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What’s the Difference Between Passive and Active Components?

What’s the Difference Between Passive and Active Components?

Image of active and passive components positioned side by side, printing across that says active components vs. passive components.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2020. It has since been updated for accuracy.

Do you know what passive devices are? While engineers and designers within your organization know procurement personnel may not be up to speed with passive devices. If you’re involved with e-procurement or supply chain processes and your curiosity about passive electronic components is anything but passive, you’ve come to the right place!

At Sourcengine, we empower purchasing departments and procurement specialists every day. And a little extra knowledge about those items on a Bill of Material (BOM) or invoice benefits everyone.

Passive vs. Active: Understanding Electronic Component Functionality

Most electronic devices and parts are distinguished by how they interact with electricity. In this regard, there are two main types:

  • Active components: Active electronic devices can manipulate electricity, plain and simple. Think of diodes (essentially, one-way electricity conduits) and LEDs as active electronic components. Transistors are another excellent example of an active device. If electric current is somehow changed with a device – amplified, restricted, turned on/off, etc. – it’s “active."
  • Passive components: Unlike active devices, passive electronic components cannot control electric currents. Resistors, capacitors, sensors, antennas, resonators, and similar devices are passive electronic parts. Diodes can be considered passive, depending on their particular function. Diodes are one of the few electronic devices that are both active and passive.

So why is this distinction so important? All electronic devices must contain at least one active component. A printed circuit board (PCB) is a great example of an electronic device. Without LEDs or transistors, the entire assembly would be considered passive.

Every finished electronic device has a combination of active and passive components. Both are essential, whether the product is the newest iPhone or a complex IoT subsystem for connected automobiles.

Sourcengine: Your Sourcing Partner for the Entire Electronic Component Marketplace

For effective supply chain management, being “passive” just won’t do. Your purchasing team needs an active, real-time, totally involved platform to make informed sourcing decisions. No other software matches Sourcengine's global e-commerce marketplace. Thanks to our global supply network, advanced analytics, and user-friendly visualization tools, your procurement department will enjoy optimal pricing and exceptional value for your entire product line, regardless of your component requirements – passive, active, or otherwise. If you have too many components, no problem. Sourcengine can help you estimate the price of your excess electronic component inventory and sell it to highly interested buyers on our leading e-commerce site.  

Sign up with Sourcengine today, or schedule a demo to see our other digital tools in action, such as our BOM management tool and Sourcengine’s API.

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