App note: Testing inductors at application frequencies

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An app note from Coilcraft on inductance and Q parameters which are the important factors of an inductor and how these values are found. Link here (PDF)

The accurate measurement of an inductor has always been more difficult than the measurement of other passive components. The primary difficulty with coil measurements lies in the fact that coil inductance and its efficiency are quite frequency dependent; similarly, coil parasitics (distributed capacitance and core/copper resistive losses) vary dramatically with frequency. The measurement of a coil at the application frequency, so-called “use frequency testing,” is more representative of the basic value of the component in circuit than testing at traditional standard frequencies.

Often, the value of a measurement frequency is specified for measurement convenience alone. If the measurement frequency is not the circuit (or “use”) frequency, the result of testing generally will not yield the same inductance value or display the same efficiency as seen by the intended circuit. Given that recent developments of equipment and methods now allow more flexibility in test frequency selection, inductors should be tested at the actual frequency of use, particularly if tight tolerances are required.

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