BC547 vs 2N3904 European vs American

BC547 vs 2N3904

European versus American. Who is better ?

From their datasheets

BC547 with Vceo of 45V and Ic of 100mA ratings
2N3904 with Vceo of 40V and Ic of 200mA ratings
  • BC547 with Vceo of 45V rating while 2N3904 is just 40V
  • 2N3904 with Ic of 200mA rating while BC547 is just 100mA

There is no clear winner from the specifications

Looking at the history of BC547 and 2N3904

BC547 is originated from Europe and BC547/548 are the most popular general-purpose transistors for the European consumer electronic design.

On the other hand, 2N3904 is originated from the United States of America and is the most popular general-purpose transistors in the world.


If it is a new design, 2N3904 is definitely the choice because of cost and popularity.

Can they replace each other in the old circuit design?

I would say yes. Both devices are used mainly as a general-purpose transistor for low voltage and low current designs.

I would bet the 2N3904 process by design from most manufacturers should be able to handle over 45V Vceo. And BC547 should be able to handle over 200mA Ic because the current rating is mainly dependent on the package (TO-92) itself.

The author was the global business manager of the Discrete division of National Semiconductor in Silicon Valley in the late ’80s.

To buy BC547 or 2N3904 at a low price and good quality, please visit 1N4148.com

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