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How to select a Common Mode Choke?


Common mode chokes (CMCs) are crucial components in electronic circuits, especially for suppressing electromagnetic interference (EMI) and noise. This blog will delve into the working principles of common mode chokes, their necessity, noise filtering capabilities, tuning considerations, and key factors for selecting the right CMC for your application.

Understanding Common Mode Chokes

Working Principle

A common mode choke is essentially an inductor with two or more windings on a common magnetic core. These windings are designed to filter out common mode noise while allowing the differential mode signals to pass through.

  • Common Mode Signals: These are signals that appear simultaneously and in-phase on both lines of a two-wire system.
  • Differential Mode Signals: These are signals that are out of phase on the two lines, representing the actual useful signal.

In a common mode choke:

  • The magnetic flux generated by common mode currents reinforces each other, creating a high impedance that attenuates the noise.
  • The magnetic flux generated by differential mode currents cancels out, allowing the useful signal to pass with minimal impedance.

Need for Common Mode Chokes

EMI and Noise Suppression

Electronic devices often emit or receive unwanted electromagnetic interference (EMI). Common mode chokes are essential in suppressing these EMI signals, ensuring:

  • Compliance with regulatory standards (e.g., FCC, CE).
  • Improved performance and reliability of electronic circuits.
  • Reduced interference in communication lines and sensitive equipment.

Noise Filtering

Mechanism of Noise Filtering

Common mode chokes filter out noise by presenting a high impedance to common mode currents. This high impedance results from the inductive reactance, which increases with frequency, making CMCs highly effective in attenuating high-frequency noise.

Noise Sources

Common mode noise can originate from various sources, such as:

  • Switching power supplies.
  • Motor drives.
  • Digital circuits with high-speed switching.
  • External electromagnetic fields.

Tuning Common Mode Chokes

Frequency Response

The effectiveness of a common mode choke depends on its frequency response. Key factors influencing the frequency response include:

  • Inductance: Higher inductance values provide better attenuation at lower frequencies.
  • Core Material: Ferrite cores are commonly used due to their high permeability and ability to provide effective noise suppression over a wide frequency range.

Impedance Matching

Proper impedance matching is crucial for optimal performance. The common mode choke should present a high impedance to common mode noise while ensuring minimal impedance to the differential mode signal. This requires careful selection of inductance and core material.

Selecting the Right Common Mode Choke

Key Considerations

  1. Current Rating:

    • The CMC should handle the maximum current of your application without saturation or excessive heating.
  2. Inductance:

    • Choose inductance values based on the frequency range of the noise to be filtered. Higher inductance is better for lower frequencies, while lower inductance values suffice for higher frequencies.
  3. Core Material:

    • Ferrite cores are preferred for their high permeability and effectiveness over a broad frequency range.
  4. Number of Turns:

    • The number of turns on the core affects the inductance. More turns result in higher inductance but also increase the physical size and resistance.
  5. Temperature Stability:

    • Ensure the CMC can operate within the temperature range of your application without significant performance degradation.
  6. Physical Size:

    • The CMC should fit within the available space on the PCB or within the enclosure.

Example Selection Process

  1. Define Requirements:

    • Application: Switching power supply.
    • Maximum current: 5A.
    • Noise frequency range: 100kHz to 10MHz.
    • Space constraints: 20mm x 20mm x 15mm.
  2. Inductance and Core Material:

    • Choose a ferrite core suitable for high-frequency attenuation.
    • Estimate required inductance (e.g., 100µH to 1mH) based on noise frequencies.
  3. Current Rating and Size:

    • Select a CMC with a current rating of at least 5A.
    • Ensure the physical dimensions fit within the available space.
  4. Temperature Stability:

    • Verify the CMC can operate within the expected temperature range (e.g., -40°C to 85°C).

Practical Example

Suppose we need a common mode choke for a power supply with the following specifications:

  • Maximum current: 5A
  • Noise frequency range: 100kHz to 10MHz
  • Space constraints: 20mm x 20mm x 15mm


  1. Select Core Material: Ferrite core for high-frequency attenuation.
  2. Estimate Inductance: Choose inductance around 100µH to 1mH.
  3. Check Current Rating: Ensure it handles at least 5A.
  4. Verify Physical Size: Ensure dimensions fit within constraints.
  5. Temperature Range: Confirm operational range from -40°C to 85°C.

A suitable choice could be a ferrite core CMC with 200µH inductance, 5A current rating, and dimensions within 20mm x 20mm x 15mm.


Selecting a common mode choke involves understanding its working principles, the need for noise suppression, and carefully tuning and matching the choke to your specific application. By considering factors such as inductance, core material, current rating, temperature stability, and physical size, you can choose the optimal CMC to ensure the effective suppression of common mode noise and improved performance of your electronic circuits.

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