How Does a TEC Controller work?

TEC controllers are used for thermoelectric cooling and heating in combination with Peltier elements or resistive heaters. Peltier elements are heat pumps which transfer heat from one side to the other, depending on the direction of the electrical current. TEC controllers are used to drive the Peltier elements.
This article explains the functions of TEC controllers and how cooling and heating with Peltier elements works.

TEC Controller Product Overview

Numerous technical and scientific applications require an object to be actively held at constant temperature, regardless of internal heat generation and external temperature fluctuations. Modern miniature temperature control equipment is based on one or several temperature sensors, a TEC controller and on an element capable of rapid heating and cooling. The smaller the solution, the tougher the requirements towards the TEC controller to ensure thermal stability.

The Thermoelectric Effect and the TEC Controller

A thermoelectric cooler, short TEC or Peltier element, can actively transport heat from one of its surfaces to another, thus heat or cool, depending on the direction and the magnitude of the electrical current flowing through it. This thermoelectric current is calculated and supplied by a TEC controller. Since our TEC controllers have bipolar output there is no need to change your setup mechanically to switch from heating to cooling and vice versa.

Temperature Acquisition and Closed-Loop Control

For a TEC controller being able to regulate the temperature of an object, it must know the actual and some recent temperatures. The precision of the temperature measurement system is crucial for the achievable stability. The TEC controller will compare the current object temperature to the target value and provide the thermoelectric element with the adequate amount of current.

The Meerstetter TEC Controller

Meerstetter TEC / Peltier controllers are precision digital temperature controllers that have many intelligent features such as self-optimization (auto-tune) and stability indication. Their energy efficiency is more than 90% and they can be remotely controlled. Through a free Service Software it's possible to configure and control the controller. The Meerstetter TEC controller range covers a variety of power ratings, and some TEC controller models feature two independent channels (e.g. for driving a Peltier stack).

TEC-1092 TEC-1091 TEC-1089 TEC-1090 TEC-1122 TEC-1123
TEC-Family Controllers, TEC-1122-SV and TEC-1123-HV with dual output

The bipolar current source of each TEC controller channel delivers smooth, virtually ripple-free output. This will generate the least-possible disturbance to any equipment nearby. Also, as opposed to the PWM output of a low-cost TEC controller, a DC supply does not have to drive a Peltier module into inefficient regimes already for low to moderate power requirements. The Meerstetter TEC controller family is the perfect complement to the latest Meerstetter laser diode driver (LDD) family.