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Top 6 Technologies That Demand Circuit Protection for Safe Use

Send a text message. Turn on a light. Drive home from the office. Without even thinking about it, consumers depend on technology throughout the day. But that technology is dependent on something that usually goes unnoticed until there's a problem.

We're talking about the importance of circuit protection. As LED lighting, consumer electronics, and automotive technologies become more complex, they contain even more sophisticated, expensive electronic components. These highly sensitive electronic components need to be protected from overcurrent and overvoltage faults caused by electrostatic discharge (ESD) and lightning strikes. Circuit protection devices keep the electronic components safe and secure, so that the technology delivers seamless, uninterrupted service to the consumer.

What if circuit protection isn't part of the design? Then components can be easily damaged, causing system failure. At the very least, the consumer may have to repair a device or purchase a new one. In the case of safety-critical applications such as automotive electronics, a component failure could lead to serious injury or loss of life.

Check out this new infographic that highlights six areas of technology growth where circuit protection is especially important:

  1. LED lighting
  2. Mobile phones
  3. Smartphones
  4. Tablets/computers
  5. Automotive electronics
  6. Solar energy

Use this matrix (registration required) to simplify selecting the most appropriate type of overcurrent protection or overvoltage suppression device for your next application. Do not click on the image below for this information.

85 comments on “Top 6 Technologies That Demand Circuit Protection for Safe Use

  1. samicksha
    August 27, 2014

    Interesting infograph, all these devices or technologies are very closely related to our lives, i am little more curious to explore about solar enery which increased by 500% and still growing.

  2. bshenoy
    August 27, 2014

    samicksha – we are not solar energy equipment makers at Littelfuse but we certainly are involved closely in this market ; what would you like to know?

  3. green_is_now
    August 27, 2014

    Check out this lightning protection circuit

    7,869,176 Surge Protected Power Supply

    DC-DC input voltage lightning protection switch opens until pulse has returned to normal levels.

  4. dassa.an
    August 27, 2014

    @green_is_now: Well isn’t there a back-up system involved in it in case of a power failure

  5. dassa.an
    August 27, 2014

    What sort of a market share do you guys hold in the solar system industry ? Who are your major competitors ? 

  6. vasanjk
    August 27, 2014

    bshenoy

     

    Any such information is available for Medical Devices?

    Currently we are using ESD and TVS diodes for circuit protection. Are there any specific techniques suggested in the link?

  7. green_is_now
    August 28, 2014

    This is for avionics, a hold up cap gives ride through.

    You would rather the pilot have to restart the engine or generator. Than have it fail and not start.

    thats the whole point about input protection. You may have a system go down, but only needs a reset, not a new PCB, or repair.

  8. green_is_now
    August 28, 2014

    there are shunt type protections differentialy, to either or both rails and can add series impedance in front and also a pass element that opens like in the patent listed, also this can be extended to an iterive or pi araingment.

    diiferent types of devices have different speedsand different breakdown voltages, failure modes each with its own issues

  9. vasanjk
    August 28, 2014

    Standard practices involve using shunt protection towards both rails. USB, RS485, etc must have such protection measures for failure-free performance.

  10. chirshadblog
    August 28, 2014

    @green_is_now: True it depends on the requirement itself. Anyway its standardized and that is a relief

  11. chirshadblog
    August 28, 2014

    @green_is_Now: Yes a restart would do but don't you think that it can hide the issue in a way ? 

  12. chirshadblog
    August 28, 2014

    @vasanjk: In a failure can this be mirrored ? 

  13. vasanjk
    August 28, 2014

    chirshadblog

     

    I do not understand the term 'mirrored'. However, if you want to know if this would cause irreparable damage to the circuit protection Components, I think it could, but rest of the Components are unaffected. It all depends on the selected circuit protection Components' suitability to the application.

  14. green_is_now
    August 28, 2014

    sometimes that is impedance balancing to minimise reflections. However this inteself (impedance balancing provides some % reduction in transients and also in a feedback fasion that stops reflections from building to higher voltage levels.

    This is different than a device that is active with a voltage threshold before it conducts.

    Except its parasitic capacitance. This becomes an issue in high speed circuits, because the more robust the protection device (size) the higher the parasitic capacitance you do not want but have to accept for a give devices characteristics and energy absorbing ability.

  15. green_is_now
    August 28, 2014

    A solution will always have other secondary issues in general.

    My comments are specific to the application the patent is used in.

  16. green_is_now
    August 28, 2014

    Input protection is not about stopping an error in a design from causing issues.

    It ideally (not the case, issues need to be addressed of adding protection that is not needed for proper operation) should be invisible to the circuit at hand, and only “enter the circuit” when a large abnormal spike is propogating on the trace or cable.

    Static electricity, EMI coupling to circuit all are not normal, but in real life happen anyway, so we must add this extra layer, invisible to normal operation idealy but ready to do it job when the real world raises its ugly head.

  17. green_is_now
    August 28, 2014

    Howerver if your design has a large coupling to an unappriciated close proximity emmiter then the protection device could get exersised and could eventually fail. But your circuit if it was a digital one would also be showing signs of curruption.

  18. etnapowers
    August 28, 2014

    The more sensitive the components are to realize advanced technologies, the more the protection circuitry has to be effective. The modern advanced technologies are very exposed to malfunctionings that may limit their diffusion.

  19. etnapowers
    August 28, 2014

    The IPs of protection circuitry might be very useful during the transition between a technology and the next one , provided that all the models of components are effective.

  20. dassa.an
    August 29, 2014

    @etnapowers: What happens if one circuit of the board is defected? Does it have any back-up circuit to switch in such scenarios? 

  21. dassa.an
    August 29, 2014

    @etnapowers: Exactly, you do need to provide or tighten the security measures here. More powerful means you expose more advanced technologies to the main frame

  22. dassa.an
    August 29, 2014

    @green_is_now: What is the reason behind it ? 

  23. chirshadblog
    August 29, 2014

    @Dassa.an: I don't think that there are any alternative as such. If one circuit fails the whole system will fail. I hope you are referring to something which switches over isn't it ? Unfortunately according to my knowledge no. 

  24. chirshadblog
    August 29, 2014

    @dassa.an: Indeed security is a must. 

  25. geek
    August 29, 2014

    “The more sensitive the components are to realize advanced technologies, the more the protection circuitry has to be effective.”

    @etnapowers: I think it has to do more with how critical the nature of the application is rather than the sensitivity of the components. If the application is critical enough and a failure could lead to a huge loss, circuit protection becomes an instant need.

  26. geek
    August 29, 2014

     

    “What happens if one circuit of the board is defected? Does it have any back-up circuit to switch in such scenarios? “

    @dassa.in: I don't think there's anything like a backup circuit in any machine. The circuit is the main component and in case there's a failure within it, the entire machine may stop functioning. Having a backup and switching to it is really not possible.

  27. geek
    August 29, 2014

    Interesting post, Bharat. In addition to the list of applications mentioned in the infographic, I think circuit protection is also critical for medical appliances, particularly those that are attached to patients – for example pacemakers. A failure of circuitry within these type of devices could really prove to be fatal for the patient.

  28. PCR
    August 30, 2014

    Bharat Thanks for the timely valuable informative article,
    Samicksha, true these are become a part of our life now, I am pretty sure that it will be really problem to live without at least three from above at any given time.

  29. PCR
    August 30, 2014

    Good questions dassa.an. And also I would like to know the return on investment with the solar system?
    How many years it will take to breakeven.

  30. PCR
    August 30, 2014

    Exactly dassa.an, it is a must to have a security measures other vise its will be worthless having those hi-tech systems especially in mobile device. 

  31. PCR
    August 30, 2014

    Tzubair. Agreed to some level. In hear clouds will help to at least recover data for future reference. 

  32. Netcrawl
    August 30, 2014

    @tzubair I agree with you they're also presents serious challenges to circuit designer because they are meant to be worn next to the skin, there are significant risk of exposures to body fluid and human-generated static electricity. Those circuits play a key role in real-time monitoring systems. A failure of circuitry could really prove to fatal because they are used in real-time monitoring systems and sensor.

    Real-time monitoring are very important because they supply health providers with the information they need to make health care decisions for patients, real-time monitoring can also improve the quality of life of a patients suffering from chronic illnesses, they're life-saver. 

  33. Netcrawl
    August 31, 2014

    @Ranasinghe, putting the cloud computing with it make the health data to be monitored and highly accessible at any devices or places, its could facilitate continuous access (24/7) to health care data and expert advice. Cloud computing also enabled remote healthcare services and monitoring.

  34. Netcrawl
    August 31, 2014

    I think there's no such things- back up circuits, if there's major failure in circuitry then its over, the entire machine or device would stop working. Those “backup things” won't work in today's electronics world, and then there's the economic issue- the cost of materials.

  35. Victor Lorenzo
    August 31, 2014

    @Netcrawl, several safety critical, mil and avionics related applications require and make use of redundant systems and subsystems.

  36. geek
    August 31, 2014

    “Real-time monitoring are very important because they supply health providers with the information they need to make health care decisions for patients, real-time monitoring can also improve the quality of life of a patients suffering from chronic illnesses, they're life-saver. “

    @Netcrawl: Exactly. Besides the curcuit protection, you also need a technology within the circuit that is able to detect any faults right when they occur and send a message to alert the user or whoever is the incharge. I think this is a must-have feature to have.

  37. yalanand
    August 31, 2014

    Besides the curcuit protection, you also need a technology within the circuit that is able to detect any faults right when they occur and send a message to alert the user or whoever is the incharge.

    @tzubair, that is a very good idea. Such circuits will definitely help us to increase the reliability of the system.

  38. yalanand
    August 31, 2014

    Those “backup things” won't work in today's electronics world

    @Netcrawl, I am not sure why you feel backup things wont work in today's electronics world ? Are you suggesting that today's electronics world is too complex to have backup ?

  39. yalanand
    August 31, 2014

    Cloud computing also enabled remote healthcare services and monitoring.

    @Netcrawl, true but one of the major disadvantages of Cloud computing is that its not secure. I am not sure if its good idea to place sensitive information on cloud.

  40. Netcrawl
    August 31, 2014

    @yalanand No I'm referring to the previous comments, I dont think  see anything like this-a backup circuitry in any machine(I think there's no such things).

  41. Netcrawl
    August 31, 2014

    @yalanand there's a number of security issues or concerns associated with cloud computing, in these issues fall into two broad categories- security issues faced by cloud providers and security issues faced by their customers. The responsibility goes both ways- the cloud providers must ensure that their infrastructure is secure and that their clients' data are well-protected while the users must ensure that their cloud providers has taken the proper security measures to host their data and protect their information.

  42. yalanand
    August 31, 2014

    In hear clouds will help to at least recover data for future reference. 

    @Ranasinghe, true but when it comes to cloud still there are lot of security related issues. I really hope we will find some solution to such challenges so that we can take advantage of cloud with least data security related issues.

  43. yalanand
    August 31, 2014

    @Ranasinghe, interesting question. I think you might find some solutions in the below mentioned link : youtube.com/watch?v=WeIm0ONdix0

  44. PCR
    August 31, 2014

    yalanand  its true that there are many issues in cloud, But I still believe that it's better to have something than nothing. 

  45. PCR
    August 31, 2014

    yalanand, yes it was a good one Thanks for the link 

  46. Myled
    September 1, 2014

    “Send a text message. Turn on a light. Drive home from the office. Without even thinking about it, consumers depend on technology throughout the day. But that technology is dependent on something that usually goes unnoticed until there's a problem.”

    Bharat, good article. As a user, I don't want to know the entire thing other than its functionality and sometimes the basic operation too. Only technical peoples will try to dig further to know the operations

  47. Myled
    September 1, 2014

    ” true but one of the major disadvantages of Cloud computing is that its not secure. I am not sure if its good idea to place sensitive information on cloud.”

    Yalanad, cloud is using at various applications, for hosting services and storages. In certain cases it's using for various computing purpose too. Customers/peoples at enterprise levels are embracing cloud by knowing all the pit falls. So it's their responsibility to make use of it in sensible way.

  48. Myled
    September 3, 2014

    ” its true that there are many issues in cloud, But I still believe that it's better to have something than nothing. “

    Ranasinghe, you are right. There is no doubt there are some issues with cloud but in general it's a good option than nothing.

  49. jim_colby
    September 4, 2014

    There are a number of good comments on issues like ESD protection.  While many designers don't think about this issue until very late in the design phase, the sooner it is considered, the more likely that an effective solution will be realized on the first pass.  There are many different issues to consider including the solution's capacitance (for compatibility with high speed circuits), the clamping voltage (lower is better to ensure it can protect today's sensitive ICs), the form factor, and the location of the ESD suppressor.  For further discussion and details on this topic, you can refer to that blog (also from Littelfuse).  The title is “Three Circuit Protection Innovations Designed to Protect Wearable Technologies” on 07/25/2014.

  50. Davidled
    September 9, 2014

    I am wondering what type lighting could require the surge protected circuit being used in power supply. Lighting bulb could be 250 Watt pulse-start metal halide or 250 Watt high-pressure sodium.

  51. Davidled
    September 11, 2014

    Simply, add the fuse breaker.

  52. Davidled
    September 13, 2014

    When I overview two comments: Sensitivity and IP reuse, New IP could be updated as considering sensitivity parameter.  If sensitivity is considered in the components, it could become better design. 

  53. etnapowers
    September 14, 2014

    @DaeJ: The sensitivity is one of the key parameter to be considered in case of IP reuse, reliability is another one.

  54. etnapowers
    September 22, 2014

    That's right, I think that the two aspects are correlated because most of times advanced technologies are utilized for critical products and key applications.

  55. chirshadblog
    September 23, 2014

    @etnapowers: Well I do not see any wrong behind it because it  gets filtered based on the priority level you assign for the application 

  56. etnapowers
    October 6, 2014

    @dassa.an: this should be the standard procedure. The more wide is the circuitry solution portfolio, the more effective will be the trouble shooting during the start up phase of a new technology launch.

  57. etnapowers
    October 6, 2014

    Agreed. The security measures are recommended for the new technologies in the industry environment, because this type of technology is, the most of times, the key to realize innovative products and to hit a lucrative sector of the market.The new technologies are usually the more expensive, due to the high profit margin which might be achieved through the utilization of the new solutions.

  58. etnapowers
    October 7, 2014

    There's also a component of risk behind it, because new technologies are more exposed to failures due to the lack of knowledge about its weaknesses.

  59. SunitaT
    October 31, 2014

    i am little more curious to explore about solar enery which increased by 500% and still growing.

    @samicksha, one of the reason for this increase is because solar energy is becoming more cost effective. New studies indicate that solar is getting affordable more quickly than expected, and that it's on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity-bill prices for most of the United States in just two years. So we can expect this 500% to go up even more in near future.

  60. SunitaT
    October 31, 2014

    There's also a component of risk behind it, because new technologies are more exposed to failures due to the lack of knowledge about its weaknesses.

    @etnapowers, what you are saying is true but then this has been the case with all the new technology. I think its better to test the technology with beta releases and then release the final product once we totally understand the behaviour of the product.

  61. SunitaT
    October 31, 2014

    we are not solar energy equipment makers at Littelfuse but we certainly are involved closely in this market

    @bshenoy, going ahead what is your expectation about solar energy market. Do you think there will be lot of demand coming from solar energy market ?

  62. SunitaT
    October 31, 2014

    What happens if one circuit of the board is defected? Does it have any back-up circuit to switch in such scenarios?

    @dassa.an, it depends on the criticality of the circuit. If the circuit is main circuit then there will be backup circuits.

  63. Netcrawl
    October 31, 2014

    @SunitaTO I agree with you, solar energy is growing fast, I think the challenge in the renewable energy can be overcome with utilization of innovative technologies like High Voltage DC (HVDC) and Flexible AC transmission system (FACTS) devices which has the ability to cope with the new challenges. HVDC and FACTS devices has the charcteristics to mitigate technical problems in the smart grid, address issues. They increase the transmission capacity and system stability very efficiently and assist in militating cascading disturbances.

  64. Netcrawl
    October 31, 2014

    @SunitaTO There are lots of challenges of integrating renewable energies such as solar into power systems, most especially when connecting AC links are weak and none availability of sufficient resources capacity in the systems, connection of the increasing part of the installed capacity to the distribution level posses more problems to the planning and safe operations of the power systems.

    In most power generations, the main source of energy (nuclear or fuel) can be manipulated or controled, but in the case of solar energies, its quite different. They are not always be available where and when needed, they are not dispatchable like the conventional sources of electrical energy. Both wind and solar exhibits dynamic changes and nonlinearities challenges that require effective use of advance control techniques. Overall, its promising and game-changing, but its not an easy one.

  65. amrutah
    October 31, 2014

    To add a little further, the solar energy harvesting will further increase not only because of the advance of the solar technology but also because of the other technology around it.

      Recently there was a paper on the usage of the cellulose for the solar energy tapping that increased the efficiency, the battery technology is fast changing, the DC-AC (or UPS) system are fast advancing.

  66. SunitaT
    October 31, 2014

    I think the challenge in the renewable energy can be overcome with utilization of innovative technologies like High Voltage DC (HVDC) and Flexible AC transmission system (FACTS) devices which has the ability to cope with the new challenges.

    @Netcrawl, I agree with you. Technology like FACTS will help us to enhance controllability and increase power transfer capability of the network. So this can help us to Iincrease the reliability of AC grids and reduce power delivery costs.

  67. SunitaT
    October 31, 2014

    Recently there was a paper on the usage of the cellulose for the solar energy tapping that increased the efficiency, the battery technology is fast changing

    @amrutah, very interesting. Can you please share the link. I am curious to know how cellulose is interface with electronics equipments. 

  68. SunitaT
    October 31, 2014

     They are not always be available where and when needed

    @Netcrawl, I agree with you. I think one solution could be to develop local models which can identify the availability of solar energy and wind energy which can help us to improve the interface between production and transmission unit.

  69. SunitaT
    October 31, 2014

    And also I would like to know the return on investment with the solar system?

    @Ranasinghe, ROI varies and as expected less expensive the solar power system and the higher the regular electricity rate, the faster the payback time is on a system. Over the last two decades, the cost of solar energy systems has come down seven fold.

  70. SunitaT
    October 31, 2014

    There are a number of good comments on issues like ESD protection.  While many designers don't think about this issue until very late in the design phase, the sooner it is considered, the more likely that an effective solution will be realized on the first pass.

    @jim_colby, I totally agree with you. I am not sure why ESD protection issues are not taken of in the initial phase of project. I think designers should use their prior experience to forsee the ESD issues and do the necessary changes to the circuit.

  71. SunitaT
    October 31, 2014

    Customers/peoples at enterprise levels are embracing cloud by knowing all the pit falls.

    @Myanalog, Unfortunately customers are forced to adopt cloud technology because all the industry is moving towards that. I think Cloud related shorcomings will be addressed soon.

  72. jim_colby
    October 31, 2014

    @SunitaT0, looking at this from a Design Engineer's standpoint, I can understand that meeting all of the functional requirements is job #1.  Considering the complexity of today's devices (both HW and SW), it easy to see why that is the primary focus.  Add on deadlines and release-to-market targets, and it just gets worse.  Having said this though, if ESD is considered early in the board layout process, it can eliminate many headaches and in the worst case, board spins.

  73. bshenoy
    October 31, 2014

    @sunita – just like many emerging markets, once costs come down, user adoption gains critical mass, and the industry can survive one its own with gov subsiidies, penetration rate will go up and the market will transition from emerging to a maturing market. i think solar is reacing that state and LED lighting is reaching that state. EV, not yet.

    Bharat

  74. SunitaT
    October 31, 2014

    Having said this though, if ESD is considered early in the board layout process, it can eliminate many headaches and in the worst case, board spins.

    @jim_colby, I agree with all the points you mentioned. Teams have shorter release-to-market targets which gives teams very less time to concentrate on ESD. I think teams should put extra effort in ESD testing so that it helps them to improve the reliability.

  75. SunitaT
    October 31, 2014

    i think solar is reacing that state and LED lighting is reaching that state. EV, not yet.

    @bshenoy, thanks for sharing your opinion. That is a very good news. I hope this will bring the cost of the solar so that every can opt for this technology.

  76. chirshadblog
    October 31, 2014

    @Sunita: The most important aspect is to give time. If not you never know the real capability of it. Give some time and gain the feedback as well from the users / customers

  77. samicksha
    October 31, 2014

    I am little skeptical about your comment @Sunita, as i believe initial setup cost for solar enery is still high and not easily affordable.

  78. Netcrawl
    October 31, 2014

    @SunitaTO renewable energies such as solar and wind power are more often looked at as been too expensive as alternative for generating electricity, but, it is environmentally friendly. There are lots of challenges in integrating renewable energies into power systems, mostly especially when connecting AC links are weak and none availability of sufficient resources capacity in the neighbouring systems, the introduction of power electronics can clearly change that and improve their performance. Output power of the solar energy varies quickly in a wide range, depending on the weather conditions.

  79. Sachin
    October 31, 2014

    I am little skeptical about your comment @Sunita, as i believe initial setup cost for solar enery is still high and not easily affordable.

    @samicksha, I agree with you. Initial setup cost is definitely high for solar energy, I think that is the reason governments give subsidy and rebate on power bills if you use solar energy.

  80. PCR
    October 31, 2014

    When we can do nothing about it I would prefer to have a unknown death rather than suffering in the sky. 

  81. PCR
    October 31, 2014

    SunitaT0 , it's a good news but the problem I see is the initial investment in solar energy is higher , cause that with the time factor its low. 

  82. PCR
    October 31, 2014

    Exactly chirshadblog  positive word of mouth is the best marketing tool. 

  83. Myled
    November 5, 2014

    “Unfortunately customers are forced to adopt cloud technology because all the industry is moving towards that. I think Cloud related shorcomings will be addressed soon.”

    Sunita, I won't think anybody is forced for that. it have advantages and that's why peoples are moving or opting for such technologies.

  84. samicksha
    November 9, 2014

    I am not sure on rebate part but yes i dont found this as cheap or efficient medium right now, including initial setup process a regular sevice maintainance iis also mandatory to keep services up and running.

  85. etnapowers
    November 10, 2014

    @SunitaT0: that's theorically true, but many times there's no time for a smooth transition from a technology to the next one. this may be due to many factors: new specification required from the market, new suppliers, …

    Whatever is the reason for a change of technology, many times in the industrial environment the time is a really valuable resource because it's a very demanding environment.

     

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