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Where can you buy electronic components?

July 12, 2019 article

So you have decided to get a bit more into electronics. Great! But where should you buy the electronic components that are needed for a project? How do you find them? Where do you get the best deal?

In this week's article, we will go through common resources for electronic components, and by the end of this article you will have a good idea where you should buy that last missing component for your next cool project!


In order to make this article (hopefully) as useful as possible, I decided to split it into two parts:

  • In the first part, we will go through different distributors and companies where you can buy electronic components. (Your favorite one is missing? Get in touch and let me know!) Read this part if you don't really know what is out there and want to get some general idea.
  • In the second part, we will instead look at electronic components. Where should you buy resistors? Where should you buy your breadboards? Depending on the specific component, the answer might surprise you :)

Okay, enough chit chat, let's get to it!

What suppliers are out there?

I think everybody knows Amazon. Perhaps too many people know Amazon. As electronics gets more popular, you can find an astonishing amount of electronics products there.

  • carry many common components and products
  • reviews are helpful to determine if a product is good or not
  • don't offer specialized components
  • typically don't offer single components (as in: one capacitor, one resistor)

Ebay can be a gold mine for cheap components or hard-to-find electronics.

  • have almost everything
  • seller feedback is useful to find reputable sellers
  • supply is not guaranteed
  • shipping time varies, especially for overseas purchases

Reputable vendors, such as Mouser or Digikey, are where companies purchase their electronics components in bulk, but they also sell individual items to individuals.

  • reliable, reputable vendors
  • carry almost everything
  • always have datasheets for each component
  • shipping can be expensive
  • older, discontinued products are very expensive
  • it can be hard to find exactly the component you need because of the large inventory

AliExpress, Banggood, and similar websites can be useful for electronics hobbyists for their cheap products.

  • very cheap
  • carry unusual products (LED arrays, screens, ...)
  • shipping takes long (> 1 month)
  • quality can be quite poor

Adafruit, SparkFun and similar websites are tailored to hobbyists who want to learn electronics.

  • products are well documented
  • oriented towards beginners
  • products are a bit pricy
  • product range is limited

Alright, that concludes the list of vendors. If I forgot some really important ones (I am almost sure that I did), please get in touch and I will do my best to add whatever I forgot!

What component to buy where

Now that we know what vendors are out there, we can think about what to buy where. As it turns out, it depends!

  • a few resistors or capacitors of a certain value
  • a special chip
  • a long list of different parts, but only a few each
  • Mouser, Digikey are your best bet. You get exactly what you want, and if it is for more than one project the relative shipping costs are not too high.
  • around 10-20 pieces of a capacitor or resistor for future projects
  • a bunch of different colored LEDs
  • standard transistors, voltage regulators
  • Consider buying a kit on Amazon or Ebay. These come with 10-20 pieces at many values. Very useful when you get started in electronics to build an inventory.
  • breadboards
  • breadboard power supplies
  • breadboard jumpers
  • Amazon
  • Adafruit, SparkFun (if on sale)
  • Don't buy these components with Mouser or Digikey, they are away too expensive there.
  • a lot of LEDs, say 5,000, for a special project
  • Amazon (but can be too expensive for really large quantities)
  • Ebay
  • AliExpress, Banggood
  • Mouser and Digikey offer discounts for large quantities, but 1000 is not considered very large by companies.
  • tools
  • Amazon (if the product has good reviews you can usually trust it)
  • None of the above, maybe go to your local hardware store.
  • power supplies, test equipment (multimeters, oscilloscopes)
  • Mouser and Digikey can be expensive, but are the safest option.
  • Amazon can have good deals, especially for no-name products. Check the reviews before buying.
  • You can find bargains on Ebay, if you are willing to pick up used equipment. Make sure you are eligible for returns.
  • a special project for beginners
  • Adafruit, SparkFun, or similar websites.
  • This can be the easiest option, but by no means the cheapest. Maybe invest a few hours of research and you can save quite a lot of money, especially if you are a teacher and want to order ten or more kits from them.

Final thoughts

So the short answer is: it depends. I hope this doesn't disappoint or frustrate you. Instead, I think it shows that you can almost always find exactly what you want. And you can find the deal that works for YOU :)

Please let me know if I forgot to mention something that you want to know, and I will do my best to add it here in the future! Thanks for reading!


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Tag Cloud

  • Amazon
  • Ebay
  • Mouser Electronics
  • Digikey
  • AliExpress
  • Banggood
  • Adafruit
  • SparkFun