12 Main Difference between PLC and Relay Based Controller | Advantages

12 Main Difference between PLC and Relay Based Controller | Advantages

In the latest tutorial, I am describing hardware and software controlling system. When I published the PLC tutorials on our DipsLab.com blog, some of the readers asked this basic question,

What is the difference between PLC and Relay?

Thus, I decided to write this tutorial on this topic. In this tutorial, I am explaining each and every point considering the difference between them, the advantages of PLC over relay and vice-versa.

Introduction to Relay and PLC

Dive into some of the basic questions and doubts most of us we have…

What is Relay?

A relay is an electro-mechanical operator switch. In the earlier days, different types of relays are used for electric protection/controlling system.

It is a hardware switching device are control the electrical circuit by using switching logic.

Major Disadvantage of Relay:

The main disadvantage is, the relay needs more wiring for performing different functions.

What is PLC?

Now a day, Programmable Logic Control (PLC) is a mini computerized industrial controller that controls the circuit.

In PLC, The basic concept of an electronic controlling system is to convert simulate the functional logic into software for automation. So, it provides a software-based solution.

Is Relay same as PLC?

For the controlling electro-mechanical system, basic functions of both Relays and PLCs are the same in the industries.

Then why PLC?

What is the advantage of PLC over Relay?

If we compare the relay with PLC, PLC systems perform better in terms of work, accuracy. PLC requires less time, less wiring.

PLC is easy to maintain. There will not be much physical work. PLC has more advanced functions as compared to manual work (hardware relay-base).

These are the main reasons, why the industries are shifting to use PLCs over the relay.

Now, let’s start understanding the working, different functions, and operations of both PLC and Relay in detail…

Top 12 Difference Between PLC and Relay Based Controller

Comparing PLC vs Relay tablewise…

Sr. No. Contents PLC  Relay
1 Device Representations Programmable Logic Control (PLC) is a solid state computerized industrial controller that performs software logic by using i/o, CPU, memory. Relay is an electro-mechanical switching hardware device (Hardware Switching Device).
2 Playing Role PLC plays monitoring as well as controlling role in designing circuit. Relay plays only controlling role in the designing circuit. Monitoring is not so easy with a relay.
3 Working In the PLC, we can write the program. In the Relay, we cannot write the program.
4 Operation PLC is operated on the digital system. Relay is operated on the analog system.
5 Function PLC consists of more programming functions like timer, counter, memory, etc. Relay gives only one fault detection function. And it does not have much-advanced functionalities.
6 Modification You can easily modify the designing circuit. Modification of the electronic circuit is more difficult as compared to PLC.
7 I/O Capacity PLC have more capabilities of inputs and outputs. The relay does not have more capabilities.
8 Flexibility PLC provides more flexibility than the relay. The relay provides less flexibility.
9 Fault Detection You can easily find the fault by using the software. It is very hard to find fault in the Relay circuit.
10 Time Duration PLC have the time response of nearly 50 msec and above.  Relays have less than 10 msec response time.
11 Type Of Device

There are two types of PLC as,

  1. Compact PLC
  2. Modular PLC


Following the list of types of relay

  1. Electromagnetic Relay
  2. Thermal Relay
  3. Induction Relay
12 Picture
(How does it look?)

From this tutorial, I cleared the 12 difference point between them. You find few similarities as both are used as controller. But, they are different from working, operations point of view. This also shows the advantages of PLC over programmable Relay.

If you have any point or queries over the difference between plc and relay, please comment.

Related Read: In 11 point have mentioned compact and modular PLC. Learn the difference between them in detail. This tutorial has covered all description, feature, function, advantage, etc.

Happy PLC Learning!

2 thoughts on “12 Main Difference between PLC and Relay Based Controller | Advantages”

  1. It sure is good to now that PLC programming is a software-based solution that helps us to simulate functional logic for software automation. I think businesses would be able to benefit in these types of automation systems in order to make increase their productivity and cut down on handling time because of the speed that comes with the software. Thanks for educating me about the benefits of PLC programming.

    • Most welcome, Florence Welch! Yup, PLC is important in the automation system. Especially, it is benefits to consuming additional manpower, time, utility, easy programming and accurate operation in the system. And the most benefit is, it gives a precise operation with less time consumption.

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