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Voltage Regulator and Its Types

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A voltage regulator is used to regulate voltage level. When a steady, reliable voltage is needed, then voltage regulator is the preferred device. It generates a fixed output voltage that remains constant for any changes in an input voltage or load conditions. It acts as a buffer for protecting components from damages. A voltage regulator is a device with a simple feed forward design and it uses negative feedback control loops. There are mainly two types of voltage regulators: Linear voltage regulators and switching voltage regulators; these are used in wider applications.

Also, there are two types of Linear voltage regulators: Series and Shunt. On the other hand, there are three types of switching voltage regulators: step up, step down and voltage regulators. In the Linear regulator, it acts like a voltage divider. In ohmic region, it uses FET. The resistance of the voltage regulator varies with load resulting in constant output voltage. It is a kind of regulator commonly used when you’re designing low power and low-cost applications. With the linear regulator, you’ll be taking advantage of a power transistor (BJT or MOSFET) that plays the role of a variable resistor, raising and lowering the output voltage of your circuit as your input supply changes. Regardless of what kind of load is placed on your circuit, a linear voltage regulator will always keep pace to provide you with a constant, steady output voltage.

Switching regulators are perfect when you have a large difference between your input and output voltages. When compared to linear voltage regulators, switching wins hands down in power conversion efficiency. However, all of this added efficiency also invites greater complexity into your circuit. They’ll find that switching regulators have an entirely different internal circuitry, using a controlled switch to regulate the voltage. This is why it is caleed a switching regulator.

A switching regulator maintains its charge level through the help of a transistor which turns on when its storage requires more energy, and off when it’s at the desired output voltage. This helps to provide a much more energy efficient method for managing output voltage levels with a kind of dam-like system that is not just resisting the flow of an input voltage, but instead is reacting to changes in voltage and switching on/off as needed. The downside to this on/off switching process. The faster that the switching regulator switches, the more time it will spend moving from a conductive to a nonconductive state, which leads to an overall reduction in conversion efficiency.

Zener diodes are a special kind of diode which allows current to flow in the forward direction. The variation of the said diode from the other diodes is that Zener diodes will also allow current to flow in the reverse direction when the voltage is above a certain value. The breakdown voltage is known as the Zener voltage. Thus, Zener diodes are designed in a way where the Zener voltage is a much lower value. There is a controlled breakdown which does not damage the diode when a reverse current above the Zener voltage passes through a Zener diode.

In addition, from the I-V Characteristics curve we can study that the zener diode has a region in its reverse bias characteristics of almost a constant negative voltage regardless of the value of the current flowing through the diode and remains nearly constant even with large changes in currrent as long as the zener diodes current remains between the breakdown current IZ(min) and the maximum current rating IZ(max). This ability to control itself can be used to great effect to regulate or stabilize a voltage source against supply or load variations. The fact that the voltage across the diode in the breakdown region is almost constant turns out to be an important application of the zener diode as a voltage regulator.

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Voltage Regulator and Its Types. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from
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