I am working on a design of a control system that controls a few small solenoids, each drawing about 200 mA of current and operating at 15-18 V. These solenoids are activated by NMOS transistors. Due to the size constraint that I have for the PCB containing these transistors, I would ideally like to use SOT-23 NMOS transistors.
Now, if one does the math, the power dissipated by each transistor activating a solenoid is P = (0.2 A)(18 V) = 3.6 W. However, it seems that most of the SOT-23 package NMOS transistors can only dissipate a maximum of about 1 W.
My question now is this - is the maximum power dissipation rating primarily due to the heat build-up that could damage the device if it exceeds its rated power dissipation? Or is it the limit of the internal materials that the transistor is made of?
Each solenoid in this system is typically never activated for longer than 20 seconds, and at the very extreme it might be activated for 1 minute, which happens almost never. The average on-time for these solenoids are between 1 second and 10 seconds. Will this relatively short on-time (dissipating 3.6 W of power) have a detrimental effect on a transistor that can only dissipate a maximum of 1 W? Or can one safely assume that the average on-time of the solenoid is short enough that the transistor will not heat up too much to cause any damage?
I have used the 2N7002 NMOS transistor (which has a very low max. power dissipation rating) in a prototype for this system with no problems at all and no evident heat build-up by the transistors. Should I rather get a properly rated transistor (3.6 W or higher rated), or can I safely use a 1 W rated transistor for this system?
Your comments and suggestions will be highly appreciated. Thanks!