What type of cooling method for my power supply?
There are three main methods power supplies use to dispel excess heat:
Sophisticated power supplies can blend two or more of the above methods to create a hybrid cooling system.
A convention power supply requires no fan cooling. But, where system designers often misunderstand convection cooling is assuming that without the need for a fan, there is no need for airflow to operate the component.
Convection cooling works on the transfer of heat by the circulation or movement of hot air. As hot air rises, cool air is drawn from the sides of the component, providing the cooling required for operation.
It is therefore important to ensure that there is adequate space for air to be down from the sides and system designers developing compact systems should keep mindful of the airflow clearance when selecting convection cooled power supplies.
Forced cooled products rely on external cooling fans to operate. These are relatively easy to implement as they rely on maintaining an adequate ambient temperature. Forced air power supplies can reach higher power outputs if powerful external fans are used, so are perfect for high power applications.
The degree of cooling is important to maintain high performance and operating life. Often, it is a cooling fan that is the first to fail, and any fall in cooling performance will lead to adverse effects on a system’s reliability. Therefore, fan performance should be monitored during operation to avoid failure. Also, as a mechanical component, fan cooled forced air components have an added noise element from fans spinning.
Conduction power supplies, like convection cooled components, do not require fans for cooling. These power supplies instead rely on a cold plate to remove the waste heat via heat conduction.
Conduction can dispel more heat than air convection – allowing for higher power outputs – whilst removing the requirement for a noisy and failure-prone fan. Conduction supplies also allow for greater ingress protection for dust and water by being fully enclosed.