NPN vs PNP Transistor | Difference between PNP and NPN

The bipolar junction transistors exist as NPN and PNP types. This article intents to help you understand the difference between these two types and how to use them in a circuit. Also, this will be helpful to automation engineers and instrumentation engineers in understanding 3 wire sensor connections.

Transistors are made by combining two types of semiconductors: n-type and p-type. The n-type semiconductors carry electron donor atoms and p-type semiconductors carry electron acceptor atoms (holes).

NPN transistors: Contains two regions of n-type semiconductors with a p-type semiconductor in the middle.

PNP transistors: Contains two regions of p-type semiconductors with a n-type semiconductor in the middle.

Figure shows structures of NPN and PNP transistors and their symbols

A bipolar junction transistor is a current controlled device. The output of the BJT can be controlled by controlling the base current.

NPN vs PNP: Difference in connection

The major difference between NPN and PNP lies in the way it is used in the circuit. From the sensor point of view, sensors with NPN output configuration acts as sinking output and those with PNP output configuration acts as sourcing output.

Source vs sink connection- NPN vs PNP

Read More: Digital I/O and Analog I/O

Comparison of NPN and PNP transistors

Terminal PolarityEmitter – Negative
Base – Positive
Collector – Positive
Emitter – Positive
Base – Negative
Collector – Negative
Load ConnectionLoad is connected between positive and the collector.Load is connected between emitter and ground.
Direction of conventional currentThe direction of conventional current flow is from the collected to the emitter.The direction of conventional current flow is from the emitter to collector.

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