Allen Bradley PLCs: Types & Applications

Explore key differences & uses of Micro800, CompactLogix, and ControlLogix PLCs.
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Hello and welcome to another article from RealPars, the world's largest online learning platform for cutting-edge industrial technologies.

In today’s article, I will explain the main types of Allen Bradley PLC that are available to use in your applications.

When starting a new project or choosing a platform to learn PLC programming with, it can be a lot of work to know what type of PLC to select.

There are many different manufacturers to choose from and each manufacturer sells different families of PLCs to serve different markets and applications.

To make PLC selection easier for you, this article will provide an overview of the different PLC families sold by Rockwell Automation under the Allen Bradley brand.

By the end of the article, you will know what applications each PLC family is suitable for and understand the positioning of the Allen Bradley PLCs relative to each other.

Let’s start by talking about Allen Bradley Micro800 PLCs.

Micro800 PLCs

The Micro800 PLC family is Allen-Bradley’s entry-level range of PLCs.

These are low-cost PLCs that are mostly used for small, standalone machines. Micro800 PLCs have limited functionality to meet the needs of simple applications.

Micro800 PLCs can be extended with plug-in modules that add extra IO, communication options, or functionality to a controller.

Since Micro800 hardware is very affordable and the programming software, Connected Components Workbench, is available to download and use for free, Micro800 PLCs are great to learn PLC programming with.

Micro800 PLCs

If you are interested in learning how to program PLCs without spending any money on hardware and software, then I recommend that you check out PLC Programming from Scratch, RealPars’ series of courses that teaches you PLC programming with Micro800 PLCs.

The first course in that series is linked here.

CompactLogix PLCs

CompactLogix PLCs are Allen Bradley’s mid-range PLC system.

In general, CompactLogix PLCs have higher performance than Micro800 PLCs. Not only do they tend to have faster scan times and more configuration options, but CompactLogix PLCs can control more devices making it easier to control complex machines and small processes.

CompactLogix PLCs vs. Micro800 PLCs

For applications that require high I/O counts, motion control, many variable frequency drives, or integrated safety, you should consider using a CompactLogix PLC.

ControlLogix PLCs

ControlLogix PLCs are Allen-Bradley’s flagship range of PLCs.

In general, ControlLogix PLCs are the most advanced and powerful Allen-Bradley PLCs available to buy. These PLCs are typically used to control full production or packaging lines and large processes.

ControlLogix PLCs generally have lower scan times, support for higher IO counts, and the ability to integrate more devices.

They also support advanced functionality that is not available in Micro800 and CompactLogix PLCs such as redundancy, where a process can continue running even if one device faults, and more communication options such as HART, which is a communication protocol commonly used in the process industry.

ControlLogix PLCs


ControlLogix and CompactLogix PLCs are both programmed using Studio 5000 Logix Designer.

Unlike Connected Components Workbench, Studio 5000 Logix Designer is not free. But like with many things in life, you get what you pay for and Studio 5000 Logix Designer is packed with advanced features that are not included with Connected Components Workbench to help you be a more productive programmer.

If you are interested in learning how to program CompactLogix and ControlLogix PLCs with Studio 5000 Logix Designer, then check out Learn Logix, RealPars’ skill path that teaches you everything you need to know to be a confident, competent PLC programmer with Studio 5000 Logix Designer.

The first course in the learning path is linked here.


In this article, you learned what the main Allen Bradley PLC families are and what applications each PLC family is suited for.

Regardless of what Allen Bradley PLC you select for a project or to learn PLC programming with, RealPars has courses to teach you the skills that you need to know in order to succeed as an automation professional.

If you want to learn more about programming any of these PLC families, use this link to get more information about our Allen Bradley programming courses.

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