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Linear Power Supply Vs. Switch Mode

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There are two primary designs for DC power supply – Linear Power Supply and Switch Mode Power Supply. Conventional linear power supply systems are durable and heavy and have a lower noise across high and low frequencies. It’s also why they are best suited for lower power application settings where weight isn’t a concern. Let’s take a look at some of the features of these two systems to understand what the differences are:

  • Switch mode power supply is more durable, efficient and far lighter. They also have a very limited high-frequency sound on account of their design. This is why a switch power supply isn’t suitable for high-frequency audio applications but works very well for applications that need a higher power.
  • Aside from that, these power supply systems can be used interchangeably for different applications.
  • Their manufacturing costs are almost identical. Today, switch mode supply systems are used far more broadly compared to linear power supply systems.

Here is some more information about these two power systems:

Linear DC power supply

Until the late 1970’s, linear DC power supply was the central component of power conversion. As switching power supply technology advanced, linear power supplies started becoming far less popular. However, they are still indispensable in settings that require low noise and ripple. Linear power supplies use big transformers to drop the voltage from an AC line to a far lower AC voltage; a series of rectifier circuitry & filtering processes are used to produce clean DC voltage.

The applications

Linear DC power supplies are used in a range of applications such as:

  • Low noise amplifiers
  • Studio mixer/audio amplifier
  • Signal processing
  • A/D converters, sensors, multiplexers, hold and sample circuits.
  • Laboratory test equipment
  • Automatic test equipment
  • Control circuits
  • Any application where excellent regulation and/or lower ripple is needed

Today, you can get very good linear DC power supply systems with superior fault tolerance and reliability. These systems are robust and have good reverse-voltage protections in place.

Switching DC power supply

These types of power supplies were introduced way back in the late 1970’s. But in the modern landscape, they are the most popular type of DC power supply in the market. This is because they are highly power-efficient and have an excellent overall performance.

Switching DC power supplies are also referred to as switch mode power supplies. They regulate the output voltage via the pulse width modulation (PWM) process. This process generates a certain amount of high-frequency noise. However, it enables the switching power supply systems to be built with a small form factor and very high power efficiency.

The applications

Switching power supply systems that have a good design, and also have very good line and load regulation. Some of the common applications in which switching DC power supplies can be used include:

  • Manufacturing and testing
  • Mobile stations, communications systems
  • Network equipment
  • High current or high current applications
  • Electroplating
  • Electroforming
  • Anodizing
  • Aviation
  • Marine and vehicle batteries
  • Battery charging and equalization in Lithium-Ion batteries
  • Fuel cell applications
  • Hydrogen generator
  • Waste treatment
  • Slot cars
  • DC motors
  • And more

Almost all modern switch mode power supplies have reverse-voltage protection and built-in over-voltage. While they are extremely resilient and durable, they still provide very good ripple and noise performance as they are manufactured using state-of-the-art technology.

The system you use will depend entirely on the application and setting it is to be installed in. If you want to know more about our power products and services, don’t hesitate to contact us at KaRaTec Power Supply Pty. You can give us a call at 612 9808 1127. You can also fill in this contact us form.

Thanks for reading,
Karatec Power Supply Pty
612 9808 1127

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