How to send 10v through a nichrome wire?


I am trying to send 10v through a nichrome wire whenever I push a momentary switch (to generate heat, if that's important) and I was not sure how to go about this.

I learned (from these forums!) how to execute code after a push of the switch, but i'm not sure on what hardware to use to send 10v on command.

I've only ever used servos with a pwm shield, and I am thinking that I could possibly use a motor drive shield to accomplish this, but I would definitely love some input, especially on safety and circuit protection since the wire needs to get a little bit hot, and I wouldn't want to melt or send too much voltage to my lovely little arduino (I've already burned one out trying to learn how to step down voltage for a robot!)

Thank you for your time!

Simlpy add a MOSFET as switch. The IRL540 will do great for this application (for currents of more than about 5A you may need a heat sink) - I assume you'll deal with pretty high currents as it's a heating element (I guessed so much already when you said nichrome wire).

Thank you for the quick answer!

Time to learn how to use a MOSFET!


You can switch your nichrome wire as load like this.

Just to point out to OP in case he didn't notice, that the mosfet suggested by wvmarle is a logic level IR*L* which can run direct from the Arduino and doesn't need the intermediary npn bjt as shown in billhowl's circuit which is for an IR*F*

The IRLZ44N is a logic-level gate version MOSFET. You can switch it ON/OFF directly from an Arduino pin. I have.

On ebay I found bags of 10 for $1.56. That's 15.6 cents each. I bought 6 bags, the discount got it to 14.5 cents each. Why 60? I don't want to run out so I got $9 worth.

Check em out Bill! I only lucked onto these while net-surfing and they do seem capable. For battery operation, they make way more sense. In a way, needing the > 10V "amplifier" that drains current whenevr it's OFF reminds me of tube heaters.

I should say "I've gotten away with switching one directly off an Arduino pin" many times. I don't know how much surge the pin might have to supply to feed the gate capacity but it's not so bad to be a quick kill or I would have gotten smoke already!

The last multi-amp logic level FETs I got were 80 cents ea for 12, IIRC 90 cents for one. And now there's these. I did get 2N7777's, 50 for $5, but they have continuous max current at 200mA.

I wonder how much current needs to run through the nichrome wire? Or if 5V through multiple parallel strands would work as well? How much heat is needed?