resistors can be used. The resistance of such resistors is generally ± 0.01%, up to 0.005% or higher, the temperature coefficient is less than l0-6 ℃, and the long-term working stability is high , The resistance range can be between O.O1Ω ~ lOMΩ. However, this type of resistor is not suitable for use in high-frequency circuits because the process is wire wound, so the distribution parameters are large.

Presicion Wire Wound Resistor

Figure5. Presicion Wire Wound Resistor

(2) Power Type Wire Wound Resistor (model RX)

The rated power of this resistor is above 2W, the maximum power can reach 200W, the resistance range is 0.15Ω to hundreds of kΩ, and the accuracy level is ± 5% ~ ± 20%. This type of resistance is divided into fixed type and adjustable type. The adjustable type draws a sliding head from the resistor body, which can adjust the resistance value, which is convenient for debugging in the whole machine.

(3) Precision Alloy Foil Resistor

This resistor has the function of automatically compensating for the temperature coefficient of the resistor, and can maintain a very small temperature coefficient in a wide temperature range, so it has the characteristics of high precision, high stability, high frequency and high speed response, making up for the metal film and wire winding Insufficient resistance. The accuracy of this type of resistance can reach ± 0.001%, the stability is ± 5 × 10-5% / year, and the temperature coefficient is (0 ± 1) × 10-6 / ℃.

III Classification of Resistors Based on the Purpose

(1) General Type

Refers to the resistance that can meet the general technical requirements, the power is 0.05 (1/20 ~ 2W, the resistance value is 1Ω ~ 22MΩ deviation is ± 5 ~ ± 20%.

(2) Precision Type

Resistance with high precision and stability, the power is generally not greater than 2W, the resistance value is 0.01Ω ~ 20MΩ, the deviation is 2% ~ 001%.

(3) High Frequency Type

The inductance of the resistor itself is extremely small, often called non-inductive resistance. Used in high-frequency circuits, the resistance is less than 1kΩ, the power range is wide, and the maximum can reach 100W.

(4) High Voltage Type

Suitable for high-voltage devices, working at 1000V ~ 100KV, high up to 35GV, power between 0.5 ~ 100W, resistance up to 1000 MΩ.

(5) High Resistance Type

The resistance is above 10 MΩ, up to 1014Ω.

(6) Integrated Resistance

Combined with mask, lithography, sintering and other process technologies, multiple resistors with consistent parameters and performance are formed on a substrate, and connected into a resistor network. It has the characteristics of small size, regularization and high precision. It is suitable for electronic instruments and computer products.

(7) Insurance Type

Made of non-combustible metal film, it has the dual function of resistance and fuse, the resistance value range is 0. 33Ω ~ 10 KΩ. When the actual power is 30 times the rated power, 7s is off. When the actual power is 12 times the rated power, 30 ~ 120s off.

Different Resistors

Figure6. Different Resistors

IV Types of Sensitive Resistors

(1) Thermistor

The thermistor can be divided into: MF: negative temperature coefficient; MZ: positive temperature coefficient.

The thermistor is a resistor whose resistance value changes with temperature, and is usually made of semiconductor material such as single crystal or polycrystal. It is made of barium titanate as the main raw material, supplemented with trace amounts of strontium, titanium, aluminum and other compounds. It can be divided into negative temperature coefficient thermistors whose resistance decreases with increasing temperature and resistance increases with temperature The high and rising positive temperature coefficient thermistor has a slow change type and a sudden change type.

Thermistor is mainly used for temperature measurement, temperature control (temperature control of electromagnetic oven), fire alarm, meteorological sounding, microwave and laser power measurement, temperature compensation in radio, and demagnetization current limiting resistor in TV.


Figure7. Thermistor

(2) Photoresistor

Photoresistor is a kind of element made by using the photosensitive effect of semiconductor. The resistance value changes with the intensity of incident light. The stronger the light, the smaller the resistance. When there is no light irradiation, the high impedance resistance value can reach 1.5MΩ or more; when there is light irradiation, the material excites free electrons and holes, and its resistance value decreases. With the increase of light intensity, the resistance value can be as low as 1kΩ.

The photoresistor is made by coating materials sensitive to light on the glass and drawing out the electrodes. Depending on the material, a photosensitive resistor sensitive to a certain light source can be made. Such as: visible photoresistor, the main material cadmium sulfide, used in photoelectric control. Infrared photoresistor, the main material is lead sulfide, used in missile and satellite monitoring.


Figure8. Photoresistor

(3) Varistor

The varistor is a semiconductor ceramic element made of zinc oxide as the main material, and the resistance value changes according to the non-linear characteristics with the change of the voltage applied at both ends. When the voltage applied to both ends does not exceed a certain value, it shows high impedance, and the current flowing through the varistor is very small, which is equivalent to an open circuit. When the voltage exceeds a certain value, its resistance suddenly decreases, and the current flowing through the resistance increases sharply. Varistors are widely used in electronic and electrical circuits, and are mainly used for overvoltage protection and as voltage stabilizing components.

Metal Oxide Varistor

Figure9. Metal Oxide Varistor

(4) Magneto-resistor

Magneto-resistors are made of materials such as indium arsenide or indium antimonide, based on the magnetoresistance effect of semiconductors, and the resistance increases with the increase of the magnetic flux passing through it. It is a semiconductor element sensitive to magnetic field, which can convert magnetic induction signals into electrical signals. Mainly used to measure the strength of magnetic field, magnetic card text recognition, magnetoelectric coding, AC-DC conversion.

Magneto Resistor

Figure10. Magneto Resistor

(5) Force Sensitive Resistor

The resistance becomes larger as the applied stress changes. It is a special element that can transform force into electrical signal. Commonly used in sensors such as tensiometers, accelerometers, semiconductor microphones.

Force Sensitive Resistor

Figure11. Force Sensitive Resistor

(6) Gas-sensitive Resistor

Made of semiconductor materials such as tin dioxide. After absorbing a certain gas on the surface of the semiconductor, an oxidation or reduction reaction occurs, and the resistance changes with the concentration of the measured gas.

Gas-sensitive resistors are often used in gas detectors, such as the electronic nose mounted on range hoods, and are also used to measure automobile exhaust, drunk driving and other devices.

Gas-sensitive Resistor

Figure12. Gas-sensitive Resistor

(7) Humidity Resistor

The resistance of the humidity sensitive resistor changes with the change of the relative humidity of the environment, and the surface moisture content can be measured.

Humidity Resistor

Figure13. Humidity Resistor

V Types of Potentiometer

5.1 What is a Potentiometer?

The potentiometer is a kind of resistor with adjustable resistance, which is derived from the variable resistor. The general potentiometer is composed of a resistor body, a sliding arm, a rotating handle (sliding handle), a housing and a soldering piece.

In addition to ordinary potentiometers, there are potentiometers with switches, which are controlled by the rotary handle. Traditionally, the adjustable resistance with handle and housing is generally called a potentiometer, the one without handle or without housing is called a trimming resistor, and it is also called a preset resistance.

5.2 Classification of Potentiometers

(1) Classification by Material

Carbon film: Carbon film is used as a resistance film.

Metal Film: A special ceramic film made of ceramic and metal is used as a resistance film.

Wirewound: A metal wirewound is used as a resistor. Compared with carbon film or porcelain gold film, it can withstand greater power.

(2) Classification by Structure

Rotating: common form. The usual rotation angle is about 270 to 300 degrees.

Single-turn type: a common form.

Multi-turn type: used for occasions requiring precise adjustment.

Linear sliding type: usually used in the mixer, it is easy to immediately see the position of the volume and do fade control.

(3) Classification by Quantity

Single connection: One rotary shaft only controls a single potentiometer.

Double-connected: Two potentiometers are controlled by the same shaft, which is mainly used in dual-channel, which can control two channels at the same time.

(4) Classification According to the Change Scale of Resistance Value

Linear scale type: The change in resistance value is linearly related to the rotation angle or moving distance. This type of potentiometer is called a B-type potentiometer.

Logarithmic scale type: The change of resistance value is logarithmic relationship with the rotation angle or moving distance. The main purpose of this type of potentiometer is volume control, of which the type A potentiometer is commonly used, suitable for large volume in the clockwise direction and counterclockwise direction. For low volume; in addition, there is a C-type potentiometer with a logarithmic scale that changes in the opposite direction.

(5) Classification According to the Material of the Resistor

Potentiometers can be divided into wire wound potentiometers and non-wire wound potentiometers according to the material of the resistor body. Wire-wound potentiometers can be divided into general wire-wound potentiometers, precision wire-wound potentiometers, high-power wire-wound potentiometers and preset wire-wound potentiometers. Non-wire wound potentiometers can be divided into two types: solid potentiometers and membrane potentiometers. The solid potentiometer is divided into organic synthetic solid potentiometer, inorganic synthetic solid potentiometer and conductive plastic potentiometer. Membrane potentiometers are divided into carbon membrane potentiometers and metal membrane potentiometers.

(6) Classification by Adjustment Method

Potentiometers can be divided into rotary potentiometers, push-pull potentiometers, straight slide potentiometers, etc. according to the adjustment method.

(7) Classification According to the Change Law of Resistance Value

Potentiometers can be divided into linear potentiometers, exponential potentiometers and logarithmic potentiometers according to the change rule of resistance value.

(8) Classification According to Structural Characteristics

Potentiometers can be divided into single-turn potentiometers, multi-turn potentiometers, single-connect potentiometers, double-connect potentiometers, multi-connect potentiometers, tapped potentiometers, switch potentiometers, locking potentiometers There are many types of non-locking potentiometers and patch-type potentiometers.

(9) Classification by Driving Method

Potentiometers can be divided into manual adjustment potentiometers and electric adjustment potentiometers according to the driving mode.


Figure14. Potentiometer

VI Introduction of Common Resistors and A List of Advantages and Disadvantages

6.1 Mind Map of Resistor Classification

Mind Map of Types of Resistor

Figure15. Mind Map of Types of Resistor

6.2 Brief Introduction and Advantages & Disadvantages of Commonly Used Resistors



Application Range



Carbon Film Resistor (RT)

Hydrocarbons decompose in high temperature and vacuum and deposit on porcelain rods or tubes to form a crystalline carbon film. Different resistance values can be obtained by changing the thickness and length of the carbon film.

①The main tolerances are:


± 5%, ± 10%, ± 20%。

②Mostly used in less demanding circuit occasions.

Low cost of carbon film

Poor stability and large errors

Metal Film Resistor (RJ)

Heating the alloy in a vacuum, the alloy evaporates, forming a conductive metal film on the surface of the ceramic rod. The resistance can be controlled by changing the thickness of the metal film.

①The allowable errors are: ± 0.1%, ± 0.2%, ± 0.5%, ± 1%. 

②Mostly used in occasions with high accuracy requirements.

Small size, low noise and good stability

High cost

Metal Oxide film resistor (RY)

The metal salt solution of tin and antimony is sprayed onto the surface of the hot ceramic skeleton and formed by hydrolysis and deposition.

It is suitable for non-combustible, temperature change resistance, humidity resistance and other occasions.

Good oxidation resistance and thermal stability


Wire Wound Resistor



Suitable for circuits with low frequency and high accuracy requirements.

Precise resistance, stable operation, small temperature coefficient, good heat resistance, and high power

The resistance value is small, the distributed inductance and distributed capacitance are large, and the manufacturing cost is also high

High power wire wound resistor (RX)

It is made of constantan or nickel-chromium alloy resistance wire wound on the ceramic skeleton.

Suitable for high power occasions, the rated power is generally more than 1W.

Stable work, good heat resistance, small error range


Organic Solid Resistor (RS)

The organic solid resistor is a resistor composed of granular conductive materials, fillers and adhesives, evenly mixed and then hot pressed together, and then installed in a plastic shell. Its leads are directly molded in the resistor body.

Generally used in places where the load cannot be disconnected and the work load is large, such as the circuit where the audio output is connected to the headset

Strong overload capacity, high reliability and low price

Low Precision

Fusing Resistor (RF)

A fuse resistor is an element with dual functions of resistance and fuse.

It is used in series with high value and circuit components that need to be protected. It is commonly used in power supply and secondary power supply circuits.



Cement Resistor(RX)

Cement resistor is also a fuse resistor, which is formed by winding the resistance wire on the heat-resistant ceramics, and protecting it with heat-resistant, moisture-resistant and corrosion-resistant materials.

A Good choice in a circuit where a large amount of current is being passed through a resistor and with it needing to be resistant to high heat and flame.

Good explosion-proof performance, complete insulation, shock resistance, humidity resistance, heat resistance and good heat dissipation

Large size, high heat generation during use, easy to radiate

0 ohm Resistor

Zero-ohm resistors, also called jumper resistors, are resistors used for special purposes.

①On the PCB for debugging convenience or compatible design and other reasons

②Can be used as a jumper




Power Type Wire Wound Non-inductive Resistor (aluminum shell resistor)

①A special wire-wound method is adopted, which makes the inductance much lower than that of general wire-wound resistors.

②Adopt a metal shell to facilitate heat dissipation.

It is suitable for high-power circuits and harsh magnetic fields, so it is often called a power resistor.



Network Resistor(Wire-wound Resistor)

Network resistor is made by encapsulating several resistors with the same parameters together and combining them.

Generally used in digital circuits, instrument circuits and computer circuits, such as attenuators in instrument circuits.

Easy assembly and high installation density


6.3 The List of Types of Resistors

Classify by uses  


Classify by Materials

Wire Wound Type

Film Type

Composite Type

Carbon Film Type

Metal Film Type

Metal Oxide Film Type

Glass Glaze Type

Composite Carbon Film Type

Metal Foil Type

Organic Solid Type

Inorganic Solid Type

General  Type



Precision Type






High-resistance Type







Power Type







High-voltage Type








High-frequency Type









7.1 Question

Which two types are resistors mainly classified into?

7.2 Answer

①Fixed resistors

②Variable resistors


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