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Thyristor Power Controllers Information Center

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DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CONTRACTOR, SSR OR SCR

Reduced maintenance and operating costs as there are no moving mechanical parts to fail.
Electrically quieter as the device turns ON/OFF at zero volts so doesn’t create RFI interference.
Line distortion is eliminated.
Finer control and extended heater element life due to shorter cycle times that increase process stability and decrease heater thermal shock.
Heater shows less expansion and contraction caused by heating and cooling action.

SELECTION GUIDE
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A THYRISTOR AND SCR

The term silicon controlled rectifier (SCR) is sometimes used interchangeably with thyristors however, the former is a brand name introduced by General Electric to describe a particular kind of thyristor that it manufactured

There are various other types including diacs and triacs which are designed to work with alternating current so the terms are not completely synonymous. Whether it’s called thyristor or SCR we're referring to the same semiconductor device.

HOW DO THYRISTORS WORK

In the case of back to back SCRs, these allow the full wave current to be conducted. The forward SCR conducts during the positive half of the cycle, the reverse SCR during the negative half.

Each SCR is turned on at the appropriate time by a trigger pulse applied to the gate (a third leg) and the device will remain ON until the instantaneous load current through it drops to zero. The trigger pulses are generated by a drive circuit which times the pulse to ensure the thyristor unit output is a function of the input control signal and firing mode.

WHERE WOULD I USE A THYRISTOR

Thyristors are commonly used in AC circuits and for power control. The application or the load being driven or switched dictates which type of SCR and firing mode can be used.

The main types of load power: resistive and inductive will each need a different type of firing of the SCR. Resistive elements are either variable or fixed and the choice of element is primarily chosen by the maximum temperature required and environment conditions.

The most common inductive load is the transformer, normally used to provide galvanic isolation between the primary and secondary winding or to change the main supply voltage to the nominal load supply. Thyristors are used in motor speed controls, light dimmers, pressure-control systems and liquid-level regulators.

HOW WOULD I SIZE A THYRISTOR

Using our automatic calculation tool is the easiest way but if you prefer the long way it is first necessary to recognise whether the application is single or three-phase. For single phase (1PH) you can use the calculation: total load (in watts) over the load voltage (L to N or L1 to L2) to give the current value (I = P/V). For example, load is 12kW and the voltage (L to N) is 240V giving a current of 50A.

We normally add a safety margin of 15-20% to this nominal current in selecting a thyristor power controller to ensure we allow for any fluctuations in voltage supply or temperature, etc. This means we are not switching at the unit’s maximum which results in a longer thyristor life.

Three phase (3PH) systems are normally used for larger power consuming loads. The voltage between any two legs of a three system is a sinusoidal AC waveform but the voltage waveform between each successive pair of legs will be displaced in time by 120 electrical degrees from the other two. This corresponds to 6.67 milliseconds for a 50Hz system.

Assuming the load is 12kW but connected to 3 phase we would have 12000 watts over the voltage, times by the square root of 3 or 1.73 for convenience. So the current would be 12000 / 415 X 1.73 = 16.8 amps

HOW DO I SELECT A THYRISTOR

First consider the load and/or element type used; the most common is referred to as a fixed or normal resistance. This element doesn’t change more than 10% in resistance over time or with temperature variations.

In our industry this accounts for more than 85% of elements used. Typical thyristor firing will be zero crossover either with a DC logic control signal (for zero crossover firing) or an analogue 4-20mA or 0-10V (for burst firing). No other element consideration or protection is really needed although having the longest cycle time that controls the load adequately is recommended to extend element life.

For additional load types including variable resistance elements, short-wave infrared lamps, inductive or transformer loads we recommend using our Product Selection Tool and/or contacting our technical team to help choose the right thyristor power controller for your application. Remember: we have the right product for all applications

THE ADVANTAGE OF USING SSRs/THYRISTORS

Reduced maintenance and operating costs as there are no moving mechanical parts to fail.
Electrically quieter as the device turns ON/OFF at zero volts so doesn’t create RFI interference.
Line distortion is eliminated.
Finer control and extended heater element life due to shorter cycle times that increase process stability and decrease heater thermal shock.
Heater shows less expansion and contraction caused by heating and cooling action.