Category: Company Updates

ICE vs EV: Uses of Circuit Protection

The major differences in the use of circuit breakers in Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles versus Electric Vehicles (EVs) primarily stem from their fundamental differences in power systems and just how they operate. Here are the main differences that you should know:

1. Voltage Levels:

ICE: Combustion engine vehicles generally use a 12V electrical system. The circuit breakers in these vehicles are designed to protect this lower voltage system, primarily focusing on the vehicle's lighting, ignition, entertainment, and climate control systems.

EV: EVs operate on much higher voltage systems, typically ranging from 400V to 800V or more. The circuit breakers in EVs must be capable of handling these higher voltages and the associated currents, which are significantly greater than in ICE vehicles. However, EVs still utilize low voltage systems, so they require both low and high voltage circuit protection products.

2. Power Source & Distribution:

ICE: In ICE vehicles, the electrical system is powered by an alternator and a battery. Circuit breakers in ICE vehicles are mainly used to protect against overloads and short circuits in auxiliary circuits.

EV: In electric vehicles, the main power source is a large battery pack. Circuit breakers in EVs not only protect the auxiliary circuits but also play a critical role in safeguarding the battery pack, charging system, and other high-voltage components.

3. Safety Considerations:

ICE: Circuit breakers used in these vehicles are designed to prevent fires and protect electronic components from damage due to electrical faults during operation.

EV: In electric vehicles, in addition to fire prevention and component protection, circuit breakers also need to protect the operator from electric shocks due to the high-voltage system. Therefore these circuit breakers are more complex, incorporating crucial features to safely disconnect the battery in case of an accident or fault.

4. Regenerative Braking:

ICE: Regenerative braking is not a feature in ICE vehicles, so there's no need for circuit protection of this system.

EV: Regenerative braking in EVs feeds energy back into the battery. Circuit breakers in EVs must be able to manage this reverse flow of electricity and ensure safe operation of this system.

5. Charging Systems:

ICE: Again, ICE vehicles don’t utilize external charging, so there are no circuit breakers for this system.

EV: On the other hand, circuit breakers play a vital role in the charging system of EVs, managing the flow of high-voltage electricity during charging from external sources. They ensure safe connection and disconnection from the power grid or charging stations.

6. Thermal Management:

ICE: While thermal management is important in ICE vehicles, it’s generally not directly related to the role of circuit breakers.

EV: Thermal considerations need to be at the forefront of the design of EV circuit breakers because of the significant amount of heat that their batteries can generate during operation and charging. 

In summary, while circuit breakers in both types of vehicles perform the fundamental task of protecting electrical circuits, those in EVs are subjected to higher voltages, more complex safety requirements, and additional roles such as managing regenerative braking and charging systems. 

For more information about circuit breakers and how you can utilize them in your design, contact us today!

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