When selecting power components, system designers need to take great care in recognising the environmental requirements of their application. Whether a circuit needs to be fully operational at 70k feet above sea level on a fighter jet or submerged underwater in a submarine, there are loads of different factors that dictate a power component’s environmental capabilities.

Environmental pillar (large)

The first requirement that is important to consider is the shock and vibration the system is likely to experience. For example, if a power component is required for a system with a powerful motor, the vibrations from said motor could cause damage and wear to a power supply, reducing longevity and safety. Similarly, if a power supply needs to be used in a vehicle, the shocks from transport experienced in a car or an airplane could also cause system damage.

This is where shock & vibration protection comes in. Ruggedised power supplies can comply with – for instance – the MIL‑STD‑810G for shock and vibration to give system designers confidence that it can withstand the natural shocks experienced in military use. To find out how well specific power supplies are protected from vibrations and shocks, our store includes the datasheet for every product. Here can you see the shock resistance of productions, indicating the mechanical strength against shocks received during transport, storage or operation alongside the same for periodic vibrations.

If your system aims to be used outdoors or in rough dusty terrain, you’ll be interested in the dust and dirt ingress protection of power supplies. Many components use a conformal coating applied to the PCB of power supplies to prevent the build-up of dirt to prevent interference with electrical operation.

Some power supplies are fully enclosed to keep the elements out, perfect for outdoor use. Some also adhere to the IPXX certifications to convey their dust and water resistance. For prolonged outdoor use, system designers may employ waterproof or highly water-resistant power supplies adhering to IP67 or IP66 standards.

In demanding environments, the ambient temperature is an important factor for ensuring continued operation. For instance, in defence applications, weapons and vehicles can experience high levels of heat when deployed in desert environments. If military system designers did not take into account the operating temperatures of their selected power components, excess heat could damage power components and lead to catastrophic system failures during operation.

If your application includes outdoor use in hot climates, keep a close eye on operation temperatures on products’ datasheets. Operating temperatures are also important if your system is required for prolonged 24/7 use as without downtime, components can get hot. Without adequate cooling, heat can be accidentally dissipated to other components in the system, potentially causing damage to other parts of the circuit that is not protected from high temperatures.

So, even with power components that are rated for high temperature use, there are mechanical requirements that you’ll need to consider regarding cooling. Check out our section on Mechanical Requirements for guidance on cooling methods and airflow clearance.

All of these environmental factors and protections will help establish a power component’s (and by extension your system’s) expected operational lifecycle. Taking into full account the needs of your application can help you maximise this lifecycle and reduce operational downtime.

If you’re unsure of how our power supplies are uniquely equipment to meet your application’s demand, get in touch with us to speak to an expert adviser. We can help you assess your environmental requirements and recommend power components that have the necessary certifications and protections to meet your operational needs.

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