There are three main types of power supplies:
- Unregulated (aka brute force)
- Linear regulated
The next type of power supply circuit is the ripple-regulated. It is a hybrid between the “brute force” and “switching” designs so this can be sub-categorized to each one of them.
This type of power supply is the most basic type, consisting of a transformer, rectifier and low pass filter. These power supplies typically show signs of rapidly-varying instability and other AC “noise” issues on the DC power. If the input voltage varies, the output voltage will vary by a relative amount. The benefit of an unregulated supply is that it’s low-priced, simple, and efficient.
- Linear regulated
This type of power supply is unregulated power supply followed by a transistor circuit operating in active/ linear mode, therefore it is named linear regulator. A usual linear regulator is designed to output a fixed voltage for a wide range of input voltages, and it simply drops any surplus input voltage to allow a maximum output voltage to the load. This excess voltage drop results in significant power dissipation in the form of heat. If the input voltage goes too low, the transistor circuit will lose regulation. This means it will fail to maintain the voltage steady. For that reason, you have to keep the input voltage at least 1 to 3 volts higher than the required output, depending on the regulator type. This makes this type of power supplies rather inefficient. Also, to get rid of all that heat they have to use large heat sinks which make them large, heavy, and expensive.
This type of power supply shows an effort to realize the advantages of both unregulated and linear regulated designs.
- Ripple regulated
This type of power supply is an alternative to the linear regulated design scheme. Ripple regulator circuits have a tendency to be simpler than switches. They need not handle the high voltages that switcher transistors mostly handle, making them safer to work on.
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