How To Select an Inductor

When I was working on the the latest version of the Common Parts Library, I realized that it would be helpful to explain why you might pick one type of inductor over another. We started off this series by writing “How to select a capacitor,” followed by “How to select a resistor,” and are continuing with a close look at inductors.

How To Select an Inductor

In this blog, we will explain all the different types of inductors, their merits and demerits, and their popular applications. We have included some recommendations for commonly used inductor series with high supply chain availability from the new Common Parts Library, which includes parts from the Shenzhen supply chain via Seeed Studio’s Open Parts Library.

Let’s dive into the world of inductors:


Inductors are two-terminal components used for filtering, timing and power electronics applications. They store energy in the form of magnetic fields as long as a current is flowing. Inductors oppose a change in current by inducing an electromotive force (or e.m.f) according to Lenz’s Law. The inductor can be approximated as an open circuit for AC signals and as a short circuit for DC signals.  The unit of inductance is Henry (H) .   There are four main factors that affect the amount of inductance of an inductor: the number of turns in the coil, coil area, coil length and core material. When inductors have a magnetic core made up of a ferromagnetic material it results in higher inductance. However, inductors with a magnetic core have losses such as hysteresis and eddy currents. There are several parameters that are important to keep in mind while selecting an inductor:

  • Q factor, or Quality Factor, refers to the ratio of an inductor’s reactance to effective resistance. This value is frequency dependent and test frequency is often specified in datasheets. Q factor impacts the sharpness of the center frequency in an LC circuit. Usually, a high value of Q factor is preferred.

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