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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.

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    \$\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
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    \$\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
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Anna \$ apple \Rightarrow fruit \$, but \$ fruit \nRightarrow apple \$. You can safely say "switching regulator." \$\endgroup\$ Jul 8, 2021 at 19:34

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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.

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