White Paper: Energy

Programmable DC Power Supply

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Choosing the right DC programmable power supply for your test system or application can feel overwhelming if you are not sure of all the considerations involved. This book guides you through the process of selecting a DC power supply that is right for your application and paired with how you intend to use it. Defining the power requirements for your application is the first place to start, but this is only the beginning of the process. Once you know the voltages and currents that you need, you must determine how you will power your source and how you intend to control it. So, before you issue a purchase order, you would be wise to consider the following questions and others to be discussed:

  • What output do I really need from my power supply?
  • What is autoranging and how can it help me?
  • Should I consider a bidirectional power supply?
  • What input am I able to give my power supply?
  • How do I plan on controlling my power supply?

DC power supplies come in a variety of voltage and current combinations, so naturally the key specifications are maximum output voltage, maximum output current, and maximum output power. Traditional power supplies are rated at their maximum power point, which is maximum current and maximum voltage. Any voltage below that point will be limited to the same current, which means you only get full power out at one operating point. To address this limitation, one selection criteria is a feature known as Autoranging, which provides a wider output of both voltage and current to maintain full power across a much larger operating range.

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