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Application Guide Snubber Capacitors

Designing RC Snubber Networks


Snubbers are any of several simple energy The selection process is easy in this catalog
absorbing circuits used to eliminate voltage spikes peak current and rms current capability is provided
caused by circuit inductance when a switch either with the capacitance ratings. The peak current
mechanical or semi-conductoropens. The object capability is the dV/dt capability times the nominal
of the snubber is to eliminate the voltage transient capacitance. The rms current capability is the
and ringing that occurs when the switch opens by lower of the current which causes the capacitor
providing an alternate path for the current owing to heat up 15C or the current which causes the
through the circuits intrinsic leakage inductance. capacitor to reach its AC voltage.
Snubbers in switchmode power supplies provide
Weve included dV/dt capability tables to allow
one or more of these three valuable functions:
you to compare CDE snubber capacitors to other
Shape the load line of a bipolar switching transis- brands. Dipped mica capacitors can withstand
tor to keep it in its safe operating area. dV/dts of more than 100,000 V/s for all ratings
Remove energy from a switching transistor and and Type DPPs can withstand more than 2000 V/
dissipate the energy in a resistor to reduce junc- s. For high-voltage snubbers, Types DPFF and
tion temperature. DPPS handle more than 3000 V / s, and Types
Reduce ringing to limit the peak voltage on a DPMF and DPPM, more than 1000 V/s. See the
switching transistor or rectifying diode and to table for values according to case length.
reduce EMI by reducing emissions and lower-
Assuming that the source impedance is negligible
ing their frequency.
the worst case assumption the peak current for
The most popular snubber circuit is a capacitor and your RC Snubber is:
a series resistor connected across a switch. Heres V0 = open circuit voltage
how to design that ubiquitous RC Snubber: V0
Ipk = R RS = snubber resistance
Component Selection: Choose a resistor thats S
Cs = snubber capacitance
noninductive. A good choice is a carbon composition
resistor. A carbon lm resistor is satisfactory unless And the peak dV/dt is:
its trimmed to value with a spiral abrasion pattern.
Avoid wirewound because it is inductive.
V
dV/dtpk = R0 C
s s
Choose a capacitor to withstand the stratospherically
high peak currents in snubbers. For capacitance While for a sinewave excitation voltage, rms
values up to 0.01 F, look first at dipped mica current in amps is the familiar:
capacitors. For higher capacitance values, look at
the Type DPP radial-leaded polypropylene, lm/foil f = frequency in Hz
6
capacitors. Axial-leaded Type WPP is as good Irms = 2fCVrms x 10 C = capacitance in F
except for the higher inductance intrinsic to axial- V = voltage in Vrms
leaded devices.
The highest Type DPP rated voltage is 630 Vdc For a squarewave you can approximate rms and
and the highest Type WPP voltage is 1000 Vdc. peak current as:
For higher voltages and capacitances, stay with CVpp
polypropylene lm/foil capacitors, choosing the case Irms =
.64 tT Vpp = peak-peak volts
size you prefer from Types DPFF and DPPS
selections. For the smallest case size, choose and t = pulse width in s
CVpp V = voltage in Vrms
Type DPPM or DPMF, but realize that these types
Ipeak = T=Pulse periods in s
include oating metallized lm as common foils .64 tT
to achieve small size. The use of metallized lm
Other Capacitor Types: Heres a last word on capacitor
reduces the peak current capability to from a third choice to help you venture out on your own into the
to a fth of the other high-voltage choices. uncharted territory of capacitors not specied for use
in snubbers and are not in this section.
CDE Cornell Dubilier s 1605 E. Rodney French Blvd. s New Bedford, MA 02744 s Phone: (508)996-8561 s Fax: (508)996-3830 s www.cde.com
Application Guide Snubber Capacitors
Realize that metallized lm types and high-K ceramic 1 = 780 pF
types have limited peak-current and transient
Cs = 2 3)
(160) (50 x 10
withstanding capability, on the order of 50 to 200 V/s.
Polyester has 15 times the loss of polypropylene and Optimum Snubber Design: For optimum snubber
is t only for low rms currents or duty cycles. And, be design using the AC characteristics of your circuit,
sure to take voltage and temperature coefcients into rst determine the circuits intrinsic capacitance
account. While a micas or a Type DPPs capacitance and inductance. Suppose you were designing
is nearly independent of voltage and temperature, by a snubber for the same transistor switch as in
comparison, a high-K ceramic dielectric like Y5V can the Quick example. Then on a scope note the
lose of its capacitance from room temperature to ringing frequency of the voltage transient when
50C (122F) and lose another from zero volts to
the transistor turns off. Next, starting with a 100 pF
50% rated voltage.
mica capacitor, increase the capacitance across
Quick Snubber Design: Where power dissipation is not the transistor in steps until the ringing frequency
critical, there is a quick way to design a snubber. Plan is half of the starting frequency. The capacitance
on using a 2-watt carbon composition resistor. Choose
you have added in parallel with the transistors
the resistor value so that the same current can continue
intrinsic capacitance has now increased the total
to ow without voltage overshoot after the switch opens
and the current is diverted into the snubber. Measure capacitance by a factor of four as the ringing
or calculate the voltage across the switch after it opens frequency is inversely proportional to the square root
and the current through it at the instant before the of the circuits inductance capacitance product:
switch opens. For the current to ow through the resistor
without requiring a voltage overshoot, Ohms Law says fo = 1
the resistance must be: 2 LC
Vo = off voltage
R Vo So, the transistors intrinsic capacitance, Ci, is of the
I I = on current added capacitance, and the circuit inductance, from the
above equation, is:
The resistors power dissipation is independent of
the resistance R because the resistor dissipates 1
Li = fi = initial ringing frequency
the energy stored in the snubber capacitor, C (2f ) 2
i i Ci = intrinsic capacitance
CsVo2, for each voltage transition regardless of the
(added capacitance) /3
resistance. Choose the capacitance to cause the
Li = intrinsic inductance
2-watt resistor to dissipate half of its power rating,
one watt. For two times fs transitions per second, When the transistor switch opens, the snubber
the resistor will dissipate one watt when: capacitor looks like a short to the voltage change,
2
1 = (CsVo )(2fs) fs = switching frequency and only the snubber resistor is in the circuit. Choose
a resistor value no larger than the characteristic
Cs = 12 impedance of the circuit so that the inductive current
Vo fs to be snubbed can continue unchanged without a
As an illustration, suppose that you have designed voltage transient when the switch opens:
a switchmode converter and you want to snub one R = Li/Ci
of the transistor switches. The switching frequency
is 50 kHz and the open-switch voltage is 160 Vdc You may need to choose an even smaller resistance
with a maximum switch current of 5A. The resistor to reduce voltage overshoot. The right resistance
value must be: can be as little as half the characteristic impedance
for better sampling of the Intrinsic LC circuit.
R 160/5 = 32
The power dissipated in the resistor is the energy
and the capacitance value is: in the capacitance, CsVo2, times the switching

CDE Cornell Dubilier s 1605 E. Rodney French Blvd. s New Bedford, MA 02744 s Phone: (508)996-8561 s Fax: (508)996-3830 s www.cde.com
Application Guide Snubber Capacitors
frequency, fs, times the number of voltage transitions And calculate the circuit inductance:
per cycle. For example, if your circuit is a half-bridge 1
converter, there are two voltage transitions per cycle Li = -12
= 0.196 H
(67 x 10 )(244 x 106)2
and the power in the resistor is:
Cs = snubber capacitance And the snubber resistor value:
Pr = CsV02 fs
Vo = off voltage R= 0.196/67 (10-3) = 54
fs = switching frequency
Before you can calculate the resistor power dissipation,
Choose a snubber capacitance value which meets you must rst choose the snubber capacitance:
two requirements:
1) It can provide a nal energy storage greater than LiI2 ton
< Cs <
the energy in the circuit inductance V02 10R
CsVo2 > Li I2 I = closed circuit
(0.196 x 10-6)(5)2 2 x 10-6
2
L iI < Cs <
Cs > (160)2 (10)(54)
Vo2

and, 192 < Cs < 3700 pF

2) it produces a time constant with the snubber Since power dissipation in the resistor is proportional
resistor that is small compared to the shortest to the capacitance, choose a standard capacitance
expected on-time for the transistor switch. value near the low end of the above range. For a
RCs < ton/10 220 pF capacitor and two transitions per cycle, the
power dissipation in the resistor is:
Cs < ton/10R
Pr = (220 x 10-12)(160)2(50 x 103) = 0.2 W
Choosing a capacitance near the low end of the Comparing the Quick design to the Optimum
range reduces power dissipated in the resistor, and design, you see that for the same converter switch
choosing a capacitance 8 to 10 times the intrinsic the required snubber resistors power capability was
capacitance, Ci, almost suppresses the voltage reduced by a factor of 5, from 1 W to 0.2 W, and the
overshoot at switch turn off. Try a capacitance at the snubber capacitance was reduced by a factor of 3.5,
low end of the range as the initial value and increase from 780 pF to 220 pF. This was possible because
it later if needed. the additional circuit measurements revealed that the
source impedance was actually 54 rather than 32
Now revisit the Quick example with the added data , and that the circuit inductance permitted a smaller
permitting Optimum design. Youve taken some capacitance to swallow the circuits energy.
more measurements on your switchmode converter:
the ringing frequency of the voltage transient when Usually the Quick method is completely adequate for
the transistor switch opens is 44 MHz and an added nal design. Start with the Quick approach to prove
parallel capacitance of 200 pF reduces the ringing your circuit breadboard, and go on to the Optimum
frequency to 22 MHz. The switching frequency is 50 approach only if power efciency and size constraints
kHz with a 10% minimum duty cycle, and the open- dictate the need for optimum design.
switch voltage is 160 Vdc with a maximum switch
current of 5A. So you know the following: NOTE: For more on RC snubber design, for RCD snubber design,
and for snubber design using IGBT snubber modules, get the
fi = 44 MHz application note, Design of Snubbers for Power Circuits, at www.
cde.com
Ci = 200/3 = 67 pF
fs = 50 kHz
ton = 0.1/(50 x 103) = 2 s
Vo = 160 Vdc
I = 5A

CDE Cornell Dubilier s 1605 E. Rodney French Blvd. s New Bedford, MA 02744 s Phone: (508)996-8561 s Fax: (508)996-3830 s www.cde.com
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