Power Supply Manufacturers Making Advances Towards Current Linear and Switch-Mode Devices

Power Supply Manufacturing Crucial Components

As power supplies are the crucial component in the power management systems of most modern direct current (DC) electrical devices, power supply manufacturers are considered big business. The annual revenue from sales of both internal and external power supplies in 2002 was believed to be in the vicinity of 5 billion dollars, and was said to be growing at a rate of 10 percent per annum.

As over 200 million units are sold every year, the technology involved in these devices is rapidly changing and improving. Experts are consequently being pushed to advance power supply technology with regards to device energy efficiency. Recent research has found that energy inefficient power supplies are at fault for yearly energy wastage in the neighborhood of 32 billion kilowatts in the United States alone. This is believed to cost consumers approximately 2.5 billion dollars.

Power Supply Manufacturers and Linear Power Supplies

Linear power supplies, which usually appear attached to devices as external power supplies, are the most energy inefficient power supplies currently in use in residential homes. Even so 5-10 of these devices can be found attached to everyday household electrical items, and one billion are still manufactured every year.

Linear supplies have been reported in some studies as having energy efficiency levels as low as 20 percent (calculated by dividing output by input). The inefficiency of these supplies stems from the fact that linear devices are designed to conduct electrical current at a constant voltage, releasing any excess energy as heat. Even thought these devices are energy inefficient, they are often still utilized, due to lower manufacturing costs.

Instead of power supply manufacturers reforming the production of these devices in order to increase energy efficiency, they are instead, simply no longer utilized in items that require more than approximately 15 watts. In higher energy devices more efficient switch-mode power supply devices are used.

Power Supply Manufacturers and Switch-Mode Power Supplies

Switch-mode power supplies, which are generally internal devices, allow for the amount of energy used to be regulated via a ‘switching’ process. This switching process causes the device to alternate between different ideal internal component configurations, which in turn eliminate the wastage of energy as heat.

Theoretically this construction allows for 100 percent energy efficiency, although current devices are said to only be approximately 70-80 percent energy efficient. Studies suggest that this could be easily increased to 90 percent if already existing components and technology were utilized by manufacturers.

The reason that power supply manufacturers remain unchanged however is thought to be due to a lack of proper regulation and standardization within the industry. This means that companies aren’t in a hurry to change erroneous traditional practices. The lack of consumer interest in factors such as power supply efficiency whilst purchasing electrical products, is also a large issue hindering change.

It can however be noted that something must change regarding current power supply design. The most obvious move to force positive movement in the industry would be to properly educate the end user.