The Peltier effect - how does it work?

When at trade shows, we love having our Thermoelectric cooler (TEC), which is Peltier based, on display for attendees to look at. We are often asked about the Peltier effect, how it works and why we find it so effective and efficient.

Thermoelectric, or Peltier, cooling, is a solid-state method of heat transfer generated primarily through the use of dissimilar semiconductor materials. It operates like a heat pump, sandwiching the Peltier devices between two heat sinks, and transferring heat from one side/sink to the other. The Peltier effect allows one sink to become cold through the absorption of energy/transfer of heat by the electrons as they pass from one semiconductor to another through the use of a DC power source. The heat sink on the opposite side is then used to discharge the accumulated heat energy from the system.

There are many benefits to using a thermoelectric cooler:

Lack of moving parts – This makes for little to no maintenance, saving time and money.

No circulating liquid – No chlorofluorocarbons. No leaks. Just fans. This also means no environmentally-harmful chemicals.

Small size - The assemblies offer between 40W and 300W of solid-state thermoelectric technology in a size and package size that are an ideal fit for small to medium-sized enclosure cooling needs. Thermoelectric coolers can handle jobs previously thought too small for a compressor-based system. They can easily be integrated in multiples for higher cooling requirements, offering your thermal system built-in redundancy.

Multi-use - Another advantage to using Peltier-based coolers is that they allow for a reversal of polarity, making it easily adaptable for environments that change their needs from cooling to heating and back. This ability also increases the amount of control you have over the temperature of your cooler.

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