How to measure a Triac with a multimeter?

Hello -

I have a bad light dimmer and suspect that the problem is with the triac. I have never used a triac before. Is there a way to measure them with a multimeter to determine if they are bad? I also have a curve tracer if that will help.

The triac in question is the BTB04-600SL from ST. The data sheet can be found at:

http://www.st.com/stonline/books/pdf/docs/8666.pdf

Any insights will be appreciated.

Thanks!
 
See Here: http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&ct=re...adgets/triactst.htm&ei=zloTQ7CLJI78igGAlYCmCg

Is this a PWM dimmer? If so, it should be easy to test with a 'scope if you have access to one. If it's not, I can't imagine what it's using a triac for. :)

If it's a PWM dimmer, I imagine that you will find that there is a varying-width pulse being applied to G, which allows AC to conduct through A1 and A2.

Have you done any in-circuit testing? Have you tried triggering the gate yourself, with some method of feeding it around 20mA of current? Chances are pretty good that if the gate will trigger at low frequency, then it will also trigger at high frequency. That's not a common failure mode.

Oh, you can probably sub in whatever beefy SCR or TRIAC you have lying around (PC SMPSes are a good place to look) for testing purposes. Just test with a 40W or less light bulb. With an SCR, the bulb will be dimmer, since you'll only be feeding it half the AC cycle.

And finally -- I hope you are using incandescent bulbs with your dimmer. Most compact fluorescents will not work with a PWM dimmer.

Wes
 

Karl vd Berg

Member
2012-07-16 12:49 am
Hi there!

Is there a way to test the TRIAC with the DMM in diode mode? If yes, what values for it?

My DMM is autorange, and in resistance mode it changes values all the time!

Thank you!

P.S.: should the TRIAC be measured off the board?
 
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Hello -I have a bad light dimmer and suspect that the problem is with the triac. I have never used a triac before. Is there a way to measure them with a multimeter to determine if they are bad?
Thanks!
Hi Charles.
For the price of a BTB04-600SL, I would just plain replace the triac....or the whole dimmer assembly.
If the former, while you are at it, clean the board, replace any electros and be suspect of solid caps too, blanket resolder, clean again, conformal coating of some sort....the control pots go noisy also.

Triacs can fail fully open, fully closed, conducting one half cycle only, and become erratically noisy.
What is the nature of this fault of your dimmer ?.



Semiconductor relays TRIAC failure modes
In some cases the triac in your circuit can be damaged typically because of overcurrent, overvoltage or too much heating. Triac failure modes can be either "blown open" or "blown short".

If the Triac blows open, all connections are opened up as the semiconductor material has failed catastrophically and the explosive force inside the device clears disperses the internal wiring.
If the Triac blows short, the shorts can be to any combination of the terminals. MT1 to MT2 (gate open), MT1 to gate (MT2 open), MT2 to gate (MT1 open) or MT1 and MT2 to gate.
There are normally no half-way houses in the failure modes. They go either fully short or fully open. The most common failure mode seems to be a short circuit.

Unsolved TRIAC failures Re: TRIAC failures
I have seen this failure many times it happens when a overvoltage situation has occurred (usually lightning). It fails on one side or the other because the strike is polar one side of the TRIAC conducts without damage however the other is destroyed in the process. You can fix this by adding a bi-directional transorb from the high voltage side (not the load) to the gate. Choose your tranzorb so that it only turns on when higher than normal voltage is present. When the transorb turns on it will activate the gate and protect the TRIAC. The load in this case your christmas lights will get hit with the lightning. They may or may not survive but your controller will be ok. Incandescent lights will probally survive but leds will surely die.

Dan.
 
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Mooly

Administrator
Paid Member
2007-09-15 8:14 am
Triacs are strange devices to measure... they shouldn't be but...... :D

Typically, an SCR reads "a bit lower" to "a lot lower" than a normal diode. If a diode reads ".600" on your DVM then expect somthing nearer .400 or lower, even down to 0.050

I have a new BTA16 in front of me.

Gate to Anode 1 should conduct with the leads either way around.
Gate to Anode 2 should not conduct with leads eiher way around.
Anode 1 to Anode 2 should not conduct with leads either way around.

And yes, unless you know the circuitry around it and can use judgement then always test out of circuit.

I have some old T066 triacs that were used in Grundig TV's in a commutating line output stage. They read as low as 0.160
 

Karl vd Berg

Member
2012-07-16 12:49 am
Hi, Mooly,

It's a BTB16-700BW... and I have .041 on diode mode.

Gate to Anode 2 is open (not conducting) and same to Anode 1 to Anode 2 (also not conducting)...

.041 the is an acceptable value and the TRIAC seems OK, right?

[IMGDEAD]http://g.iceimg.com/QkE6v0gt/btb16-700bwa.jpg[/IMGDEAD]

[IMGDEAD]http://g.iceimg.com/uyPCjVsW/btb16-700bwb.jpg[/IMGDEAD]
 

Mooly

Administrator
Paid Member
2007-09-15 8:14 am
A very good chance it is OK. Triacs are usually fired from a very low source impedance (often a dedicated trigger transformer) and that could well be what you are reading here. Perhaps just pull it from the PCB to confirm if you are still unsure. A large tip on an iron to heat all three pad simultaneously would see that removed in less time than it takes to read this sentence ;)
 

Mooly

Administrator
Paid Member
2007-09-15 8:14 am
No problem :) and it doesn't really matter what its in, the principles hold good. I would imagine here that the triac is used for motor control (variable spin speeds).

Can't help with your specific problem I'm afraid. It will be a case of tracing the incoming mains and seeing where its disappearing. If there are any electronics for the controls then check to see if any high value "start up" resistors are OC. It probably uses a form of "wattless dropper" (a small cap) rather than a transformer for any low voltage supplies so be careful as these are not isolated from the mains.
 
I realize this is and old post, but I was wondering if anyone knew what I would expect when I measure the front to back ratio of a TA10E, that I removed from an Tektronix TAS-250 O-scope. The resistance between A1 & G is 240 ohms,both ways. The Triac is open between all other permutations. I purchased a couple of NTE5635 which is the equizalent replacement part for the TA10E. It measured 79 ohms between A1 & G both ways, and open every other way. Is it possible that the TA10E is out of value? The diode check between A1 & G for the TA10E tones and .150v both ways, whereas the NTE5635 also tones with a .05v. Thanks