2N3904 VS 2N2222 Understanding the Difference

If you are looking for 2N3904 vs 2N2222 or the difference between them then you have landed on the right page. As you know both of these are very popular general purpose transistors that are used not only by electronic hobbyists and tinkerers around the world but they are also widely used in commercial equipment and appliances. Today we are going to compare and explain what are the differences between these two transistors. Moreover, you will also find details about if they can be used interchangeably when to use these transistors, and what factors to look for before using these transistors. At the end of the article, we will also answer some frequently asked questions. Before going further one important thing you should keep in mind is that 2N2222 is also available in both metal and plastic versions and the metal one has a little bit higher ratings than the plastic package but in this article, we are discussing the plastic version of 2N2222.





2N3904 VS 2N2222 Pin Difference

As you can see in the above image that both the transistor looks almost identical from the outside because both have same TO-92 package. Looking at the pinout of the transistor both transistor have same pin configuration such as the first pin is Emitter, second is Base and the third is Collector.


Ratings & Characteristics Comparison:

Ratings & Characteristics 2N39042N2222
Collector-Emitter Voltage (Vceo)40V40V
Collector Current (Ic)200mA600mA
Total Device Dissipation (PD)625mW 625mW
DC Current Gain (hFE)30 To 30030 To 300
Frequency (fT)300 MHz300 MHz


Can We Use 2N3904 Instead of 2N2222

Before using 2N3904 in place of 2N2222 there are some important factors you should consider. Looking at the above ratings and characteristics comparison table we can see that the collector to emitter voltage of both transistors is same. The total device dissipation of both the transistors is also the same which is 625mW and the (fT) or transition frequency is also the same which is 300MHZ. But when we look at the collector current there is much difference between the two. As you can see the 2N3904 collector current is 200mA while the 2N2222 collector current is 600mA.

There are different situations in which sometimes you can use the 2N3904 instead of 2N2222 and sometimes not. For example, it depends on in which type of circuit you are replacing it. If it’s an amplification or RF type circuit then you can easily use 2N3904 instead of 2N2222 but if it is a switch circuit then you must check the things mentioned below.

As mentioned above the 2n3904 collector current is 200mA and the 2N2222 collector current is 600mA, therefore you must have to look at how much load the 2N2222 transistor is driving in the circuit because the 2N3904 limit is only 200mA which is its absolute maximum rating and you should not drive any transistor to its absolute maximum ratings and it is also recommended by its manufacturers. Therefore stay at least 20% below its absolute maximum ratings now following this rule we have only 160mA left. So this is an important factor to check how much load the 2N2222 is driving in the circuit you have to check which type of load it is and then check how much maximum current it requires. For example, if it’s a relay, high power LED or any other component then you have to check its datasheet that how much current it requires to fully operate,  you can also ask for these specs from the supplier. The other way to check this is by connecting an ampere meter between the 2N2222 transistor and the load. All good multimeters have ampere checking options in them and you can also find many tutorials online on how to check the load or ampere an electronic component is using. The other simple way is to use an equivalent transistor that has a collector current of 600mA or more. You can find the alternative transistors on the 2N2222 page.


Can We Use 2N2222 Instead of 2N3904 

2N2222 can be used instead of 2N3904 in all most applications. Whether it’s an amplification, RF, or switching application. Because it has almost identical or higher characteristics than 2N3904.



You can use 2N2222 instead of 2N3904 in almost any condition but you cannot use 2N3904 instead of 2N2222 in some conditions such as in some switching applications because 2N2222 has higher collector current than 2N3904. But if the current requirement of the circuit or load in which 2N2222 used is under 160mA then you can use 2N3904 instead of 2N2222 but this can be known by checking how much load 2N2222 is driving in the circuit. The other way is to just use an equivalent transistor of 2N2222.



What is a 2N3904 transistor used for?

2N3904 is a general use transistor. It is designed for general purpose applications such as amplification and switching.


Which transistor can be used in place of 2N3904?

There is a wide variety of transistors you can use in the place of 2N3904. For further details about these equivalents, you can check our page 2N3904


What is a 2N2222 transistor used for?

2N3904 is also a general use transistor designed for general purpose switching and amplification purposes.


What can I use instead of 2N2222?

There are many transistors you can use instead of 2N2222. The more details on this can be found on our page here 2N2222

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