Power Supply Basics

The Power of Conduction-Cooled Power Supplies

Posted by Dulcie on February 14, 2012
Posted in: Power Supply Basics

Most mid- to high-power supplies use fans to help dissipate the internal heat that is generated as a result of AC to DC conversion inefficiencies.

One such power supply, which operated for many years at a sorting office, was discovered by one of my colleagues in the US.

Post office sorting machine

As can be seen (after the fan was removed) paper fragments and airborne dust contaminants were pulled into the supply by the fan and eventually caused a blown fuse.

The appropriate maintenance program for any fan-cooled power supply calls for periodic inspections (with the fan taken off), the removal of dust and debris, and the replacement of the fan with a new one.

A new breed of conduction-cooled power supplies has been developed that does not depend on fans for cooling. Instead, the required cooling is accomplished by conducting the internal heat loads to an external metal structure or enclosure, which acts as a large heat sink surface.


TDK-Lambda’s new CPFE1000F is a conduction-cooled, 1,000 watt AC-DC power supply – a 500 watt version is also available. All heat is conducted to the supply’s aluminum plate, which is designed to easily mount to a metal enclosure or cold plate for cooling.
In some applications, these conduction-cooled devices are mounted to liquid cooled cold plates that are made of metal with internal serpentine channels through which a liquid circulates while removing the unwanted heat. The net result is that the system operates with a substantial reduction in audible noise, reduced maintenance costs (no dust build-up and fan wear-out), and an enhanced MTBF.

My US colleague also visited a Television Broadcasting Station recently that consumes about 100 kilowatts of power. At this location, in separate areas, was a traditional fan-cooled system as well as the latest generation system, which uses conduction-cooled power supplies and RF amplifiers that are cooled via liquid flow cold plates. During the operation of the traditional system with fan cooling, the audible noise was so loud that personnel within 100 feet of the system had to wear hearing protection devices. By comparison, in the other area where the new system with liquid cooling was operating, the noise level was so low (similar to an office environment) that no hearing protection was required.

More details and specifications for the CPFE conduction-colled power supplies are available at: https://www.emea.lambda.tdk.com/uk/cpfe