Alternating current (AC) travels from the power lines into your house wiring. Direct current (DC) powers appliances like TVs, cell phones, computers and stereos through the conversion of AC into DC. Bridge rectifiers turn AC and voltage into DC and voltage. The specifications vary from device to device, but there are some commonalities.
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Maximum Recurrent Peak Reverse Voltage
The maximum recurrent peak reverse voltage describes the largest voltage a bridge rectifier can consistently endure. This voltage is the difference between the highest positive output voltage and the most negative input voltage in positive power supplies. The maximum recurrent peak reverse voltage is often double the maximum output voltage.
Maximum RMS Bridge Input Voltage
The maximum RMS bridge input voltage describes the largest AC input voltage a bridge rectifier can endure. The bridge rectifier can catastrophically fail if you apply an input voltage in excess of this value. This includes any combination of AC and DC voltage.
Maximum Average Forward Output Current
The maximum average forward output current describes the largest DC current a bridge rectifier can sustain. The power supply that holds the bridge rectifier cannot consistently provide more DC current than the maximum average forward output current.
Peak Forward Surge Current
The peak forward surge current describes the absolute maximum DC current a bridge rectifier can provide. The peak forward surge current includes a time duration. Exceeding either the current or the time duration results in catastrophic failure of the bridge rectifier.
Maximum Forward Voltage Drop per Element
During operation, a bridge rectifier sustains certain losses. One of the most notable losses, maximum forward voltage drop per element, occurs across each diode in the array. This loss reaches its peak at the maximum average forward output current. The maximum forward voltage drop per element is usually one volt for silicon-based rectifiers.
Maximum DC Reverse Current
The maximum DC reverse current describes the leakage current of the individual diodes in the bridge rectifier. The maximum DC reverse current arises from losses in the diodes that comprise the bridge rectifier. If the diodes were perfect, no current would flow in the reverse (blocking) direction.
Typical Junction Capacitance
Junction capacitance results from the structure of the diodes in the bridge rectifier. Junction capacitance can affect the ability of a bridge rectifier to convert AC into pure DC. High frequency signals (noise) from a power supply may affect sensitive circuits, like high gain amplifiers or digital (computer) circuits.
Typical Thermal Resistance
Typical thermal resistance describes the ability of a bridge rectifier to distribute the heat to the outside of its case when AC is converted to DC. Most high-power bridge rectifiers provide a connection from the case to a heat sink (usually metal) that further aids in dissipating the heat.
When maximum average forward output current or maximum RMS bridge input voltage increases, the typical thermal resistance becomes more important. Lower typical thermal resistance values are better than larger ones.
Bridge rectifiers come in many package types. Single inline packages (SIP) usually contain high-power bridge rectifiers. SIPs mount easily to facilitate transferring heat to a heat sink or other surface.
Dual inline packages (DIP) contain medium- and low-power bridge rectifiers. DIPs have 0.2-inch lead spacing that mounts conveniently to circuit boards.
When space is a premium, a surface mount package provides the smallest bridge rectifier possible. Surface mount packages contain only low-power bridge rectifiers.
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