The Basics of Electrical Components

Are you interested in learning everything about electricity? Well, you should start by understanding the basic components that make up any electrical design and how they work. Think about how the great pyramids of Egypt were built using just blocks of rock. The rocks themselves were nothing. But they formed such grand structures when combined with a careful design!

You need to know about the essential electrical components and how they work together to create incredible modern electrical systems. 14 Basic Electrical Components are:

  1. Resistors
  2. Capacitors
  3. Light Emitting Diode (LED)
  4. Transistors
  5. Inductors
  6. Integrated Circuit (IC)
  7. Circuit Breaker
  8. Fuse
  9. Switch
  10. Transformer
  11. Electrical Wires & Power Cables
  12. Battery
  13. Relay
  14. Motor
  • Resistors


    The very first component that you should know about is the resistor. It is pretty easy to assume that a resistor, as the name suggests, will resist electricity that flows through it, and you would be correct in that assumption too! Any situation that demands the flow of current to be controlled at the desired level will require a resistor.

    Here are two scenarios that better explain what a resistor does. In both cases, we will be turning on a LED:

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  • Capacitors


    If a resistor is like a cushion that is used to control the flow of electricity, then capacitors are like small rechargeable batteries that store small amounts of charge in them. Capacitors do two things at the same time:

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  • Light Emitting Diode (LED)

    Light Emitting Diode (LED)

    LEDs were briefly mentioned while describing “Resistors.” LEDs are just like bulbs, except that they are extremely reliable. You can find them on practically every appliance in your home that features some kind of indicator light. A typical LED bulb can last decades with no sign of dying.

    Since they are so reliable, they are used to indicate the state of current at any point in a circuit. An important task like checking the output voltage or current on a circuit becomes simpler with these light-based indicators.

  • Transistors


    The resistors, capacitors, and LEDs are the simple stuff in electrical circuits. Now, let us talk about the first complicated component – the transistor. For instance, transistors are used to build complex electrical systems, such as amplifiers. A simple way to understand transistors is to think of a switch. A basic switch has an “on” and an “off” state. These are controlled by the position of the switch, which is changed manually.

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  • Inductors


    Inductors are just as complicated as transistors. Like transistors, inductors are used to build complex electrical systems. Unlike transistors, though, inductors are essentially coils of wire that are wound around other components. They are used as filters.

    Of all the electrical components mentioned on this page, you will most likely not use inductors for basic circuit designs. Nonetheless, depending on the particular project you are working on, inductors might appear in the circuit’s design.

  • Integrated Circuit (IC)

    Integrated Circuit (IC)

    Integrated circuits are electrical components that combine or integrate numerous electrical components, including the previously mentioned ones. One IC can act like a transistor, while another IC can act like a resistor.

    An IC is like a ready-made chip that you can use to complete the project you want to build without having to use lots of single transistors or capacitors. As you upgrade from using basic components to integrated circuits, you will find that it is almost always easier to use ICs for your entire project than using individual components.

  • Circuit Breaker

    Circuit Breaker

    A circuit breaker is a vital mechanical switching device that protects your electrical equipment from short circuit and power surges. It automatically detects a faulty condition and interrupts the harmful current flow from reaching the sockets. Every circuit breaker has 2 coils; a closing coil that closes the circuit and a tripping coil to trip the circuit.

    There are 2 types of contacts in a circuit breaker. One is a moving connection that uses stored energies to make and break the circuit. Another one is fixed contact, comprising a spring that holds the moving contact after closing.

  • Fuse


    Fuse is a friend of the circuit breaker as it helps the breaker in protecting the electric equipment from power overload. Fuse is the wire that gets heated up and damaged when the circuit comes in contact with a power surge. In this way, the current stops flowing.

    It comes in different varieties to sustain the different amounts of currents. The main components of a standard fuse are metal-fuse elements, support body, contacts, and connection. The metal-fuse elements can be made from alloy, copper, aluminum, zinc, silver, etc.

  • Switch


    Yes! We all know what a switch is! Let’s get to its technical definition. The primary purposes of a switch as a device are to break the current, interrupt the current, and supply current from one conductor to another. The “On and off” mechanism is used to perform this task. There are 4 main classifications of a switch:-

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  • Transformer


    It is an electric device that changes the levels of AC current. It consists of 2 coils of wire connected by an iron core. The transformer uses mutual induction of two windings to convert the electric energy from one circuit to another. It also converts the power between circuits with different voltage levels without altering the frequency.

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  • Electrical Wires & Power Cables

    Electrical Wires & Power Cables

    It’s almost impossible to make an electrical structure without electrical wires and cables. Electrical wires do the work of connecting a device to the power source through cables. You need wires to install every device, be it switches, sockets, LEDs, or anything else.

    When multiple electrical wires are bundled or run side by side for transmission and distribution of electrical current, it is known as an electrical power cable. When you can’t use overhead lines, electrical cables come in handy to transmit high voltage current. A cable has 3 primary components – conductor, sheath, and dielectric.

  • Battery


    Batteries act as a source of electric power through the electrochemical cells. Each cell is consists of an anode (-), cathode (+), and electrolyte. It works on the principle of electrochemical reaction as the cells create the flow of electrons through a chemical reaction. In layman’s terms, batteries are portable containers that store electrical potential energy.

    If it were not for batteries, your Xbox controller and mobile phones would’ve been tied to a charger all day. There are two types of cells in a battery – primary rechargeable cells and secondary non-rechargeable cells.

  • Relay


    Earlier relays were used as amplifiers in the long-distance telegraph circuits. Relay evolved to solve more purposes in the technology sector and telephone exchange. They are electromechanical switches that use low-power signals to control the circuit.

    Its essential components are an armature, a spring, an electromagnet, and a series of electrical contacts. The circuits inside a relay use magnetic connections instead of electric ones.

  • Motor


    Motors convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. It comprises a stator, conduit box, eye bolt, rotor, enclosure, and bearings. Motors are more efficient in energy supply than their pneumatic and hydraulic counterparts. Therefore it is the most common part amongst all the electrical machinery.

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Parting Words!

This article provides you with an overview of the fundamental electrical components. This basic introduction will help you when you will begin work with electrical systems. A straightforward plan would be to start with capacitors and resistors, moving up to using ICs, then fitting lithium-ion batteries and motors. This plan will work for all types of complex and advanced projects. When you are ready, pick up a starter kit and go crazy with it!