Zero voltage switch temperature control

Posted on May 7, 2012

The ' 'zero voltage switching'' technique is widely used to modulate heating and similar types of ac loads where the time constant associated with the load (tens of seconds to minutes) is sufficiently long to allow smooth proportional modulation by time ratio control, using one complete cycle of the ac input voltage as the minimum switching movement. Despite its attractions, the traditional triac-based ZVS is virtually unusable for the control of very low power loads, especially from 220 volt ac inputs due to the triac's reluctance to latch-on into the near-zero instantaneous currents that flow through it and the load near the ac voltage zero crossover points.

Zero voltage switch temperature control
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The circuit side-steps the latching problem by employing a pair of very sensitive low current reverse blocking thyristors (C106) connected in antiparallel; these are triggered by a simple thermistor modulated differential amplifier (Ql, Q2), with zero voltage logic furnished by an H11AA1 ac input optocoupler. With the NTC thermistor TH calling for heat, transistor Ql is cut off and Q2 is on, which would normally provide continuous base drive to Q3, with consequent triggering of either SCR, or of SCR 2 via SCRl, depending on phasing of the ac input. Note that when the ac input voltage is positive with respect to SCR 2, SCR 1 is reverse biased and, in the presence of "gate" current from Q3, behaves as a remote base transistor, whose output provides via blocking diode CRI, positive gate trigger current for SCR 2. When the ac input polarity is reversed (SCR l's anode positive), SCR 1 behaves as a direct fired conventional thyristor. "Trigger" current to SCR 1, however, is not continuous, even when TH is calling for heat and Q2 is delivering base current to Q3. In this situation, Q3 is inhibited from conduction by the clamping action of PCI, an H11AA photocoupler, except during those brief instants when the ac input voltage is near zero and the coupler input diodes are deprived of current. Triggering of either SCR can occur only at ac voltage crossing points, and RFI-less operation results. The proportional control feature is injected via the positive feedback action of capacitor CM, which converts the differential amplifier Ql, Q2 into a simple multivibrator, whose duty cycle varies from one to 99 percent according to the resistance of TH. Zener diode Z1 is operational, being preferred when maximum immunity from ac voltage induced temperature drift is desired.

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