Be aware of standards. Standards determine the design of every product, all the way down to the circuit protection. Moreover, the list of standards that designers need to be aware of is seemingly endless. "Standards are a big part of every project," Will Li, global standards manager for Littelfuse's Electronics Business Unit, told us. "The beginning of every product should always be to understand the standards."
Standards pertinent to circuit protection include those from Underwriters Labs, Energy Star, NEMA, ATCA, CSA Group, IEEE, and standards bodies in Canada, South America, Japan, Korea, and Europe, among others.
Li says that designers need to be aware of standards from the outset of every project. "It's not as simple as coming in later and saying, 'I've got this new product, so tell me about the standards," he said. "It doesn't work that way."
Be ready to seek help. Because circuit protection isn't taught in universities, most engineers are more well versed in the complexities of product design than in the issues of over-current and shock immunity. That problem is compounded by the fact that most design engineers are also juggling several projects and have too little time to research the topic.
Some circuit protection manufacturers provide Websites with whitepapers, product specs, and case studies. Littelfuse, for example, offers its speed2design site, which is geared toward helping time-challenged designers find circuit protection solutions. The company also links designers to circuit protection advice by phone.
"This is a subject that's not taught in school, so new designers always struggle with it," said Juan Morales, global product manager, for Littelfuse's Electronics Business Unit. "It's something that definitely needs to be learned through experience."
Learn more at Littelfuse's Speed2Design site.