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Current Solutions

Common solutions currently in use to address the issue of electrical arcing across contacts include:
  • Using larger relays (and contactors) which typically have larger contacts and/or contacts comprised of exotic metals
  • Solid State Relays (SSR)
  • Hybrid Power Relays
  • Mercury Displacement Relays (MDR)
  • Various “Snubbers”

Larger relays (and contactors) have both a larger footprint and a higher price. The price increases further based on the amount and composition of contact materials.

Solid state relays actually eliminate arcing. Unfortunately, they operate at a high temperature making them unsuitable for many environments. Their high operating temperature also requires them to have a large heat sink.

Hybrid power relays are typically designed to meet a specific purpose, and are therefore both expensive and lack easy adaptability to alternative uses.

Mercury displacement relays use the hazardous material Mercury, and carries with it the environmental risks of disposal and a catastrophic end-of-life. This solution is being phased out due to environmental concerns and regulations, and is therefore not replaceable with the same technology.

One of our most interesting findings is that most product designers, technicians and engineers are taught that snubbers, varistors and transient suppressors are an arc suppression solution. Contrary to this teaching, none of these are arc suppressors!

SeeThe “Snubber Myth”

There are other arc suppression methods in prior art, many described in patents filed, and, in many of them, the biggest challenge is the arc detection portion of the arc suppression solution. An interesting example of the detection issue are patents that rely on visual recognition of the arc to determine its presence. This strategy can result in considerable delay in deployment of the arc suppression attempted solution. There is another method that attempts arc detection by using coil behavior/status (presence of power in the coil). These attempts show that the accurate detection of this arc is the key to both the timely deployment of the counter-measure for arcing finding an effective solution.

Arc Suppression Technologies would like to acknowledge claims made for total arc suppression by other problem-solvers in the space. Total arc suppression is not possible! An arc must exist for it to be suppressed. If total arc suppression must be achieved by an ‘always on’ solution, it is important to note that a solution that guarantees ‘always on’ arc suppression (when the relay contact is on) is a fire hazard.