NTC bead.jpg
Negative temperature coefficient (NTC) thermistor, bead type, insulated wires
Working principleElectric resistance
Electronic symbol
Thermistor symbol

A thermistor is a type of resistor whose resistance is strongly dependent on temperature, more so than in standard resistors. The word is a combination of thermal and resistor. Thermistors are widely used as inrush current limiters, temperature sensors (negative temperature coefficient or NTC type typically), self-resetting overcurrent protectors, and self-regulating heating elements (positive temperature coefficient or PTC type typically).

Thermistors are of two opposite fundamental types:

  • With NTC thermistors, resistance decreases as temperature rises usually due to an increase in conduction electrons bumped up by thermal agitation from valency band. An NTC is commonly used as a temperature sensor, or in series with a circuit as an inrush current limiter.
  • With PTC thermistors, resistance increases as temperature rises usually due to increased thermal lattice agitations particularly those of impurities and imperfections. PTC thermistors are commonly installed in series with a circuit, and used to protect against overcurrent conditions, as resettable fuses.

Thermistors are generally produced using powdered metal oxides.[1] With vastly improved formulas and techniques over the past 20 years[when?], NTC thermistors can now achieve accuracies over wide temperature ranges such as ±0.1 °C or ±0.2 °C from 0 °C to 70 °C with excellent long-term stability. NTC thermistor elements come in many styles [2] such as axial-leaded glass-encapsulated (DO-35, DO-34 and DO-41 diodes), glass-coated chips, epoxy-coated with bare or insulated lead wire and surface-mount, as well as rods and discs. The typical operating temperature range of a thermistor is −55 °C to +150 °C, though some glass-body thermistors have a maximal operating temperature of +300 °C.

Thermistors differ from resistance temperature detectors (RTDs) in that the material used in a thermistor is generally a ceramic or polymer, while RTDs use pure metals. The temperature response is also different; RTDs are useful over larger temperature ranges, while thermistors typically achieve a greater precision within a limited temperature range, typically −90 °C to 130 °C.[3]

  1. ^ "What is a Thermistor? How do thermistors work?". EI Sensor Technologies. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  2. ^ "Thermistors". EI Sensor Technologies. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  3. ^ "NTC Thermistors". Micro-chip Technologies. 2010.