A DC to DC converter is an integrated circuit designed to produce a target voltage from a lower source voltage. It can be designed to source multiple output voltages from a single supply by either stepping it down or stepping it up. Common applications include power supply units (PSU) for computers, telecom systems, and battery-powered devices.
When using a DC to DC converter, it is very important to note the maximum current load that is listed as a specification. This will advise you how much current the converter can deliver, and using more power than that can damage the device and leave it unable to produce the specified voltage.
Let’s know more about a DC to DC converter:
Factors to Consider before Choosing a DC to DC Converter
1. Power Requirements for the System
When selecting a DC to DC converter, a primary consideration is to determine the system’s output load power requirements as with most power supplies. The DC to DC converter’s output requirements include the output voltage and current supplied by the converter. Tolerance specifications for the output voltage may vary depending on environmental conditions such as input voltage, output load current, ambient temperature, and so on. The specifications for load current requirements should include the minimum, maximum, and typical values.
When compared to AC-DC supplies, requirement specifications for DC to DC converter applications are distinct in that input voltages are not standardised, as they are for AC-DC power supplies. When selecting a DC-DC converter, the range of input voltages that will be applied to the converter must be specified.
2. Configurations: Isolated vs. Non-isolated
DC to DC converters are available in both isolated and non-isolated forms. Isolated converters are built with galvanically isolated input and output circuits; there is no DC path between the input and output. These converters are frequently used to isolate the input and output circuits from electrical noise or dangerous voltages. Multiple output voltages from a single isolated converter are available.
Non-isolated converters have a direct current connection between the input and output circuits via a common ground. This type of converter can be made smaller and more affordable than isolated converters. Non-isolated converters can generate a negative output voltage from a positive input voltage.
3. Output Voltage Regulated vs. Unregulated
Most DC-DC converters, like AC-DC supplies, produce a tightly regulated output voltage. Smaller converters can be used in applications that can tolerate an unregulated output voltage. On low power converters, the option of selecting a regulated or unregulated output voltage is frequently unavailable.
4. Options for Packaging and Mounting
DC-DC converters come in a variety of package and mounting configurations. Surface mounting (SMT) or through-hole mounting (THM) as well as single in-line pin (SIP) or dual in-line pin (DIP) configurations are available in applications where the DC to DC converter will be mounted directly onto a PCB. For applications requiring this type of mounting, chassis mounted converters are available. For industrial applications, many converters are available in DIN rail mount configurations. Most package and mounting configurations include both open frame and encapsulated converters.
5. EMC and EMI Concerns
Most electronic products on the market must comply with EMI and EMC (Electromagnetic Interference and Electromagnetic Compatibility) regulations. The regulatory requirements aim to ensure that the products do not interfere with the operation of other products and that outside electrical noise does not interfere with the proper operation of certified products. DC-DC converters can be certified to meet regulatory requirements, but in most applications, the entire system is certified and the internal sub-circuits are not.
6. Requirements for Safety
Most electronic products sold must meet safety regulatory requirements, which are similar to EMI and EMC regulatory requirements. As with EMI and EMC regulatory certification, products are granted safety certification for the final product, and certification for internal sub-components is often not required but can be obtained if mandatory. It should be noted that DC to DC converters sold in the EU and UK with input voltage ratings of 75 V or higher require safety certificates. If DC-DC converters are used to isolate product users from hazardous voltages, safety certifications for converters should also be obtained.
7. Additional Benefits
In addition to the DC to DC converter characteristics discussed above, there are other features that may be valuable or required in product designs. Some converters enable the designer to adjust the output voltage using external resistors. High power converters frequently include load voltage sense terminals, which allow the compensation of the converter to drop the voltage in the conductors between the converter’s output and the load. Including remote on/off capability allows the designer to use an electronic signal to enable or disable the converter’s output voltage.
Understanding the fundamental issues surrounding DC to DC converter can aid in the selection of these components. Other factors to consider when choosing converters may exist in addition to those mentioned above.
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