Choke vs. Inductor: What’s the Difference?

Choke vs. Inductor: What’s the Difference?

At MPS Industries, we specialize in manufacturing high-quality magnetic parts for automotive, medical, power distribution, and more. We’re ISO 9001:2015 certified, and we prioritize quality engineering practices to create products our clients can trust in critical applications, including inductors and chokes.

Both chokes and inductors can deliver and modify electrical current. However, inductors are generally used to sense, filter, or transform electrical current. They store that energy as a magnetic field around their inbuilt insulated coil. Chokes, on the other hand, are a specific type of inductor that restricts the flow of high-frequency AC and only allows DC through to downstream parts within an electrical system. Learn more about the differences between the two and how to determine the best fit for your needs.

What Is a Choke?

Chokes, a subtype of an inductor, are designed to restrict or control the flow of electrical current passing through its coil and core, which consists of a magnetic core wrapped in a wire insulated coil or a donut-shaped ferrite bead strung on a wire. Primarily, they prevent the flow of alternating current (AC). This component ensures only direct current (DC) passes through and reaches subsequent components. Because of this core functionality, chokes are typically used for protection. If they precede insulative components, they can increase the insulation’s longevity by blocking high-frequency alternating currents and sharp fluctuations in current levels. Chokes only allow a flow of more controllable (and thereby less damaging) current to pass through. They can also act as a check on certain systems.

Series 3 Phase Common Mode Choke
Chokes can be designed for optimal performance in different types of environments, such as high-speed applications, circuits with next to no grounding components, electrical circuitry that may face disruption from noise, signal mixing, and other complications. They’re also commonly used in power supplies and direct current power lines.

What Is an Inductor?

Inductors represent a wide array of different electrical components that can change, filter, store, and otherwise interact with electrical current. While chokes can restrict current and protect downstream components from overload, inductors are also valued for their storage capabilities. They also have a magnetic coil, which, properly energized by electrical current, generates and holds a magnetic field. These components can be large, often the largest component in a circuit, and can come in a wide range of shapes and sizes to meet the needs of a specific electrical system.
Series Power Inductor
Common use cases for inductors include:

  • Filters: Inductors can restrict the flow of current and allow only certain ranges of electricity through to downstream components.
  • Energy storage: Inductors store energy by generating and holding a magnetic field.
  • Transformers: Inductors can be combined to create a transformer which transfers energy from one to subsequent multiple or singular circuits. They can change the voltage as the electricity is transferred from circuit to circuit, but the frequency won’t change.
  • Motors: Inductors convert electrical and magnetic energy into physical motive force.
  • Sensors: Inductors detect changes in electrical current through its impact on the inductor’s magnetic field.

Chokes vs. Inductors: The Main Differences

Because chokes and inductors share many core attributes and applications, it can be difficult to know which one best serves a specific application. The key differences between chokes and inductors are:

  • Magnetic Field: Inductors can generate and hold magnetic fields as a form of temporary energy storage, often to switch power supplies and energizing circuits. Chokes do not.
  • Purpose: Chokes remove AC and only allow DC to filter through. Inductors can also provide this functionality, along with signal filtering; however, the inductor is then considered a choke when used for that purpose.

Before choosing the component for your design or system, determine its primary function and then select the best inductor or choke for those circumstances.

Chokes and Inductors From MPS Industries

When choosing high-quality electrical components, it is critical to know which components best serve your application. MPS Industries is a leading provider of inductors, chokes, and other electrical components that manufacturers can trust in their products and installations. Contact us today to learn more about our selection of inductors and chokes, as well as our manufacturing capabilities.

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