Free cookie consent management tool by TermsFeed Blog - What is the Difference Between Electrical and Power Electronics? | Redline Group Ltd

What is the Difference Between Electrical and Power Electronics?

close up of Electronic Circuit Board

Electronics, electrical, and power electronics—such similar-sounding words are easily mixed up and confused with each other. But are they one and the same?

While these branches of the engineering world have plenty of commonalities and areas where they overlap, they aren’t interchangeable phrases. In fact, they diverge from each other in a few key ways.

Let’s explore the similarities, differences, and practical applications of both electrical and power electronics and answer some of the most common questions about both. That way, you can get a clearer grasp on whether a career in electronics or electrical engineering is for you.

What is the difference between electronics, electrical, and power electronics?

Before moving into the more nuanced applications of electrical and power electronics, let’s start with some straightforward definitions:

What are Electronics?

Electronics is the marriage of engineering and physics, involving the study of behaviour of electrons within solid-state devices. Electronics deals with devices with low voltage and current ratings, such as smartphones, radios, computers, and TVs.

Within electronics, there are two fundamental branches: Analogue electronics and digital electronics, each concerning their own respective devices.

  • Analog electronics deals with continuous signals, usually as a varying voltage or current. Common analog electronic devices include audio amplifiers, radio receivers, and microphones.
  • Digital electronics involves the use of discrete, quantized values to represent information (binary digits or bits, which can take on one of two possible states: 0 or 1), while everyday examples of digital electronic devices include tablets, digital cameras, MP3 players, and gaming consoles.

What is the difference between electrical and electronics?

The word ‘electrical’ concerns anything that is related to electricity, which is basically anything that carries a charge. Electronics has to do with devices that are powered by small electrical systems. Truly, they aren’t two different things; electronics is simply a branch of electrical engineering.

Electrical engineering is the application and management of electricity, electronics and magnetic fields, including things like power systems, transmission systems, and electronic systems. These systems use electronic devices that rely on electrical systems, with elements such as resistors, capacitors and transistors, for example.

What is power electronics?

Power electronics is a branch of electrical engineering that deals with the control and conversion of electrical power, to efficiently manipulate the flow of electrical energy. Power electronics overlap greatly with electronics, with the additional element of high-power electrical engineering.

Electronics and power electronics relate to similar devices; the distinction lies with the devices’ respective voltage and current ratings (in short, electronics relates to low-voltage devices and power electronics relates to high-voltage devices). Power electronic devices change voltage levels, current levels, or frequency. Common types of power converters include AC to DC converters, DC to AC converters (inverters), and DC to DC converters.

Transformers, semiconductors, control circuits, and inverters are all examples of power electronics devices. Today’s electric cars utilise power electronics to enable the car’s driving functions and to charge its battery.

Key aspects of power electronics include:

  1. Power conversion – convert electrical power from one form to another
  2. Switching devices – diodes, transistors, and thyristors control the flow
  3. Control systems – maintaining desired output characteristics
  4. Motor drives – controlling speed and torque of electric motors
  5. Renewable energy – such as solar inverters and wind turbine converters
  6. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) – Inverters convert stored DC energy (usually from batteries) into AC power.

What are some advantages of power electronics? 

The primary advantage of power electronics is that it enables engineers to work with high voltage and high current systems and configure them to operate at their most efficient level. 

By converting AC to DC power with very low losses, power electronics increase energy efficiency while maintaining stable, reliable power to electronic systems and devices. Considering the growing industry trend towards sustainable electronics, this is an advantage of power electronics that can’t be understated.

Compared with electronics where noise and distortion are high, power electronics has significantly lower noise and distortion.

What are the positive impacts of electrical engineering on society? 

From the power systems in smart cities to the AI technology on your smartphone, electrical engineers maintain the systems that are at the forefront of the global technology revolution.

Electrical engineers use their knowledge of electrical principles, mathematics, physics, and engineering design to solve problems, such as designing the circuitry that lights up the world’s buildings, developing groundbreaking medical tools such as artificial pacemakers and limbs, and pushing forth the inventions in computing that have changed the very foundations of our society.

Innovation, design, and maintenance are all essential functions of an electrical engineer that not only impact the everyday functions of society but further its evolution on a grand scale.

Is electrical and power electronics a good field to work in? 

The field is continually evolving as advancements are made in semiconductor technology, control algorithms, and new applications emerge in the ever-expanding landscape of energy and electronics. If you’re logical, detail-oriented, and interested in work that impacts our world in significant ways, then you need to look no further than the field of electrical and power electronics.

Redline changes lives every day, and an expert in recruiting electrical and power electronics engineers—and is deeply committed to candidate care. Discover the electronics and electrical engineering jobs available today and let us help you find the perfect match for your interests and skills. Contact us on 01582 450054 or email


Fill out the form below to let us know about a vacancy you would like us to advertise for you.

Click here


Register your details to access the latest vacancies, create job alerts and much more.