Reducing Relay Power Consumption

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

Relays are often used as electrically controlled switches. Unlike transistors, their switch contacts are electrically isolated from the control input. On the other hand, the power dissipation in a relay coil may be unattractive for battery-operated applications. Adding an analogue switch lowers the dissipation, allowing the relay to operate at a l

Reducing Relay Power Consumption
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ower voltage. The circuit diagram shows the principle. Power consumed by the relay coil equals V2/RCOIL. The circuit lowers this dissipation (after actuation) by applying less than the normal operating voltage of 5 V. Note that the voltage required to turn a relay on (pickup voltage)is usually greater than that to keep it on (dropout voltage). In this respect the relay shown has specications of 3. 5 and 1. 5 V respectively, yet the circuit allows it to operate from an intermediate supply voltage of 2. 5 V. Table 1 compares the relay`s power dissipation withxed operating voltages across it, and with the circuit shown here in place. The power savings are signicant. When SW1 is closed, current‚ows through the relay coil, and C1 and C2 begin to charge. The relay remains inactive because the supply voltage is less than its pickup voltage. The RC time constants are such that C1 charges almost completely before the voltage across C2 reaches the logic threshold of the analogue switch inside the MAX4624 IC. When C2 reaches that threshold, the on-chip switch connects C1 in series with the 2. 5 V supply and the relay coil. This action causes the relay to be turned on because its coil voltage is then raised to 5 V, i. e. , twice the supply voltage. As C1 discharges through the coil, the coil voltage drops back to 2. 5 V minus the drop across D1. However, the relay remains on because the resultant voltage is still above the dropout...

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