13 Difference Between Relay and Contactor

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The relay and contactor are electromechanical protective devices. These two devices work for the switchgear and protection power system.

Both devices are widely used for the same purpose-

  • to perform circuit switching operations during abnormal circuitry conditions
  • and to protect the connected device from hazardous situations.

These are the basic roles to perform the circuit switching task. Under the working role and other specifications, these two components can be differentiated.

In this article, we are studying the difference between relay and contactor.

Let’s compare both.

Relay vs Contactor [in Tabular form]

01What are the relay and contactor? A relay is a protection device that operates and controls low-power signals. A contactor is an overload protection device that operates and controls high-power signals.
02ConstructionUsually, it is assembled in the control circuit.It is assembled in the main circuit (i.e. both control and power circuits).
03Inbuilt FunctionThe relay is designed to operate with normally open (NO) contact or normally closed (NC) contact at specific requirements of the system.The contactor is designed to operate only normally open (NO) contact.
04Voltage CapacityThis device is rated for low and medium voltage i.e up to 250V.This device is rated for high voltage i.e. up to 1000V.
05Current CapacityIt has a less current-carrying capacity i.e. below 15A.It has a more current-carrying capacity i.e. above15A.
06Power ConsumptionThe relay consumes low power. The contactor consumes more power.
07Power SourceThis device is suitable for a single-phase AC system.This device is suitable for a single-phase or three-phase AC system.
08Switching SpeedIt has a high switching speed. It has a low switching speed.
09FeaturesThis device does not contain additional safety features.This device contains additional safety features (such as spring-loaded contacts, arc suppression, overload, etc).
10WorkingIt works in the control loop.It works in the main loop.
11Cost The cost of the relay is low as compared to the contactor. The cost of the contactor is high as compared to the relay.
12SizeThe relay finds in a compact size than the contactor. Usually, the contactor finds in a larger size than the relay.
13Uses (or Applications)It is commonly used in industrial automation (for PLC systems), automobile, and other domestic applications (for example- electric motors, telephones, railway lines, etc).It is commonly used in commercial and heavy load applications (for example- electrical transformers, induction motors, capacitor banks, etc.)

These are the basic difference between relay and contactor. This comparison covers the advantages (or pros) and disadvantages (or cons) of both.

If you have any queries or points to add, you can comment below.

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