Difference between TVS and Zener Diodes

Transient Voltage Suppressors (TVS) and Zener diodes are both used to absorb excess energy and protect your circuit from damage when voltage levels spike above the device’s clamping voltage. What’s the difference between them?

  • Zener diodes are used to make the voltage more stable. They act as a regulator as well as a protective device.

  • TVS diode is intended to prevent high voltage transients such as Surge and ESD damaging.

Comparing the two, TVS diodes have a faster response time (ns level) and a higher surge current absorbing ability, making them more suited to instant circuit protection against transient voltage spikes. When a TVS diode suffers from high transient voltage, the diode’s resistance changes from high to low very quickly, absorbing the transient current and protecting your delicate downstream devices. Then the voltage is clamped down to a fixed value to prevent high peak voltage from damaging your protected chips.