Tutorial: Specifying a power supply for T&M applications

Author : Jon Vallis | Sales & Marketing Manager | Ideal Power

01 April 2019

Figure 2. Versatile external options available from Ideal Power with EN 50032/CISPR32, IEC/EN 61000-4-2,3,4,5,6,8 & 11 as standard

Power supplies may provide a simple function, but their effects can be far from straightforward – with power failures & electromagnetic interference (EMI) being potential negative outcomes of poorly matched power supply units. Jon Vallis, Sales & Marketing Manager at power conversion specialists, Ideal Power, discusses the factors to consider when selecting a power supply unit (PSU) for test & measurement applications.

This tutorial was originally featured in the April 2019 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy.

Naturally, your immediate considerations in choosing a PSU will be size, output power and how the unit will integrate with your product. When choosing a power supply for environments with high electromagnetic properties (EMC) or unstable power sources, it is vital that the PSU can be relied upon to both deliver stable voltages, and emit the minimum radiated and conducted emissions that will not cause interference with your apparatus or the design’s primary function. Other aspects you may need to consider will include operating temperatures, altitude and unusual environments, depending on the application and intended use.

Linear power supplies are one solution to ensuring low noise and ripple performance, in addition to optimal line and load regulation attributes. However, linear solutions are best suited to low power applications given their disadvantages in size, weight and poor efficiency rates.

Switch mode PSUs offer a far more versatile solution, being smaller and lighter, while also offering greater efficiency ratings. However, they tend to emit higher EMI, but have the advantage of meeting many worldwide approval standards without the need to modify the product. They also offer universal input as standard, making them suitable for global residential or commercial applications.

As many will be aware, this does not mean that switch mode PSUs are unsuitable for EMI sensitive applications, such as test & measurement. Factors like common noise can be dependent on many variables, including input to output isolation, design topology and built in filters, making a PSU’s electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) vary from one design to another.

Figure 1. Ideal power offers several low power linear options boasting ErP & Level VI efficiency ratings

When selecting switch mode power solutions for your design, one of the first things you will need to identify is whether your design will fall into the category of multimedia equipment, the scope of which encompasses information technology equipment and broadcast receiver equipment, as well as audio visual and lighting equipment (as the application can dictate the type of approvals required). For instance, if your design does come under the umbrella of multimedia equipment, you will need to ensure your chosen power supply meets EMC standard EN 55032/CISPR32 Class B for intended use in residential.

As well as EN 55032/CISPR32, all electronic equipment must also meet basic standards surrounding EMC immunity. These are specified by IEC/EN 61000-3 (emission specifications) and IEC/EN 61000-4 (immunity specifications), which are essential for CE marking.

Universal EMC immunity specifications
The standards listed in the table not only ensure electrical products and equipment are fit for purpose in the event of phenomena such as power surges and interruptions, but that the equipment is safe in an end user environment.

In addition to the standards listed in the table, the following also apply in certain applications and environments:

Universal EMC immunity specifications

IEC/EN 61000-4-7
This standard relates to instrumentation which is intended for measuring spectral components of up to 9 KHz, distinguishing harmonics and inharmonics.

IEC/EN 61000-4-9
This standard relates to immunity requirements for impulse magnetic disturbances usually encountered in industrial, rail and high voltage applications, such as power plants and sub-stations. 

IEC/EN 61000-4-10
This standard specifies the immunity requirements for equipment which is subject to damped oscillatory magnetic disturbances, which are found in medium voltage and high voltage sub-stations.

IEC/EN 61000 part 4 consists of 39 parts, which detail guidance and specifications for different aspects of EMC immunity, dependent on environment and application. Before specifying a power supply unit for your application, it is important to ensure the PSU meets all applicable standards for its intended use. Of course, this may mean extra costs where specific standards must be met, so stipulating your exact requirements are vital to sourcing the right PSU.

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