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Categories of electrical and electronic equipment

Electrical appliances are powered by an electrical current from a power source, while electronic appliances use numerous circuits and contain more complex systems. Would you like to know more? Let’s begin!

Before we consider the differences, it is a good idea to look at what they have in common.

Firstly, we talk about them in the same way, using the acronym EAE to signify both electrical and electronic devices.

Another feature that electrical and electronic devices share is that they use electrical current or electromagnetic fields as a power source. So, both use the same type of energy, but while the former convert it into another form of energy, the latter use it to process information.

They both form an intrinsic part of our lives. Every day, we use a host of electrical appliances. All our homes are full of them, starting with the kitchen, where most of these appliances are found, such as washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, food mixers, microwaves, food processors and coffee makers. Other electrical appliances commonly found in the home are televisions, routers, speakers, irons and self-care equipment like hair dryers. Our homes also contain items that we take everywhere with us, such as smartphones, wireless headphones and tablets.

As for electronic devices, although there may be fewer of these, they are still as vital and useful to us. Could we live without computers?

The fact that they are so commonplace and so essential to our daily lives, means that their useful life is limited and we generate a huge amount of waste containing these objects. This makes them a key target for recycling their renewable materials. Some say they offer three times more recycling opportunities than any other solid waste, so to avoid their negative impact on human health and the environment, we must make sure they are appropriately collected, handled and processed. For example, did you know that aluminium, copper and different metals extracted from refrigerators can be recycled and used again in production processes?

These days, recycling these types of device is no longer optional. Since 2018, most must now be recycled by law. As well as those already targeted by legislation, such as temperature exchange devices, monitors, screens, lamps, computer equipment and photovoltaic panels, others are being added such as lamps, plugs, sensors, controllers, motors, transformers and office consumables.

"For many of these devices recycling is not optional, but an obligation."

Types of electrical appliances

Although they all require a nominal voltage that does not exceed 1,000 volts in alternating current and 1,500 in direct current, we can still classify them into different categories, the main and most common of which is size.


Large household appliances.

We have already listed many of them, and it is easy to think of the largest ones. So as not to repeat ourselves, we would also mention heaters and radiators, ovens and air conditioning equipment. And we are not just talking about household objects, we are also referring to things such as gym equipment, medical devices for detecting and treating diseases and vending machines.


Small appliances.

As you can imagine, these are small items like electric razors and toothbrushes, toasters, lamps and children’s toys.


Types of electronic devices

There are several ways of classifying them. Let's look at these devices and how we can categorise them:


By internal structure.

Input devices. These are things like touch screens, keyboards, mice, etc.

Information processing devices. These include microchips, transistors, printed circuits or capacitors.

Output devices. Projector screens, printers, headphones, etc.


By components.

Independent. Some components are known as "discrete", and contain the simplest minimum units possible. These, in turn, can be passive if they do not transform the signals they receive, such as capacitors; or active if they amplify or reduce the signal, as happens with transistors.

Integrated. These are more complex circuits, since they are made up of the previous components as well as a board made of a semiconductor material that can be combined with or added to another circuit. There are also systems which are microscopic yet still complex, such as microchips. 

"Electronic devices can be classified by their internal structure and components."

Categories of EAE according to the Ministry of Industry

There is an official guide published by the Ministry of Industry that classifies electrical and electronic appliances into seven main groups.

  • Temperature exchange. All appliances that provide heat, such as radiators; or cold, such as refrigerators or air conditioners.
  • Monitors and screens. Devices with LCD technology, notebooks, laptops, televisions, monitors, etc.
  • Lamps. Fluorescent, discharge, sodium, metal halide and LED.
  • Larger than 50 cm. Large household appliances, music and image reproduction devices, computers, printers, photocopiers, certain healthcare equipment, etc.
  • Dimension less than 50 cm. Smaller devices typically used in a house such as those already mentioned, smoke detectors, heating regulators, thermostat, healthcare products, surveillance equipment, clocks, video cameras, radios, etc.
  • Small computer gadgets. Small devices, such as GPS, mobile phones or smart watches.
  • Photovoltaic panels. Larger than 50 cm.


Beware! Some are real energy guzzlers.

We recommend you switch off your electrical and electronic devices on overnight. In fact, a lot of them consume a lot of power even when they are on standby. Just look at the greediest appliances in your home!

Cable TV. Several studies have shown that these appliances are some of the highest consumers when left on standby. An LCD TV can consume half as much, but it will always consume far less when it is completely unplugged.

Computers Did you know that a laptop can consume up to 15 W in an hour? In the case of a desktop computer, the amount rises to almost 74 watts.

Music equipment. We know how nice it is to fall asleep listening to the radio, but you should be aware that keeping your stereo on increases its consumption to 14 W.

Coffee maker. Simply by keeping it plugged in, without using it, it is already consuming an average of 1 W per hour.

Console. When idle, your video game console uses about 23 W/h.

But is it really a waste of electricity?

Like most things, everything depends on numerous factors and appliances and devices are becoming increasingly efficient, so, in many cases, it may not be too noticable.

However, it is always a good idea to be aware of these things, not only to save money, but also to consume less electricity and to become more efficient and sustainable.

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