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I'd like to buy new resistors for breadboarding with my Arduino Uno. There are 0.25W, 0.4W, 0.6W, 1W, 2W, 3W, 5W, 10W resistors in the shop. What is the most suitable for this operation?

  • I know this has been answered, but would you care to elaborate? What is it you're trying to do? Which resistors are you wanting to replace, and why? – Madivad Dec 14 '15 at 17:23
  • I'm building a morse transmitter/reciever, you can find a discussion about it here and here. I don't want to replace my current resistors just buying some I don't have in my repertoire 100R, 500R, 1K. I'm buying 0,25W ones, because it's enough according to the equation P=U*U/R=5*5/100=0,25, 100R is the smallest I'll buy. It is not all for the current project, but for the future. I gladly hear your opinion too. – adtewa Dec 14 '15 at 19:27
  • lol, no worries. I thought the question was a bit odd :) – Madivad Dec 14 '15 at 23:00
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The answer is: It depends what you want to use them for.

You need a wattage that is higher than the power it will dissipate. What that power is depends on what you are doing with them. There are standard formulae that tell you the power in any given situation.

For instance, if you know the current and the resistance you can use: P=I²×R. If you know the voltage across the resistor it's P=V²÷R.

Take as an example the common resistor for an LED. Assume a 2V LED and a 220 ohm resistor. With a 5V total voltage the voltage across the resistor would be 5-2=3V. So the power would be (3²)/220 = 9/220 = 0.041W so you could quite happily use a 0.125w (⅛w) resistor for that job.

To be honest though most common Arduino jobs can be accommodated by ⅛W or ¼W resistors. ¼W is better for breadboarding since the leads are fatter than ⅛W, but ⅛W can take two leads at once direct into an Arduino's headers. Also if you fold the leads in half and squash them with pliers they fit better.

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  • Thanks. That equation is really useful. I calculated and it seems 0,25W is good for what I'm going to do. Also there are no 1/8 resistors in the shop. – adtewa Dec 10 '15 at 21:57
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Go with 1/4 Watt resistors but be prepared to use 1/2 Watts if the leads don't press down cleanly into the breadboard which is what I think you are asking about. If you need anything in the higher wattage range and you are working with an Arduino, then you are doing it wrong. An Arduino could not smoke a 1/4 watt if it tried.

I have fought for years with our purchasing agent over this at the college I work for. He buys 1/8th watt resistor in bulk, but fails to heed the advice that you cannot use these on standard classroom breadboard without bending the leads at best and failing to even make a good connection at worst. You need reliable connections and 1/8th and smaller are useless on breadboards. Just my two cents from years and years of experience.

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The smaller the better for the most part. On 1/4 or 1/8 W resistors the leads size is small enough to work well in bread boards. Rarely do you need to dissipate large amounts of power so 1/8 is a good size for logic, maybe 1/4-1/2 for power supply areas. See Majenko's answer for the heavy math, mostly applicable in power supply areas as he points out.

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    1/8 watt resistor leads are typically too small for easy breadboarding. Even some modern 1/4 watt resistors have thin soft leads, though that was the traditional size mechanically speaking. – Chris Stratton Dec 9 '15 at 0:21
  • Hmm, I'll have to check that the one's I'm calling 1/8 really are. They are very easy to work with and the leads are much more "breadboard friendly." – dlu Dec 11 '15 at 0:52

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