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They are mainly used in protection circuits or as crude voltage regulators. Let us see how we can select one for your application.
One is the Zener Voltage and the other is Power dissipation. The Zener voltage is the voltage which appears across the Zener diode when a higher reverse potential voltage is applied to it. In regulator circuits it is this voltage Zener voltage which will be regulated and in protection circuit it is this voltage Zener voltage more than which the circuit is protected.
The power dissipation decides the amount of current that can flow through the diode. Higher the power dissipation higher the current can flow. How to use a Zener Diode As said a Zener diode will mostly be used in a protection circuits or in a crude voltage regulator circuits.
Either way, it is important to remember that a Zener diode should always be used along with a Zener resistor. A Zener resistor is nothing but an ordinary resistor which is used for current limiting purpose.
This resistor decides limits the amount of current that can flow through the Zener diode or through the load connected to Zener diode; this was the Zener diode is protected from high current.
If this resistor is not used the diode will be damaged due to high current. A simple Zener diode circuit is shown below.
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