Microcontroller Units in Home Appliances

Home appliances such as microwave ovens, air conditioners, washing machines, refrigerators contain many microcontrollers. They are helpful in analog sensor measurement, motor control, LED/LCD displays, front panel controls and so on. A microcontroller is a small computer. It contains RAM, CPU, timers and I/O ports, which may remind you of a standard computer. It means, a microcontroller is largely independent and self contained. The microcontroller is a quantum leap forward in the field of embedded development.

The main difference between the microprocessor and a microcontroller is that the components of a microcontroller are designed to execute just one function, like those mentioned above. Moreover, they are small and simplified. The biggest advantage of using a microcontroller is that you can reduce the number of parts and design costs. Another is that the MCU can also control self diagnostics. Let us take the example of a washing machine. The MCU can diagnose spin failure, water supply failure, overflow protection, door slid open, child lock, drainage failure and more. The MCU is also programmed to turn the machine off, after the wash is complete, thereby saving power. So there is nothing much that a MCU cannot do. Embedded designers are working hard to expand the capabilities of MCUs.