Just wondering how to treat a resistor power rating if the resistor is only getting current passed through it for 1us or less? Is it reasonable to exceed the power rating significantly (say 10x) for such short pulses or unwise?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Use RMS for 1us pulses. If the pulse time is much less than the thermal time constant of the part, then use RMS. \$\endgroup\$
    – user57037
    Feb 6, 2015 at 3:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ It depends on the resistor type. I did this by accident with 300W wirewound resistors yesterday. It glowed red hot brighter than an oven for a few seconds, but survived. Definitely would not be the case with other types of resistors. I think 5kW may have been flowing through it. \$\endgroup\$
    – DKNguyen
    Sep 26, 2019 at 1:26

2 Answers 2


Pulse handling is a highly variable characteristic. You can often find this this information in manufacturers' handbooks, occasionally on the datasheet. Some resistors are specially designed for pulse handling capability and that will be well characterized. Things like the trimming method can affect the maximums- I would suggest not taking chances if reliability is important.

Here is such a resistor (Panasonic ERJ-P08J101V surge-resisting) which compares the pulse handling ability with more conventional resistors (note the test limits- 1,000 cycles and +/-5% permissible resistance change).

enter image description here

In this case, a 2/3W resistor can withstand 20-40W for 1msec (depending on type) so your 10x for 1usec seems fairly conservative (at least for the type of resistor I looked at, and with the allowable number of pulses and resistance change).


Possibly. Maybe even probably. You need to check the data sheet for the resistor that you want to use.

In general, physically large resistors handle pulsed power better than tiny resistors.

Thin-Film resistors have relatively poor pulsed power specs. Metal Oxide power resistors have good pulse power specs, as do most wirewound resistors.

The manufacturer data sheet should have all the details.


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