I used a L7805 to power a Raspberry PI and it worked for about 10 seconds then started to smoke and die. L7805 is rated for 1.5A and 35V DC input. Power supply was 24V DC (was actually two plugin 12V DC 1A adapters wired in series) that was metering 30V DC without a load (will obviously drop close to 24V DC with a load). 24V DC is industrial controls standard. I didn't put the caps on the input and output which I now see in the datasheets. Would omitting these caps cause the meltdown?

Because the input is 24V DC and output is 5V DC there would be a lot of heat generated. Would it be better to use a switching power circuit? Datasheet says heatsink is needed for anything over 1A. The PI uses less than 1A without any devices connected which I didn't have any connected.

What else could I do to make the 7805 more robust (other than adding the caps of course)?


  • 11
    \$\begingroup\$ You are dropping 19V at 1A. That is 19W of dissipated power that must go somewhere, in your case it went up with the smoke. You need a significant heatsink, if you want to use 7805. Small capacitors close to the regulator are required, otherwise the regulator can oscillate. Generally a switched-mode power supply is the preferred solution here. \$\endgroup\$
    – filo
    Jun 15, 2017 at 11:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't LM7805s contain thermal overload protection? Shouldn't have blown the regulator, unless it was oscillating and the thermal protection never got a chance to kick in (because the current went low by the time it could, triggering a reset). \$\endgroup\$
    – Joren Vaes
    Jun 15, 2017 at 11:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Schematic? TWO 12V transformers wired in SERIES? Why? And did you rectify the resultant 24 VAC ? or just feed it to the regulator? \$\endgroup\$
    – R Drast
    Jun 15, 2017 at 11:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JorenVaes In which case, the plucky little 7805 gave up its life to save the Pi. A moment of silence, please. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15, 2017 at 12:26
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ Age shall not weary it, nor the years condemn. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ian Bland
    Jun 15, 2017 at 12:36

3 Answers 3


Linear regulators (like the 7805 and similar parts) have a very simple characteristic.

Power dissipated = \$ (V_{in}-V_{out}) \cdot I_{out} \$ (plus \$ V_{in} \cdot I_{q} \$ where \$ I_{q} \$ is about 5 mA for the 7805).

That means that even if we have a 10 V average input (about the lowest that is practical if unregulated power is used) the dissipation at 1 A out will be 5.05 W, which requires a fairly large heatsink or a smaller heatsink and a fan.

You must satisfy all constraints on the datasheet simultaneously, not just the ones that happen to attract your attention. The absolute maximum input voltage is 35 V, and you should make sure never to even get close to that. There is a maximum output current, and there is a maximum power dissipation. If you dissipate too much power for the heatsink etc. the chip gets too hot and the lifetime is compromised, sometimes dramatically.

The current version of Raspberry Pi 3 uses a lot of current, as much as 730 mA plus whatever is plugged into those USB ports. That's why we generally use a 2.5 A wall wart.

TL;DR: The L7805 is totally unsuited for this application. If you have an industrial application (and still want to use a Pi) you can buy a DIN rail-mounted supply.

enter image description here

However, the Pi is not a hardened industrial computer, so you may have other fascinating discoveries to come.


There are drop-in replacements for the L7805 which use a switching regulator. They would be suitable for 24 VDC input (not 35 VDC, not 24 VAC rectified/filtered or not). They do not require additional heat sinking and some may be adequate for your output current.

Here is one from Murata capable of 1.5 A. They are actually quite inexpensive- probably less expensive than a 7805 + heatsink:

enter image description here

  • \$\begingroup\$ I've actually had to buy some of those DIN rail 24 to 5V regulators, but I want to build something into my PCB. Thanks \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15, 2017 at 13:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterQuiring There are plenty of board mounted DC-DC converters for sale. Take a glimpse in the catalogs. Maybe even an AC-DC converter. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jeroen3
    Jun 15, 2017 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you have 24VDC you could use a buck converter such as the LM2596 or a module based on that, but the modules are from Chinese makers and may not be the same from one purchase to the next, and also usually use counterfeit chips. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15, 2017 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterQuiring See my edit above, for drop-in replacement if you already have a PCB designed. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15, 2017 at 14:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is something like that murata available on digikey? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15, 2017 at 17:19

Your 7805 has to drop say 19 V if your effective input is 24VDC .Even if you took 100mA you would be burning 1.9watts and your finger if you touched it .You must use a big heatsink because your input /output differential is large .This is why Buck convertors are so popular.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I'll try using a buck instead. Found some on digikey. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15, 2017 at 13:51

In my opinion you are doing it wrong in 3 ways.

  • You have two 12V transformers in series, since this does not sound like a streamlined / series production you may as well sacrifice some pennies and put a bridge + capacitor(s) at the 12V junction. You'll have a third wire that provides a much more efficient (less heat dissipated) and apt voltage to feed to the 7805.

  • Second: even with 12V you could still have heat dissipation issues. There are TO-3 versions to help with that.

7805 in TO-3 package

  • Third, even a TO-3 7805 sounds quite insufficient for a fully expanded (USB and other stuff) Raspberry. You might want to check alternatives out. In example: LM323 (TO-3, 5V, max 3A). Here is a link to a LM323 datasheet.

Or, you could skip the issue altogether and use a switching DC-DC converter.

  • \$\begingroup\$ My understanding is that the OP is using two 12 V DC PSUs in series to simulate a industrial standard 24 V supply. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15, 2017 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Correct, my two 12V supplies is all I have at home. At work I have industrial 24V supplies ;) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15, 2017 at 23:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is Tesla still around? I remember they made TVs back in the old days. And components. Yugoslavian, right? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16, 2017 at 1:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterQuiring in this case you might want to see if something like these could help you: youtube.com/watch?v=QR8qsygs1Kw and instructables.com/id/DC-to-DC-Converter \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17, 2017 at 8:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SpehroPefhany I wanted to post a 7805 in TO-3 package (regardless of brand), so I picked a random picture from Google Images. That's it :) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17, 2017 at 8:29

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