White Paper: Energy

Selecting the Correct Level of DC-DC Converter for Your Application


Most power systems for high-reliability applications can be constructed from standard power modules. The typical scenario requires various DC output voltages and power levels and is usually met with standard DC-DC converters, EMI filters, and accessory modules. A modular power system can be developed quicker and at lower cost than a full custom approach. This is true even for critical applications, and reliability can often be as high as or higher than that of a custom design.

Critical applications range from undersea and military ground, to commercial and military avionics, to deep space. DC-DC converters, point of load converters, EMI filters, and other power modules are offered by various manufacturers, all claiming high reliability. The question is, how do you know what level of quality and reliability you are getting and how do you select the correct level for your application?

It can be difficult to determine the quality specifications listed in manufacturer datasheets but it is critical to do so when selecting the right level of DC-DC converter for your application. To optimize your system reliability and control costs, it is important to be able to fully understand the products you plan to utilize in your design. Temperature range, performance specs, Mil-Spec compliance, and quality systems all must be considered. Design heritage and program heritage are also important factors to review. Select a reputable manufacturer with proven experience in high-reliability applications.

This white paper defines high-reliability COTS, Mil-Spec, and Space-Grade DC-DC converters and provides important considerations for selecting the proper type: Hi-Rel COTS for cost-sensitive applications, a MIL-PRF-38534 Class H qualified DC-DC converter for critical avionics, and a Class K radiation-hardened hybrid with an ELDRS guarantee for space missions.

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