Zener Diodes vs Avalanche Diodes – Differences?

This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by John C John C 1 year, 8 months ago.

  • Author
  • #7707

    Antwon Johnson

    Hey everyone,

    need some diodes for a project I am working on and came across both zener and avalanche diodes, I looked them up makes it seem like they pretty much do the same thing so I am a little bit confused about which ones I should b egetting, any help??

  • #7709
    Joe L
    Joe L
    Galco Representative

    Hey Antwon,

    Zener and Avalanche diodes are pretty similar for the most part. They share a lot of the same properties. The short of it is that they are both capable of doing similar things, but each one specializes in one of the properties more than the other.

    A feature unique to zener diodes is they will allow current to flow in one direction until voltage exceeds the breakdown voltage rating. When this happens, the current will begin to flow in the opposite direction.

    With an avalanche diode, they are designed to go through avalanche breakdown at a specific reverse bias voltage and are optimized to do so due to their small but significant voltage drop under breakdown conditions.

    Depending on your needs it is possible that they may even be interchangeable if you don’t particularly need to take advantage of one of their specialties, but without knowing exactly what you require I recommend that you weigh this information against your application needs.

    Hope this helped!

  • #7711
    John C
    John C
    Galco Representative

    Well I’m going to tell you that’s because they are the same thing anyway. Different manufactures call them by different things a device does. The word “avalanche” is what a Zener diode does in the reverse bias direction when it first starts to conduct and regulate at its zener voltage rating. Some manufactures may offer higher voltage and current ratings or different packages than others is all.
    If I could make a suggestion, define what your application/circuit requires first and then look for devices that best match your particular parameters.

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