A power supply is a device that takes an incoming electrical current and amplifies it to levels required by various devices. In many instances, this type of device is also implemented to take the incoming electricity and deliver it across many other electronic devices, often at different preset levels. This device allows manufacturers to create electronics and machinery that can handle many different tasks from a single source of power, without the need for various adapters and additional hardware. Within other devices, a power supply is used to transform various types of power into a compatible format to be stored, like solar energy to electrical energy.
Perhaps the most common use of this type of device is within computer systems. As electricity enters the power supply, it is momentarily stored and then distributed to numerous functions throughout the system, allowing the motherboard, hard drive, and other various devices to receive electricity in order to function. Each one of these items requires a separate voltage, and it is delivered through specialized connectors that attach in a certain manner. For example, motherboards require either a 20-pin or a 24-pin power supply, and they are not interchangeable without the purchase of an additional adapter.
Modern vehicles also require a type of power supply in order to function, and it is referred to as an alternator. Although the wiring and design may be different, it essentially works in the exact same manner by taking incoming power and delivering it throughout the vehicle at the necessary levels. Alternators can be found on everything from lawn mowers to sea craft and industrial equipment, and without them, the devices would be rendered useless.
Another common type of power supply can be found on windmills and solar panels, and its primary function is to convert various types of energy into electricity so that it can be stored and distributed across a grid. This is referred to as a generator, and it is often a free-standing object that is installed between the power source and the storage unit. Home and commercial generators, used during power outages, also work off of this same premise by transforming petroleum products into electrical energy by means of an engine. Many types of industrial tools also implement a type of generator. Other common types of power supplies are used within circuit breakers, battery-powered items and transformers.