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E12 and E24 values

If you have any experience of building circuits, you will have noticed that resistors
commonly have values such as 2.2 , 3.3 , or 4.7 and are not available in
equally spaced values 2 ,3 ,4 ,5 and so on. Manufacturers don't
produce values like these - why not? The answer is partly to do with the fact that
resistors are manufactured to a percentage accuracy. Look at the table below which
shows the values of the E12 and E24 series:

E12 series E24 series

10% 5%
tolerance tolerance
10 10
12 12
15 15
18 18
22 22
27 27
33 33
39 39
47 47
56 56
68 68
82 82
Resistors are made in multiples of these values, for example, 1.2 , 12 , 120 ,
1.2 , 12 , 120 and so on.

Consider 100 and 120 , adjacent values in the E12 range. 10% of 100 is 10 ,
while 10% of 120 is 12 . A resistor marked as 100 could have any value from
90 to 110 , while a resistor marked as 120 might have an actual resistance
from 108 to 132 . The ranges of possible values overlap, but only slightly.

Further up the E12 range, a resistor marked as 680 might have and actual resistance
of up to 680+68=748 , while a resistor marked as 820 might have a resistance as
low as 820-82=738 . Again, the ranges of possible values just overlap.

The E12 and E24 ranges are designed to cover the entire resistance range with the
minimum overlap between values. This means that, when you replace one resistor
with another marked as a higher value, its actual resistance is almost certain to be

From a practical point of view, all that matters is for you to know that carbon film
resistors are available in multiples of the E12 and E24 values. Very often, having
calculated the resistance value you want for a particular application, you will need to
choose the nearest value from the E12 or E24 range.

Colour code

How can the value of a resistor be worked out from the colours of the bands? Each
colour represents a number according to the following scheme:

Number Colour
0 black
1 brown
2 red
3 orange
4 yellow
5 green
6 blue
7 violet
8 grey
9 white
The first band on a resistor is interpreted as the FIRST DIGIT of the resistor value.
For the resistor shown below, the first band is yellow, so the first digit is 4:

The second band gives the SECOND DIGIT. This is a violet band, making the second
digit 7. The third band is called the MULTIPLIER and is not interpreted in quite the
same way. The multiplier tells you how many noughts you should write after the
digits you already have. A red band tells you to add 2 noughts. The value of this
resistor is therefore 4 7 0 0 ohms, that is, 4 700 , or 4.7 . Work through this
example again to confirm that you understand how to apply the colour code given by
the first three bands.

The remaining band is called the TOLERANCE band. This indicates the percentage
accuracy of the resistor value. Most carbon film resistors have a gold-coloured
tolerance band, indicating that the actual resistance value is with + or - 5% of the
nominal value. Other tolerance colours are:

Tolerance Colour
±1% brown
±2% red
±5% gold
±10% silver

When you want to read off a resistor value, look for the tolerance band, usually gold,
and hold the resistor with the tolerance band at its right hand end. Reading resistor
values quickly and accurately isn't difficult, but it does take practice!
Electrical Resistance
The Physics Hypertextbook™
© 1998-2008 by Glenn Elert -- A Work in Progress
All Rights Reserved -- Fair Use Encouraged

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Yech! What a mess this is.

Conduction: S. Gray, 1729 -- Resistance: Georg Simon Ohm, 1827.

Regular version …


I= ⇒ V = IR ⇒ R=

Symbology …

• quantity: rsistance R
unit: ohm [Ω] Georg Simon Ohm (1787-1854) Germany

Fancy version (the magnetohydrodynamic theory version?) …


1 E
J = σE = − σ ∇V & ρ= ⇒ J = or E = ρJ
σ ρ

Symbol hell …

• quantity: conductivity σ (not to be confused with surface charge

unit: siemens [S] Werner Siemens (1816-1892) Germany
• quantity: resistivity ρ (not to be confused with volume charge density)
unit: ohm meter [Ωm = S−1]

Ohm's law isn't a very serious law. It's the jaywalking of physics. Sensible materials
and devices obey it, but there are plenty of rogues out there that don't.

Resistor Color Code

first & second bands third band fourth band
(first & second digits) (multiplier) (tolerance)
black 0 black 1 none ±20%
brown 1 brown 10 silver ±10%
red 2 red 100 gold ±5%
orange 3 orange 1,000
yellow 4 yellow 10,000
green 5 green 100,000
blue 6 blue 1,000,000
violet 7 silver 0.01
gray 8 gold 0.1
white 9

Bad Booze Rots Our Young Guts But Vodka Goes Well.

Better Build Roof Over Your Garage Before Van Gets Wet.


Resistance and resistivity. Factors affecting resistance in a conducting wire.


Conductors vs. insulators

Best electrical conductors: silver, copper, gold, aluminum, calcium, beryllium,


Resistivity and conductivity are reciprocals.

Conductivity in metals is a statistical/thermodynamic quantity.

Resistivity is determined by the scattering of electrons. The more scattering, the

higher the resistance.


Where …

σ = electrical conductivity
n = density of free electrons
e = charge of an electron
me = mass of an electron
vrms = root-mean-square speed of electrons
ℓ = mean free path length

Where does this idea belong? Nichrome was invented in 1906, which made electric
toasters possible.

Conducting polymers.

Resistivity of Selected Materials (~300 K)

(Note the difference in units between metals and nonmetals.)
metals ρ (nΩ·m) nonmetals ρ (Ω·m)
aluminum 26.5 aluminum oxide (14 °C) 1 × 1014
brass 64 aluminum oxide (300 °C) 3 × 1011
chromium 126 aluminum oxide (800 °C) 4 × 106
copper 17.1 carbon, amorphous 0.35
gold 22.1 carbon, diamond 2.7
iron 96.1 carbon, graphite 650 × 10−9
lead 208 germanium 0.46
lithium 92.8 pyrex 7740 40,000
mercury (0 °C) 941 quartz 75 × 1016
manganese 1440 silicon 640
nichrome 1500 silicon dioxide (20 °C) 1 × 1013
nickel 69.3 silicon dioxide (600 °C) 70,000
palladium 105.4 silicon dioxide (1300 °C) 0.004
platinum 105 water, liquid (0 °C) 861,900
plutonium 1414 water, liquid (25 °C) 181,800
silver 15.9 water, liquid (100 °C) 12,740
solder 150
steel, plain 180
steel, stainless 720
tantalum 131
tin (0 °C) 115
titanium (0 °C) 390
tungsten 52.8
uranium (0 °C) 280
zinc 59


The general rule is resistivity increases with increasing temperature in conductors and
decreases with increasing temperature in insulators. Unfortunately there is no simple
mathematical function to describe these relationships.

The temperature dependence of resistivity (or its reciprocal, conductivity) can only be
truly understood with quantum mechanics. In the same way that matter is an assembly
of microscopic particles called atoms and a beam of light is a stream of microscopic
particles called photons, thermal vibrations in a solid are a swarm of microscopic
particles called phonons. The electrons are trying to drift toward the positive terminal
of the battery, but the phonons keep crashing into them. The random direction of these
collisions disturbs the attempted organized motion of the electrons against the electric
field. The deflection or scattering of electrons with phonons is one source of
resistance. As temperature rises, the number of phonons increases and with it the
likelihood that the electrons and phonons will collide. Thus when temperature goes
up, resistance goes up.

For some materials, resistivity is a linear function of temperature.

ρ = ρ0(1 + α(T − T0))

The resistivity of a conductor increases with temperature. In the case of copper, the
relationship between resistivity and temperature is approximately linear over a wide
range of temperatures.

For other materials, a power relationship works better.

ρ = ρ0(T ∕ T0)μ

The resistivity of a conductor increases with temperature. In the case of tungsten, the
relationship between resistivity and temperature is best described by a power

see also: superconductivity






dielectric breakdown



A carbon microphone is a backward nothing

Microphones and How They Work

sounds produce which cause which result in
changes in … changes in … changes in …
carbon granule density resistance voltage
condenser plate separation capacitance voltage
dynamic coil location flux voltage
piezoelectric compression polarization voltage


• bullet



1. A standard 60 W 120 V light bulb has a tungsten filament that is

53.3 cm long and 46 μm in diameter.
a. What is the light bulb's operating resistance?
b. Determine the cross sectional area of the filament.
c. Determine the resistivity of tungsten.
d. How does the resistivity calculated above compare to the value
quoted in standard reference tables? Why are these two values so
e. How can a 53.3 cm filament fit into a light bulb that is only a
few centimeters wide?

Solutions …

f. Answer it.
g. Answer it.
h. Answer it.
i. Answer it.
j. Answer it.
2. Write something.

o Answer it.
2. Write something.
o Answer it.
3. Write something completely different.
o Answer it.


1. Given a wire with a resistance R, what will be the new resistance if …

a. the wire is cut in half and only one half is used to conduct
b. the wire is folded in half and both halves are used to conduct
2. A tungsten rod and an aluminum rod have the same length and
a. What is the ratio of the cross sectional area of the tungsten rod
to the aluminum rod?
b. What is the ratio of the diameter of the tungsten rod to the
aluminum rod?

1. A power transmission cable is composed of 37 strands of aluminum

wire, each 4.0 mm in diameter. The cable is 100 m long and is used to deliver
300 A of current to a commercial power user. Determine …
a. the total cross sectional area of the cable,
b. the resistance of the cable, and
c. the power lost in the cable before it reaches the user.
2. You have decided to build an 800 W 120 V, two slot toaster for your
a. How much 25 gauge (0.455 mm diameter) nichrome wire will
you need?
b. Approximately how many times should the wire be folded so
that both sides of each slice of bread will be toasted evenly? (Assume
that a typical slice of bread is a 12 cm square.)
3. Which dry pasta offers more resistance to the flow of electricity?

o spaghetti lunghi, an extra long variety of string-like pasta,

50 cm long, 1.55 mm in diameter
o capelli d'angelo: a very fine hair-like pasta, 25 cm long,
0.965 mm in diameter

Assume that both pastas are made from durum semolina wheat prepared under
identical conditions.

2. What is the resistance of a roll of 100 pennies? To simplify

calculations, assume the pennies are made entirely of copper.
o If you use American pennies, assume they were minted before
1982. Pennies minted after 1982 have a zinc core in a copper jacket.
o If you use Canadian pennies, assume they were minted before
1996. Pennies minted after 1996 have a zinc or nickel-steel core in a
copper jacket.
3. An electric power distribution cable is made of multiple strands of
aluminum and steel wire as shown in the diagram below.

4. The diameters are 2.00 mm and 1.33 mm for the aluminum and steel
strands, respectively. Determine the resistance for one kilometer of this
cable …

a. assuming that each strand is straight

b. assuming that each aluminum strand is wound with a 16° pitch

4. What dimensions should a 50 nm aluminum film have to yeld a

resistance of 40 Ω?


1. zero-the-meters.txt
A group of students were assigned the task of testing various off the shelf
resistors. They were told to gradually increase the voltage across the resistor
and measure both the voltage and the current. Unfortunately, they wired the
meters in backward and forgot to zero them before taking measurements. The
situation is not all that bad, however. Using a spreadsheet program or other
similar data analysis software …
a. repair the voltage and current data to compensate for the
students' errors,
b. construct a graph from the repaired voltage and current data,
c. determine the resistance of the resistor to the nearest ohm.


• conducting polymers
o 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, "for the discovery and
development of conductive polymers"
• miscellaneous
o Toaster Museum Foundation