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Barrier vs Isolator-Difference between Barrier and Isolator

This page compares Barrier vs Isolator and mentions difference between Barrier and Isolator. We will take example of zener barriers and galvanic isolators to provide difference between them.

These devices are used in intrinsic safe instruments and circuits. The barrier device reduces loop current below to safe level where it can not cause any spark. The isolator device is used to interface signals having different common mode voltages.

Following table mentions difference between zener barriers and galvanic isolators.


Barrier Isolator
Simple Complex with low MTBF value
Used where front end engineering demand is high Versatile It is used in application specific requirements.
It has low dissipation. It has high Dissipation(about 2 VA).
It is loop powered It has seperate power supply.
Used where restricted voltage is available in hazardous area. Used where higher voltage is available in hazardous and safe areas.
It has higher packing density. It has lower packing density.
It has lower cost. It has higher cost.
It has good frequency response. It has limited frequency response.
It has higher accuracy and linearity . It has lower accuracy and linearity .
It imposes zero volt level on the system. It provides complete Isolation between signals.
It is more vulnerable to lightning and other surges. It is less vulnerable to lightning and other surges.

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