What Is an AC-DC Power Supply?

A power supply is a device that is used to convert the electrical current that enters from a power source to the voltage and current values necessary for powering a load. In electrical systems, the load is a device which consumes electrical energy in the form of current and transforms it into other forms like heat, light, work, etc. A power supply must transfer current in a controlled manner to a wide range of loads, sometimes simultaneously, all without letting changes in the input voltage or other connected devices affect the output. A power supply can be external, such as charging devices for a laptop computer, or internal, as in larger devices like desktop computers. Furthermore, a power supply can either be regulated or unregulated. In a regulated power supply, the changes pertaining to the input voltage do not affect the output, whereas in an unregulated power supply, the output depends on the input.

Regardless of what type they are, all power supplies take electrical power from the source at the input, and transform it in some way before delivering it to the load at the output. The power at the input and output can either be Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC). Alternating current and direct current are two types of electricity that vary in their flow of electrons. In AC, the electrons do not flow along a continuous loop; instead, they flow back and forth similar to waves in the ocean. By contrast, DC has electrons which flow in one direction, more like the movement of water in a river. AC is typically used in the transport of electricity from a power station to towns and cities because it can be more easily transferred over long distances. AC voltage can also be increased and decreased through the use of transformers. Conversely, DC is mainly used for circuit boards in small electronic devices because it is easier to control and allows circuits to be made more compact. Nevertheless, a combination of both AC and DC can often be used in larger electronics such as washing machines, where some functions (buttons and display) require greater control, while others simply need power (spinning mechanism).

One common example of a power supply are the chargers we use to power our phones. The charger’s role is to convert the AC from the outlet into usable DC transferred at the right voltage preferred by the electronic device. As such, most power supply devices are AC/DC converters. However, power supplies can also be made to accomplish the opposite. For example, the energy harvested from sunlight in a solar panel is held in solar cells as DC current, and to be used by a home or business, DC must be converted into AC. Due to the differing usages and qualities of AC and DC power supplies are important devices within every system where electronic circuitry is involved. This includes major use in the aviation industry with AC harnessed for normal operation of major electronics such as the lighting system, whereas DC may be used in emergency power supply equipment or to power small electronics in the cockpit and cabin.

For a wide inventory of electronics parts from trusted manufacturers, Plane Parts 360 is here to assist you with all that you require, including AC-DC power supplies, voltage dependent resistors, power line filters, and many other components. We invite you to browse our catalog of available items on our website, and submit a Request For Quote form (RFQ) to receive a competitive quote for your comparisons on any of the products we offer. Upon receiving and reviewing your form, our dedicated team will send you a quote catered to your specific situation in 15 minutes or less. Get started today to see how Plane Parts 360 can serve as your premier sourcing partner!


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