Energy efficiency of external power supplies (EPSs), and curbing excessive power consumption has long been an issue of international concern, and with good reason. In the early 90s EPSs, mainly utilising linear technology, had efficiencies sometimes as low as 50%, and drew unwanted power even on no load. Calculations at the time suggested that unless these issues were addressed, EPSs would account for 30% of total energy consumption within 20 years.
Since then, voluntary and then mandatory regulations have grown to ensure higher average energy efficiency of external power supplies. These initiatives have addressed both operating energy efficiency and no-load power drain. While this regulatory development has achieved real reductions in global power consumption, its somewhat explosive expansion has also created challenges for power supply and OEM manufacturers as they endeavour to keep pace with the rate of change.
This Guide describes the current state of international legislation, and how it translates into specifications that external power supplies must meet. It gives examples of new power supplies that comply with the latest efficiency standards, together with some case studies that show how high-efficiency EPSs are now being designed into a widely diverse range of industries and applications.
The first mandatory standard related to the energy efficiency of external power supplies and no-load power draw was implemented by the Californian Energy Commission (CEC) in 2004 to address power consumption efficiency on its local grid. Since then, different organisations worldwide have continuously evolved standards to further tighten regulation and improve electrical efficiency. In 2007, the US Congress passed the Energy Independent Security Act (EISA), called Level IV, to harmonise power standards across the US. EISA Level V appeared in 2011, then the US Department of Energy (DoE) published its more stringent Level VI standard in 2014. This became mandatory within the US on February 10, 2016.
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