Drivers vs Controllers: Which should you use on your electric motor? 

If you want to control the electric motors on your ongoing robotic project, you are surely needing either a driver or a controller, or both of them. Distinguishing which and when to use will help you make those motors move the way you need them. However, it is smart to know their functions first, and a simple comparison will make sense afterward. 

Drivers vs Controllers: How do they work? 

Drivers are made to directly control the rotation of your motor. Controllers, on the other hand, are intended to process the communication needed for the motor to spin. When used together, drivers supply direct power to your motors, and controllers supply instructions to your drivers. You can infer that drivers can handle larger currents than controllers, but controllers can handle more complex instructions than drivers. Their parts and specs need to be compatible, with the motor included, when using them together. 

Drivers vs Controllers: What can you connect with them? 

Given that they can team up for better control, compatibility is still needed to be considered. Specific types of motors can only be connected to them like DC motors, servo motors, and stepper motors. However, their inputs and outputs are also different, to the point that each must be used appropriately. 

Drivers vs Controllers: I/O connections 

How do you want to control your motor? This question easily separates the options, as the drivers have a simpler interface, and the controllers have techy I/O’s. The drivers are limited when you need complex controls such as USB, analog signal, RC, Serial, UART, or PWM. All of which are available when using controllers, which you may not need if you just want simple throttle control. 

Drivers vs Controllers: DC Motors 

A DC motor is efficiently controlled using an assembly of transistors called MOSFETs (or FETs), and an H-bridge assembly of four diodes. The FETs switch and supply power to the diodes, only two working at a time. These components work together to either drive or brake the DC motor, but they function differently in drivers and controllers. On drivers, they are the major parts, which 

means that they are capable of handling higher amounts of electric power. On a controller, they are only a portion of the circuit; so a controller can only power small DC motors. 

Drivers vs Controllers: Stepper Motors 

All stepper motors need a specific type of electric signal to work. Because of that, special drivers and controllers have used to power a stepper motor. However, stepper motors are usually bought together with drivers or controllers. Thus, the option left is whether connecting its driver to a PLC or using a standalone stepper motor with a controller. 

Drivers vs Controllers: Servo Motors 

Because of having several kinds, compatible drivers or controllers for servo motors can be rare when bought separately. However, because of having a feedback loop, servo motors are more complex to control like stepper motors. A good choice is to use a controller for your servo motor, but you can use drivers if you have the necessary knowledge about what you are doing. 

Drivers vs Controllers: The Verdict 

A controller is used for a more advanced, but more expensive and weaker option. On the other hand, a driver can be used for making your project move as it is a cheaper but a challenging option. If you need specific help for choosing items for your project, you can check details about motor controllers here. 

Hemant Kumar
Hemant Kumar is a project manager at Tridindia with more than nine years of commendable experience in writing about LMS, translation, and IT. His unmatched talent and passion for digital marketing gave him the opportunity to work as a multi-tasking project manager at TridIndia’s sister company, Link Building Corp. Today, he contributes to the world by imparting knowledge on SEO, link building and internet marketing etc., that helps business owners grow their online business.