Electronics notes/Varistors

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This is for beginners and very much by a beginner.

It's intended to get an intuitive overview for hobbyist needs. It may get you started, but to be able to do anything remotely clever, follow a proper course or read a good book.


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See also Category:Electronics.

This article/section is a stub — probably a pile of half-sorted notes, is not well-checked so may have incorrect bits. (Feel free to ignore, fix, or tell me)

A varistor is a short name for a Voltage Dependent Resistor (VDR)



Often specifically a metal-oxide varistor (MOV), to the point MOV and varistor are near-synonyms to most people.


A MOV responds to voltage: high resistance at low voltages, lowering resistance at high voltages.

But not linearly - find an I-V curve for one, and you'll note they present a steepish curve over a specific threshold (much like diodes, because its workings are like a diode's, though bidirectional so can be used in AC), the MOV's rated voltage is basically that curve's knee where it starts conducting noticeable current.


This characteristic makes them useful in parallel with a sensitive load, to protect that load against high transient voltages / small surges, effectively shunting them away and wasting them as a heat.

Which is also why they cannot deal with sustained over-voltages; they would basically become the load, heat up, and probably burn - so MOVs used as protection are often combined with other protective elements .