Tom Kugelstadt
Tom Kugelstadt
Principal Applications Engineer
Published: October 19, 2023

Industrial networks using RS-485 transceivers can be subject to electrical fast transient (EFT) bombardment on a daily base. These transients, typically occurring in the form of bursts, originate from switching transients due to the interruption (switching) of inductive loads, relay contact bounce, etc. These transients can corrupt the data between transmitting bus nodes and even damage transceiver devices, resulting in network downtime. Device internal transient suppression circuits are therefore necessary to ensure a fast recovery from EFT events in order to maintain network operation.

EFT Origin

When de-energized, inductive loads such as relays, switch contactors, or heavy-duty motors produce bursts of narrow high-frequency transients on the power distribution system. These fast transients can also be produced when the utility provider switches in or out of the power factor correction equipment. A common cause of power line transients is sparking that occurs whenever an AC power cord is plugged in, equipment is switched off, or when circuit breakers are opened or closed.

Figure 1. Generation and Coupling of Transient Noise into an End Equipment
Figure 1. Generation and Coupling of Transient Noise into an End Equipment

EFT Immunity Test Standard

To assess a system’s immunity to EFT bursts, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) developed the IEC 61000-4-4 standard that defines the test voltage waveform, range of test levels, test equipment, test set-up, and test procedure.

For complete details on the test setup for Renesas’ RAA78817x family of RS-485 transceivers, please refer to the Renesas "R15AN0012: EFT Immunity for the RAA78817x Family of 3.3V RS-485/RS-422 Transceivers" application note.


Figure 2. Waveform of single EFT Pulse
Figure 2. Waveform of Single EFT Pulse
Figure 3. Timing of EFT Test Pulse Sequence
Figure 3. Timing of EFT Test Pulse Sequence

Figure 2 depicts the waveform of a single EFT pulse and Figure 3 illustrates the sequence of test pulses during a typical EFT test. Here, the EFT pulse generator creates a sequence of low-energy pulses known as a burst. Each pulse has a rise time of 5ns and a pulse duration (time-to-half value) of 50ns. The burst period is 300ms and includes 75 transients followed by a pause interval. The test allows for two repetition rates of 5kHz and 100kHz. For a pulse repetition rate of 5kHz, the 75 pulses take 15ms, while for a repetition rate of 100kHz, they only take 0.75ms.

The minimum required test duration is two minutes and includes three 10-second windows of positive pulses, each followed by a 10-second pause interval, and three 10-second windows of negative pulses, with a 10-second pause interval. This results in a total of 15000 positive and 15000 negative pulses during a two-minute test sequence.

While the individual pulse represents a low-energy transient, the energy of an entire pulse train does not. For a given test voltage the energy of an EFT pulse train is about 250-times higher than the energy of a single pulse.

To test the EFT immunity of transceiver data ports, the EFT test pulses are coupled into a point-to-point data link via a capacitive clamp (Figure 4). This clamp surrounds both data lines, thus representing a common-mode test.

Figure 5 shows the five test levels for data ports. The first four levels double in voltage with each level increment. The fifth level, x, is a special level that can assume any test voltage. However, the voltage level must be specified in the manufacturer’s datasheet.

Figure 4. Test Setup for testing Data Ports with Capacitive Clamp
Figure 4. Test Setup for Testing Data Ports with Capacitive Clamp
Figure 5. EFT Test Levels for Data Ports (Transceiver Bus Terminals)
Figure 5. EFT Test Levels for Data Ports (Transceiver Bus Terminals)

EFT Immunity of RAA78817x Transceivers

The RAA78817x transceivers were tested with up to 3kV EFT transients. Before and after an EFT test, the bus and receiver output signals of the transmitting and the receiving nodes were observed for visual comparison.

In addition to the visual confirmation of normal transceiver operation, all transceivers were tested on an Automatic Test System (ATE) for parametric performance. The pass criterion required that a device did not show any parametric shift. The results showed, that the RAA78817x family of 3.3V RS-485/RS-422 transceivers passed all EFT tests with 3kV test voltage, which places this transceiver family into the highest special test level category of IEC 61000-4-4 (Figure 6).

Test LevelTest Voltage (kV)Repetition Frequency (kHz)Transceiver
10.255 or 100RAA788170
20.55 or 100
315 or 100
425 or 100
X35 and 100

Figure 6. EFT Test Level Category for RAA78817x Transceivers

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