What is the difference between switch mode power supply and regulated power supply?

Published: 8 April 2022

What is the difference between switch mode power supply and regulated power supply?

The main difference between a switch mode power supply and a linear power supply is that the former uses switches to control the flow of energy, while the latter uses resistors to control the voltage output. This means that switch mode power supplies are more efficient than regulated power supplies, as the resistors in the linear regulator dissipate the extra energy in the form of heat. However, switched mode power supplies generate noise due to the high-speed switching process, so it's important to choose the right type of power supply for your application.

The type of industries switch mode power supplies are used in include industrial, medical, military, and telecommunications.

There are two main types of switch mode power supplies: those with isolated outputs and those with non-isolated outputs. Isolated output power supplies contain an isolating transformer or coupled inductor, which separates the grounds and helps prevent ground loops. The isolation can also protect people and connected equipment from the dangerous voltage supplied by the mains. Non-isolated output power supplies don't have this feature, which means they can make the system more vulnerable to noise and ground loop issues.

When choosing a switch mode power supply, it's important to take the following factors into consideration: the input/output you need, the power rating, the EMC/EMI generated, and the price. Switch mode power supplies are more expensive than regulated power supplies, but they're also more efficient, lighter, and flexible.

A linear power supply would be suitable for applications where there is a need for low noise and high stability, such as in audio equipment. However, they are not suited for high power applications as the losses and heat generated make them unfeasible.  

A switch mode power supply would be better suited for applications where efficiency is a concern, or space/weight is restricted, such as in portable electronics or aircrafts.

We have a range of switch mode power supplies to choose from leading manufacturers including Cosel, Cincon, and Advanced Energy

View a range of our power supplies here, or contact us with your requirements

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