Voltage converter



A voltage converter is an electric power converter which changes the voltage of an electrical power source. It may be combined with other components to create a power supply.
AC voltage conversion uses a transformer. Conversion from one DC voltage to another requires electronic circuitry (electromechanical equipment was required before the development of semiconductor electronics), like a DC-DC converter. Mains power (called household current in the US) is universally AC.
Transformers do not change the frequency of electricity; in many regions with 100120 V, electricity is supplied at 60 Hz, and 210240 V regions tend to use 50 Hz. This may affect operation of devices which depend on mains frequency (some audio turntables and mains-only electric clocks, etc., although modern equipment is less likely to depend upon mains frequency). Equipment with high-powered motors or internal transformers designed to operate at 60 Hz may overheat at 50 Hz even if the voltage supplied is correct.
Another requirement is to provide low-voltage electricity to a device from mains electricity; this would be done by what is usually called a power supply. Most modern electronic devices require between 1.5 and 24 volts DC; lower-powered devices at these voltages can often work either from batteries or mains. Some devices incorporate a power supply and are simply plugged into the mains. Others use an external power supply comprising either a transformer and rectifier, or electronic circuitry. Switched-mode power supplies have become widespread in the early twenty-first century; they are smaller and lighter than the once-universal transformer converters, and are often designed to work from AC mains at any voltage between 100 and 250 V. Additionally, because they are typically rectified to operate at a DC voltage, they are minimally affected by the frequency of the mains (50 vs 60 Hz). Details on operation are given in the article on power supplies.
Voltage converters can be used in vehicles with 12 V DC outlets. A simple voltage dropper can be used to reduce the voltage for low-power devices; if more than 12V is required, or for high-powered devices, a switched-mode power supply is used. The output will usually be DC in the range 1.524 V. Power supplies that output either 100120 V AC or 210240 V AC are available; they are called inverters, due to the conversion from DC to AC rather than the voltage change. The output frequency and waveform of an inverter may not accurately replicate that supplied by mains electricity, although this is not usually a problem.