Difference between Thermoelectric Cooler (TEC) and Thermoelectric Generator (TEG)

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Thermoelectric Cooler (TEC) Thermoelectric Generator (TEG)
Work on Peltier Effect ( generate ΔT by input DC current) Work on Seebeck Effect ( Generate DC current/voltage difference by applied ΔT)
Used as heat pump ( Heating) / refrigerator (Cooling) applications Used for Power generation applications
Generate ΔT by input DC

Efficiency around 10–15% of Reversed Carnot Cycle, whereas conventional vapor compression systems have efficiency around 40–60% of Reversed Carnot Cycle (as of now in general)

High COP ( Coefficient  of Performance) semi conductor materials (higher “figure of merit”) are still not used globally and are in development

Reverse is not same, Generated DC current/voltage difference by applied ΔT is far less than that applied in case of TEC

Low conversion efficiency  from thermal (low grade energy) to Electrical (high grade energy)- Only about 5-8% ( as of now in general)

Both may look same To achieve more  current output, TEG is subjected to higher temperature difference, hence TEG is manufactured with  components with higher temperature/thermal stresses ratings
Generally smaller element (pellet ) size for less power Element size considerably larger
Relatively lower solder melt temperature High Solder melt temperature to sustain higher temperature differentials
Wire leads generally insulated with RTV Silicone/PVC  (rated 90°C) which is less stiff Wire leads generally insulated with  Teflon  (rated 250°C) which is relatively stiff
Leads attached to hot side ( If attached to cold side, can reduce efficiency by heat getting conducted via copper leads to the cold side) Leads attached to cold side for extra protection  of  leads  solder connection from higher temperatures
Conductor leads thicker for more current Conductor leads relatively thinner for less current
Slitting ceramic not required Slitting ceramic done on either side or both. Slitting is done to distress the module, so that module can last longer.Floating ceramic plate  on hot side, so slitting not required here.



Generally, COP is used in those applications where output can be greater than input, and efficiency is used where output is generally less than input.So, we use COP for TEC, as a high grade energy (electrical) can be converted completely to low grade energy ( heat).

Likewise, we use COP for refrigerator or heat pump, and efficiency for heat engine.