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firstname.lastname@example.org asked Choosing the correct relay or MOSFET.?
I am making a project that requires the ability to switch large voltages relative to my logic voltage. The system consists of 4 deep cycle lead acid batteries in series, being charged by an external source. They run at approximately 12.6V each like a standard automotive battery, for a total of between just below 48V to a MAX of 57Volts (4 series lead acid batteries are considered overcharged at around 57V). I want to be able to dump the excess power from this 4 battery array through an external load. The load will be approximately 8Ohms, and will draw 7.0625Amax (assuming 57V). I had planned on sizing the relay or switch for 8 Amps just to be safe. I would like to find a relay or MOSFET solution that can be driven by a 5V level logic such as an Arduino or other micro-controller. I would like to use a relay, but do not know how to size them properly. I am also very unfamiliar with how to set up a MOSFET switch. I have some experience with these batteries and with micro-controllers, I just do not have experience sizing relays or building MOSFET circuits. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Also the switching frequency will be very low. This circuit will be switched on for a period of time (long enough to drain some power off the batteries) and then switch off again (allowing the batteries to charge up once more). *So we are doing this to test a solar system / windmill system. We are intentionally wasting the power as we have no way to use it currently. We need to keep the system running, but it will automatically power down after the batteries are overcharged and that will interfere with our measurements. * There are also commercial solutions for this, they are called dump load controllers and they are often tied to a resistive load heating element in a water heater or space heater, where dissipating 400W into heat would actually be a great use of the power generated. I have used these before, but needed a quick and dirty solution that cost me far less and I could be more free to change as needed. ** Thanks for all the info provided. Yes on the hysteresis. The one we currently have has no hysteresis and cost about $180 + the cost of what appear to be the same resistors linked below from a different supplier. It is very well sealed which added to the cost but i think runs for maybe $100 or so without the enclosure and the company that makes them quit doing so. I was happy with this one, but since I am kinda stuck in transition now I wanted to see what it would really take to make one and thought that going through this exercise would help in narrowing down what I want in one and what to look for if I were to shop around. I still would like to build one, but as was stated below did want to be careful with certain failures. As for shutting down the system problems, yes we are trying to measure the power generated by this setup. There are charge controllers that will automatically power down to prevent an overcharge on the batteries, which means I lose any potential dat
And got the following answer:
What measurements are you taking and why? Are you just logging available wind power and is that why "shutting the system down" interferes? How much money is "far less?" For example, the first link below is a load dump controller for about US$80 delivered ($70 before shipping.) I think I saw that particular controller on Amazon and elsewhere, so I guess it is very common. Why won't that do the job? (Yes, I know, it needs something to dump into -- 2nd link below for a 10.4Ω version rated for 48V systems.) Also, can you provide the specifications? In other words, is this an "on-off" bang-bang controller method or do you want some hysteresis in it? (For example, it turns on at 56V and shuts off at 49V and where you can set these points independently of each other?) Do you want it to target a specific voltage at the battery and simply dump to keep it there, as a PI or PID controller might? Even PI and PID controllers are pretty cheap these days. Why are you trying to do this on the fly? In any case, designing something like this (if I am reading you right) isn't rocket science but it isn't trivial if you want to be safe and secure and not worry. What if the transistor (BJT) fails shorted, for example? That happens about ¾ of the time they fail and open the rest of the time, so it cannot be ignored. In the case of MOSFETs, they fail in several ways, not just two -- but they fail short about ½ the time and fail open only about 5% of the time. This is why good design takes thought. And when you are talking about hundreds of watts, expensive batteries, acids, etc., it's not something to just brush off. If you provide a crafted specification (perhaps taken from a load dump controller you could use) and provide a price range that you'd consider, then perhaps someone might be able to make a reasoned suggestion. You'd need to provide details about the load you would dump into, though. That may impact the design. So might the existing charging system on the other end of the batteries, too. EDIT: You say, "I still would like to build one." That doesn't say "design one." So you might look up DIY in conjunction with load dump controllers with google and see if there are some satisfactory DIY designs out there. If you want to design one, as well, then perhaps you need to take this one step at a time and first focus on a safe switching system to handle the current into some specific load type (nichrome style space heater or bread toaster, for example, and are very cheap and fairly safe but sadly designed for AC ... so some hacking is indicated.) You can make your own resistors. Cotronics is your "go to" supplier for everything designed to work with heater elements. I have a tub here of Resbond 920, which is their ceramic adhesive and potting compound and also quite a length of their ceramic tape, too. Go to their web site and look around. It's really a great place if you are making resistors for dumping heat safely. Nothing else around quite like them. And the prices won't kill you, either. But you do have to order some kind of qty. If you have questions, email them and they will help you figure your problem out nicely and tell you what products they have, and why, that may apply. Especially if at some point you are going to productize what you are doing, it's a good idea to formalize some kind of relationship with them. Anyway, I still don't see specifications (of even a price point) so I can't add much beyond the above.