Thermoelectric cooler (TEC) is a semiconductor device which is characterized by unique heat pump performance with high efficiency, compactness and durability. The unique ability of TECs to heat and cool, permits them to lower temperature of an object below ambient as well as to stabilize temperature of objects in widely varying ambient conditions.
Here we mention some application tips that can help in optimal use of TECs.
Thermoelectric modules are very reliable devices due to their solid state design. Regular TECs particularly mini-TECs for optoelectronics and other hi-tech applications have reliability of 200,000 - 300,000 hours at room temperature and more.
Anyway failures take place because of out of TEC lifetime or random failures which are results of improper use of TECs. RMT failure analysis shows that in most cases TEC damage is a result of one of two reasons:
Thermoelectric modules in various types of assemblies have for years been used in different telecom, military and aerospace applications. TECs have been successfully subjected to shock and vibration requirements for aircraft, ordinance, space vehicles, shipboard use and most other such systems.
While a TEC is quite strong in both tension and compression, it tends to be relatively weak in shear. When in a severe shock or vibration environment, care should be taken in the design of the assembly to ensure «compressive loading» of thermoelectric devices.
A common failure mode for thermoelectric modules is un-even compression forces induced by improper torsion, bolting patterns, and mechanical conditions of heat exchangers. The thermoelectric elements (pellets of TEC) are quite strong in compressive strength and tend to be weak in the shear direction. During assembly, un-even torquing or un-flat heat exchangers can cause severe shear forces.
Combination of proper handling, and proper assembly techniques will yield an extremely reliable system.