# Fet as heater (one mo' time)

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So a fet heater circuit. Vin = 63 V (dang moving specs, it started at 50V) Then a series of three ~20W resistors. TO-220 (At the moment these are 15 ohms, 45 total though writing I think my solution is raise this to 22 ohms ea.) Then a FET and feedback/ control loop. The max. current at 1A.

This worked OK on the lab bench, but my boss blew up the fet running it in vacuum. The fet was running close to the edge on the bench. (obviously)

Anyway I started looking at TO-247 fets on DK. This got me again thinking about fets as heaters. And it seems to me I want to pick a fet with an on resistance that is relatively large 0.1 to 1 ohm. That way I need a larger change in G-S voltage to change the current. On the other hand I built this with a low Ron fet and it works just fine. What's wrong with my thinking?

George H.

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Den onsdag den 5. april 2017 kl. 21.19.08 UTC+2 skrev George Herold:

use something like a VNP10N07 and it shutdown in stead of blow up

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...

Rds_on is specified in saturation and you're running in linear mode ?

You don't have to look too much on Rds_on if you have current feedback to control the Vgs.

```--
mikko```
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All MOSFETS can go from high resistance (off) to low resistance (on). But, how low they can go is unimportant if you're not operating them down there.

```--
This email has not been checked by half-arsed antivirus software```
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I think there are probably two issues here: worst-case heat dissipation by the FET, and possible hot-spotting.

As I recall, the worst-case dissipation for the FET will be when it's dropping half of the total voltage across itself. You'll have 31.5 volts across the FET, and 31.5 volts across the resistors, with 700 mA of current flowing. Power dissipated in the resistors will equal power dissipated in the FET - 22 watts each.

That's a lot of heat for a TO-220 package to get rid of. The Great Font of Dubious Knowledge says that one of these packages can get rid of 50 watts or more on an "infinite heat sink", but those are a bit difficult to procure and use in practical applications. With less than infinite dissipation capability (or the presence of an insulating washer of some sort between package and heatsink) you'd be in trouble.

From your comments about vaccum vs. on-the-bench it sounds as if the heatsink simply isn't capable of getting rid of 44 watts of heat when there's no atmosphere to convect some of the heat away. ("In space, nobody can hear you frying eggs.")

At that current level, the FET will "look like" a 45-ohm resistor. It's a long way from being turned on all the way, and its Rds(on) isn't really relevant.

Using TO-247 packages might help *if* the problem is in the package-to-heatsink interface (i.e. excessive thermal resistance). However, if the problem is that your heater simply can't radiate away (or conduct away) 44 watts of heat under vacuum conditions, you'll still end up overheating.

Using several FETs in parallel (with a few ohms of degeneration between source and ground, to compensate for threshold-voltage differences) might help somewhat.

The other concern could be hot-spotting. A lot of the low-Rds-on FETs (and IGBTs) are *not* rated for linear service - they're intended for hard-on, hard-off switching. Reportedly, some of them can suffer hot spots on the die when pushed into high-dissipation linear service (a bit like BJT second breakdown) and go FOOF.

If noise isn't a problem (we should all be so lucky!) you could use a bang-bang controller of some sort (PWM). Dissipation in the FET would be very close to zero, since it would be either off (no current flow) or switched fully on (low Rds(on), little voltage drop across it) except during the switch-on/switch-off transitions. The resistors would have to handle all of the heat stress.

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Huh, an FET with thermal overload... (the vnp10n07 is not in stock at DK.) I'll search more. Thanks

George H.

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Right, I guess my picture, is that I'm changing the resistance of the fet with Vgs. (Ids vs Vgs plots) like from an ohm to 100's of ohms. For low Ron fets (well I've only looked a few) that change is over a smaller gate voltage. (I'm going to have to go read AoE on fets again.)

Yeah, 1 ohm resistor to ground.

George H.

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you might want to google "linear mosfet" not all common switching mosfets are happy being run in linear mode

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Yeah that's right. (I need to change resistors to match the new voltage better. That will make the fet happier too. ~17W) I'll cut the max current down too. ~50W total.

I want to know where is this "Great Font"? :^)

The biggest issue is running it at high temperature. If the heat sink is at 120C..

Right that's what I figured. I had crazy idea's of sticking a bent piece of brass U shape, over the package with a hole for the mounting screw. Hey would copper tape help?

I'm going to try one of the bigger packages. Oh! What's the best sil pad/ insulator?

Right it works, but isn't delta(R)/delta(Vgs) smaller for a higher Ron Fet? (I have to move Vgs more to get the same change.)

Well that's my working assumption.

I never knew that, (I really don't know much about fets in general.) Isn't that another reason to use a FET with higher Ron?

No No, this is all linear.

George H.

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... then the FET junction could be very hot indeed. You'd better look at the data sheet, use the "junction to case" and "case to heatsink" thermal impedances to calculate the junction temperature at your worst-case power dissipation, and see if the part's going to survive it.

Let's see... STP100N8F6 (a 100-amp, 80-volt part) has an absolute-maximum junction temperature of 175C, and a junction-to-case thermal resistance of .85C/W. At 22 watts dissipation, that's almost

19C of delta, so the junction would be at around 139C. Nonconductive thermal pads for TO-220 seems to start at around .33C/W, so that's another 7C or so, so you're up to around 145C.

That's not a whole lot of safety margin. I'd expect that the lifetime of the FET might be seriously compromised if you run it that hot for very much time at all.

Possibly a silicon-carbide FET would be a better choice than silicon.

You need thick metal (to minimize thermal resistance, and carry the heat away from the package), with a *lot* of radiating surface facing outwards (to radiate the heat away as IR). Black-anodized would probably be the best.

None at all (>>grin At that current level, the FET will "look like" a 45-ohm resistor.

Not necessarily. Transconductance (delta I / delta Vgs), and the final on-resistance aren't the same thing.

Yup... and that means that you need more efficient heat-sinking (along with perhaps other things).

Maybe yes, maybe no... I don't think there's necessarily a direct relationship there. It's going to depend on the internal structure of the FET. A high-Rds(on) FET might simply have a smaller die, or poorer conductivity in the metal layers or etc. This _might_ result in it ballasting itself well enough to avoid hot spots, or it might have no beneficial effect at all.

You need to actually look at the characteristics of the specific part you're interested in.

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On resistance doesn't apply -- to the extent that you care about anything, you care about the transconductance.

I suspect that on resistance and transconductance correlate, but it's still transconductance that you care about.

```--
Tim Wescott
Control systems, embedded software and circuit design ```
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Cheers

Klaus

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Thanks for that. I'll have to push my own numbers around again. Everything will be helped by raising the resistor values. With 66 ohm at 64V I get max power dissipation of 15W.

Right. There are way too many FET's out there. It's hard to know where to start.

George H.

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OK... (transconductance isn't a category on the DK spread sheet :^)

I've been looking more at "input admittance" (Id vs Vgs) but those should be intimately related.

George H.

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Thanks Klaus, that's interesting. There are all these different "flavors" (Digikey calls them series) of FET's. I found a few by IXYS that are listed as "linear"

George H.

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Are you designing it to run in a vacuum?

Thermal paths will change in the absence of convection.

Vds = VCC/2 maximum fet dissipation Ids = max Maximum assembly dissipation.

RL

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Yes. (I think there are times it's in a nitrogen.)

No fixed.

Right thanks. Thanks to Dave Platt (above) I see I didn't spend enough time on my thermal calculations.

George H.

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that you want to use a fet instead of a resistor to create heat

it's ok to make use the ___unavoidable___ heat from the fet, but you should deign the system to use the resistor as the primary heat source.

there is a relationship between mtbf and junction temp m

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The whole control loop is linear with current feed back then.

It will rarely be run at the limits. (But it still has to run there... or reduce the limits.)

BTW I picked this "bad boy".

We'll see.

George H.

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To "correctly" use a FET as a heater, it does not matter what its on resistance is, within reason. This is because pretty much all fets can be set to blow themselves up with enough volts and current. All that really matters is that the fet can dissipate the amount of power you want from it. Its like, what gives out more heat, a 1KW oil field radiator, or a 1KW fan blower.

The idea is to use a temperature sensor and have the FET in a thermal loop. The loop is used to force the current X voltage to be whatever it needs to be.

For example, this is the sort of technique that is used in OCXO (oven controlled xtal oscillator) ASICS :-)

-- Kevin Aylward