Relay Operating Temperature Effects

Reed Relays are sometimes considered a mundane component by design engineers and often little thought is given to their operating parameters. One of these parameters is operating temperature and failure to consider its effects can lead to the possibility of the relay not operating at high temperatures.

The relay’s reed switch is operated by a magnetic field generated by a coil which is wound around it using copper wire. Copper has a positive coefficient of resistance of approximately 0.4% per °C and its resistance will increase with temperature at this rate. As the resistance increases, the current and therefore the level of magnetic field will fall.

Unfortunately though, relays are often considered a mundane component and little thought is given to them by the design engineer which can lead to problems.

In general, the most common construction for a reed relay offers no magnetic screening, involves the use of a hard moulded package and an operating coil wound on a plastic bobbin surrounding the reed switch capsule. Pickering offer a technically superior solution.


Distribution of Operate Voltages

The industry standard ‘Must Operate Voltage’ sometimes called the ‘Pull-In Voltage’ is 75% of nominal and usually quoted at 25°C. For a 5V relay this would be equal to 3.75V, although in practice it will be lower than this figure. The first graph below shows the actual distribution of Operate Voltages for a batch of 1000 Pickering relays. In the second graph you can see how this operate voltage figure will change with temperature.

Pickering Series 109P Reed Relays are magnetically screened single-in-line form A relays that stack on 0.15 inches x 0.6 inches pitch.

Operate Voltage Versus Temperature

Remember that there will also be a voltage drop in the relay driver that needs to be taken into account. It can be clearly seen that at higher temperatures it is possible that the relay will not operate at its nominal coil drive voltage. For Reed Relays other than those manufactured by Pickering, magnetic interaction with adjacent relays will also need to be considered. This is explained in the previous blog post: The unique features of Pickering Reed Relays.

Pickering are able to supply Reed Relays with an increased magnetic drive level to accommodate higher temperatures if requested and also have sensitive 3V coil versions in many ranges.