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HomeTips & GuidesVoltage Reducer: Operating Mechanism and Applications

Voltage Reducer: Operating Mechanism and Applications

Electric cars, buses, and other electric mobility solutions contain lithium-ion battery packs with voltage ratings of 400-800V.  So, you need a voltage reducer to lower this high voltage to a level that regular car 12V accessories can use.

The alternative is to draw electric current from a few batteries, but this connection will drain them faster. 

Therefore, electrical accessories connect to the entire battery pack, making the reducer necessary in these systems. Here’s all you need to know about this device.

Table of Contents

Types of Voltage Reducers

Voltage reducers have varying ratings to handle different battery pack sizes.

For instance, they can have an input rating of 400V in electric cars, while those in electric golf carts have 36-55V input ratings. 

It depends on the vehicle’s battery pack size, but the output is usually 12V.

But regardless of capacity, these devices come in two types.

Linear Voltage Regulator

As the name suggests, this voltage reducer incorporates a linear control element to lower the potential difference to the required level. 

The devices are reliable and have a simple design, but are less efficient because they dissipate the excess energy as heat.

A simple DC-to-DC converter

A simple DC-to-DC converter

The devices operate like variable resistors with feedback because they drop any excess or unwanted voltage while drawing the same current as the load. 

This unused voltage goes out of the circuit as heat, making the regulator hot and inefficient, especially at high currents. 

Therefore, linear voltage regulators are unideal, especially in EVs, because they waste the stored charge.

Switching Voltage Regulator

Also known as SMPS (Switching Mode Power Supplies), switching regulators are more efficient than their linear counterparts because they operate using a rapid switching mechanism.

An SMPS power supply

An SMPS power supply

This system switches the input voltage on and off several times, then filters it to output a clean, lower voltage.

 The only downside is these devices have complex circuitry. But their efficiency makes them preferable to EVs.

Significance of Voltage Reducers in Electric Vehicles

EVs have complex electrical architectures with high-voltage battery packs built primarily to power the motors efficiently.

But like internal combustion cars, EVs must have 12-volt accessories like lights, ACs, and infotainment systems. 

Some even have 12V power outlets and USB ports for charging your smart, portable devices.

So, voltage reducers are a must-have in these cars. And they usually come in the form of DC-DC converters.

An EV’s lithium battery pack

An EV’s lithium battery pack

These converters are switching voltage regulators because they pass the current through a switching element, converting it into a square wave

After that, they pass the current through a filter to smoothen the wave to DC at a lower voltage.

Modern DC-DC converters feature efficient designs that reduce energy wastage during voltage step-down. So, you’ll still get long ranges from the battery packs.

Voltage Reducers in Solar Applications

These devices are also critical in solar installations in the following areas.

Voltage Conversion

Solar panels generate DC voltage, which varies depending on various factors, such as the number of panels, sunlight intensity, and panel configuration.

A solar installation wired in series adds up the voltage supply of the individual panels while keeping the amp output level. 

Therefore, the output voltage will be significantly higher than what the inverter can handle for DC to AC conversion.

A solar inverter

A solar inverter

Also, the series solar voltage will be too high for your DC appliances.

Voltage reducers help adjust the potential difference to an acceptable level for these electrical devices.

Voltage Stabilization

Environmental factors like cloud cover and tree shade alter the output voltage from solar installations, causing spikes and drops. Delivering this power as input to the inverter can damage its circuitry.

Voltage reducers help stabilize this output to ensure it is reliable and comes at an almost constant level to make the inverter work continuously. This stabilization will come in handy if you want to sell green energy to the grid.

And even if you want to store the charge in batteries, you must use a reducer.

Battery Charging System Integration

Battery banks are vital in solar installations because they store excess electricity for off-grid living when the weather becomes less sunny or after the sun sets.

However, you cannot directly connect the solar output voltage to the battery bank. Voltage mismatches can damage the battery, leaving you with a steep replacement bill.

Voltage reducers help lower the solar output to match the battery voltage, ensuring efficient charging.

These systems usually use MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) charge controllers, essentially DC-to-DC converters.

An MPPT solar charge controller

An MPPT solar charge controller

Charge controllers utilize algorithms that continuously track the solar panel’s maximum power point by varying the DC voltage.

They use voltage reducers to alter the voltage level to an optimal level for power bank charging, ensuring they receive as much electrical current as possible for quick charging.

However, since they use DC-to-DC converters, their function is not only voltage reduction. 

These converters can step up or down the voltage by switching at high frequencies to make the charging process more efficient.

Other Voltage Reducer Applications

Besides EV and solar applications, voltage reducers are ideal for the following applications.

  • Safeguarding electrical circuits from voltage fluctuations by stabilizing and regulating the power supply (think of UPS systems)
  • Charging devices at lower electronic load voltages than the level of the power outlet
  • Enabling the usage of electrical devices built for one voltage standard (such as 120V) in regions with higher voltage standards (such as 240V)

Wrap Up

Voltage reducers have immense applications in the electrical world due to their conversion and stabilization properties. 

And as EVs and hybrids become more popular on our roads, the device’s usage will increase.

We hope this article has been insightful. Share your thoughts in the comments below to keep the conversation going. 

That’s it for now. Have a good one!

Hi I am Christa, sales manager of Cloom.

I have extensive expertise and experience in wiring harnesses and I believe I can help you.

And we have a very professional technical team who can clearly understand the customer’s needs and give professional suggestions and solutions after receiving the drawings.

If you also have wiring harness needs, please send me the drawing so that we can give you our quote and start our business.

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