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Difference between Electrical and Electronics

Electrical vs Electronics

To understand what these two types of devices do, lets look at a simple dictionary definition of the two terms. Electricity is defined as “of, relating to, producing, or operated by electricity” (1). On the other hand electronics is defined in the same dictionary as “the science dealing with the development and application of devices and systems involving the flow of electrons in a vacuum, in gaseous media, and in semiconductors” (2). From this one can infer that electrical has to do with anything that concerns with electricity whereas the term electronics is used when one is talking about the application of certain devices.

When talking about electrical and electronics devices, there is a difference in which these two behave. Electrical devices mainly change current into another form of energy such as heat or light. Electronics devices do the same thing but in addition they manipulate current in such a way so that it can do a particular task. For example resistors and capacitors are simple electrical devices. A fan is also an example of a simple electrical device that converts electrical energy into kinetic energy putting the fan in motion. Such a device is simple and does not require any manipulation of the current that is given to it. On the other hand, a thermostat is an example of an electronic device. Such a device is used to maintain the temperature of an environment. The thermostat senses the temperature and turns on or off a cooling or heating device as need be.
Another distinction between the two is that electronic devices can add meaningful data to the electrical current which flows through them whereas an electrical device does no such thing. For example, video devices working on electronics add images to electrical currents in order to produce movies (3).

Furthermore, the two types of devices differ in the way voltages are input to them. Electrical devices usually work with AC voltages, for example of about 230V. Contrarily, electronic devices usually work with DC voltages. Typically the range in which electronic devices operate are relatively low.

It should be noted that it is difficult to classify a single device as either electrical or electronic. To explain lets consider the example of a toaster. A toaster converts electrical energy into heat to warm up a piece of bread. This is the electrical part of the device. However, the same toaster can have heat settings and sensors to check when the toast has been heated to optimal level. This is the electronic part of the device. Usually, devices both have electrical and electronic components in them but it is important to know the difference between the two terms.


Electrical relates to producing or being operated by electricity where as electronic is commonly concerned with application of devices involving flow of electrons.
Electrical and electronics both convert current into another form of energy but electronic devices manipulate the current to produce useful results.
Electronic devices can manipulate data to assign meaning to it but electrical devices cannot.
Electrical devices are usually AC, while electronic devices are mostly DC.
Electrical devices generally work on much higher voltages as compared to electronic devices.

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References :

[0]"Electrical." Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. .
[1]"What Is the Difference between Electronic and Electrical Devices?" For Dummies. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. .
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