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    Time to revisit power consumption in home appliances

    By Majeed Ahmad | January 19, 2017

    A single-package solution simplifies inverter design and lowers power consumption. Image courtesy of Rohm Semiconductor

    The notion of smart home has been making headlines for many years, but it’s actually the energy efficiency part where homes are making the most tangible gains through what designers call inverterization of appliance designs.

    Take the case of home appliances like air conditioners and ceiling fans. These appliances can employ inverter designs to create more energy efficient motor drive for fan and pump operations. The electric refrigerator is another household power guzzler in which the basic design technology hasn’t changed for decades.

    There are more than 1.2 billion refrigerators around the world, and they mostly operate on two power levels: no power or full power. And full power means the highest level of power consumption. Here, what digital inverters can do is control the motor in a way that it can be turned on and off as required.

    For instance, inside the next-generation refrigerator design, temperature, humidity and motor speed sensors can measure the data and hand it over to an MCU to create appropriate control commands. Next, the power chips in refrigerators can translate these commands into an ideal compression speed.

    A new breed of power chips can now regulate the current flow and adjust the motor performance according to actual power requirements of a home appliance. Moreover, there are now compact packages available that integrate components like motor controllers, gate drivers, and bootstrap diodes in a single packaging solution.

    Take, for instance, Rohm Semiconductor’s 600V fan motor drivers which integrate power MOSFET and motor controller into a single package (shown in the above image). Likewise, Infineon’s digital motor controllers enable variable-speed drive through the integration of analog and control functions in a single-chip solution.

    And that simplifies inverter design and significantly lowers the power usage. In a nutshell, inverters intelligently regulate motor’s power performance. They also ensure that home appliances make less noise and have longer lifetimes.