Andries de Bruin, European Product Marketing Manager at Omron Electronic Components Europe explores the  new generations of switches enabling eco-friendly energy saving systems, to keep a pace with evolving efficiency standards

The European Union’s Ecodesign Directive is built on the Energy Labelling Directive by establishing a framework that compels manufacturers of electronic and electrical systems and other energy using products to reduce their energy consumption. The Directive is the most important initiative by the EU to improve energy efficiency by 20 percent by the year 2020. It aims to reduce the environmental impact of energy-related products (ErPs), including the energy consumption throughout their entire life cycle.

It specifies that the power consumption of equipment in any off-mode condition shall not exceed 0.50W. In Standby Mode, consumption should also not exceed 0.50W, unless the equipment has a status display in which case 1W is permissible. Compliance with the directive not only saves cost for the end consumer, but also prolongs the life of electrical equipment by ensuring that it is properly powered down.

Switches and relays play a key part in ensuring compliance with this major directive, as they can ensure that subsystems and functions are fully powered down when not in use, for example when a system is in standby.

The ideal, clearly, is to achieve zero standby power design. This is a real challenge because not only does the system need to be fully and completely powered down, but the mechanism that powers the system back up when it is needed also needs to draw zero power.

The new relay features a non-polarised contact circuit which makes it smaller and lighter, but also simplifies the wiring and mounting in vehicles and other systems……

Remote reset switches provide a great solution, drawing no power until they are activated. Omron Electronic Components Europe has recently introduced one of the the industry’s smallest remote-reset rocker switches supporting zero-standby power design. The company’s new A8GS switch works to assist in implementing systems that meet or exceed the requirements of the European Commission ErP Ecodesign directive.  It is ideal for use as a power switch for a whole range of industrial and consumer electrical applications featuring high inrush current durability conforming to TV-8 standards.

One key issue with remote shut-down of systems is that some equipment needs to follow a set shut-down sequence to avoid loss of data or circuit damage. For example, capacitors may need to be discharged before a system can be regarded as safely switched off. To address this, the company has developed the A8GS-T, featuring a delayed off function to allow safe shut down of electrical equipment.

With this switch, the power to the system is maintained when the switch is returned to the off position. The system is then powered down by an external signal after an interval determined by the designer.

Tamper proof switches

Remote reset switches are just one of a number of examples in the way in which new switch designs are evolving to address new challenges. For example, a major issue with Smart Meters, industrial control systems and other applications is tamper detection. Omron has recently introduced the new D2FS ultra sub miniature snap-action switch specifically to give highly reliable, long-term operation especially with very low switching frequencies.

New DC power relays include one of the world’s smallest and lightest high capacity DC power relays for electric, fuel cell and hybrid vehicles. The company’s new G9EN is half the size (28 by 40 by 50mm) and weight (140g) of previous comparable 400VDC 60A relays. This breakthrough was achieved using newly developed proprietary sealing technologies and new magnetic control methods. The new relay also features a non-polarised contact circuit which not only helps make it smaller and lighter, but also simplifies the wiring and mounting in vehicles and other systems.

The company has also added two relays to address the very specific low power and long term reliability characteristics required for renewable energy applications. Features of the G7L-PV DPST-NO and G8P-BG SPST-NO range include a fast operate time of typically <20ms, long life and a low power coil.

These relays are also ideal for other medium high power dc applications such as charge controllers and battery powered  UPS back-up systems.
Whether the need is to fully power down systems on standby, to connect renewable energy generation systems to the grid or to protect smart meters against illegal tampering, relays and switches are playing a central role in making the next generation of electronic and electrical systems energy efficient and capable of making a real contribution to the reduction of energy use.

Omron Electronic Components Europe
+31 (23) 568 1200