Voltage Regulator

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What Does Voltage Regulator Mean?

A voltage regulator is an electricity regulation device designed to automatically convert voltage into a lower, usually direct current (DC), constant voltage.

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The term may refer to a voltage regulator integrated circuit (IC), which is often found in computers and other electronic devices that are plugged directly into an alternating current (AC) wall outlet but require only a small DC voltage.

The term can also refer to voltage regulation or power module devices, such as cell phone and laptop chargers. Some regulators do not increase or decrease a device’s voltage, but merely ensure constant output value.

Techopedia Explains Voltage Regulator

Voltage regulators are usually used to regulate voltage down to a lower value and to provide this value constantly over time. Such a device could be as simple as a feed-forward design or it could be more complex and include negative feedback loops.

There are two kinds of voltage regulators:

  • Electronic: These use pure electronic components such as diodes, resistors and capacitors and usually come as integrated circuits already rated for specific voltages and current output.
  • Electromechanical: These make use of moving mechanical parts to regulate voltage. The mechanical part is usually a solenoid that moves according to the size of the incoming current and voltage, and moves accordingly to cut off the input when there is a surge. A capacitor then provides the regulated output.
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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.