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A lab power supply is a device used to furnish electrical power to equipment in a laboratory or workshop setting. Generally, these devices are capable of delivering a range of direct current (DC) voltages, although some of the more expensive units also offer alternating current (AC) power settings as well. The lab power supply is commonly found in scientific laboratories, home workshops and electronic repair shops. An adjustable power supply is commonly used to test circuitry or electrical components for proper function in a controlled setting.
The basic function of the laboratory power supply is simple. An input power supply is converted to a desired output voltage and current type. In the United States, for example, the power supply input is usually fed from a 110-volt AC receptacle. The power supply output is usually an adjustable DC current. Common power supply output voltages range from 1.5 volts DC to 12 volts DC.
There are many types of power supplies. Higher and lower voltages and additional current types are available in higher-priced laboratory power supply units that are manufactured for specific purposes and need a precise voltage, amperage or electrical current type. In some cases, the variable power supply unit can be used to produce very high voltages or extremely low-voltage currents for experimental purposes.
The lab power supply is simply a transformer that can convert the available electrical power into the desired voltage and current type for a specific purpose. Lab power supplies can be simple single-setting transformers or complex adjustable power supply units. The most basic lab power supply units can be acquired for a very low price or even be built in the home workshop using spare parts from other projects.
Hobbyists and those seeking to save money commonly build their own lab power supply units using the power supply units scrapped from computers and similar electronic equipment. ATX power supply units salvaged from computers are a favorite choice among hobbyists because these units are readily available and offer a variety of power settings in an out-of-the-box solution. With the addition of alligator clips or similar modifications for connecting the lab power supply to the components being worked on, these adjustable power supply units can be used to provide power to a range of DC devices and components. With these salvage ATX units being readily available, the average hobbyist can build their own lab power supply for less than $100 US Dollars.