Technology

AC/DC Power Supplies: What They Are and How They Work

We live in a world that is crazy about gadgets. We are glued to our phones on social media; we continually shop online; we track our footsteps and fitness using smart watches; and we relax after work by watching the latest series on Netflix. But do any of us actually know how the power supplies for our gadgets work?

While we may know that our technology contains electronic circuits and micro chips, the majority of us could not even begin to explain how they operate. You plug them in, put them on charge and enjoy. However, without an AC/DC power supply, most of our home appliances would not be able to function.

But what is an AC/DC power supply? And why do you need to know?

What Is An AC/DC Power Supply?

Simply, an AC/DC power supply converts alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC). An AC/DC power supply, also called a power converter, works as a regulator to provide a clean, safe electrical current to appliances, by supplying the right current, frequency and voltage required.

In addition to converting current, AC/DC power supplies also act a safety measure. Containing diodes, regulators, transformers, capacitors and wires connected in series, AC/DC power supplies work to regulate current to prevent power surges, and cut off power in the event of an electrical fault.

A good AC/DC power supply can help to reduce an appliance’s power consumption, which in turn can reduce utility bills, so having more knowledge of AC/DC power supplies can benefit homeowners and renters alike.

Types of Power Supplies

There are three main types of power supply: unregulated, linear regulated and switching. In layman’s terms, unregulated power supplies provide different current outputs depending upon the input, while regulated provide a constant current regardless of input, and switching power supplies incorporate a filter to regulate voltage.

In addition, AC/DC power supplies come in a variety of formats. For example, power input can be received from batteries, generators or electrical outlets, each of which can be beneficial for different functions.

The Right Power Supply

Different AC/DC power supplies are configured for different input and output voltages. Using the wrong power supply could lead to a whole host of problems.

For example, if voltage is too high, it could cause a device or appliance short circuiting, resulting in shutting down or electrical damage. While if the current is too low, even with the appropriate voltage, the appliance may still work but it will attempt to draw more current from the supply than intended for, which could lead to the power supply failing.

In addition to damaging electrical equipment, using an incorrect AC/DC power supply can also lead to overheating and even, electrical fire. As such, it is essential to always use the right power supply.

Unless you work as an electrician or engineer, then you may know relatively little about AC/DC power supplies. Hopefully this guide has provided you with some basic information to help you power your home gadgets and appliances more safely.

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