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The Basics of Electrical Components: An Overview

Electronic components are the pieces that make up an electronic system. Each tiny piece does a different job, and when connected together, can do complex tasks like computing. Using a fairly small number of standard electrical components, a virtually endless number of systems can be created. Here, we’ll share the most common and important electrical components you will come across, how they function, and what you can do to keep sensitive electronics safe. 

Active Electrical Components

Active electrical components can supply power to an electrical circuit, and can control the flow of electrical current. Active components require an outside power source to function but can manipulate the flow depending on their function. 

Diodes

A diode is the ‘one way street’ of the electrical components world, possessing low resistance in one direction and high resistance in the other. Diodes allow electricity to flow in one direction (the low resistance one) while preventing it from flowing in the other, preventing electricity from taking an unwanted path. There are various types of diodes, the most well known being the light-emitting diode, or LED. 

Display Devices

Display devices are used to show data or information like the time, text files, video, etc. Common display devices include LCD, LED, CRT, and OLED displays. 

Integrated Circuits

An integrated circuit is a circuit that has been reduced in size in order to be added to the internal workings of a microchip. Integrated circuits are used in virtually all electronic equipment, and are reliable, inexpensive, and readily available. Like other common electrical components, ICs serve a variety of functions. 

Opto-Electronic Devices

Opto-electronic devices can detect and convert light into electrical energy and electrical energy into light through semiconductors. Solar panels are a good example of a piece of technology utilizing optoelectronics, since these devices transform the sun’s rays into usable electricity. 

Power Sources

Power sources are electrical components that supply a source of electrical power. Common examples include batteries, generators, and fuel cells. 

Transistors

A transistor is used to either amplify an electronic signal or to switch the signal on/off.

Passive Electrical Components

Passive electrical components can absorb or store energy to use for later, but cannot control the flow or intensity of electrical current beyond that. 

Resistors

One of the simplest electrical components, resistors are used to restrict or control the flow/voltage within a given circuit. Able to adjust, divert, divide, or even terminate current flow, resistors come in many shapes and sizes and with varying levels of resistance. 

Capacitors 

Capacitors are able to absorb and store electrical charge, then release it back into the circuit when there is a job to do. Capacitors consist of two elements – a conducting and a non-conducting material, and are often used as timing devices. 

Electromechanical Components

Electromechanical components use electrical signals to create some mechanical/physical changes.

Protection Devices

Protective devices include fuses, circuit breakers, lightning arrestors, and other devices used to protect circuits from unexpected or unwanted surges. Many protection devices are single-use only, designed to be destroyed or otherwise incapacitated rather than allow damage to the system. 

Switches

Switches are components that are either ‘on’ or ‘off’. In the on position, switches allow current to pass through freely. In the off position, switches block current entirely, disconnecting the device from the electrical current. Switches may be activated manually (i.e. keypads, lightswitches) or through some other mechanism like heat (thermostats), humidity, etc. 

ESD Furniture

Sensitive to the flow of electrons, the electrical components used to create sensitive lab equipment, computing systems, and complex scientific instruments need to be carefully insulated and protected. Though the hardware of standard electronic systems can protect sensitive electronic components from sudden power surge, they may not be fully protected from static electricity. 

Static electricity, which can ‘jump’ from item to item, can collect on surfaces not specifically designed to safely dissipate the electrons. Standard plastics – which are highly insulative – in particular are prone to the collection of electrostatic energy, which can wreak havoc on sensitive equipment or punish lab staff with a sharp shock. Electrostatic dissipative (ESD) furniture and electrostatic dissipative materials are specifically designed to minimize the risks associated with electrostatic discharge by grounding and thereby neutralizing electrostatic energy. 
At OnePointe Solutions, we offer a variety of lab and industrial furniture made using ESD laminate. We specialize in ESD workbenches, which can be customized to suit the specific needs of your facility. Made from our ESD laminate, and designed to your specifications, you can create a safe research or manufacturing environment without compromising on storage, comfort, or special features.

Need ESD furniture for your lab?

Give us a call at (866) 222 -7494 to speak to a representative today to get started.

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