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DC-DC Converters

Written by Jeff Child

Vendors of DC-DC converters continue to evolve their product offerings as demand ramps up for higher power density, high efficiency and wider voltage ranges. Today’s devices are serving applications such as industrial control, medical equipment and both hybrid- and full-electric vehicles.

  • DC-DC converters
  • DC-DC converters
  • Hybrid vehicles
  • Electric vehicles
  • Battery charging

Nothing is simple in the product category of DC-DC converters. Product manufacturers are under pressure to deliverer new levels of power density, wider voltage ranges and advanced filtering. All that while at the same time developing ever more compact and integrated solutions. To keep pace, DC-DC converter vendors are churning out more efficient products at the component and brick level in a variety of packaging and format options.

The product gallery on the next couple of pages show representative examples of DC-DC converters released within the past 12 months. Shown are a mix of products in several sizes, formats and voltage configurations. DC-DC converters play a critical role in wide variety of applications including industrial control, railway systems, automotive systems, medical equipment and telecom systems.

In particular, electric vehicles—both hybrid and full electric—are facing new demands as power delivery demands become more complex. Even traditional gasoline-fuel vehicles are facing new electrification demands as more automated and infotainment features are designed into new car designs. According to Vicor, the addition of higher voltage batteries—such as 48V, 400V and 800V—to meet the increased power requirements has, in turn, increased the complexity of power delivery architectures. This places new demands on the size and weight of the vehicle’s power converters and regulators for battery charging, power conversion and power delivery.

In full electric, hybrid electric and even traditional gas-fueled vehicles, new 48V-based power delivery networks need to support legacy 12V loads with increased power requirements and new drive, steer and brake-by-wire high power systems.

Figure 1 illustrates the power delivery segment in particular. Vicor says new 48V based power delivery networks need to support legacy 12V loads with increased power requirements and new drive, steer and brake-by-wire high power systems. Providing increased power at 48V with a growing number of loads requires high-density modules versus larger and bulkier discrete solutions. For its part, Vicor offers several modules for power delivery from 48V. These devices include fixed ratio and regulated converter solutions that support both 48V and 12V loads. The company’s DCM and PRM modules provide 48V to 12V and 48V to 48V regulated outputs, respectively. 

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4W Converters Target Industrial Systems

MINMAX Technology's MCW04/I04 is a series are 4W isolated/regulated DC DC converters. The MCW04 (shown in photo, and specs below) and MCW104 families consists of 18 and 12 models respectively, offering 9-18VDC, 18-36VDC, 36-75VDC, 9-36VDC or 18-75VDC input ranges with single output models ranging 5VDC–24VDC and dual output models ±12V to ±15V delivering 4W of output power.

• Compact SIP-8 package
• Wide 2:1 input voltage range
• Fully regulated output voltage
• I/O isolation 1,600VDC
• Operating ambient temp.
-40°C to +85°C
• No min. load requirement
• Overload and short circuit protection
• Remote On/Off control
• UL/cUL/IEC/EN 62368-1 safety approval

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1/8th-Brick Converter
Serves up 120W

The UWE-Q12 series from Murata Power Solutions are 120W open-frame DC-DC converters in an industry standard 1/8th brick trough-hole package with an input voltage range of 9VDC to 36VDC. The series is offered as an open frame package or with an integrated baseplate for conduction cooling applications and provides a basic I/O insulation system rated at 2,250VDC isolation.

• 92% efficiency at 12VOUT
• Up to 120W total power
• DOSA 1/8th brick pinout
• Over temp., over current,
over voltage protection
• 2,250VDC I/O isolation
• Operating temperature
-40°C to +85°C
• Pre-bias startup support
• CAN/CSA, EN60950-1, RoHS compliance

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SOIC-16 Packaged Converters Have Medical-Grade Isolation

RECOM's R05CT05S is a low profile, 500mW SMD isolated DC-DC single output converter that's well suited for applications such as communication, current sensing and medical applications which require robust isolation. Standard isolation is 5kVAC/1min with a 2xMoPP (Means of Patient Protection) rating for medical applications.

• 5kVAC reinforced isolation
• 5V or 3.3V post-regulated, selectable outputs
• Isolation capacitance 3.5pF typical
• Low EMI emissions
• Ultrawide temperature range
(-40°C to +140°C)
• SOIC-16 10.3mm × 7.5mm footprint
• Internal 3D power packaging construction
• Low profile (2.6mm)

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15W - 30W Converters Offer 4:1 Input Ranges

TDK's 15W to 20W PXG-M and 30W PXD-M30 board mount DC-DC converter series provide 4:1 input ranges of 9VDC to 36VDC and 18VDC to 75VDC. The two series are certified to IEC 60601-1 (medical) and IEC 62368-1 (ICT - information and communication technology equipment). The input to output isolation is 5,000VAC allowing them to be used in multiple medical and industrial applications.

• PXG-M: standard 1.6" × 1" footprint
• PXD-M: standard 2" × 1" footprint
• 9-36VDC, 18-75VDC inputs
• 5, 12, 15, 24, ±5, ±12, ±15 VDC outputs
• 5,000kVAC input to output isolation
• -40°C to +105°C case temperature
• Medical and industrial safety certifications
• Low no-load power consumption

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750W Regulated Converter Boasts 97% Efficiency

The DCM3717 from Vicor is a non‑isolated, regulated DC‑DC converter module that operates from a semi‑regulated 40V - 60V input to generate a regulated point‑of‑load output voltage range of 10.0V – 13.5V. The DCM3717 in the SM-ChiP package configuration uses Vicor's patented zero‑voltage switching (ZVS) buck-boost regulator stage followed by the Sine Amplitude Converter (SAC).

• Input range 40VDC – 60VDC
• Output range 10.0VDC – 13.5VDC
• 97.0% peak efficiency
• Up to 750W or 62.5A continuous operation
• Up to 900W or 75A transient peak
• Greater than 1MHz switching frequency
• PMBus compatible telemetry
• Parallel-capable up to four units
• Internal voltage, current and temp. shut down

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Converters Feature Chassis and DIN-Rail Options

The DTJ15 (shown) and DTJ20 series from XP Power are designed for convenience of installation and operation. They can be installed to a chassis or DIN rail and connected via screw terminals and require no additional components for protection or EMC compliance. The series offers 15W or 20W of power and suit applications including process monitoring and control, industrial robotics and more (DTJ15 specs shown).

• Regulated single and dual outputs from 3.3VDC to 30VDC
• Wide 4:1 input range
• Chassis mount with optional DIN rail clip
• UL62368-1 safety approvals, EN55032 class A
• Remote On/Off and voltage trim function
• 3kVDC isolation
• -40°C to +100°C operating temperature
• Full power to 80°C

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Editor-in-Chief at Circuit Cellar | Website | + posts

Jeff Child has more than 28 years of experience in the technology magazine business—including editing and writing technical content, and engaging in all aspects of magazine leadership and production. He joined the Circuit Cellar after serving as Editor-in-Chief of COTS Journal for over 10 years. Over his career Jeff held senior editorial positions at several of leading electronic engineering publications, including EE Times and Electronic Design and RTC Magazine. Before entering the world of technology journalism, Jeff worked as a design engineer in the data acquisition market.

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DC-DC Converters

by Jeff Child time to read: 2 min