High-Side Current Sense Amplifiers

What is High-Side Current Sensing?

High-Side Current Sensing (HSCS) connects the sensing resistor between the power supply and load. The sensed voltage signal is amplified by the subsequent op amp circuits to get measurable output.



  • Eliminates ground disturbance
  • Load connects system ground directly
  • Detects the high load current caused by accidental shorts


  • Must be able to handle very high and dynamic common mode input voltages
  • Complexity and higher costs
  • High VDD parts

In a single-supply configuration, the most important aspects of HSCS are:

  • The Common Mode Voltage (VCM) range of the difference amplifier must be wide enough to withstand high common mode input voltages
  • The difference amplifier’s ability to reject dynamic common mode input voltages

Application Example

Motor Control

  • HSCS amplifiers are commonly used within motor control applications, including: automotive, industrial, and medical.


  • Power doors, locks, roofs, and mirrors, electric seats, power steering, and oil pumps
  • Increasing global fuel economy rules resulting in higher efficiency
  • Over 600 million DC motors in traditional light vehicles in 2018

Consumer, Industrial, Medical, Consumer, Computing/Telecom

  • Small appliances, HVAC, toys, and set-top boxes
  • Servos, positioning actuators (factory automation/process control), and building automation
  • Surgical tools (staplers, orthopedic drills, etc.), insulin pumps, and oxygen concentrators

What is MCP6C02/4?

  • Amplifiers designed to measure the current through a small resistor
  • Provide an amplified output voltage proportional to the measured current
  • Input voltages from 3 V up to 65 V (MCP6C02), 3 V up to 52 V (MCP6C04), and output from 2 V to 5.5 V
  • Reference pin allows for both unidirectional or bidirectional current measurement

This video discusses the use of amplifiers in shunt-based current sensing applications as well as the pros and cons of high-side and low-side monitoring.

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