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Universal Power Supply Essentials: Your Ultimate Guide for Reliable Energy

By CW Deziel
Updated May 16, 2024
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What Is a Universal Power Supply?

In an increasingly connected world, the reliability of our electronic devices hinges on consistent power delivery. A universal power supply serves as a critical bridge, ensuring gadgets receive the right voltage and current. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global power supply market size was valued at USD 25.7 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.0% from 2021 to 2028. These devices, equipped with a transformer and a rectifier, adeptly convert household AC current—either 110 or 220 volts—to a selectable DC output, typically ranging from 1 to 20 volts. With a suite of output jacks, a universal power supply caters to a diverse array of electronic needs, reflecting its essential role in our daily tech-driven lives.

Laptops and household appliances, as well as audio and video and other other electronic equipment, come with their own mobile power supply so you can run them from a household circuit. The transformer and diodes in the power supply are necessary to protect the delicate electronic circuitry in these devices, and losing the power supply, an all-too-frequent occurrence, renders them inoperable. There is no standard input voltage that is appropriate for all devices, so having a universal power supply on hand is an easy way to regain the use of one if its power supply has been lost.

A transformer has an input and output coil, both wrapped around a central core, and the ratio of the input voltage to the output voltage depends on the relative number of turns of these two coils. The switch on a universal power supply alters the output voltage by changing the position of the point of connection to increase or decrease the number of output coils. The diodes convert the current from AC to DC by passing it in one direction while canceling the current in the return direction.

While a universal power supply can be used to power a variety of different equipment, there isn't one that is appropriate for all devices. Before purchasing one as a substitute for a laptop power supply or a supply for a sensitive piece of electronic equipment, buyers should check the range of voltages for which it is rated, as well the output jacks that come with it, to make sure it will work. The power supply output current rating should also be the same as that of the device for which it will be used.

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Discussion Comments
By Reminiscence — On May 15, 2014

One important thing about using a universal power supply adapter is to always make sure the selected voltage matches the appliance. I have plugged small electronic devices like calculators or game players into an AC power supply and have forgotten to ratchet down the voltage. I fried a good calculator and almost broke a Game Boy by not paying attention.

By Cageybird — On May 14, 2014

I remember buying a universal power adapter many years ago when I lost the original adapter for an electronic keyboard. It had four separate plugs at the tip, and one of them fit the AC adapter in the back of the synthesizer. Another plug fit in my weather radio, so I'd pull it out of the keyboard during bad weather. That universal adapter really came in handy if I couldn't afford new batteries for a handheld electronic game or computer speakers.

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