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Author Topic: Astron Power Supply efficiency  (Read 16092 times)
W8JX
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« Reply #45 on: March 12, 2011, 05:56:40 PM »

The point i was making is that this is not 1980 and linear supply's are VERY inefficient by today's standards. There was a time when I thought a RS35 was the power supply to have. Not anymore.
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WB6DGN
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« Reply #46 on: March 13, 2011, 11:25:30 PM »

Quote
...so depending on your on-line hours, electric cost, and cost of additional air conditioner heat load,...

Let me see if I got this right!  You're running an Air Conditioner but you're concerned about the few extra pennies a linear supply costs over a switcher???  The old expression "penny wise and pound foolish" comes immediately to my mind.  Shut off the air conditioner, you'll be money ahead.
Tom DGN
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KJ6HYC
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« Reply #47 on: March 14, 2011, 11:37:39 AM »

Quote
...so depending on your on-line hours, electric cost, and cost of additional air conditioner heat load,...

Let me see if I got this right!  You're running an Air Conditioner but you're concerned about the few extra pennies a linear supply costs over a switcher???  The old expression "penny wise and pound foolish" comes immediately to my mind.  Shut off the air conditioner, you'll be money ahead.
Tom DGN

It is a consideration when you live in a very Hot/Humid climate, and is an additional cost. I live in the desert, where air conditioning is not considered a luxury, and at the current cost of electricity (I pay $0.20 KWH w/taxes etc.) It takes more wattage to remove the heat than to generate it, the pay back to convert to a switcher the savings on the heat load would be significant on a yearly basis.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2011, 12:20:10 PM by KJ6HYC » Logged
W8JX
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« Reply #48 on: March 14, 2011, 05:12:13 PM »

Let me see if I got this right!  You're running an Air Conditioner but you're concerned about the few extra pennies a linear supply costs over a switcher??? 

I think you miss point here. It all adds up and why give more to power company than you need too, Also I have a 1KW inverter designed for 100% duty cycle with outboard battery packs and I can easily run rig even at full power on a switch along with computers, router, modem and lighting in shack for several hours with easy. If i use  linear supply, the extra 150 watts it uses puts inverter near overload. So switch not only lets it work better, it extend backup run time too. A win win senario.
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WB6DGN
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« Reply #49 on: March 16, 2011, 11:47:53 PM »

To restate from an earlier comment that I made.  Yes, I agree that a linear supply is less efficient than a switch mode supply but the linear supply is only consuming power when it is turned on.  On the contrary, MOST switch mode power supplies are consuming power (albeit very small amounts) whenever they are plugged in, and many remain plugged in 24/7/365.  Studies have clearly demonstrated that this difference significantly impacts the theoretical advantages of the switch mode supply as a power conserving (green) device to the extent that some jurisdictions are rethinking their sanctions against linear supplies.  As the old saying goes, "all is not as it would first appear".  Again, relating to safety, at least when I shut off my linear supply, I KNOW that it is OFF, not just that its output is disconnected from its load.
Tom DGN
« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 11:50:04 PM by WB6DGN » Logged
WB6DGN
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« Reply #50 on: March 17, 2011, 12:47:35 AM »

Quote
Also I have a 1KW inverter designed for 100% duty cycle with outboard battery packs and I can easily run rig even at full power on a switch along with computers, router, modem and lighting in shack for several hours with easy.

Why do you convert from DC to AC, back to DC again to run your radios?  Wouldn't it be more efficient to power your radios directly off of the batteries in the first place?  You are losing efficiency in the inverter and, then again, in the power supply.  Even if it is a switch mode supply, it is probably, at best, about 80% efficient, and, likewise, your inverter is also, at best, about 80% efficient.  To be optimistic, you are losing at least 35% there.  Even if you insist on maintaining 13.8 volts at your radio's power connector, a simple buck/boost regulator would provide that with far better efficiency than what you're getting now with all that extra hardware in line.
Tom
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W8JX
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« Reply #51 on: March 17, 2011, 03:35:51 PM »


Why do you convert from DC to AC, back to DC again to run your radios?  Wouldn't it be more efficient to power your radios directly off of the batteries in the first place?  You are losing efficiency in the inverter and, then again, in the power supply.  Even if it is a switch mode supply, it is probably, at best, about 80% efficient, and, likewise, your inverter is also, at best, about 80% efficient.  To be optimistic, you are losing at least 35% there.  Even if you insist on maintaining 13.8 volts at your radio's power connector, a simple buck/boost regulator would provide that with far better efficiency than what you're getting now with all that extra hardware in line.
Tom

Inverter is powered by a stack of 8 big gel cell batteries wired series/parrallel  for 24vdc to power inverter. So it is not practical to power radio directly from battery bank. I know they is some efficiency loss through inverter to switch to radio but it is back power. I also have generator power available for extended power outages which recharge inverter batteries while powering equipment. I do not bother with generator unless outage is going to be more than 3 or 4 hours.
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KJ6HYC
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« Reply #52 on: March 17, 2011, 05:00:59 PM »

To restate from an earlier comment that I made.  Yes, I agree that a linear supply is less efficient than a switch mode supply but the linear supply is only consuming power when it is turned on.  On the contrary, MOST switch mode power supplies are consuming power (albeit very small amounts) whenever they are plugged in, and many remain plugged in 24/7/365.  Studies have clearly demonstrated that this difference significantly impacts the theoretical advantages of the switch mode supply as a power conserving (green) device to the extent that some jurisdictions are rethinking their sanctions against linear supplies.  As the old saying goes, "all is not as it would first appear".  Again, relating to safety, at least when I shut off my linear supply, I KNOW that it is OFF, not just that its output is disconnected from its load.
Tom DGN

I switch my "switcher off" it is on a power strip.
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AA4HA
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« Reply #53 on: March 22, 2011, 11:29:19 AM »

I have been using a few Sola linear supplies to keep my battery strings charged. Most of my station is 12 VDC or 24 VDC capable with the exception of the tube gear and a RF power amp.

The Sola linear supplies work fine. Have not had to screw with them quite a while. They are backed up by a 4 KVA UPS (as well as the AC gear).

Recently I started to switch over the Sola linear supplies to Lambda LRS-55 supplies that have the additional noise filter on the DC output. One Lambda switcher keeps the 12 VDC station batteries charged up and the other Lambda charges a 24 VDC battery string for some specialized gear.

I have some modular DC/DC converters that take 24 VDC in and it gives me +/- 12 VDC and + 5 VDC for a few items that require those voltages. The DC/DC converters are really small and maybe pull 1 A off of the 24 VDC supply.

So far the Lambda supplies are working fine. A big downside with that brand is that the supplies are pretty expensive ($200-$400 each), even on the surplus market.

I did some sweeps with a spectrum analyzer attached to a short antenna and I do see small inverter spurs from VLF up into UHF. It has caused me to begin fabrication on a small Faraday cage made of copper mesh with Pi filters for the switcher supplies. No matter what, I am still going to have those spurs from every semiconductor device in the house that has some sort of clock circuit (microwave oven, computer, television, satellite receiver, etc... etc...).

Not many amateur ops are going to have the equipment to go on the hunt for harmonics coming from switching supplies or through the trouble of adapting a supply by building a Faraday cage. Left unmanaged, I can see how with the abundance of switchers, dimmer controls, fluorescent light fixtures, computers, etc... etc... can make it damn near impossible to hear anything when the noise is at S9. It is difficult enough to control the environment within your own home. For those who live in a suburban area I cannot even imagine the hassle that you need to go through to "bug hunts" for offending signals from your neighbors home or what that discussion is going to be like when you come-a-knockin on their door to tell them of their responsibility for FCC Part 15 compliance.

Is the efficiency better with a switcher? Sure is, also it is a smaller supply and does not have a transformer. In 1989 it caused a month of hell for me as I was a compliance engineer trying to get a satellite modem with a telephone interface (Pt 15, Pt 68 compliance) through testing with the damned switcher supply that we chose because it had a smaller footprint. The end result was even more circuitry that needed to be added to the line supply side and the DC load side of the supply to quiet it down. Then when it went through the HiPot testing everything shat-the-bed again and it had to go back for even more design. The FCC expects that your product will "keep working" after a HiPot test. It is really bad when it spouts flames and parts explode.

Yea, I had bad experiences with switcher supplies. Our process was not for the product to go back to the original design engineer for rework. If a product made it to compliance testing it became the compliance engineer's duty to do the redesign. A linear supply would have been bigger, a bit less efficient but could have been protected with a few MOV's.

Ms. Tisha Hayes
AA4HA
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
W8JX
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« Reply #54 on: March 22, 2011, 03:09:53 PM »

I have had no issues or RFI related to switches and my house has a LOT of switching supplies in it too. Next we are going to be arguing old fashion carburetors are better than modern fuel injection. This is 21st century and with it newer and more efficient power supplies too. You cannot turn on a modern TV or stereo or even charge your cell phone without using a "switch".
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W6RMK
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« Reply #55 on: March 23, 2011, 09:09:08 PM »

Good data. Most rigs spend most of their time in receive mode. With the 17 watt difference and figuring 7 cents per kW-hr the payback for switching to the $140 SS30 occurs after 13 years of continous use.

While the data is interesting, the difference is not enough to make me replace my existing Astrons.

I was reading a story about the new crop of computerized front-loading washing machines. They cost anywhere from 70 to 100 percent more than a comparable top loader and the dollar savings in water and electricity average $48/year. Considering the average life of a washing machine in 7-10 years. one will be hard pressed to recover the increased cost within the lifespan of the unit. Not to mention that repairs run 75 to 300 percent higher than a top loader.

Same deal with power supplies - linear supplies are generally easily repaired by the average ham and switchers seem to not be.

Lucky you with seven cent/kWh.  Our next kWh rate is 34c

The new washers are a LOT easier on the clothes, that's where you save the money, not buying as many shirts, sheets, etc per year
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VE7BGP
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« Reply #56 on: March 28, 2011, 11:31:51 AM »

Astron is the most Efficient Linear!
In response to this thread yes the Switchers are more efficient way to go with power supplies. In comparing Astron RS-Series with the other Linear Supplies Astron Engineers did their Homework in designing the Astron Bullet Proof Linear Supplies. Astron is the most efficient design of the linear Supplies. First of all Astron uses a Full Wave Center Tap Transformer that has increased efficiency over the more Common Bridge Rectifier. Full Wave also has better Raw Regulation. The High Current  that drives the Collectors of the pass Transistors is at a lower voltage and separate from the Lower Current Higher Voltage path to drive the Pass Transistors and perform the Regulation & Current Limiting functions. At Full load there is only about 3 or 4 Volts drop across the Pass Transistors on the Astron Supply vs the Yaesu and Icom supplies that have greater then 10 Volts across their Pass Transistors as they drive the Regulator with the same voltage as they supply to the Collectors of the Pass Transistors and Bridge Rectifier has more loss 4 diodes Vs 2 diodes the no load to full load unregulated variation is a lot greater then Astron and more voltage across pass Transistors more HEAT and Power lost in Pass Transistors! Astron Engineers did a great Job keeping these losses to a reasonable level in designing their Linear Supplies and their Fold Back Current Limiting is the other Great feature of their Supplies. Yes the Astron Power supply is not as efficient as newer Switchers but they are less prone to the Switchers Headaches of Noise and being harder to repair for the average Ham then those Venerable Old Astron Linears are. It is hard to find a better supply for the reasonable Price the Astron Supplies sell for these days. I hope that helps clear up a few things.
73
Gerry VE7BGP
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W8JX
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« Reply #57 on: March 28, 2011, 12:16:30 PM »

I do not understand while many try to "sell" old inefficient Astron linear power supplies as best solution today. Yes they were well built but fact remains they are very inefficient and electricity like gas is not getting any cheaper. Then there is the claim that they are harder and cost more to fix. Number one cause of the failure of any power supply is overload not if it is a switch or not.   Consider one ham that responded and said he paid 34 cents a kilowatt. If he had a RS 35 and left it on all year it would use 80 dollar a year just to idle before you factor in actual load costs on it. If he had a Astron 30 amp switch it would use about 27 bucks a year to idle and far less under load than a linear supply so in effect the supply will pay for itself in a year or less. As far as RFI from them this is a strange claim being that every modern TV, stereo, desktop computer or laptop and even a cell phone charger is a switch and if they were half as noisy as claimed it would be impossible to use a ham radio around them today but such is not the case. If you want to pay more for you power that is your call but to not try to sell it that switches are unreliable and noisy because it simply is not true.
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AB0RE
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« Reply #58 on: March 28, 2011, 07:17:11 PM »

I did some tests a while back with a Kill-O-Watt AC Wattmeter and came up with the following:

"I first turned the supply on with no load, then turned
my HF radio on (~1.5A), then transmitted a carrier at
5W (~5A), then a carrier at 50W (~13A), then a carrier
at 100W (~17A).  Although the tests are somewhat
unscientific using a very crude measuring device, I
think it gives a fair apples-to-apples comparison as
the same radio was used and they were all tested back
to back.  Results are as follows:

Alinco DM-330MVT 32A peak / 30A continuous *switcher*:
- No Load: 8W
- 1A Load: 30W
- 5A Load: 105W
- 13A Load: 221W
- 17A Load: 292W

Astron RS-20A 20A peak / 16A continous *linear*:
- No Load: 22W
- 1A Load: 53W
- 5A Load: 160W
- 13A Load: 334W
- 17A Load: 433W

Astron RS-35M 35A peak / 25A continous *linear*:
- No Load: 13W
- 1A Load: 43W
- 5A Load: 147W
- 13A Load: 314W
- 17A Load: 408W


So, a couple interesting findings:

- The RS-35M was MORE efficient than the RS-20A
(smaller) power supply.   The RS-35M has a
*slightly* bigger transformer, two 35A rectifiers
mounted in parallel (vs 1 on the RS-20A), and four
pass transistors instead of two as found on the
RS-20A.  I also noticed the main capacitor of the
RS-35M was substantially larger than that of the
RS-20A (I didn't jot down the value of either).

- On the low end, a comparable-sized switching supply
would be 38% more efficient than my RS-35M.  On the
mid-range 17A setting it'd be 28% more efficient than
my RS-35M.  Although a noteable difference, with the
low cost per KW/Hr of electricity and the ease of
repairability of the linear supplies, it doesn't
exactly make going with a more efficient switcher an
easy sale."

Anyway, after the testing a couple years ago I decided just to stick with linear power supplies.  They are simpler from an electrical standpoint and one doesn't have to worry about the power supply creating noise on the HF band (RF Pollution = Not "Green").  An added bonus is that linear power supplies are harder to steal as they're so dang heavy!  Our local electrical rates just went up but we're still at around $.08/KWh, in which case linear power supplies still makes sense for me.  Most of the time, my radio is in receive mode.  I'm not going to notice the 13W difference on my electrical bill between the Astron and the switcher (every 77 hours of "standby" time I'll save a whopping $.08).  I'd be better off putting my computer in "power saving" mode, or limiting TV usage.  And the real power hog of the house is the dryer... 24A @ 240VAC.  Install a clothesline outside and you'll be MUCH further ahead of game as it costs about $.50/load to dry your clothes. 

73,
Dan / ab0re

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KA5N
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Posts: 4380




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« Reply #59 on: March 29, 2011, 05:06:43 AM »

[  Install a clothesline outside and you'll be MUCH further ahead of game as it costs about $.50/load to dry your clothes. 



[/quote]
Just don't wash your clothes so often.  Hams already have the reputation of having BO,
almost all posts about Ham Fests reinforce this fact.
Allen
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