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What Is a DC-To-DC Converter?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A DC-to-DC converter is a type of electronic circuit that is used to adapt or alter the nature of one source of direct current into a similar but slightly different configuration. This is sometimes necessary as part of the regulation of current supplied from various sources. For example, if a device is capable of operating with the use of direct current supplied by a wall outlet but can also make use of a battery when access to a wall outlet is not practical or desirable, there is a good chance that the device makes use of a DC-to-DC converter.

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One of the easiest ways to understand how a DC-to-DC converter works is to consider the use of a laptop computer. This device is capable of operating with the use of a cord connected to the laptop at one end and to an electrical outlet at the other end. The cord allows the device to function with a steady supply of current that is received via the wall outlet. At the same time, the laptop can also operate with the use of the battery that is included in the overall design of most notebooks and laptop computers. In order to make sure that the power received from each source is compatible and will in fact allow the device to function, the inclusion of this type of converter is common. Typically, the converter is utilized in conjunction with other components that help to regulate the flow of current, including some sort of rectifier and transformer.

Mobile or cellular phones also often make use of a DC-to-DC converter as a means of allowing users to utilize wall current for operation or rely on the battery power. As part of the configuration, this also allows the battery to be recharged using wall current. This is important, since the ability to recharge the battery of a device like a computer notebook or a mobile phone is key to the efficient use of those types of devices. Without the presence of the DC-to-DC converter, it would be necessary to always keep the devices tethered to an electrical source by means of a power cord, which would have a negative impact on the general use of those devices.

The function of a DC-to-DC converter may be one-way or allow for a bi-directional conversion of energy even while the level of the current is controlled and adapted to fit the needs of the device. While the majority of converters are configured to allow for the movement of power from an input source to the output of the current, there are some types of the converters that allow for the movement of current from an output to an input point as well. These more versatile types of converters are more likely to be found in industrial applications than in electrical devices designed for individual use.

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