Smart Power Supply Design for Greater Reliability
The reliability of a power supply is of critical importance in industrial operations. We can reasonably define the reliability of the power supply as the probability that it will continue to function within a defined period. Reliability can be enhanced by controlling the environment within which it operates, but fundamentally the primary influence over the reliability of any power supply is the design of the unit itself.
Many factors have to be considered if we want to achieve our goal of producing a truly high reliability power supply. Efficiency, component choice and derating, and many other factors all contribute to the stability and durability of any unit.
Most power supplies have been designed to continue indefinitely with standard performance in the absence of one half cycle of A/C mains. However, if the negating facts are fully understood, power supplies configured appropriately, then the lifetime of the device can be significantly increased.
A common approach for improving the lifecycle of a power supply is to utilise an N + 1 redundancy system. What this essentially means is that if, for example, 400W of power are required for a particular system, then two 400W power supplies are included within its design.
By including some form of isolation between the two power supplies it is certain that if one of the two devices fails that the other one will continue to provide sufficient power to your load. Additionally, such a design also carries the native advantage of reducing the thermal stress on each power supply, as both will only be operating at approximately 50% of their rated capacity.
Keeping components cool must also be considered an absolutely critical concept. The overheating parts will directly result in a degradation of reliability. Keeping heat away from heat generating components will particularly pay dividends, and simply following these few short strategies will result in considerably more reliable power supplies.