RS Components SA
For almost 100 years we have monitored relativity basic electrical parameters – current and voltage. Initially, in power design, this was mainly to ensure that the electrical supply was stable and had the capacity to power the load. As centralized power generation grew and more sophisticated power distribution systems made their way into commercial and industrial settings, so the reasons for metering and monitoring grew too. Commercial customers and home consumers alike became more interested in how much power they were using (watts) and how efficiently they were using it (power factor).
Prior to the 1980s, electric meters were all electromechanical (analog) devices using basic electromagnetic principles. This all changed as the microprocessor industry advanced and transformed how we all live and work. Microprocessors found their way into just about everything to rapidly become commonplace components of the digital age. In power management terms, early usage of microprocessors was in metering equipment and circuit protection. The advantages were huge: one digital meter could easily replace several analog meters. This conversion from analog to digital devices fuelled high growth in power metering through the 90s and 00s; however, recent growth takes us to a new level of intelligence. Now customers require accurate and timely data to better aid decision making and help them to maximize productivity and energy efficiency. Later in this article we will take a look at two main classes of power supply – Linear and Switch Mode Power Supplies (SMPS) – but first, we will consider Embedded Solutions that simplify the design of power supplies.
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