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I recently bought a few types of resettable fuses, but now I'm a little bit confused using them.

I have bought:

  1. 30-UF200 (Hold: 2A, Trip: 4A)
  2. RUEF300 (Hold: 3A, Trip: 6A)
  3. R30400 (Hold: 4A, Trip: 8A)
  4. RUEF600 (Hold: 6A, Trip: 12A)

Now, if I understand it right, they will cut off at trip value.

My question is:

If I have in this case the 30-UF200 (Hold: 2A, Trip: 4A), what will happen between those two values Hold and Trip?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you mean PTC by any chance? You don't know what will happen between there. It can either trip or hold. Don't design for it to either hold or trip in that region. \$\endgroup\$ – winny Jun 28 '18 at 10:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ In my case it says Resettable Fuse PPTC 30UF200 30V 2A \$\endgroup\$ – beic Jun 28 '18 at 11:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Strange. Does the initial P stand for someting? \$\endgroup\$ – winny Jun 28 '18 at 11:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @winny Google suggests it stands for polymer. No idea why thats important in the name, but hey. \$\endgroup\$ – Oliver Jun 28 '18 at 11:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ That could very well be it. \$\endgroup\$ – winny Jun 28 '18 at 13:35
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These fuses are not precision devices. The nominal ratings are at room temperature and reflect the difference between the current the device is guaranteed to carry vs. the current it is guaranteed to open at (after some unknown delay or specified delay). You generally cannot actually use the device near the lower rating, nor can you assume it will open at the higher current within a reasonable length of time. They're just rough guides.

To determine how these things behave you need to refer to manufacturer's data. In the case of the RUEF300, nominally a 3A device made by Littelfuse we have this specification sheet and this catalog/datasheet. Other devices using the same principle will behave similarly, so take this as a representative sample.

From the first one we have this snippet: enter image description here

Our nominally "3A" fuse is guaranteed to carry 3A @20'C and guaranteed to open within 10.8 seconds when carrying 15A. That's a 5:1 range.

The 6A trip current rating here has no time specified, but it is certainly more than 10.8 seconds that the 15A applies to.

But we have not even taken temperature into account yet.

enter image description here

So if our board gets hot, we may not be able to count on our "3A" fuse to carry more than about 1.5A.

The current to cause trip within a fixed time (10.8 seconds) will go up from the maximum 15A when the temperature is lower than 25'C.


There are other imperfect aspects- the interrupting current is 100A DC/70A AC, so it may not open properly if the fault current exceeds that, and the maximum voltage is 30V, so the open voltage should not be allowed to exceed that rating.

They are basically thermal devices so they require a significant voltage drop to open, which may affect your circuit.

Finally, being thermal devices, the mounting can affect the trip current. It's more important with SMT devices, but if you were to, say, pot the through-hole device described above, the trip current would increase.

As @MichaelKaras points out in the comment, the devices "wear" and characteristics change every time the device trips. The specifications are for a new device. From the IEEE paper Failure Precursors for Polymer Resettable Fuses the below graph shows the change over operations for some typical samples. Resistance also tends to increase with number of operations.

enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ It is always good to add that PTC device characteristics change with each thermal trip cycle that the part experiences. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Karas Jun 28 '18 at 13:22
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The hold current is the maximum current you can pass through, and guarantee the device will not trip over the specified temperature range.

The trip current is the value where a maximum time-to-trip is characterised. Any current over this value is guaranteed to trip the fuse, within the specified temperature range.

Any current in between is a no mans land, and it may or may not trip the device. It is highly dependent on environmental temperature, current, component variation and how long its had the current passing through. The idea is you should not rely on any behaviour of the PTC in this range, as it is not consistent.

PTC devices are just resistors designed with a high temperature-resistance coefficient. They heat up as current passes through, and the resistance increases. At some point, there is an avalanche effect where the increasing resistance causes more heat which causes more resistance. This stops when the resistance is very high, and its effectively high impedance until it cools down again.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Even at the trip current it can still take a minute. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeroen3 Jun 28 '18 at 11:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jeroen3 I can't say I've seen an example of it taking a minute. In my experience, its usually of the order of 10 seconds. Waaaay to slow for most surges, but good for long term current faults. But the time to trip is characterised, so you at least know what it is. \$\endgroup\$ – Oliver Jun 28 '18 at 11:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ If I understand it right now, in my example 30-UF200 need to cut off at 2A then? \$\endgroup\$ – beic Jun 28 '18 at 11:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @beic When used as protection device, you have two conditions: normal operation and fault condition. You need to ensure your design has a normal operation current below the hold current of the PTC. You also need to make sure your circuit wont be damaged by overcurrent conditions up to the trip current (and over the trip current for a short duration). \$\endgroup\$ – Oliver Jun 28 '18 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Oliver Oh, okay, thank you for clearing it up for me! ;) \$\endgroup\$ – beic Jun 28 '18 at 13:57

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