How to Calculate Voltage Regulation

By Mark Stansberry
The more electronic components you connect the higher the load.

Voltage regulation, the ability to maintain a fixed voltage under different load conditions, can be evaluated with a voltage regulation calculation known as load regulation. The load regulation calculation requires that you know the voltage of your battery or voltage regulator under a full load condition, the condition that exists when all the connected electronic devices are on. The calculation also requires that you know the voltage of your battery or voltage regulator under a no-load condition, the condition that exists when all of the connected electronic devices are off.

Determine the no-load voltage of the battery or voltage regulator. Measure the output voltage of the battery or voltage regulator when there are no electronic devices attached. Conclude this is the no-load voltage. Use for this example a no-load voltage of 12 volts.

Determine the full-load voltage of the battery or voltage regulators. Connect all the electronic devices that the battery or voltage regulator must power to the battery or voltage regulator. Turn on the electronic devices. Now measure the battery or voltage regulator voltage. Conclude that this is the full-load voltage. Use for this example a full-load voltage of 11 volts.

Calculate the change in voltage. Subtract the no-load voltage obtained in Step 1 from the full-load voltage in Step 2. Conclude for this example that the change in voltage is 1 volt, since 12 minus 1 is 11.

Calculate the load regulation. Divide the change in voltage obtained in the previous step by the full-load voltage. For this example, calculate that the load regulation is 0.091 volts per volt, since 1 divided 11 is 0.091.

Calculate the percent load regulation. Multiply the load regulation in Step 4 by 100 percent. Conclude that the percent load regulation is 9.1 percent, since 100 multiplied by 0.091 is 9.1

Tip

Voltage regulators are devices that are used to keep the voltage constant under varying load conditions. Most manufacturers of voltage regulators provide a load regulation specification. That load regulation specification is calculated for a specified full load. The manufacturer might specify that a 12-voltage regulator has a 0.1 percent load regulation for a load current from 0 milliamperes to 300 milliamperes.

A load regulation specification of 0.1 percent means the manufacturer guarantees that the output voltage of the regulator will not drop below 11.98 volts as long as the current required from the regulator is less than 300 milliamperes. The full-load voltage of 11.98 volts is calculated by substituting 0.001 (0.1 percent) and 12 volts into the calculation and then solving for the full-load voltage. Load regulation (percent) = 100 x (voltage no load — voltage full load) divided by voltage full load.

Line regulation is another measure of voltage regulation. Line regulation is the amount of voltage variation from the output of a voltage regulator, or a transformer, that results from a change of voltage at the input of the voltage regulator or transformer.

Warning

Always follow approved electronic safety precautions when operating electronic equipment.

About the Author

Mark Stansberry has been a technical and business writer over for 15 years. He has been published in leading technical and business publications such as "Red Herring," "EDN" and "BCC Research." His present writing focus is on computer applications programming, graphic design automation, 3D linear perspective and fractal technology. Stansberry has a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from San Jose State University.