Controlling a relay with a digital logic level circuit

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

The schematic below illustrates 4 methods of controlling a relay with a digital logic signal. Figure (A) can probably be used in most cases where the relay coil requires 100 mA or less and the input current is 2 milliamps or more. The resistor value (R) is determined from the input voltage and the available current. For example, a 5 volt input sig

Controlling a relay with a digital logic level circuit
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nal supplying 2 milliamps would require (5-. 7)/. 002 = 2150 ohms, or a 2. 2K standard value. If the transistor has a minimum current gain of 50, there will be 100 mA of current available for the relay coil. The following table shows various resistor values that can be used to obtain various relay coil currents assuming a transistor current gain of 50 such as the 2N3053. 74XX refers to standard TTL logic, 74LSXX refers to low power TTL logic, 74HC is high speed CMOS and CD40XX is the older CMOS devices. The currents given are approximate values and may not be correct for all devices but should be close. Figure B can be used when the input voltage is the same as the relay coil voltage. The voltage on the emitter of the transistor will be about 0. 7 volts less than the input, so a 12 volt relay would operate on 11. 3 which should be close enough. No resistor is needed since the emitter follower configuration presents a high impedance at the input. The input current will be the relay coil current divided by the transistor gain. For example a 120 ohm relay coil will draw 100 mA at 12 volts and if the transistor gain is 50, the input current will be about 2 milliamps. Figure C can be used to provide additional gain when the input current is very small. You can also use a Darlington transistor in place of the two transistors which is a better approach, but this idea works just as well when you don`t have a Darlington transistor...

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