A varistor (a.k.a. voltage-dependent resistor (VDR)) is a surge protecting electronic component with an electrical resistance that varies with the applied voltage. It has a nonlinear, non-ohmic current–voltage characteristic that is similar to that of a diode. Unlike a diode however, it has the same characteristic for both directions of traversing current. Traditionally, varistors were indeed constructed by connecting two rectifiers, such as the copper-oxide or germanium-oxide rectifier in antiparallel configuration. At low voltage the varistor has a high electrical resistance which decreases as the voltage is raised. Modern varistors are primarily based on sintered ceramic metal-oxide materials which exhibit directional behavior only on a microscopic scale. This type is commonly known as the metal-oxide varistor (MOV).
Varistors are used as control or compensation elements in circuits either to provide optimal operating conditions or to protect against excessive transient voltages