Power Supply Design Personal Library

Power supply design books, papers, and application notes to consider for your professional power electronics library.

Personal Power Supply Design Library

Every power supply designer needs to accumulate a library of reference books, papers, and application notes with which they are familiar and trust. This personal professional library allows you to quickly find the design algorithms and equations you need for the design at hand.

Yes, you can research it on the ever-changing Web. The problem with this is you will likely hit information overload and have trouble separating the excellent from the somewhat-useful or the out-right-trash. This is not useful when you have a schedule to meet. As we all know, the web can be a time sink. For efficient design, you need to be able to find known and trusted information quickly. This is the function of your personal library -- which contains familiar information for immediate review and application.

The purpose of this page is to share the key books, papers, and application notes that make up the best of my personal power supply design library. You can consider them as candidates for own your personal library. In doing so, I will recommend more papers and application notes than books. The papers and application notes are usually free and often more focused, detailed, and current. Books are usually more comprehensive but may lack the detail you need. They are always expensive in terms of money and time it takes to become familiar with their contents. For these reasons, they should be chosen carefully.

Where a book is recommended you will find an affiliate link to Amazon. If you buy through the link a small percentage comes back to me as an affiliate, at no cost to you. This helps support this website. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to obtain the book by other means. Using the link, you are sometimes given two choices, new or a best buy, usually used. What is displayed is under Amazon control, not mine. Unfortunately, engineering books are not deeply discounted. The new-price supports the books author and publisher, but the used-book is usually cheaper and often in near-new condition. If the spread is narrow, I usually buy the new one if I want to support the author. Otherwise, I try to save money like most engineers I know and buy a used copy. Even so, I have invested thousands of dollars in my personal library over a 45 year period.

If you don't think I have recommended the best book, paper, or application note on the subject? Let me know what you think is better and I will replace my recommendation or add it to my recommendation if I agree. This way you can help make this a better page for your fellow power supply designers.

Engineering Reference Book

The first book you are going to need is a general physics/electrical/electronics engineering reference book.It will likely have very little in it about power supply design, and if it does it will likely be hopelessly out of date. You want it to contain properties of material (e.g. dielectric constants), mathematical tables, wire tables, etc. This may be your cheapest book because you were required to buy one like it your first year of physics or engineering and hopefully you still have it. If not, you should seriously consider replacing it. No recommendation here, the choice is yours.

Advanced Power Supply Design Books

Robert W. Erickson, Fundamentals of Power Electronics

OK. I am biased on this one. During the 1970's I helped obtain money from the Office of Naval Research and other sources for research in power supply design at the California Institute of Technology. ONR then had me monitor the research. This was at a time when break-through after break-through was being made in power supply topologies, analysis, and magnetics. It was during this time that I met Robert Erickson who was earning his Ph.D. in the field at Caltech. A creative person who thinks for himself, he usually has it right. At the University of Colorado, he wrote his first text on the subject, Fundamentals of Power Electronics, and later brought out the second edition with Dragan Maksimovic.

I'm convinced that the design-oriented analysis techniques taught at Caltech are the best way to analyze and design any analog circuit and especially switching-mode power supplies. This book best lays the foundation for this approach while containing most the other things you need to learn about switching-mode power supply design. This book is mainly for those that are an upper division student or have a degree in electronics engineering or equivalent, but anyone can benefit by reading it. I would suggest that after reading the introduction, go through and read the Summary of Key Points at the end of each chapter. This book is supported by a website and you might want to skim through the information there. Then dig in. It will take you many years to master what is in this book, but when you have a design problem, use the index to find if it is discussed. If it is, you will have a much better understanding of the problem and its possible solutions.

If I could afford to buy only one book on power supply design, this would be it.


Christophe P. Basso, Switch-Mode Power Supply SPICE Cookbook

The circuit simulation program SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis) is now almost universally taught in engineering schools and you may already have a book that explains the basics. If not, the manuals that come with the various SPICE programs will serve the function.

For power supply design this is not enough. The widely-spread time constants resulting from the same circuit containing small switching semiconductors and large L-C filters, the non-linearities of the parts and circuits, the use of circuit averaging and other techniques and models, etc., provide too many pit-falls for designers to work out on their own. You need a specialized attitude, knowledge, and tool kit to solve these problems. Christophe P. Basso's, Switch-Mode Power Supply Cookbook, satisfies this need.

But there is a bonus. The techniques to simulate most major power supply topologies are discussed and for each topology a short introduction to that topology is provided. In aggregate, these, along with the Overview Chapter, form an introduction to switching-mode power supplies. This book is also supported with its own website.

This is the second power supply design book I recommend you add to your personal library.

Introductory Power Supply Design Books

Abraham I. Pressman, Switching Power Supply Design

The book I used to recommend is out of print, is scarce, and if you can find one, sells for over twice the list price, and has possibly been overtaken by events. The good news is that if you have the Erickson and Basso books above in your personal library, you probably do not need an introductory text

However, if you would feel better having one or more introductory books, there are some good introductory books available. Keep checking back here as I add them.

I first heard of the late Abraham Pressman when I was at the Naval Ocean Systems Center. A Program Manager had asked me to review a request to add output capacitance to a power supply to reduce bus ripple and noise. My conclusion was that ripple and noise were no problem and if output capacitance were added it would push the output filter resonance into the input filter resonance violating the Middlebrook Criteria and causing the power supply to approach instability. (This was later verified by test.) In doing this review, the program manager provided me a copy of a design review on the power supply done by Pressman. It was the most complete and professional design review I had every read. The program manager also passed my comments on the Middlebrook criteria to Pressman -- because in a few weeks he called that he would be in San Diego and if we could talk about the Middlebrook criteria, which was new to him. He showed up one afternoon and we talked through dinner past 10 pm. At the end he had a good grasp of the Middlebrook criteria, circuit and state-space averaging, and design-oriented analysis. Later I saw him at most of the advanced seminars on switching power supply design and later his updated book came out. I also ran into him when he was doing a design review in Florida. He traveled with his own technician and trunk load of special test equipment. We didn't have much time to talk because he was tearing into a new design creating one of his super-professional design reviews.

The thing you need to know about Pressman is that he spent his full life in the trenches of power supply design working to the highest professional standards. He has probably designed or reviewed more power supplies that demanded high field reliability (in practice, not theory) than any power supply designer who has written a best selling power supply design book. (If not Number 1, he would be on any short list.) We will miss Abraham Pressman. This book is his legacy and there is much to learn in it -- and it makes a good introductory text.

Webmaster and editor: Jerrold Foutz
Original: October 10, 2004, revised November 11, 2004