Since the voltage dropped across a Zener Diode is a known and fixed value, Zener diodes are typically used to regulate the voltage in electric circuits. Using a resistor to ensure that the current passing through the Zener diode is at least 5mA (0.005 Amps), the circuit designer knows that the voltage drop across the diode is exactly equal to the Zener voltage of the diode.

NEW Click here to visit for a site dedicated to zener diodes, their characteristics, usage, and other information.

Zener Diode Voltage Regulator Circuit

A zener diode can be used to make a simple voltage regulation circuit as pictured above. The output voltage is fixed at the zener voltage of the zener diode used and so can be used to power devices requiring a fixed voltage. Click here to find out more about the Zener Diode Voltage Regulator and how you go about selecting the resistor and zener diode.
NEW The above mentioned article on zener diode voltage regulators has now been updated and a handy calculator has been added to help you select the correct resistor and zener diode values and power ratings.

Zener Diodes in Series With Loads

If you have a regulated fixed voltage - say 12 Volts from a desktop PC power supply, and you want to power something requiring a lower voltage, it is possible to simply place a zener diode in series with the load device. You would choose a diode with a zener voltage equal to the supply voltage minus the voltage drop across the load.

For example, if you have a 1 Watt 6 Volt lightbulb to power from a 12 Watt regulated power supply, a 6.2V zener diode could be placed in series with the bulb giving the bulb 5.8V, or you could overpower the bulb a little using a 5.6V zener diode and dropping 6.4V across the bulb. Heat would be generated in the zener diode so it is essential to calculate the power lost in it so a suitably rated diode could be chosen.

Using a 5.6V zener diode, and knowing the bulb draws a current of around one-sixth of an Amp, we can calculate the power loss in the diode (with Ohm's Law) to be just under 1 Watt. Therefore a standard 1.3 Watt zener diode should be up to the job.

Circuits with Zener Diodes

Zener diodes are key components in the circuits presented in the following articles: Make a Simple Battery Status Monitor, LM741 Voltage Indicator, and High Capacity Alternative to 9V Battery.

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Diodes can switch analog signals. A reverse biased diode appears to be an open circuit. A forward biased diode is a low resistance conductor. The only problem is isolating the AC signal being switched from the DC control signal. The circuit in Figure below is a parallel resonant network: resonant tuning inductor paralleled by one (or more) of the switched resonator capacitors. This parallel LC resonant circuit could be a preselector filter for a radio receiver. It could be the frequency determining network of an oscillator (not shown). The digital control lines may be driven by a microprocessor interface.

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Kingtronics International Company was established in 1995 located in Dongguan City of China to handle all sales & marketing for factories located in Chengdu, Sichuan and Zhaoqing, Guangdong, China. In 1990, we established the first factory to produce trimming potentiometer and in 1999 we built up new factory in Zhao Qing, Guangdong. Now with around 850 workers, Kingtronics produce trimming potentiometers, dipped tantalum capacitors, multilayer ceramic capacitors, and diode & bridge rectifier. We sell good quality under our brand Kingtronics, and Kt, King, Kingtronics are our three trademarks. All our products are RoHS compliant, and our bridge rectifier have UL approval. Please visit our Products page, you could please download all our PDF datasheet and find cross reference for our Trimming Potentiometer and capacitors.

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