Electronic – Side effects of using large resistances


Are there any problems that can be caused by using resistors of large resistances (in the order of megaohms)?

I'm designing a feedback network that is just a voltage divider, and I want the feedback to drain as little current as possible from the circuit. The only thing that matters is the ratio between the resistors. So my question is: is there any reason why one would pick, for example, resistors of 1 and 10 Ohms instead of 1 and 10 MOhms?

Best Answer

There are many drawbacks to both low and high values alike.

The ideal values will fall in between very large and very small for most applications.

A larger resistor of same type will, for example, create more noise (by itself and through small induced noise currents) than a smaller one, though that may not always be important to you.

A smaller resistor will drain more current and create more losses, as you have surmised yourself.

A larger resistor will create a higher error with the same leakage current. If your feedback pin in the middle of your resistors leaks 1 μA when the resistor feeding that leak is 1 MOhm, that will translate to an error of 1V, while a 10k resistor will translate to an error of 10mV.

Of course, if the leakage is in the order of several nA or less, you might not care much about the error a 1 MOhm resistor creates. But you might, depending on what exactly you are designing.

Smaller resistors in feedback systems, e.g. with inverting amplifiers using op-amps, may cause errors on the incoming signal if the incoming signal is relatively weak.

It's all checks and balances, and if that's not enough information at this point, you might want to ask a more direct question about specifically what you are doing. With schematics and that.