Is there any difference between switching regulators and converters? I have read about step-down voltage regulator and buck converters and they seem to be the same. So, can I use the term converter instead of switching regulator or is not it the same? For example, in LM2596 datasheet, are use both terms to describe the circuit.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The difference is between "Switching" and "Linear". \$\endgroup\$
    – Eugene Sh.
    Jul 8, 2021 at 15:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Something that calls itself a regulator is going to regulate the voltage; a converter may not necessarily (but almost all of them do). \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Jul 8, 2021 at 15:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ A converter could mean anything that er.. converts. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Jul 8, 2021 at 15:29
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ One does not imply the other @Anna - A step-down switching regulator doesn't always imply a buck type conversion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Jul 8, 2021 at 15:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Anna \$ apple \Rightarrow fruit \$, but \$ fruit \nRightarrow apple \$. You can safely say "switching regulator." \$\endgroup\$ Jul 8, 2021 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


Step-down Voltage Regulator: A device that converts a voltage to a lower voltage, and regulates the output to a constant voltage. It may use linear or switching topology.

Buck Converter: A device that steps voltage down by switching the input on and off rapidly and feeding it into an inductor to 'buck' the voltage.

All buck converters are step-down converters, and most are regulated.

Not all step-down converters are buck converters. They can instead use a transformer, capacitors (eg. LTC1503), or a linear series pass element. Linear regulators can only reduce the voltage, but switching regulators may also be able to increase it (in which case they are called 'boost' or 'buck/boost' regulators). Transformer based converters often have a galvanically isolated output which can be used alone or connected to another voltage source to increase the voltage. The term 'DC/DC converter' encompasses all devices that convert one DC voltage to another DC voltage - whether switching or linear, regulated or unregulated, isolated or not.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.