Discussing Pulse-Width Modulation

[Michael Kleinigger] posted a lengthy discussion on Pulse-Width Modulation that goes beyond the traditional beginner tutorial. He starts a bit of background info on PWM and a tip about using a camera to judge frequency and duty cycle of LEDs. From there it’s down the rabbit hole with some testing of power-loss versus frequency.

When you change from frequencies of 50 Hz to 1 MHz how does the parasitic power loss from switching affect the overall efficiency of the circuit? It turns out there’s a rather large amount of loss at the highest level, around 1.5 mW. The greatest balance of low power loss and elimination of flicker seems to be right in the 300-500 Hz range.

Parasitic power devices


Aside from having a very cool name, parasitic power is an innovate way to recapture already spent power. This power can come in the form of wasted heating or cooling of a building for example. Last week the Southern Methodist University activated the first commercial Green Machine from ElectraTherm. The unit recycles residual heat from the building into electricity. So far, the 50kW Green Machine has exceeded expectations. The company also says owners can recoup the units cost after about three years.

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