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Power management takes several forms. In both commercial and industrial facilities, management is more complex than in residential applications. For the most part, power management in the home consists of fuses (although increasingly falling into disuse) and circuit breakers.

Managing Power in the Workplace - Fuses

Steve Maurer, IME
Power management takes several forms. In both commercial and industrial facilities, management is more complex than in residential applications. For the most part, power management in the home consists of fuses (although increasingly falling into disuse) and circuit breakers.

In fact, perhaps the most sophisticated power management you'll find in residential applications is the surge suppressor, or combo surge suppressor and battery backup. With many people working from home via the internet, this has become a crucial concern with many remote workers.

And with the aging power grid in America, supplying consistent power is also important, with AC power supplied by emergency generators and even solar power.

But when it comes to commercial, and particularly industrial applications, managing power takes on more complex connotations.

Protecting electronic components
Proper fusing is of vital importance when protecting electronic equipment from overloads and short circuits. The requirements are different from those that are used for typical AC protection.

In AC applications you may need to account for inrush current, the slight overcurrent caused by an inductive load. Found primarily in motor circuits, the load pulls a large amount of current at start up, then "settles down" to normal full-load running current, often with in a few cycles or seconds. These overcurrent conditions are usually temporary and harmless.

A time-delay fuse is designed to handle the inrush currents and open on sustained overloads and/or short circuits.

Many times dual-element fuses are used, which consist of two individual fuse elements connected in series in the fuse body. One is a spring activated trigger, opening when overloads reach 5 to 6 times the fuse current rating. The other element operates on short-circuits up to its interrupting rating.

However, this can damage electronics and other semiconductor devices. The fuses used in this circumstance are either fast acting fuses or high speed fuses.

Semiconductor protection fuses are used to protect against overcurrent conditions in power electronic equipment. They are specifically designed to reduce the I2t, peak let-through current and arc voltages during a fault condition.

Some applications would be power inverters, converters, VFDs, and power conditioning. If you're designing a piece of equipment where protection of solid state components is important, I'd suggest partnering with a fuse company that employs design staff to help you get exactly the protection necessary.

EVs (electric vehicles) are another areas that's seen a lot of growth. Hybrid DC overcurrent protection devices for battery applications have been and are continuing to be developed for this specialized application. One of the leaders in the field is Mersen.

Mersen's Hybrid DC Overcurrent Protective Device is composed of a fast acting pyro element, controlled by a gate current, plus a parallel clearing element. This protection meets custom requirements of very fast operating time and very high overload current.

Mersen's Hybrid DC Power Relay is engineered to provide high DC switching performances versus conventional mechanical DC power relay, switch, and contactor. This power relay is a hybrid technology with the capability of switching both high voltage and high current designed especially for electrical vehicle applications.
Photo courtesy of Mersen
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