Blower resistor

 
Blower resistor

What is a blower resistor? Blower resistors are resistors which are used to control the fan speed of automotive blowers. The fan speed can be changed either by switching the blower resistor resistance mechanically, using a rotating lever, or electronically by the air conditioning system. The change in resistance then limits the current through the motor, which dictates the speed at which the blower fan works. Blower resistors, being a mechanical component, are prone to wear and are the most common point of failure in a car’s heating system. This article will focus on mechanical blower resistors, their construction and troubleshooting. Construction A blower fan is connected to the negative battery terminal (also called ground) on one end and to the positive battery terminal through a blower resistor on the other end. The blower resistor is connected in series with the blower fan. This means that the current running through the blower motor, and thus is speed is controlled by the resistor value. The user chooses a suitable fan speed by using a selector to connect one of the resistors in the blower resistor pack. Blower resistors are made of several resistors with different resistances. There are also two additional circuits used for the off state and the highest fan speed state. In the off state, the blower motor is disconnected from the power supply. In the highest speed state, the blower resistor is bypassed completely and the fan is connected directly to the car’s battery, which allows maximum current through the motor. The lower the resistance of the selected resistor in a pack, the higher the current that flows through the blower fan, and the faster the fan will turn. Troubleshooting The individual resistors inside the pack are usually wire wound and they may fail by burning out from [… read more]

Resistor Capacitance

 
Resistor Capacitance

What is resistor capacitance? Capacitance is an ability of a body to store electrical energy in the form of electrical charge. Practical resistors always exhibit capacitance as a parasitic property. Depending on the application, resistor capacitance might be easily disregarded, especially in DC circuits. In some applications, such as snubber resistors, the capacitive parasitic effect is actually a desirable effect. On the other hand, parasitic resistor capacitance can be a significant factor in high-frequency AC applications, creating an unwanted effect. The reason for this is that the impedance of a resistor rises with the applied voltage frequency due to the increase in its reactance. The higher the frequency, the lower the impedance is, which means that the resistor can no longer be observed as a constant element at high frequencies, and becomes a frequency-dependent element. Capacitors and resistors Electrical loads can be divided into two types: real (or resistive) loads and reactive loads. Real loads are used to convert electrical power into heat. An ideal resistor is a purely resistive load, which means that all the electrical power applied to the resistor is dissipated as heat. On the other hand, reactive loads convert electrical power into a magnetic or electric field and temporarily store it before returning it to the rest of the circuit. Reactive loads can be inductive or capacitive. Inductive load store energy in the form of a magnetic field, while capacitive loads store energy in the form of an electric field. The main difference between ideal resistors and ideal capacitors is therefore that resistors dissipate electrical power as heat, while capacitors turn electrical power into an electric field. Ideal resistors have zero reactance and as a result their capacitance is zero as well. Unfortunately, electrical devices are not ideal in practice and even the simplest resistors have [… read more]

Thin and thick film

 
Thin and thick film

What are thin and thick film resistors? Thin and thick film resistors are the most common types in the market. They are characterized by a resistive layer on a ceramic base. Although their appearance might be very similar, their properties and manufacturing process are very different. The naming originates from the different layer thicknesses. Thin film has a thickness in the order of 0.1 micrometer or smaller, while thick film is around thousands time thicker. However, the main difference is method the resistive film is applied onto the substrate. Thin film resistors have a metallic film that is vacuum deposited on an insulating substrate. Thick film resistors are produced by firing a special paste onto the substrate. The paste is a mixture of glass and metal oxides. Thin film is more accurate, has a better temperature coefficient and is more stable. It therefore competes with other technologies that feature high precision, such as wirewound or bulk metal foil. On the other hand, thick film is preferred for applications where these high requirements are not critical since prices are much lower. Thin Film Technology The resistive layer is sputtered (vacuum deposition) onto a ceramic base. This creates a uniform metallic film of around 0.1 micrometer thick. Often an alloy of Nickel and Chromium is used (Nichrome). They are produced with different layer thicknesses to accommodate a range of resistance values. The layer is dense and uniform, which makes is suitable to trim the resistance value by a subtractive process. With photo etching or by laser trimming patterns are created to increase the resistive path and to calibrate the resistance value. The base is often alumina ceramic, silicon or glass. Usually thin film is produced as a chip or smd resistor, but the film can also be applied onto a cylindrical base [… read more]

Resistor inductance

 
Resistor inductance

What is resistor inductance? Inductance is an electrical property of conductors by which an electrical current passing through the conductor induces an electromotive force in the conductor itself (self-inductance) and other conductors nearby. Since resistors are made of conductive materials, they, too, exhibit inductance as an unwanted, parasitic effect. This effect is especially noticeable if the resistor is made out of wire formed into a coil shape. Depending on the application, resistor inductance might be easily disregarded, especially in DC circuits. However, parasitic resistor inductance can be a significant factor in high-frequency AC applications. The reason for this is that the impedance of a resistor rises with the applied voltage frequency due to the increase in its reactance. Inductors and resistors Electrical loads can be divided into two types: real (or resistive) loads and reactive loads. Real loads are used to convert electrical power into heat. An ideal resistor is a purely resistive load, which means that all the electrical power applied to the resistor is dissipated as heat. On the other hand, reactive loads convert electrical power into a magnetic or electric field and temporarily store it before returning it to the rest of the circuit. Reactive loads can be inductive or capacitive. Inductive load store energy in the form of a magnetic field, while capacitive loads store energy in the form of an electric field. The main difference between ideal resistors and ideal inductors is therefore that resistors dissipate electrical power as heat, while inductors turn electrical power into a magnetic field. Ideal resistors have zero reactance and as a result zero inductance. Unfortunately, electrical devices are not ideal in practice and even the simplest resistors have a slight parasitic inductive reactance. Parasitic inductance Resistors are used when a purely resistive load is required, so inductance is often [… read more]

Electrical resistivity

 
Electrical resistivity

What is electrical resistivity? Electrical resistivity is a measure of a material’s property to oppose the flow of electric current. This is expressed in Ohm-meters (Ω⋅m). The symbol of resistivity is usually the Greek letter ρ (rho). A high resistivity means that a material does not conduct well electric charge. Electrical resistivity is defined as the relation between the electrical field inside a material, and the electric current through it as a consequence: in which ρ is the resistivity of the material (Ωm),E is the magnitude of the electrical field in the material (V/m),J is the magnitude of the electric current density in the material (A/m2) If the electrical field (E) through a material is very large and the flow of current (J) very small, it means that the material has a high resistivity. Electrical conductivity is the inversion of resistivity, and is a measure of how well a material conducts electric current: in which σ is the conductivity of the material expressed in Siemens per meter (S/m). In electrical engineering often κ (kappa) is used instead of σ. Electrical Resistance Electrical resistance is expressed in Ohms, and is not the same as resistivity. While resistivity is a material property, resistance is the property of an object. The electrical resistance of a resistor is determined by the combination of the shape and the resistivity of the material. For example, a wirewound resistor with a long, thick wire has a higher resistance then with a shorter and thinner wire. A wirewound resistor made from a material with high resistivity has a higher resistance value then one with a low resistivity. An analogy with a hydraulic system can be made, where water is pumped through a pipe. The longer and thinner the pipe, the higher the resistance will be. A pipe full [… read more]

Resistor color code calculator

 

This resistor color code calculator will help you determine the value of axial resistors marked with color bands. It can be used for 3, 4, 5 and 6 band resistors. You can select the colors of the corresponding bands by clicking on them in the table. The resistor will visually show your band color choices and display the value of the resistor above. If the resistance value is part of a standard E-series value, this will be shown in brackets after the resistance value. How to use the color code calculator Select the amount of bands of the resistor on the top-left Choose the colors of the bands by clicking on the corresponding box in the chart The corresponding ohmic value and tolerance of the resistor is shown Bands: 3 4 5 6 10k&#8486 ±5% 1st digit 2nd digit 3rd digit multiply tolerance TCR(ppm/K) Bad Black 0 0 0 1 1% (F) 100 Beer Brown 1 1 1 10 2% (G) 50 Rots Red 2 2 2 100 15 Our Orange 3 3 3 1K 25 Young Yellow 4 4 4 10K Guts Green 5 5 5 100K 0.5% (D) But Blue 6 6 6 1M 0.25% (C) 10 Vodka Violet 7 7 7 10M 0.1% (B) 5 Goes Gray 8 8 8 100M 0.05% (A) Well White 9 9 9 1G Get Gold 0.1 5% (J) Some Silver 0.01 10% (K) Now None 20% (M) Special cases 6 band resistors In the case of 6 band resistors, this calculator assumes the 6th band is used to indicate the thermal coefficient. In some rare cases the 6th band can also indicate the reliability of the resistor. For more information visit the main page on the resistor color code. Disclaimer While we did our best to check all possibilities and remove [… read more]

Trimpot

 
Trimpot

What is a trimpot? A trimpot or trimmer potentiometer is a small potentiometer which is used for adjustment, tuning and calibration in circuits. When they are used as a variable resistance (wired as a rheostat) they are called preset resistors. Trimpots or presets are normally mounted on printed circuit boards and adjusted by using a screwdriver. The material they use as a resistive track is varying, but the most common is either carbon composition or cermet. Trimpots are designed for occasional adjustment and can often achieve a high resolution when using multi-turn setting screws. When trimmer potentiometers are used as a replacement for normal potentiometers, care should be taken as their designed lifespan is often only 200 cycles. Trimpot definition Trimmer potentiometers and preset resistors are small variable resistors which are used in circuits for tuning and (re)calibration. Types of trimpots Several different versions of trimpots are available, using different mounting methods (through hole, smd) and adjusting orientations (top, side) as well as single and multi-turn variations. Single turn Single turn trimmers/presets are very common and used where a resolution of one turn is sufficient. They are the most cost effective variable resistors available. Multi turn For higher adjustment resolutions, multi-turn trimpots are used. The amount of turns varies between roughly 5-25, but 5, 12 or 25 turns are quite common. They are often constructed using a worm-gear (rotary track) or leadscrew (linear track) mechanism to achieve the high resolution. Because of their more complex construction and manufacturing, they are more costly than single turn preset resistors. The lead screw packages can have a higher power rating because of their increased surface area. Trimpot symbols The following IEC symbols are used for trimpots and preset resistors. Although this are the official symbols for occasionally adjusted resistors, the standard symbols for [… read more]

Shunt resistor

 
Shunt resistor

Definition shunt resistor A shunt resistor is used to measure electric current, alternating or direct. This is done by measuring the voltage drop across the resistor. Shunt resistor for current measuring A device to measure electric current is called an ammeter. Most modern ammeters measure the voltage drop over a precision resistor with a known resistance. The current flow is calculated by using Ohm’s law: Most ammeters have an inbuilt resistor to measure the current. However, when the current is too high for the ammeter, a different setup is required. The solution is to place the ammeter in parallel with an accurate shunt resistor.  Another term that is sometimes used for this type of resistor is ammeter shunt. Usually this is a high precision manganin resistor with a low resistance value. The current is divided over the shunt and the ammeter, such that only a small (known) percentage flows through the ammeter.  In this way, large currents can still be measured. By correctly scaling the ammeter, the actual amperage can be directly measured. Using this configuration, in theory the maximum amperage that can be measured is endless. However, the voltage rating of the measurement device must not be exceeded. This means that the maximum current multiplied by the resistance value, cannot be higher than the voltage rating. Also, the resistance value should be as low as possible to limit the interference with the circuit. On the contrary, the resolution gets smaller the smaller the resistance and thus the voltage drop is. Example of calculation As an example a shunt resistor is used with a resistance of 1 mOhm. The resistor is placed in a circuit, and a voltage drop of 30 millivolts is measured across the resistor. This means that the current is equal to the voltage divided over the [… read more]

Power rating

 
Power rating

What is the power rating of a resistor? The power rating of a resistor defines the maximum energy a resistor can (safely) dissipate. As is stated by Joule’s first law, the generated electrical power is related to the voltage and current: When the electrical power equals the dissipated heat (by radiation, convection and conduction), the temperature of the resistor will stabilize. The temperature is not equal across the resistor. The resistor body is slightly hotter than the terminals, with the highest temperature at the center of the body. The higher the rate of heat dissipation to the environment, the lower the temperature rise will be. Larger resistors with a bigger surface area can generally dissipate heat at a higher rate. If the (average) power dissipation is larger than the power rating, the resistor may be damaged. This can have several consequences. The resistance value can shift permanently, the lifetime can significantly be reduced or the component is completely damaged resulting in an open circuit. In extreme cases the excessive power can even cause a fire. Special flameproof resistors are available, that cause a circuit brake before the temperature reaches a dangerous state. Power rating definition The power rating of a resistor defines the maximum energy a resistor can (safely) dissipate. Resistor derating The nominal power rating is defined for a certain ambient temperature in free air. Note that the amount of energy that a resistor in practise can dissipate without causing damage, is strongly dependent on the operating conditions and therefore not equal to the nominal power rating. For example, a higher ambient temperature can significantly reduce the power rating. This effect is referred to as derating. It should be taking into account by the designer. Often the power rating is chosen largely above the electric power. Typically resistors are [… read more]

Resistor properties

 

The function of resistors is to oppose the flow of electric current in a circuit. Therefore their primary parameter is the resistance value. The manufacturing tolerance must be adequately chosen for each specific application. The ultimate resistance value may deviate from the specification because of many reasons. One is the temperature coefficient of resistance, or TCR, which is often specified for precision applications. Stability defines the long term variations of the resistance. After a long duration of electric load, the resistance value will not return to its original value. Electric noise appears in every resistor, and is for low-noise amplifying applications of importance. For high frequency applications, the inductance and capacitance properties play a role. Next to the characteristics related to resistance value, the maximum power and voltage can be specified. The maximum power rating is mainly for power electronics important, while resistors in electronic circuit boards mostly never reach the maximum power rating. For high voltage circuits, the maximum rated voltage must be taken into account. The quality of a resistor in terms of durability and reliability is for some applications more important than for others. An overview of the most common resistor properties and characteristics to describe a resistor are detailed below. Low Temperature Coefficient of Resistance (TCR) The TCR is dependent on the resistive material and the resistor construction. The temperature dependence of electrical resistivity is determined by the material: Number of phonons Coefficient of expansion from the material Power rating The power rating indicates the maximum dissipation that the component is capable of. The rated dissipation is normally specified at room temperature and decreases at higher temperatures. This is called derating. Typically from 70°C derating is specified. Above this temperature, it can only utilize a reduced power level. This is illustrated by a derating curve. The [… read more]