# What does "max" really mean in gate trigger threshold of a triac?

I am trying to understand the parameter Vgt (max) for a triac (or any semiconductor with a gate threshold parameter), mainly the max. part of it. For example, on page 2 of the following datasheet:

http://www.littelfuse.com/~/media/electronics/datasheets/switching_thyristors/littelfuse_thyristor_lxx04xx_qxx04xx_datasheet.pdf.pdf

VGT (VD = 12V RL = 60 Ω) MAX. 1.3 V

Could anyone please help me understand how to interpret max. here? Does it mean gate threshold can be 1.3V at max. and that we need at least 1.3V to trigger it and allow the current flow?

It's not an absolute max rating so, it can be assumed the supplier is saying that to guarantee switching you must exceed 1.3 volts. However, you must protect this part by limiting current to no more than 1.2 amps (see AMR table for $I_{GTM}$).

• Thanks for the confirmation. This is what I originally thought it to mean. I wonder why they chose to mention "Max." instead of "Min."! May 2, 2018 at 12:18
• If the term minimum was used, that would not guarantee a level that must be exceeded to 100% guarantee correct operation. A minimum level would be used to tell the reader that the device is guaranteed to be disabled if below the minimum. May 2, 2018 at 12:30
• Okay, thanks for the clarification. I understand your point. But the usage of minimum and maximum is different in this context and unlike the traditional usage in electrical specifications of most other devices. Am I correct? May 3, 2018 at 10:54
• No, the usage is consistant with other specifications I've seen. May 3, 2018 at 11:13
• Yes, I understand that in this context. What I meant is that, for example, for logic levels of ICs it is not mentioned in this way. For example, VIH of an IC is mentioned as 2.4V minimum and not maximum, where 2.4V "minimum" indicates we need to be >= 2.4V for a HIGH level detection. This is the usual convention of minimum and maximum, but with triacs and some other components, it is mentioned in a contradictory way. May 3, 2018 at 12:14

It means that at the moment of trigger, when you are forcing just enough current into the gate to guarantee triggering of the thyristor , the gate voltage will be no higher than 1.3V (at 25°C).

It may be higher at lower temperature, and it may be higher if you force more current into the gate.

So, suppose you have a +5V supply that yields minimum 4.5V after a transistor switch drop and tolerance, you can calculate the required gate current-limiting resistor from Rgt = (4.5-1.3V)/Igt

simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

In the circuit above, I am showing the gate driven with negative current since the standard triac is not guaranteed to turn on in Quadrant-IV.

Note that at low temperatures, the triac will generally be less sensitive than at 25°C and the gate voltage will also be higher, so to guarantee triggering at low temperatures you need to either put more current in at 25°C than would otherwise be necessary (the usual method) or make the gate current temperature sensitive with a PTC or something like that (rare).

• Thanks for your answer. From your answer, my understanding is that the gate will trigger even at the voltage below 1.3V whereas per Andy's answer the gate will trigger only when the voltage is > 1.3V. Could you please clarify? May 2, 2018 at 12:17
• @LoveEnigma please don't misread me - that is NOT what I said. Think again. May 2, 2018 at 12:31
• @Andyaka Didn't you mean gate will trigger only when the voltage is above 1.3V? May 3, 2018 at 10:55
• No, to guarantee switching you must exceed 1.3 volts. It might switch at 1.2 volts but that isn't guaranteed. May 3, 2018 at 11:28