Linear and Switching Power Supplies

by | Jul 2, 2012 | Computer And Internet

It takes a lot of thought and understanding to choose the right DC power supply. There are a few different kinds on the market, and they’re all made to cater to a number of very specific needs. It should go without saying that just because a certain DC power supply works for someone else doesn’t mean that the device could ever be considered ideal for what you need it to do. You should also remember that these pieces of equipment can be moderately expensive, and so you don’t want to waste your money on the wrong product. DC power supplies come in two basic types, and understanding both is essential for choosing the item that can meet all of your needs.

Linear Power Supplies

DC power supplies work by changing the input current. Linear power supplies are those that can’t produce an output with a higher voltage than the energy being fed into them. No matter what you do with these converters, the output voltage will always be less than or equal to the voltage of the current being put into the machine. However, you should keep in mind that the number of cases in which the output voltage is lower than the input voltage will typically outweigh the number of situations where the two are the same. This is because the vast majority of DC power supplies aren’t 100% efficient. With linear power supplies, a good chunk of the input energy will be lost in the form of heat. If you need a power supply that can run at high voltages, then a linear device probably isn’t the way to go unless you have a lot of power to run through to the machine. These DC power supplies aren’t always a very good fit for industrial settings where a lot of power is often necessary.

Switching Power Supplies

These DC power supplies are usually a bit more flexible in terms of how they can be used. Because of this, they’re most often incorporated into a variety of situations that call for high-voltage power. Unlike linear power supplies, switching converters can change the output voltage in a number of different ways. The voltage can be increased, decreased and even inverted, expanding the number of applications that these devices can be used for. One small drawback associated with many switching power supplies is that they aren’t as small and quiet as their linear counterparts. These DC power supplies are a little larger due to their additional features, and they make a significantly greater amount of noise.

Which One?

Whether you choose a linear or switching power supply will depend on your own needs. If you’re working with a company that needs more energy to drive its various devices, a switching unit might be your best bet. However, if you only need something to convert power in your own home, a linear power supply is probably the cheapest and most sensible option.

If you’re searching for DC power supplies, CyPower provides the most efficient way for engineers and buyers to locate and purchase the specific power supply needed. No other website provides quick, easy access with the search tools and data available to today’s top manufacturers of power supplies. Research, compare, and purchase on one website. Call a CyPower sales rep at 800.477.0021, email or visit

Latest Articles