Selecting the Best Regulated Power Supply for Electronics
Selecting the Best Regulated Power Supply for Electronics

May 10, 2019

When selecting a regulated power supply, you’ll need to know the electrical specifications required for a device, such as a line regulation, as well as how much power will be used for each application. Each device needs a different amount of output power (DC) to function and the power supply has to regulate the voltage, keeping the device from overheating. The power supply is the first place to receive electricity, with most designed to handle fluctuations in electrical current and still provide a regulated or consistent power output. A power supply will receive power from an electrical outlet and convert the current from input power (AC) to DC.

Power supplies are categorized in two ways: unregulated and regulated. The main difference between the two types is the voltage input and output needed for certain devices. Unregulated power supplies are designed to produce a certain voltage at a particular current since they provide a constant amount of power. However, the output voltage will decrease as the output current increases; since unregulated power supplies don’t produce a constant voltage like regulated power supplies, they should always be matched to the voltage and current requirements of the device it’s powering.

Regulated Power Supplies are Often Better

Without a regulator to stabilize the output voltage, any change in input voltage will be reflected in the output voltage. These small changes in the output voltage are called ripple voltage. If the power supply and load requirements are closely matched, there’s usually not a problem. However, if the ripple voltage is large enough with the output voltage, it’ll impact the behavior of circuits and devices. A filter capacitor can be placed across the power supply’s positive and negative outputs to reduce the impact of ripple voltage. The capacitor, which resists voltage changes, will smooth the output voltage, allowing for normal operation.

Regulated power supplies maintain the voltage at the desired level and are ideal for almost all electronic devices because of the smooth, steady supply of voltage they offer. Clean power is an absolute requirement for powering sensitive electronics since they must receive the correct amount of voltage no matter the input. They have voltage regulators on their output, ensuring the output voltage will always stay at the rated value of the power supply, regardless of the current that the device is consuming. Any change in the input voltage will not affect the output voltage because of the regulators. This works as long as the device isn’t drawing more than the rated output current of the power supply.

Regulated Switched-Mode Power Supplies

There are two main types of regulated power supplies available: linear and SMPS. Linear power supplies or regulators take input power, then step down the voltage with a transformer, then rectify and filter the input into a DC output. They provide output voltage by dissipating excess power and regulate either output voltage or current by dissipating the excess electric power in the form of heat. In contrast, a switched-mode power supply (SMPS) uses a regulator to convert electrical power efficiently by transferring power from a DC or AC source to DC loads while converting voltage and current.

The main difference between the two processes is that they use different components. As a result, linear regulators are typically less efficient, use a bigger and heavier transformer and bigger filter components. While SMPS provides better efficiency due to its high switching frequency, it enables them to use a smaller, less-costly transformer and lighter, less-costly filter components. Over the years, we’ve built several custom switched-mode power supplies (SMPS) based on client specifications. What makes us unique is that we’re able to develop magnetic components, design functional testers, conduct reliability studies, provide indigenous development, supply heat sink components, and receive approvals like UL/CE/CSA.

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