Different Types of Resistors and Its Color Code Calculation in Electronics

Resistors are the most commonly used components in electronic circuits and devices. The main purpose of a resistor is to maintain specified values of voltage and current in an electronic circuit. A Resistor works on the principle of Ohm’s law and the law states that the voltage across the terminals of a resistor is directly proportional to the current flowing through it. The unit of resistance is Ohm. The Ohm symbol shows resistance in a circuit from the name Geog Ohm – a German physicist who invented it. This article discusses an overview of different types of resistors and their color code calculations.

Different Types of Resistors

There are different types of resistors available in the market with diverse ratings and sizes. Some of these are described below.

Different types of Resistors
Different types of Resistors
  • Wire wound resistors
  • Metal film resistors
  • Thick film and Thin film resistors
  • Network and Surface Mount Resistors
  • Variable Resistors
  • Special resistors

Wire-wound Resistors

These resistors vary in physical appearance and size. These wire-wound resistors are commonly a length of wires usually made of an alloy such as nickel-chromium or copper-nickel manganese alloy. These resistors are the oldest type of resistors having excellent properties like high power ratings and low resistive values. During their use, these resistors can become very hot, and for this reason, these are housed in a finned metal case.

Wire wound Resistors
Wire-wound Resistors

Metal Film Resistors

These resistors are made from metal oxide or small rods of ceramic-coated metal. These are similar to carbon-film resistors and their resistivity is controlled by the thickness of the coating layer. The properties like reliability, accuracy, and stability are considerably better for these resistors. These resistors can be obtained in a wide range of resistance values (from a few ohms to millions of ohms).

Metal film Resistor
Metal film Resistor

Thick Film and Thin Film Types of Resistors

Thin film resistors are made by sputtering some resistive material onto an insulating substrate (a method of vacuum deposition) and are therefore more expensive than thick film resistors. The resistive element for these resistors is approximately 1000 angstroms. Thin-film resistors have better temperature coefficients, lower capacitance, low parasitic inductance, and low noise.

Thick film and Thin film Resistors
Thick film and Thin-film Resistors

These resistors are preferred for microwave active and passive power components such as microwave power terminations, microwave power resistors, and microwave power attenuators. These are mostly used for applications that require high accuracy and high stability.

Usually, thick film resistors are made by mixing ceramics with powered glass, and these films have tolerances ranging from 1 to 2%, and a temperature coefficient between + 200 or +250 and -200 or -250. These are widely available as low-cost resistors and compared with the thin film, thick film resistive element is thousands of times thicker.

Surface Mount Resistors

Surface-mount resistors come in a variety of packages sizes and shapes agreed by the EIA (Electronics Industry Alliance). These are made by depositing a film of resistive material and don’t have enough space for color-code bands owing to their small size.

Surface mount Resistors
Surface mount Resistors

The tolerance may be as low as 0.02% and consists of 3 or 4 letters as an indication. The smallest size of the 0201 packages is a tiny 0.60mm x 0.30mm resistor and this three number code works in a similar way to the color code bands on wire-ended resistors.

Network Resistors

Network resistors are a combination of resistances that give identical value to all pins. These resistors are available in dual inline and single inline packages. Network resistors are commonly used in applications such as ADC (Analog to digital converters) and DAC, pull up or pull down.

Network Resistors
Network Resistors

Variable Resistors

The most commonly used types of variable resistors are potentiometers and presets. These resistors consist of a fixed value of resistance between two terminals and are mostly used for setting the sensitivity of sensors and voltage division. A wiper (moving part of the potentiometer) changes the resistance that can be rotated with the help of a screwdriver.

Variable Resistors
Variable Resistors

These resistors have three tabs, in which the wiper is the middle tab that acts as a voltage divider when all the tabs are used. When the middle tab is used along with the other tab, it becomes a rheostat or variable resistor. When only the side tabs are used, then it behaves as a fixed resistor. Different Types of Variable Resistors are potentiometers, rheostats, and digital resistors.

Special Types of Resistors

These are classified into two types:

Light-dependent Resistors (LDR)

Light-dependent resistors are very useful in different electronic circuits, especially in clocks, alarms, and street lights. When the resistor is in darkness, its resistance is very high (1 Mega Ohm) while in flight, the resistance falls down to a few kilo Ohms.

Light-dependent Resistors
Light-dependent Resistors

These resistors come in different shapes and colors. Depending on the ambient light, these resistors are used to turn ‘on’ or turn ‘off’ devices.

Fixed Resistors

The fixed resistor can be defined as the resistance of a resistor that does not vary through the change in temperature/voltage. These resistors are available in different sizes as well as shapes. The main function of an ideal resistor gives a stable resistance in all situations whereas the practical resistor’s resistance will be changed somewhat by an increase in temperature. The fixed resistors resistance values which are used in most of the applications are 10Ω, 100Ω, 10kΩ & 100KΩ.

These resistors are expensive as compared with other resistors because if we want to change the resistance of any resistor, we need to buy a new resistor. In this case, it is different because a fixed resistor can be used with different resistance values. The resistance of the fixed resistor can be measured through the ammeter. This resistor includes two terminals which are mainly used for connecting through other kinds of components within the circuit.

Types of fixed resistors are surface mount, thick film, thin film, wire wound, metal oxide resistor & metal film chip resistor.


When the resistance of a resistor can be changed based on the applied voltage is known as a varistor. As the name suggests, its name has been coined through the linguistic blend of words like varying & resistor. These resistors are also recognized through the name VDR (voltage-dependent resistor) with non-ohmic characteristics. Therefore, they come under the nonlinear type of resistors.

Not like rheostats & potentiometers, where the resistance varies from the least value to the highest value. In Varistor, the resistance will change automatically when applied voltage changes. This varistor includes two semiconductor elements to provide over-voltage safety within a circuit like a Zener diode.


When the electrical resistance of a resistor is changed once an external magnetic field is applied is known as a magneto resistor. This resistor includes a variable resistance which depends on the strength of the magnetic field. The main purpose of a magneto resistor is to measure the presence, direction, and strength of a magnetic field. An alternate name of this resistor is MDR (magnetic dependent resistor and it is a subfamily of magnetometers or magnetic field sensors.

Film Type Resistor

Under film type, three types of resistors will come like carbon, metal, and metal oxide. These resistors are normally designed with the deposition of pure metals like nickel, or an oxide film, such as tin-oxide, onto an insulating ceramic rod or substrate. This resistor’s resistance value can be controlled by increasing the width of the deposited film so it is known as a thick-film or thin-film resistor.

Whenever it is deposited, then a laser is employed for cutting a high accuracy spiral helix groove type model into this film. So the film cutting will influence the resistive path or the conductive path similar to taking a long length wire to form it into a loop. This kind of design will allow the resistors which have much closer tolerance like 1% or below as evaluated with the simpler carbon composition type resistors.

Carbon Film Resistor

This kind of resistor comes under the type of fixed resistor that utilizes carbon film to control the flow current to a certain range. The applications of carbon film resistors mainly include in the circuits. The designing of this resistor can be done by arranging the carbon layer or carbon film on a ceramic substrate. Here, carbon film works like the resistive material toward the electric current.

Hence, the carbon film will block some amount of current whereas the ceramic substrate works like the insulating material toward the electricity. So, the ceramic substrate does not permit heat throughout them. Thus, these types of resistors can endure at high temperatures without any harm.

Carbon Composition Resistor

An alternative name for this resistor is carbon resistor and it is very commonly used in different applications. These are easy to design, less costly, and are mainly designed with carbon clay composition covered through a plastic container. The resistor lead can be made with a tinned copper material.
The main benefits of these resistors are less cost & extremely durable.

These are also available in different values which range from 1 Ω to 22 Mega Ω. So these are suitable for Arduino starter kits.
The main drawback of this resistor is extremely sensitive to temperature. The range of tolerance for this resistor ranges from ± 5 to ± 20 %.

This resistor generates some electric noise because of the electrical current flow from one particle of carbon to another particle of carbon. These resistors are applicable where the low-cost circuit is designed. These resistors are available in a different color band which is used to find out the resistance value of the resistor with tolerance.

What are Ohmic Resistors?

The Ohmic resistors can be defined as the conductors which follow ohm’s law is known as ohmic resistors otherwise linear resistances. The characteristic of this resistor when a graph designed for the V (potential difference) & I (current) is a straight line.

We know that ohms law defines that the potential disparity among two points can be directly proportional toward the electric current supplied through physical conditions as well as the conductor’s temperature.

The resistance of these resistors is constant or they obey the ohms law. When the voltage is applied across this resistor, while measuring voltage and current, plot a graph in between voltage and current. The graph would be a straight line. This resistor is used wherever a linear relation among V & I is expected like filters, oscillators, amplifiers, clippers, rectifiers, clampers, etc. Most of the simple electronic circuits use ohmic resistors or linear resistors. These are normal components used to limit the flow of current, select frequency, divide voltage, bypass current, etc.

Carbon Resistor

Carbon resistor is one of the most common types of electronics used. They are made from a solid cylindrical resistive element with embedded wire leads or metal end caps. Carbon resistors come in different physical sizes with power dissipation limits commonly from 1 watt down to 1/8 watt.

Different materials are used for generating resistance mainly alloys & metals such as brass, nichrome, tungsten alloys & platinum. But, the electrical resistivities of most of them have less, not like a carbon resistor, which creates it complex to generate high resistances without turning into huge. So, resistance is directly proportional to length × resistivity.

But, they generate highly precise resistance values & usually used to calibrate as well as compare resistances. The different materials used to make these resistors are ceramic core, lead, nickel cap, carbon film & protective lacquer.

In most of the practical applications, these are mostly preferred because of some benefits like these are very cheap to create, solid & they can be printed directly onto circuit boards. They also regenerate resistance quite well in practical applications. As compared with metal wires, which are costly to generate, carbon is plentifully obtainable making it inexpensive.

Things to Keep in Mind While Using Different Types of Resistors

The two things which need to keep in mind while using a resistor are power dissipation as well as temperature coefficients.

Power Dissipation

While selecting a resistor, power dissipation plays a key role. Always choose a resistor that has less power rating as compared with what you placed through it. So select a resistor with a power rating as a minimum of two times high.

Temperature Coefficients

The most important thing to keep in mind while using resistors is, it is used with high temperatures otherwise high current as the resistance flows drastically. The temperature coefficient of the resistor is two types like Negative Temperature coefficient (NTC) & Positive temperature Coefficient (PTC).

For a negative temperature coefficient, when the temperature around the resistor increases then the resistance will decrease for the resistor. For a positive temperature coefficient, the resistance will increase once the temperature around the resistor increases. So, the same principle also works for some sensors like Thermistors for measuring temperature.

Where do we use Types of Resistors in Everyday Life?

The applications of resistors in everyday life or practically include the following.

  • Resistors are used in daily electronic devices and it reduces the electrons flow within a circuit. In our daily life, resistors are observed in different applications like electronic devices, electronic boards, mobile phones, laptops, grinders, home accessories, etc. Home accessories use SMD resistors like lamps, kettles, speakers, geezers, headphones, etc.
  • Resistors within a circuit will allow different components to work in their own best values without acquiring harm.

Types of Resistors Color Code Calculation

To find out the color code of a resistor, here is a standard mnemonic: B B Roy of Great Britain has a Very Good Wife (BBRGBVGW). This sequence color code helps to find the resistor value by seeing colors on resistors.

Don’t Miss: Best Resistor Color Code Calculator Tool to find out the value of resistors easily.

Resistor Color Code Calculation
Resistor Color Code Calculation

4 Bands Resistor Color Code Calculation

In the above 4 bands resistor:

  • The first digit or band indicates, a first significant figure of a component.
  • The second digit indicates, a second significant figure of a component.
  • The third digit indicates the decimal multiplier.
  • The fourth digit indicates the tolerance of value in percentage.

To calculate the color code of the above 4 band resistor,
the 4-band resistors consist of colors: yellow, violet, orange, and silver.

Yellow-4, violet-7, orange-3, silver –10% based on BBRGBVGW
The color code value of the above resistor is 47×103 =4.7Kilo Ohms, 10%.

5 Bands Resistor Color Code Calculation

In the above 5 bands resistors, the first three colors indicate significant values, and the fourth and fifth colors indicate multiplying and tolerance values.

To calculate the color code of the above 5 band resistor, 5 band resistors consist of colors: blue, grey, black, orange, and gold.

Blue- 6, Grey- 8, Black- 0, Orange- 3, Gold- 5%
The color code value of the above resistor is 68×103 = 6.8Kilo Ohms, 5%.

6 Bands Resistor Color Code Calculation

In the above 6 bands resistors, the first three colors indicate significant values; the Fourth color indicates multiplying factor, the fifth color indicates tolerance and the sixth indicates TCR.

To calculate the color code of the above 6 color-band resistors,
6 band resistors consist of colors: green, blue, black, yellow, gold, and orange.

Green-5, blue-6, Black-0, yellow-4, Orange-3
The color code value of the above resistor is 56×104 =560Kilo Ohms, 5%.

This is all about different types of resistors and the color-code identification for resistance values. We hope that you might have understood this resistor concept, and therefore, would like you to share your views on this article in the comment section below.

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One Comment

  1. Abraham Joseph says:

    A very concise and clear information about the types of resistors. Thanks

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