Industrial machinery spread throughout a plant floor runs on a variety of power sources, involving a number of intermediary steps to ensure maximum up time is retained. There are several power supply configurations that have made their way into the plant floor as the applications gain more diversity, i.e. from motors to sensitive electronic equipment.
Specifically, unregulated, linear and switching power supplies are gaining a high degree of fame within the industry as they can be used for applications that require high reliability and high amperage. They are a perfect choice for applications that are inductive where tight regulation of voltage is not required.
If we go back four decades from today, the linear power supply was one of the most popular components within a plant floor. They worked great when it came to dealing with large inrush currents, starting DC motors, running large transformers, and so on. However, as electronics advanced, the fame of these devices burned down, and they became a distant alternative to power supply applications.
The vacuum was filled with switching power supplies, which are still highly popular as they provide an easy, efficient and cheap way to convert AC input voltage into high-frequency, low-voltage DC. A simple comparison reveals that switching power supplies are 25% the size of a linear supply of the same rating, at the same time being 25% more efficient.
When a power supply is specified, there are a few parameters that are vital for its proper description; these include the voltage, current and mode of control. Generally, the input voltage is universal and falls within the range of 85 – 264 VAC at 50/60Hz, while the outputs are discrete, e.g. 5, 12, 24, etc. VDC.
The output voltage range is often provided in an adjustable manner, thus allowing the user to self-regulate the supply as per the need. Most power supplies come with an over voltage protection, allowing them to sense and adjust the output voltage. However, episodes of under voltage are often left unchecked, which is why it is vital that the input specifications be double-checked before any connections are made.
The power output is specified in Watts. Never should you guess the required DC power for an application. The best approach is to use a spreadsheet software to list down the ratings of all the components connected to the supply, thus ensuring the power supply is of the correct rating. Finally, when wiring the power supply, branch circuit protection should always be incorporated. Along with a network of fuses to prevent any untoward incident from happening and limiting the extent of the damage.
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