It's without a doubt that the world around us stands and falls with a steady supply of electricity. Given this fact, it is surprising how few of us actually possess a knowledge of how it works and how it powers the devices we use every single day. Things like power supply, AC to DC conversion simply don't ring a bell with many. But don't worry if you're among these "many". Read this article to get a basic overview of this topic!
Power Supply? AC to DC? Never Heard of These? Here's What You Should Know
You most certainly use power supplies every single day without even being aware of it. Your cell phone, your computer and a whole lot of other equipment – all are dependent on a device called power supply (sometimes also called a converter).
This device changes one form of energy into another that is more suitable for the equipment which is being powered. More precisely, an AC-DC power supply takes the alternating current, which is the standard current supplied into the electric grid, and transforms it into direct current, which is the actual kind of current that your phone, computer etc. requires. To learn more differing uses of AC and DC power,
Yes, you can't plug your equipment directly into the wall socket without the current first being mediated by a power supply. You might not even notice, since a lot of them are already built into the piece of equipment, but rest assured – power supplies are there and are busy at work!
So How Exactly Do They Work?
Well the answer to that is dependent on the particular type of power supply (and believe us, there are many). But the principle of how the circuit in these devices works tends to be the same. It usually consists of the following components:
• First a transformer. This component consists of coils wrapped around the core, which creates a magnetic field. This enables to change the voltage of an incoming electric current.
• Rectifier. This is an imperative component, since it effectively changes the alternating current into an actual direct one by allowing it to travel in a single direction only.
• Filter. No matter the type (there are several), the purpose of a filter is simple – to smoothen the remains of AC current (the so-called ripple) and to increase the output voltage if necessary.
Bear in mind that power supplies usually come in regulated and unregulated variants. The unregulated ones tend to allow through much greater amounts of ripple, since their filter simply cannot handle absolutely every irregularity. For some devices, this is perfectly OK, since they can handle the occasional ripple.
Some of the more fine-tuned equipment, however, needs a regulated power supply, where the amount of ripple is further reduced by an additional regulator.
Some of the Power Supplies You Can Come Across
We've already mentioned the regulated and unregulated power supplies, but there are countless other variations of these devices. Listing them all would require far more space than we have, but let's mention for example:
• Switching regulated PS. Here, the AC current is first rectified into DC, but afterwards, it is changed into square wave AC before it is rectified into DC again and then filtered.
• Ripple regulated PS. Basically an unregulated PS with an transistor circuit added into the saturation region, which transfers DC power into a capacitor.
• DC to DC converter. Some devices are powered by batteries providing DC current, which, however, needs to be stepped down or up to match the requirement of the particular equipment.
• DC to AC converter. While changing DC back to AC is less common, these converters are tremendously useful for example in power backup systems.
Hopefully you have a better idea of what power supplies are and how they impact our daily lives. If you're a bit knowledgeable about this topic, please share what you know with the rest in the comment section!
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