The DC Power Supply is a rather fundamental electronic device, but there are hundreds of DC Power Supply products on the market from dozens of manufacturers. This article discusses DC Power Supply differentiators, functions, and applications that make them the best choice for your application and budget. DC Power Supplies are used by engineers, manufacturers, quality professionals, and electronic hobbyists for R&D, manufacturing, and testing purposes.
The cost of a power supply is often directly proportional to the amount of power it produces, and it can range in price from $50 to $20,000. By regulating the input power, a constant voltage and current are enforced by the output power. DC Power Supplies convert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) as part of their function. There are two basic types of DC power supplies: linear and switching.
If a linear power supply were driven by a typical 110V wall outlet, it would only be able to output 110V, assuming it were 100% efficient. Realistically, no power supply is 100% efficient because power conversion always results in energy loss, usually through heat dissipation. As a result, linear power supplies usually output voltages significantly lower than their inputs.
The switching power supply can step-up, step-down, or invert the input voltage. The switching power supply is usually larger, noisier, and more expensive than its linear counterpart, but it is typically more efficient as well.
Choosing the right DC power supply for your application requires defining some basic design specifications: voltage range, current range, number of outputs, power cleanliness (known as "ripple") and programmability. It is generally more expensive to buy DC Power Supplies with higher output voltages, lower ripple, multiple outputs, and programmable features.
The least expensive DC Power Supplies are ideal for electronics hobbyists and basic electro-mechanical applications where only raw power is required. Power-conditioning features are likely already in place in these applications, so there is no need for precision input power. DC power supplies with one output, low power, range in price from $50 to $200.
The mid-range power supply is ideal for non-critical laboratory projects involving more advanced electromechanical applications or basic board-level testing. Digital metering (+/- .001V, +/- .01A), multiple outputs, higher power ratings, lower ripple, and lower precision make mid-range DC power supplies attractive. They can range in price from $200 to $1,000, depending on whether they are linear or switching.
High-end applications requiring high output voltage, advanced programmability (GPIB PC Interface), numerous outputs, and very low ripple should budget over $1,000 for their DC power supply. Power supplies for laboratory, research and development, and testing applications can easily cost $5,000 to $10,000. Get more info about soldering station.
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