April 29, 2019
Before economically priced DIN rail power supplies gained popularity, many 100W or higher power rated units provided users with a parallel operation function in the form of switch fitted on the front panel. This switch allowed the user to select between “droop mode” current share between two or more supplies and single unit operation. Droop mode allowed for balancing of the output currents between the units.
If power supplies without a parallel operation function are being used and additional current is required for the system load, a second power supply could be connected in parallel, although many manufacturers do not recommend this. Unless the output voltages of both power supplies are set to the same voltage, the unit with the greatest output voltage may deliver the majority of the current and operate in an over current condition. This will reduce the unit’s field life due to excessive internal heating. Ideally the output current of each power supply should be routinely measured during preventative maintenance to ensure they are balanced, which is both time consuming and cumbersome.
One alternative is to use a “redundancy” module with a load balance option, like TDK-Lambda’s DRM40. Figure 1 shows a DRM40 used to connect two 20A power supplies to deliver up to 40A and Figure 2 the DRM40 with its current balancing LED.
If the LED is not illuminated, measure the output voltage on both power supplies. Adjust the voltage of the power supply with the lowest voltage higher until the LED turn on. Alternatively, one can adjust the voltage of the power supply with the highest voltage lower. The current balance LED will be illuminated when the difference between the voltages is less than 50mV and the output currents are balanced.
The DRM40 has internal MOSFETs, used to block reverse currents in the event of one power supply failing short circuit. They also allow the measurement of each power supply’s output voltage without disconnecting any load cables.
The DRM40 can also be used in redundant power systems, where two power supplies are used in a 1+1 configuration as shown in Figure 3. If one power supply fails the other will continue to provide current to the load. The load balancing function can be used in same manner.