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Relay Operating Temperature Effects

Posted by Graham Dale on Jun 11, 2015 12:30:00 PM

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Reed Relays are sometimes considered a mundane component by design engineers and often little thought is given to their operating parameters. One of these parameters is operating temperature and failure to consider its effects can lead to the possibility of the relay not operating at high temperatures.

The relay’s reed switch is operated by a magnetic field generated by a coil which is wound around it using copper wire. Copper has a positive coefficient of resistance of approximately 0.4% per °C and its resistance will increase with temperature at this rate. As the resistance increases, the current and therefore the level of magnetic field will fall.


Distribution of Operate Voltages

The industry standard ‘Must Operate Voltage’ sometimes called the ‘Pull-In Voltage’ is 75% of nominal and usually quoted at 25°C. For a 5V relay this would be equal to 3.75V, although in practice it will be lower than this figure. The first graph below shows the actual distribution of Operate Voltages for a batch of 1000 Pickering relays. In the second graph you can see how this operate voltage figure will change with temperature.


Operate Voltage Pickering Relay


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Operate Voltage Versus Temperature


Operate Coil Voltage Specification Versus Temperature 5 Volt Relay

Remember that there will also be a voltage drop in the relay driver that needs to be taken into account. It can be clearly seen that at higher temperatures it is possible that the relay will not operate at its nominal coil drive voltage. For Reed Relays other than those manufactured by Pickering, magnetic interaction with adjacent relays will also need to be considered. This is explained in the previous blog post: The unique features of Pickering Reed Relays.

Pickering are able to supply Reed Relays with an increased magnetic drive level to accommodate higher temperatures if requested and also have sensitive 3V coil versions in many ranges.


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Topics: Reed Relays, Operating Temperature Effects