PWM Overview

Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) is a scheme that provides power to a load by switching quickly between fully ON and fully OFF states. The PWM signal resembles a square wave where the high portion of the signal is considered the ON state and the low portion of the signal is considered the OFF state. The high portion, also known as the pulse width, can vary in time and is defined in steps. A larger number of steps applied, which lengthens the pulse width, also supplies more power to the load. Lowering the number of steps applied, which shortens the pulse width, supplies less power. The PWM period is defined as the duration of one complete cycle or the total amount of ON and OFF time combined.

PWM resolution defines the maximum number of steps that can be present in a single PWM period. A higher resolution allows for more precise control of the pulse-width time and in turn the power that is applied to the load.

The term duty cycle describes the proportion of the ON time to the OFF time and is expressed in percentages, where 0% is fully OFF and 100% is fully ON. A lower duty cycle corresponds to less power applied and a higher duty cycle corresponds to more power applied.

The shows a typical waveform of the PWM signal.

Figure 1. CCP PWM Output Signal