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Questions tagged [power]

Where power is a primary concern for the design under discussion. Use the "low-power" tag when that applies.

258
votes
8answers
236k views

What is the difference between \$V_{CC}\$, \$V_{DD}\$, \$V_{EE}\$, \$V_{SS}\$

I've seen lots of schematics use \$V_{CC}\$ and \$V_{DD}\$ interchangeably. I know \$V_{CC}\$ and \$V_{DD}\$ are for positive voltage, and \$V_{SS}\$ and \$V_{EE}\$ are for ground, but what is the ...
56
votes
8answers
45k views

Decoupling capacitors: what size and how many?

Lots of chips nowadays require smoothing capacitors between VCC and GND for proper function. Given that my projects run at all sorts of different voltage and current levels, I was wondering if anyone ...
56
votes
1answer
17k views

What is the practical difference between watts and VA (volt-amps)?

I have seen one inverter rated at 300W, and another at 300VA. What is the practical difference between them, if any?
55
votes
5answers
7k views

What exactly fries the chip when you invert power supply?

From my own experience, burning microcontrollers is quite easy. Put the 5V at ground, GND at VCC and in an instant your chip is burned. What exactly goes on internally that causes it to stop ...
52
votes
4answers
56k views

Can I replace all electrolytic capacitors with ceramic ones?

I am designing the power supply circuit for a system that needs several supplies, my questions are: Is it possible to replace all electrolytic caps (Mostly 100uF) by ceramic ones? What are the ...
49
votes
8answers
95k views

Can an Android tablet serve as USB Host and be charged simultaneously through a single port?

A number of Android tablets are powered through the Micro B USB port but also provide USB Host support through the same port (e.g. Motorola Xoom 2, Acer A510/700). I need to be able to use USB Host ...
43
votes
5answers
139k views

How much current can I draw from the Arduino's pins?

What's the maximum amount of current which I can draw from each of the Arduino's pins without tripping any of the internal fuses? Is there a limit per pin as well as an overall limit for the whole ...
43
votes
3answers
6k views

What's the reason to make power supplies external?

Many years ago most electronic devices had internal power supplies only - there was a mains voltage cable running into the unit where mains AC would be converted and distributed for consumption. That ...
43
votes
6answers
5k views

Why aren’t the main conductors in this underground power cable made from copper?

I’ve found a piece of electrical cable left by the electricity company that supplies the area. They did a repair recently underground. I’m curious why the three big triangular conductors aren’t made ...
36
votes
2answers
12k views

Why do CPUs need so much current?

I know that a simple CPU (like Intel or AMD) can consume 45-140 W and that many CPUs operate at 1.2 V, 1.25 V, etc. So, assuming a CPU operating at 1.25 V and having TDP of 80 W... it uses 64 Amps (a ...
34
votes
3answers
27k views

How is wristwatch with 10 years battery life possible?

Turns out Casio offers a handful of wristwatches with "10 year battery life". The claim is that thanks to "an advanced technology" the battery life in those watches is extended to ten years. Now if ...
32
votes
7answers
6k views

Why don't we use low voltage Power Sources for high wattage applications?

Super nooby question involving Ohm's law, but this has been on mind this morning. Say I have a 60W device, and I want to power it. Usually this calls for a 120V source or something. However, why not ...
32
votes
3answers
5k views

Why does power dip during a lightning storm?

If lightning were to strike power lines, wouldn't you expect it to increase the power, and hence your room lights get brighter? Why do they go dim for 1 second at a time?
31
votes
2answers
12k views

How to calculate battery life

How do I calculate how long a battery operated product will run? Here's what I've got: 2 AA, 1.5V, 2700mAH batteries Voltage Regulator with a Iq of 25 uA Voltage Regulator Eff = 80% Active Current = ...
29
votes
8answers
6k views

Power rating on Zero Ohm resistor

I was ordering some resistors online, and I saw that 0 Ω resistors have a power rating. Why is that? Power through a resistor is calculated with the equation \$P = UI\$ or \$P = RI^2\$. Since \$R ...
29
votes
5answers
28k views

Why is it important for mains power supplies to be isolated?

In all the computer power supplies and other power supplies I've taken apart, I've noticed they are fully isolated from the mains. Galvanic isolation through transformers, and often optical isolation ...
28
votes
7answers
6k views

Why is root mean square used when calculating average power, and not simply the average of voltage/current?

$$P = I_{\text{eff}}^2 \times R$$ where \$I_{\text{eff}}\$ is the effective current. For power to be average \$I\$ must be average current, so I am surmising that the effective current is the average ...
26
votes
5answers
7k views

How much power is really wasted by a wall wart?

The title pretty much sums it up... Hyperbole aside, how much actual power is consumed by a typical wall wart when the device it's attached to isn't powered on? And are there designs for wall warts ...
26
votes
4answers
4k views

Can I pedal power a laptop device while the device is being used?

I want to research how easy it would be to use a small laptop device while powering it by pedaling on a stationary frame. (For example, using a tablet on an exercise bike, or using a netbook while ...
25
votes
4answers
3k views

Spacecraft Power Supply Frequency

I know that aircraft sometimes employ a 400Hz AC system to save weight on transformers, so I'd imagine that spacecraft might employ a similar technique. I'm wondering if anyone in the aerospace field ...
24
votes
6answers
3k views

Why do high-voltage transformers need oil?

Someone told me that high-voltage transformers need oil because it prevents arcing. However, in terms of dielectric breakdown, isn't air the strongest? I remember from classes in college that as the ...
24
votes
4answers
7k views

Why is Ethernet So Power Hungry?

I was just perusing the Microchip ENC28J60 Ethernet Controller datasheet and saw that the operating current can be as high as 180mA while transmitting and 120 mA typical while active but not ...
24
votes
7answers
58k views

Arduino Uno R3: Directly supply regulated 5V to 5V pin?

I'd like to use an Arduino Uno R3 battery powered a datalogger. I want do supply it directly with a Step-Up regulated 5V rechargable battery powersource at power ...
23
votes
7answers
5k views

Short circuit = no power?

Now I want to build stuff and I'm really interested in learning things (consider I'm starting from scratch). So I'm reading all of this website and the following line in this article got me scratching ...
23
votes
6answers
8k views

Why do high voltage power lines hiss when it's raining?

I noticed when walking home the other day that the high voltage (200kv I believe) lines running through here were hissing in the rain. What is causing them to hiss?
23
votes
3answers
8k views

Why do many electronics operate on 5 AND 3.3 Volts?

Many modern appliances use a 5V Power connection. Internally they are working with 3.3V. Wouldn't it be easier to have 5V everywhere? Examples are many USB devices or Routers (they use 5V for power ...
22
votes
7answers
33k views

How to carry high current on PCB

I need to pass high current on some part of my circuit. I used an online PCB track width calculator to see that required track width is about 5mm and minimum clearance is 1mm, which makes it about 7mm ...
22
votes
3answers
31k views

Why are deep cycle batteries rated in amp hours instead of watts hours?

Why are deep cycle batteries rated in amp-hours instead of watt-hours? For example if I see a 85Ah battery, I multiply 85Ah x 12V to get 1020 watts. As household electricity use is measured in watt ...
22
votes
3answers
121k views

How to compare mAh and Wh

When looking at consumer electronic devices with batteries I sometimes see the battery capacity listed in Wh (watt hours) and sometimes in mAh (milliamp hours). I would like to be able to compare the ...
21
votes
14answers
4k views

What can I put a kilowatt into? (Or: help me save my hairdryers)

TL;DR: I need something to discharge roughly 160A at 14V into, or 2.24 kilowatts. Any comments, or answers, with either a) something I can dump a kilowatt into, b) some way I can modify a common item ...
20
votes
7answers
18k views

How do I calculate the power rating for zero-ohm resistors?

Based on my earlier question, since there supposed to be zero voltage (V=IR) drop across a 0 Ω resistor, how do we select the power rating of such a component? For example, let's say I were to ...
20
votes
5answers
3k views

How to combat noise from my circuit polluting my 12V rail?

I made a controller for 12V DC fan. It is basically a buck DC-DC converter controlled by voltage. It regulates voltage for fan from 3V (lowest speed, fan draws 60mA @ 3V) to 12V (full speed, fan draws ...
20
votes
3answers
5k views

How much of a GPU's electrical usage is probably turned into a increase in air temperature?

I am trying to find a good rough guesstimate of how much of the maximum wattage usage of a graphics card is turned into hot air. Say a graphics card is rated at using X watts at maximum usage. How ...
20
votes
4answers
5k views

Can you stack SMD resistors in parallel to reduce power dissipation per resistor?

I sent my PCB a couple of days ago for fabrication but just realized a terrible error: I need to send 70mA to an IR LED with a 5V supply so I would need a resistor of about 70ohm, which means the ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

Why is it so problematic to have close to zero standby power consumption?

Each electronic device consumes electric power when it is "idle" unless it has a mechanical switch. I can understand that for example a TV with a remote control needs to "be ready" to receive a ...
19
votes
3answers
3k views

Can roles of primary and secondary windings be reversed?

Is there a practical reason that the roles of the primary and secondary of a simple single-phase transformer cannot be swapped? Say you have a transformer (from the old vacuum tube days) that has ...
19
votes
2answers
16k views

Why do power companies never bother residential customers about power factors?

I recently bought a Kill-a-Watt meter to measure power consumption of my devices. This was just a fun project for me. I put this on my Mac-Mini to see power consumption during various usage states - ...
19
votes
3answers
18k views

Should I isolate grounds of an isolated DC/DC converter?

If I use an isolated DC/DC converter, when designing the PCB, should I isolate the ground of the input and the ground of the output as shown below? I've never isolated grounds (except for AGND and ...
19
votes
1answer
682 views

Does this device which claims to reduce reactive energy from a house work?

I've opened a device that states that it can reduce the reactive energy from a house, by plugin it directly to the power outlet/wall socket. I think it is a con, so I've opened it and I saw this black ...
18
votes
3answers
4k views

How can low voltage, high current (kA) power be dangerous?

Aluminum refineries use electricity to separate aluminum from minerals it naturally occurs in. This electricity typically takes the form of low voltage DC ("low" meaning 4 to 6 volts), at very high ...
18
votes
8answers
48k views

What happens to excess energy fed into the power grid?

The closest question to this is Linear useage of excess power generation. I'm no engineer so I may not be able to phrase this correctly and would appreciate an answer which assumes minimal ...
18
votes
4answers
9k views

Can you store energy in an inductor and use it later?

My company uses supercaps to power the device if power is cut. I was wondering if you could do the same thing with an inductor. If you can't, why not?
18
votes
10answers
8k views

Is there a constant power supply?

A voltage source is a device that produces constant voltage, but allows amperage and power to vary, in accordance with the laws of electricity. A current source is a device that produces constant ...
18
votes
2answers
30k views

How does a USB C port provide the power to charge laptops?

I've heard about laptops such as the new Chromebooks that are charged via a wall charger that connects to a USB-C port. I'm quite happy that this will supposedly standardize laptop chargers but I'm a ...
17
votes
5answers
38k views

Are watts usually measured in watt-hours?

Pardon me, I'm a total newb to electronics. My question is, when a device is measured in watts, such as a 60-watt light bulb, is this ALWAYS supposed to be assumed to be watt-hours, i.e. 60 watts per ...
17
votes
3answers
37k views

How to find out if electrical outlet ground is working?

Just want to make sure my outlet's ground is working. How to do that? UPDATE: My main aim is to test resistance of anti-static wrist strap, but since I know it works by testing it with multimeter, I ...
17
votes
6answers
5k views

How do I protect SD card against unexpected power failures?

I am working on a device that uses the Microchip MDDFS library to store data to an SD card. The logger will log data at a maximum rate of 1 entry (56bytes) every minute. The problem is the device may ...
17
votes
3answers
9k views

Why don't we measure electrical consumption in joules, instead of kWh?

Why don't we measure electrical consumption in joules, instead of kWh? Aren't they the same measurements, but one is more "proper"?
17
votes
2answers
3k views

How might you use a LiPo battery as backup for mains power loss?

Many people seem to run their projects off the mains (e.g. with a wall wart) or from a battery, but there doesn't seem to be too much discussion about how to run a device off the mains, charging a ...
16
votes
9answers
10k views

How can AC current power anything?

I understand the difference between AC and DC. What I don't understand is how does AC power anything when it's reusing the same electrons over and over as they are moving back and forth? A visual ...