How can I get 17V from old PC PSU?

I have +12V and +5V output, can I get them to one +17V output?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why -1, can the person explain? I think is very simple/direct question. \$\endgroup\$
    – enloz
    Jan 6, 2012 at 19:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is similar to another question maybe a month about about wiring PC power supply outputs in series, but I can't find it now (it's really hard to guess good search terms). \$\endgroup\$ Jan 6, 2012 at 21:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ possible duplicate of What happens if I connect two different DC voltage sources in parallel? \$\endgroup\$
    – W5VO
    Jan 7, 2012 at 6:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop found it... \$\endgroup\$
    – W5VO
    Jan 7, 2012 at 6:49

3 Answers 3



Many PC power supplies have both 12 V and -12 V outputs. It is also true that most power supplies will share a common ground, and if yours is such a PSU then it is not possible to add together two positive outputs (+5 V & +15V). It should be possible to add together a positive and a negative output however, in fact they are already connected via the ground.

To find out if this works for you try measuring the voltage between the -12 V wire and the +5 V wire. With luck it will measure approx. 17 V. In fact you can use your meter to measure the voltage between any negative output and any positive output to find one that works for you.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Every PC power supply I've seen (old or new) has had a common ground. Also, the -12v rail can probably only provide 0.5 amps or so-- so you couldn't get more than that even if you were able to combine rails. \$\endgroup\$
    – user3624
    Jan 6, 2012 at 19:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ David: I agree that the available current will be limited, but the question did not indicate how much current was required. 17V @ 0.5 A may be more than enough. \$\endgroup\$
    – JonnyBoats
    Jan 6, 2012 at 19:30

No. They share a common ground.


The +12V and +5V outputs are from the same power supply, so no. Both voltages were generated referencing the same ground.

With two power supplies, if the outputs are galvanically isolated from the inputs, it can be possible to connect them in series to stack a 12V from one and a 5V from a second.

WARNING! This is very important! Do not do this if you cannot guarantee that the DC side is isolated from the AC side! This is because the two supplies still share the same ground, which is from the AC input. That means the current can flow into one of the inputs, possibly damaging the supply and things around it! @russ_hensel has some experience with this problem (https://electronics.stackexchange.com/a/7659/6331). Could you elaborate russ_hensel?

This would be done by connecting the ground of one supply to the voltage of the other supply, i.e. connecting the supplies series. One example is connecting the ground of the second to the 5V of the first. Then voltages using the ground of the first and the 12V of the second would produce 17V. 5V+12V=17V.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Writing "@russ_hensel" in any place that does not auto-complete the name does nothing special to ping the user. It must be in a comment exchange on a post where Russ has already commented, answered/asked, or edited, and there are comments from other users. In general, it's unnecessary to ping other specific users and ask for their personal advice, let the content and votes, not the user name or rep, determine your trust in an answer. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 6, 2012 at 19:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KevinVermeer. That makes sense. Limit the scope of pinging to those already invested in the post. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joshua
    Jan 9, 2012 at 16:20

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