Having learnt the science, the next question may be how they are used in a practical setting. Comparators are a very versatile tool and can be used in a range of ways, the first of these being a zero crossing detector. This device is used for the purpose of tracking the sine waveform (a waveform that moves up and down) as it moves between a negative and positive voltage current. They are commonly used in the monitoring of power circuits, as well as in modems and other household devices.
Another way that comparators can be used is in relaxation oscillators. These devices can be found in indicators, blinking lights and even inverters and their purpose is to output a repeating signal. The waveform of this comparator is a triangle shape (and can sometimes be square-shaped) and is known as a non-sinusoidal periodic waveform.
A third way comparators can be used is in analogue to digital converters. These devices convert analogue signals to digital readings, as well as give a digital reading on a voltage current. Due to their versatility, they are used in a wide range of devices, such as mobile phones, mobile applications, audio devices and image devices, such as digital cameras.
They are also used in window detectors. These detectors make use of two comparators. Their outputs flow into an AND logic gate, to measure currents and detect unknown patterns. These detectors are primarily used in safety equipment such as industrial alarms, product testing on a production line and level sensors. They are also present in digital computers.
A final way to use a comparator is in a null detector, also known as a null instrument. These devices are designed to detect a null voltage in a device, and can also be used in a similar way to a galvanometer, which measures the voltage or current in a device.