If you aren’t sure what an AC-DC adapter is, plug your laptop into the wall – and there it is. In a nutshell, it’s simply a type of power supply that turns the ‘alternating current’ (AC) supplied by your mains into the type of ‘direct current’ (DC) that your laptop or other device requires. Simple.
But what if things are not quite so simple and the power source is not AC, but DC? Various applications, like electronic appliances, mobile devices, computer tools, industrial control systems and many, many more, require a supply of on-board DC power.
The reason AC is supplied to homes and businesses is because it travels long distances more reliably and it’s more versatile for all the things we use it for – thanks in part to those DC aforementioned AC-DC adapters. If the power source is DC, however, whatever the voltage/current the device or application is expecting must precisely match the power source. For example, if your application requires 240V, the DC generator must be an exact and stable 240V.
That’s where a DC-DC converter comes in. What it does is takes the DC input and converts it into a DC power source at a different and precise voltage level that is useable by your application. For instance, if you want to take the original 24V DC source and convert it into 12V, you’ll need a 12V to 24V converter. This is an example of a “step down” converter, and it’s typically found in things like trucks, buses, lighting systems, and even CB radios.
On the other hand, DC-DC converters can even go the other way – so that raising the DC voltage from 12V to 24V will require a 12V to 24V converter. This is called a “step down” converter, which is common in various industries including navigation, entertainment, communications and applications like forklifts.
Advantages of DC-DC converters:
1. Space Saving
With a “step up” DC-DC converter on-board that can boost the input voltage, you can save both weight, space and cost by reducing the size, capacity or amount of necessary on-board batteries.
2. Weight Saving
Reduced battery requirements are not the only weight benefit of DC-DC converters. Because DC-DC converters typically work at high frequency, it means they can be manufactured to be very small – and light!
3. Safe Power
An efficient, high-quality DC-DC converter will ensure not only that the DC power you require is at the right voltage, it will also regulate that output voltage so that it is stable and safe for your application.
4. Safe People
While non-isolated DC-DC converters are inexpensive, they provide almost no protection at high voltage. The main feature of an isolated DC-DC converter, however, is that there is no actual electrical contact between the input and the output circuits thanks to the presence of a high frequency transformer. And what that means is that if something fails, the people around it are safe.
A recent report published by ReportsnReports predicted that the DC-DC converter market will grow from $8.5 billion to over $22 billion by 2025 – and it’s no surprise why. As demand for safe, stable and versatile DC power for sensitive applications across the industry spectrum – including the medical and healthcare markets, for instance – it means more and more operations are tapping the benefits and potential of DC-DC technology.