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.
Acting as a heat pump TEC moves heat (Q) from cold to hot side and also emits electric power (I x U) spent to this job.
Total heat must be removed from TEC hot side to provide it's effective working.
The waste heat increases temperature of TEC hot side (Th). It leads to gain of cold side temperature (Tc), or if cold side must be kept at constant temperature - more job (electric power) is needed to keep cold side constant.
Effectiveness of heat dissipation from TEC hot side is very critical to effective and optimal TEC operation.
TEC is usually integrated into package which to be placed onto heat sink, or TEC is directly mounted to heat sink.
Both package and heat sink must have good performance to transfer and to dissipate waste heat which is generated by TEC.
Figure of effectiveness of heat sink and a package to do this working is thermal resistance RT, usually in units K/W.
It means what total overheating (in K or °C) will be as a result of transfer of unit of heat (1 W).
Known trouble definitely will take place if TEC is not mounted to heat sink - overheating of hot side destroys TEC by melting of internal solder.
Newer use TEC without mounting to heat sink.