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I frequently meet the references to voltage-regulators and voltage-controllers. However, looking at the specs I find them to perform the same function. Is there a difference between the two, or regulator/controller can be interchanged?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please provide a few particular references (links), which you've come across. Without that, the question is a bit broad and unclear. In practice, "voltage controller" can mean different things in different context. \$\endgroup\$ May 27, 2014 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ related: electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/174892/… \$\endgroup\$
    – davidcary
    Mar 5, 2021 at 1:53

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A voltage regulator produces a stable output voltage that has small variance over a range of load and input conditions.

A controller is a device that monitors and modifies the state of a dynamical system. A voltage controller could be constructed to track a signal, minimize undesired signal characteristics, or even act as a voltage regulator.

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In the context of electronics: A complete regulator requires a controller. The figure below shows the block diagram for a simple voltage regulator. Here, the "controller" includes a series power component.

Control reg

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Would it be accurate to say that the boxed 'regulator' would have the unregulated input and regulated output projecting outside of its boundary, while the reference value is internal? \$\endgroup\$
    – J Collins
    Sep 27, 2021 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. The voltage reference ends up being internally derived from the unregulated input itself. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 27, 2021 at 23:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah I was hoping the internal reference would essentially be a fixed value, not derived from the unregulated. Though you might mean that in the general case, and one case is that the derivation just limits to a fixed value. \$\endgroup\$
    – J Collins
    Sep 28, 2021 at 12:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Reference voltages typically use Zener diodes or another effect involving the behavior (current x voltage) of semiconductor junctions. As if there were a regulator within a regulator, but simpler. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 30, 2021 at 0:01

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