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Power Supply Efficiency: Parallel and Serial Configuration

Providing Industry Leading Technical Support for our Modular AC DC Power Supplies

The efficiency of power supplies has become a heated topic in the industry. With newer ways to arrange connections and come with improved power solutions, every expert dealing with these is concerned about the efficiency of the system. While most methods are highly advanced and technologically sound, whether they increase efficiency or not really depends on the purpose for which a supply is to be used.

For instance, when talking about a Medical Grade Power Supply manufactured by Excelsys Power Supplies, the need for efficiency is paramount. In this case, a connection that makes the supply efficient is the only way to ensure that there is no time lag or lapse at a medical facility.

Parallel and Serial Configurations

Let us look at the two most commonly used power supply configurations that govern efficiency.

Parallel Configurations

For a configuration to be parallel, all the electrical components in the layout are connected between the same electrical points, thus creating multiple control points. This makes the flow of electrons continuous. Paralleling a connection is a great way of increasing the amount of current flowing through the circuit.

Parallel circuits are mostly used when the load in a circuit increases and the requirements of each load increase simultaneously. Such a situation arises in Modular Power Supplies.

Serial Configurations

In a Series Circuit, the electrical components in a layout are connected in a sequence, which makes it impossible for them to be joined to the same electric points. For instance, if a load B is connected right after load A, the points to which each is connected will not be the same.

Moreover, another characteristic feature about Series Connections is that electrons only flow in one direction in such a circuit. Higher output voltages is a prominent result of this configuration.

Challenges for the Efficiency of Power Supply System

  • Facing Parallel Configurations

Both parallel and series circuits are widely used in different industries. Depending on the kind of load and the number of components in each loop, electrical experts decide which of the parallel or series layouts will be appropriate.

The biggest challenge with Parallel Layouts is the distribution of load. The way this configuration is structured, a complete circuit has more than one control loops. For the entire system to function efficiently, each part has to take responsibility for the load, ideally dividing it evenly between all loops.

Ensuring this condition is important for teams that build large-scale electrical systems because if one loop is overburdened, while the other works in low power mode, an imbalance is created that can put the entire system in Thermal Stress. Eventually, such a parallel system collapses, becoming highly unreliable for institutions like hospitals and government agencies.

The best way to counter this problem is through Active or Passive Current Sharing – two methodologies of current distribution that are inherent parts of a parallel system. Experts can choose to put a system on Active Share or Passive Share.

With Active Share, one unit in the loop is made the Master Controller, while others are the Slaves. The Master controls how much current should be given to each of the other slave units. Using this method, a circuit functions smoothly, without any conflicts between components and with minimal burden on each.

When every unit performs its job with a pre-determined amount of current, Thermal Stress can be avoided. The only drawback of the Active Share method is the complexity it adds to the wiring of the system, something that has to be learnt by the expert doing this configuration.

On the other hand, Passive Share of current requires the configuring personnel to simply link the components in parallel, so that the power supply can control its own mode of operations. A technique called Drooping is used for Passive Sharing, which decreases the voltage output to the circuit when the supply of the current increases.

This automatic alternation prevents thermal stress and overburdening of one component in the circuit. When looking at Passive Share as a feasible technique, system personnel have to be careful to add the Load Regulation settings precisely as they should be.

  • Facing Series Configurations

Before putting a Series Configuration System into operation, care must be taken to ensure that all power supply outputs of the system are floating. If this is not the case, the system will experience a short circuit because out of 3 or 4, only 1 power supply output will be supplying current to the system.

A short circuit is a very dangerous condition. Not only does it result in health hazards, it also makes it impossible for Medical Power Supplies to stay stable.

Moreover, in a series circuit, one also has to ensure that each output has the same current rating; otherwise, the system becomes restricted to the supply that has the lowest amount of current in it. The challenges of managing a series circuit are more severe than this. For instance, if the lowest functioning unit goes into Current Limit Protection Mode, the possibility of incurring damage on this part of the circuit becomes very high.

The most prominent use of a series circuit is in the industrial sector where higher voltages are needed. Since this configuration can yield high voltages, there is a lot more that needs to be kept under check if a circuit is to function smoothly. For instance, there is a strong relationship between the level of output voltage and the distances between two conductive parts and a conductive part and the Electrical Enclosure.

Termed Creepage and Clearance, respectively, the distance considerations should be kept at the forefront when a series circuit is designed because at very high voltages, the requirements for Creepage and Clearance also increase. These variables should be discussed with the experts at Excelsys to make sure that when the vendor designs and installs a power supply for you, it functions smoothly without any bottlenecks.

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