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Dimmer with a MOSFET

This circuit shows that dimmers intended for use at mains voltage do not always have to contain a triac. Here, a MOSFET (BUZ41A, 500 V/4.5A) in a diode bridge is used to control the voltage across an incandescent bulb with pulse-width modulation (PWM). A useful PWM controller can be found elsewhere in this issue. The power supply voltage for driving the gate is supplied by the voltage across the MOSFET. D6, R5 and C2 form a rectifier. R5 limits the current pulses through D6 to about 1.5 A (as a consequence it is no longer a pure peak rectifier). The voltage across C2 is regulated to a maximum value of 10 V by R3, R4, C1 and D1. An optocoupler and resistor (R2) are used for driving the gate. R1 is intended as protection for the LED in the optocoupler. R1 also functions as a normal current limiting device so that a ‘hard’ voltage can be applied safely. The optocoupler is an old acquaintance, the CNY65, which provides class-II isolation. This ensures the safety of the regulator.
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