Limiting Inrush Current

Inrush current or input surge current refers to the maximum, instantaneous input current drawn by an electrical device during its initial turn on.

Power converters also feature high inrush currents relative to their steady state currents that may be several times their normal full-load current when first energized.

The inrush current of a power converter is typically the charging current of the input capacitance.

Limiting Inrush Current

Problems Caused by Inrush Current:

Inrush currents can be problematic in circuits that utilize overload protection devices such as fuses and circuit breakers. The selection of overcurrent protection devices is made more complicated when high inrush currents are present. False overload conditions can trigger unwanted protection events.

In installations where multiple DC/DC converters are powered by a single higher power converter installed “upstream”, multiply simultaneous inrush currents from the downstream converters can cause the upstream converter to go into overload or short circuit protection, resulting in a complete shutdown of the power distribution circuit. See Figure 1 Here the total current drawn from the 5W upstream converter is the sum of the three inrush currents.

There are three passive components that can be installed at the input to the converter that will help reduce the inrush currents: resistors, inductors, and thermistors.

A resistor in series with the line can be used to limit the current that is charging input capacitors with typical values of between 0.5O to 1 O. This approach is not very efficient, especially in high power devices, since the resistor will have a voltage drop and dissipate some power.

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