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A Zener diode works like a normal diode in the FORWARD direction, but when voltage is applied in the REVERSE direction it does something really useful. At a specified reverse voltage, it starts to conduct. In other words, if you apply, say 12V (for a 12V Zener) across the diode it will start to conduct current. When the Zener starts to draw current this has the effect of regulating the positive (+) voltage. Jaycar carries a range of Zener diodes from 3.3V to 75V.