# How to limit current flowing through LM317

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by iinself, Feb 9, 2015.

1. ### iinself Thread Starter Member

Jan 18, 2013
69
0
Hi,
I am to reduce Vin to Vout but my current requirements are higher than the 1.5A that LM317 can supply. Hence I am using a transistor to provide this high current (8A) based on the high current circuit in the datasheet. Since the current is being provided by the transistor I do not want to put a large heat sink on the LM317 also and thus would like to reduce the current through it to a bare minimum enough t drive the base of T1. Will the resistor RL do the job?

Thanks

File size:
7 KB
Views:
165
2. ### WBahn Moderator

Mar 31, 2012
18,087
4,917
That topology isn't going to give you very good voltage regulation. Your circuit is simply going to hold the voltage at the input to the base resistor at a set level and as your circuit draws more current the amount of base current will increase and the output voltage will drop by any additional drop across the base resistor (plus the small amount of increase in Vbe of the transistor).

You want a circuit in which changes in output voltage are servo'ed to increase or decrease the base drive voltage of the bypass transistor.

3. ### Veracohr Well-Known Member

Jan 3, 2011
559
77
I don't know what datasheet you got that from, it's not the high-current circuit shown in the TI datasheet.

Aug 23, 2012
4,933
777
5. ### ian field Distinguished Member

Oct 27, 2012
4,456
792
You've got the external transistor in the wrong place!

You need to develop the Vbe bias across a resistor in series with the 317 input, the collector is in parallel with the 317 output. The orientation of the transistor means it needs a PNP to boost a positive regulator.

Its fully described in various appnotes and application examples in some of the datasheets.

6. ### iinself Thread Starter Member

Jan 18, 2013
69
0
I was hoping that since T1 is forward biased, it was going to act as closed switch and all current to the load will be drawn through it. So will this circuit work. Is it right to assume that most of the current is coming from T1 now ?

File size:
8.2 KB
Views:
73
7. ### ian field Distinguished Member

Oct 27, 2012
4,456
792
Do it like in the appnote or the regulation will be useless.

8. ### iinself Thread Starter Member

Jan 18, 2013
69
0
Currently I have a circuit that this that is working to supply in excess of 1.5 A, I found this circuit here - http://www.reuk.co.uk/LM317-High-Current-Voltage-Regulator.htm. The 220R is in the wrong place but with that correction it is working fine. I don't understand the need for 6a4 diode though?

File size:
10.3 KB
Views:
68

Jan 18, 2013
69
0
Thanks.

10. ### WBahn Moderator

Mar 31, 2012
18,087
4,917
The voltage at the load will be the voltage at the LM317 output minus the IR drop across the base resistor minus the Vbe of the pass transistor. The base current will be the load current divided by the transistor beta. So you have:

$
$

Hence as the load current changes, so will the load voltage. If beta is 100 and Rb is 1kΩ, then a 10mA change in load current will result in a 0.1V change in load voltage.

iinself likes this.

Jan 18, 2013
69
0
12. ### WBahn Moderator

Mar 31, 2012
18,087
4,917
Paralleling output transistors like they show is asking for problems with thermal runaway.

13. ### ian field Distinguished Member

Oct 27, 2012
4,456
792
There is a way to do load sharing in multiple transistors - but not all the appnotes show it.

14. ### WBahn Moderator

Mar 31, 2012
18,087
4,917
There are lots of ways to do it. The simplest is to just use ballast resistors in the emitter paths before they join up with the other transistors.

15. ### WBahn Moderator

Mar 31, 2012
18,087
4,917
I'm not sure. I don't see any explanation. My first guess is that it is there for temperature compensation, but that's just a guess. I'd have to look at the tempos for the diode and the transistors to see if they are roughly equal and opposite.

16. ### ronv AAC Fanatic!

Nov 12, 2008
3,403
1,477
You know how it is.. One bad internet circuit leads to another. You may notice there is nothing to turn on T1.

I think the diodes are a misguided attempt to discharge the input cap and the adjust pin cap if the input or output is shorted to ground.

17. ### WBahn Moderator

Mar 31, 2012
18,087
4,917
I didn't even pay attention to the schematic with the problem of not being able to turn on T1 since I was looking for a schematic that had that 6A4 diode in it and that one doesn't.

I don't think it's for temperature compensation. I can't find the data, but I don't see anything that indicates that that 6A4 diode has a positive tempco.

18. ### crutschow Expert

Mar 14, 2008
13,505
3,376
Any scheme with a NPN follower at the LM317 output will have poor regulation and temperature stability. There's no good reason to even consider them.
Use one of the schemes shown in the data sheet using a PNP transistor booster for a stable output voltage.

Jan 18, 2013
69
0
Ok, thanks.

20. ### iinself Thread Starter Member

Jan 18, 2013
69
0
Thanks that helps a lot.