Pilot Duty: What is this contact rating?

Choosing the right relay for your application should be much easier than flying an airplane! Check out this week's Tech Tuesday to find out how!

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Choosing the right relay for your application should be much easier than flying an airplane! For my last blog post of this series “what is this contact rating,” I want to explain what pilot duty ratings are. With that, sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight! Oh, and make sure your seatback tables are in their upright and locked positions.

So, does a pilot duty rating have anything to do with flying a plane? No, not at all. However, like we trust a pilot of a plane to steer the aircraft safely through the skies, we also place trust in pilot duty relays that control electrical operations within a building.

Pilot Duty Loads

What kinds of loads fall into the pilot duty rating? Inductive loads, which could include relay coils, contactor coils, or solenoids. That is why you will see an amount of “VA” for the pilot duty ratings, like a transformer or power supply would be rated. One may see a solenoid assigned a couple VA numbers: “in-rush VA” and “holding VA.” For sizing a relay to the pilot duty load, I would suggest going by the in-rush number (the larger number, typically) to cover all bases. However, it may be an even better idea to contact the manufacturer of that pilot duty load to see if they have a specific relay suggestion.

For example, you have a 120Vac solenoid that says, “Holding VA: 10VA” and “In-rush VA: 80VA.” I would say to go by the 80VA rating and find a relay with a 120ac pilot duty rating. Which RIB relay device would I suggest in this example? Since the RIBU1C does not have a 120Vac pilot duty rating, I suggest the RIB2401B relay. Though, the solenoid manufacturer may say that the RIBU1C relay would be enough. Just like getting a diagnosis from a doctor, it never hurts to get a second opinion. I trust that a solenoid maker would know their solenoids.

Pilot Duty Ratings

Below, you will see the pilot duty ratings circled for 10A, 20A, and 30A RIB relay devices we manufacture.

Pilot Duty Contact Ratings
I hope this final blog post of the “what is this contact rating” series helps to explain the pilot duty rating. Unfortunately, not all inductive loads react the same way. This blog does not provide a comprehensive explanation. I advise to check with the manufacturer of the load as well as contacting our support staff to get the best suggestion for any of the controls projects you hope to complete. Tech support is standing by, and we’re happy to help the best we can!

Sam Klennert
Sam Klennert

Meet Samuel Klennert – you can call him Sam. He was born and raised amongst the farmland of Indiana, which includes corn, soybeans, and sometimes wheat. Sam graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelors degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology in 2015.

Outside of work, Sam enjoys spending time with his wife and dog – whether it’s inside or outside their home. Sam can also be seen serving at his local church and glorifying God with other believers, which is by far his favorite way to spend time.

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