The Pros and Cons of Custom Power Supplies

Manufacturers, custom equipment makers and companies adjusting equipment for optimal use often face the dilemma of choosing an off the shelf catalog power supply that does not meet all of their needs or creating a power supply that will optimally work in their system. If you need flexibility, have unique requirements or want to start creating a relationship to get the best in custom parts, an engineered power supply is probably right for you.

The Good Side of Custom Engineered Power Supplies

A power supply engineered to your specific needs can deliver the right performance you need in the form factor you desire, both of which are common reasons people consider their own power supply.

Custom-engineered power supplies can also help you support a variety of specific needs. Some reasons customers often want a custom power supply option include:

  • Support for specific temperature ranges, vibration, thermal and mechanical shock, etc.
  • Capable of meeting demanding specific military specifications like MIL-STD-714, MIL-STD-1399, MIL-STD-1275, MIL-STD-883, and MIL-STD-461
  • Higher reliability particularly under special circumstances, such as leakage current or minimal noise
  • Unique capabilities for applications specific needs (ie. output voltages and/or currents, leakage current, harmonics, ripple, EMI, form factor, etc.)

Securing a custom power supply can ensure that you get a system that meets those and many other specific requirements. Custom options give you the flexibility and performance required when you’re designing your own system. It also means your power supply is designed to fit your space and not the other way around.

Custom Engineered Power Supply Concerns

There aren’t many disadvantages to a custom power supply, but there are a couple of typical concerns. Essentially, you can use these two main concerns as a guide to see if your application needs a specially engineered power supply.

The first concern is that the solution will be more expensive and harder to get than an off-the-shelf model. Customization requires understanding what your equipment and system needs are beyond the basic input and output voltage levels. As a result, you may look at an off-the shelf power supply and believe it will meet what you need at first. However, as you progress in the project development, you may start seeing that you are giving up some of the performance needs noted above to accept the non-custom solution.

This is something that needs to be considered when looking at overall cost and availability. For example, how much system performance is lost or engineering time spent tweaking the system design to allow for that “cheaper, readily available” power supply really cost. In the long run, a custom power supply could be lower overall cost and available in the few weeks depending on requirements.

The other concern is that your program’s success will depend on the company you contract with to meet your power supply needs. If you work with a second-rate manufacturer or one who has less military application experience, other priorities, or potentially even goes out of business, then you may have numerous issues with acquiring the product over the program’s life. Finding a reputable power supply company, and one that has proven to have a long successful track record in the military market is very important in the overall success of the program.

Why Choose ACT?

When choosing a company to deliver a power supply you should look beyond price and availability, as you may discover a more optimal solution. Performance, experience, reliability, manufacturing capability, and support are factors to be considered. The secret to your success is how the power supply performs in your system whether making it a super quiet system, holding up during power glitches, being rugged enough for your tough environment, or coming in under budget.

At ACT, we have been partnering with our customers since 1981 to provide innovative solutions to meet your demanding needs. We have the experience in meeting tough military standards such as MIL-STD-704, MIL-STD-1399, MIL-STD-1275, MIL-STD-810, MIL-STD-461, and MIL-S-901. ACT has vertically integrated manufacturing under one roof covering machining of enclosures, production of transformers and chokes, assembly by machine and hand, environmental and acceptance testing allowing us to make a wide variety of power supplies from small to large in size and power.

With an engineering staff that has over 300 years of combined experience, ACT solves custom military power supply needs of our customers using the latest engineering design tools such as 3D modeling, Electronic Design Automation (EDA), electrical & thermal simulation. So, contact us today to talk to one of our experts about your power supply needs.

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