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An Overview of the Role of Power Semiconductors in Home Appliance Efficiency

How semiconductors are used in everyday life? Since semiconductor itself is not sold in stores as electrical appliances, it may to be hard to understand, but in fact it is used in many electric appliances.

For example, temperature sensors used in air conditioners are made with semiconductors. Rice cookers cook rice perfectly because semiconductors control the temperature precisely. CPUs that operate personal computers are also made with semiconductors. Many digital consumer products in everyday life such as mobile phones / smartphones, digital cameras, televisions, washing machines, refrigerators and LED bulbs also use semiconductors.

In addition to consumer electronics, semiconductors play a central role in the operation of bank ATMs, trains, the internet, communications and other parts of social infrastructure, such as the medical network used for the care of elderly, among other things. Furthermore, efficient logistics systems help save energy and promote the preservation of the global environment. The number of car-mounted semiconductor devices has been increasing steadily. There are many types of car-mounted semiconductors. Particularly for future ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems), more semiconductors are expected to be used.

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If you look back a number of years ago, washing machines used what is called a permanent split capacitor motor. Those motors were roughly 60% efficient overall. Within the last couple of years, we’ve started to see more washing machines become Energy Star–rated through the transition to a permanent magnet or BLDC motor, which are roughly 80% efficient. And with the introduction of those types of motor technologies, you also have to incorporate some type of drive for those motors, known as an inverter.

The semiconductor industry is the driving force enabling these increases in efficiency, and it’s not the first time something like this has happened. Taking a look at lighting, the transition from incandescent bulbs into compact fluorescents and then eventually to LED bulbs was the result of a progression in semiconductor technology over the time period. That innovation revolutionized the market and significantly reduced energy use associated with lighting in the house. It is these same types of trends that are now transitioning into major home appliances. As more energy regulations happen across industries, there will be an increase in the amount of semiconductor content in products. It will be the progression of semiconductor technology that will again lead the way.

According to IEA, appliances account for 15% of global final electricity demand, or one-quarter of electricity used in buildings. As attention increasingly focuses on climate change, energy efficiency in appliances will be a key way to curb energy consumption and thus lower greenhouse gases. Appliance OEMs can expect more regulations and energy standards in the near future. Partnering with the right power semiconductor company will be critical to keeping pace.

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