TEC Modules (Thermoelectric Cooler Modules)


TEC (Thermoelectric coolers) is a Peltier module, and can also be called a Peltier cooler, thermoelectric module, and thermoelectric cooler.

Thermoelectric coolers can generate both heating and cooling thermal power when applying an electric DC current in different directions. When the current flows in one direction, one of the Peltier cooler plates heats up while the other cools down. As the current reverses its direction, the TEC plates will reverse their thermal polarity accordingly. TEC modules have many applications. One of them is to keep diode laser chips working at a constant temperature, thus, the lasers will output a laser beam with a stable wavelength, constant power, and low optical noise.

Long Life TEC Modules

When designing a TEC based temperature regulation system, choosing the right TEC is critical. These are the general suggestions:

1. TECs have a limited life. Their health strength can be measured by the change of their AC resistance. When a TEC gets "old" or worn out, the AC resistance (ACR) will increase. To build a reliable system, only good "healthy" TECs should be used. Measuring the initial ACR is critical; make sure that the initial ACRs are within the specification. The ACR must be measured by special meters.

2. Try your best to minimize the thermal resistance between the TEC module plates and the thermal heat-sink on the hot side and the thermal load on the cold side.

3. The best way to connect the TEC module's plates to the heat-sink or the thermal load is by metalizing the TEC modules plates and soldering the metalized surface directly onto the heat-sink surface and/or the thermal load surface.

4. Try your best to design the system with smaller maximum temperature differences between the 2 plates (hot side and the cold side) of the TEC modules, so that the thermal efficiency of the system will be high. It would be best not to require the maximum temperature difference be > 30°C.

5. When the required maximum temperature difference is small, such as < 30°C, use large TEC modules to drive small thermal loads which will result in high thermal efficiency.

6. The thermal efficiency of the TEC modules is usually measured by COP: Coefficient of Performance. It is defined as the ratio: (Thermal output power) / (Electrical input power). A well-designed system can achieve a COP to be > 2.

We offer a wide variety of high quality TEC Modules at low prices, including square and circular shaped TECs and single and multi-stage TECs. Many of them work well with our TEC Controllers, Thermistors and Thermally Conductive Epoxy.



Thermo-Electric Cooler vs. Thermo-Electric Generator

TEC stands for Thermo-Electric Cooler and TEG stands for Thermo-Electric Generator. The former is a device that generates thermal cold and heat by feeding a current through a TEC; the latter is also a device that generates electrical voltage potential, and thus electrical current after adding an electrical load, by creating a thermal temperature difference between the 2 sides of the TEG. Generating thermal cold and heat from electrical current is called a Peltier Effect; Generating a voltage potential from thermal temperature difference is called a Seebeck Effect.

Using TECs and TEGs Properly

TECs are fragile. Cautions needs to be taken when using them. These are some of the guidelines:

1. Do not drop them on the floor, nor apply other mechanical shocking to them. The shocking may cause invisible permanent damages to them. One way to detect such damage is to measure the ACR, AC resistance, of the TEC. When seeing the ACR increases, it means the Peltier elements inside the TEC has cracks, the life time of the TEC has been shortened.

2. Measuring the ACR must be done by special meters. Regular multi-meters can only measure DCR, DC resistance. We carry the necessary ACR meter:


3. To build a long-lasting system, the TECs and TEGs should have a low ACR to start with. Pre-screening the TECs and TEGs to have low initial ACRs is critical in building such a system. We provide such a service for customers. In addition, we also provide burn-in process for TECs and TEGs so that the TECs and TEGs delivered to you are the ones proven to have a long life time.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.

1. Q: How to assign the cold side of a TEC module and how to assign the positive lead of the TEC module?
A: 1. Usually, when mounting the TEC module, you want to mount the side onto which the lead wires are soldered, to the heat sink, thus this side becomes the hot side. The other side becomes the cold side on which the target object is mounted. 2. The positive terminal of a TEC module is defined in such a way that when connecting it to a positive side of a voltage source, the TEC's cold side (as it was determined above) is cooled down.

2. Q: What is the life expectancy of the TEC modules and how is it determined?
A: The life expectancy is defined as the time when ACR (Alternating Current Resistance) is increased to 10%. A TEC's ACR can be measured by an LCR meter. The life time of a TEC module can be shortened by applying a full maximum voltage back and forth, i.e. to switch the polarity of the full maximum voltage applied to the TEC. For regular TEC modules, they can apply the full maximum voltage back and forth (switch the polarity) for up to 500 times. Besides, the number of times can be up to 3x10^7 times, the calculated MTBF was 125,000 hours.

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