An AC mains solid state relay or SSR is a device which is used for switching heavy AC loads at mains level, through isolated minimal DC voltage triggers, without incorporating mechanical moving contacts.
In this post we learn how to construct a simple solid state relay or an SSR circuit using a few BJTs, a zero crossing opto coupler and a triac
Advantage of Solid State SSR over Mechanical Relays
Mechanical type of relays can be pretty inefficient in applications which require highly smooth, very swift and clean switching.
The proposed circuit of an SSR can be built at home and used in places which require truly sophisticated load handling.
A solid state relay circuit with in built zero crossing detector is described in this article.
The circuit is very easy to understand and build yet provides with useful features like clean switching, free from RF disturbances, and able to handle loads up to 500 watts.We have learned a lot about relays and how they function.
We know that these devices are used for switching heavy electrical loads through external isolated pair of contacts, in response to a small electrical pulse received from an electronic circuit output.
Normally the trigger input is in the vicinity of the relay coil voltage, which may be 6, 12 or 24 V DC, while the load and the current switched by the relay contacts are mostly at the levels of AC mains potentials.
Basically relays are useful because they are able to toggle heavy connected to their contacts without bringing the dangerous potentials in contact with the vulnerable electronic circuit through which it is being switched.
However the advantages are accompanied by a few critical drawbacks which cannot be ignored. Since the contacts involve mechanical operations, sometimes are quite inept with sophisticated circuits which require highly accurate, quick and efficient switching.
Mechanical relays also have the bad reputation of generating RF interference and noise during switching which also results in its contacts degradation with time.
Using SCR ot Triac for Making SSR
Triacs and SCRs are thought to be good replacements in places where the above relays prove inefficient, however these too may involve RF interference generation problems while operating.
Also SCRs and Triacs when integrated directly to electronic circuits require the circuit’s ground line to be connected with its cathode, which means the circuit section is now no longer isolated from the lethal AC voltages from the device – a serious drawback as far as safety to the user is concerned.
However a triac can be very efficiently implemented if the above discussed couple of drawbacks are completely taken care of. Therefore the two things which must be removed with triacs, if they were to be efficiently replaced for relays are, RF interference while changeover, and the entry of the dangerous mains into the circuit.
Solid State relays are designed exactly with the above specifications, which eliminates RF inference and also keeps the two stages completely aloof from exh other.
Commercial SSRs can be very costly and aren’t serviceable if anything goes wrong. However making a solid state relay all by you and using it for the required application can be just what the “doctor had ordered.” Since it can be built using discrete electronic components becomes completely repairable, modifiable and moreover it provides you with a clear idea regarding the internal operations of the system.
Here we will study the making of a simple solid state relay.
How it Works
As discussed in the above section, in the proposed SSR or solid state relay circuit design the RF interference is checked by forcing the triac to switch only around the zero mark of the AC sine phase and the use of an opto coupler ensures that the input is kept well away from the AC mains potentials present with the triac circuit.
Let’s try to understand how the circuit functions:
As shown in the diagram the opto coupler becomes the portal between the trigger and the switching circuit. The input trigger is applied to the LED of the opto which illuminates and makes the photo-transistor conduct.
The voltage from the photo-transistor passes across the collector to the emitter and finally reaches the triac’s gate to operate it.
The above operation is pretty ordinary and is commonly associated with the trigger of all Triacs and SCRs. However this may not be enough to make the RF noise eliminate.
The section comprising the three transistors and some resistors are especially introduced with the view of checking the RF generation, by ensuring that the triac conducts only in the vicinity of the zero thresholds of the AC sine waveform.
When AC mains is applied to the circuit, a rectified DC becomes available at the collector of the opto transistor and it conducts as explained above, however the voltage at the junction of the resistors connected to the base of T1 is so adjusted that it conducts immediately after the AC waveform rises above the 7 volt mark. For so long the waveform stays above this level keeps T1 switched ON.
This grounds the collector voltage of the opto transistor, inhibiting the triac from conducting, but the moment the voltage reaches 7 volts and nears zero, the transistors stop conducting allowing the triac to switch.
The process is repeated during the negative half cycle when T2, T3 conducts in response to voltages above minus 7 volts again making sute that the triac fires only when the phase potential nears zero, effectively eliminating the induction of zero crossing RF interferences.
Circuit Diagram of Solid State SSR Circuit
Parts List for the proposed solid state relay circuit
- R1 = 120 K,
- R2 = 680K,
- R3 = 1 K,
- R4 = 330 K,
- R5 = 1 M,
- R6 = 100 Ohms 1 W,
- C1 = 220 uF / 25 V,
- C2 = 474 / 400 V Metalized Polyester
- C3 = 0.22uF/400V PPC
- Z1 = 30 volts, 1 W,
- T1, T2 =BC547B,
- T3 = BC557B,
- TR1 = BT 36,
- OP1 = MCT2E or similar.
Using SCR Opto-Coupler 4N40
Today with the advent of modern opto-couplers, making a high grade solid state relay (SSR) has really become easy. The 4N40 is one of these devices which uses a photo SCR for the required isolated triggering of an AC load.
This opto-coupler can be simply configured for creating a highly reliable and effective SSR circuit. This circuit can be used for triggering a 220V load through a thoroughly isolated 5V logic control, as shown below:
Image courtesy: Farnel