Regulator Types

Fundamentally there are two types of voltage regulators:  linear and switching.  The names come from how they operate and how they achieve voltage regulation.  Linear regulators tend to be a little cheaper to implement, but they aren’t as efficient as their more complex switching variants.

There are also some “cheap and dirty” methods that some designs use.  Below is a brief description and example of each.

Digital ICs like microcontrollers, memory, and shift registers need a stable voltage source to make sure they work as expected.  Most circuits are designed with a voltage regulator to accomplish this stability.  In theory voltage regulators will vary their output to stay at a set voltage, regardless of how much current the load is drawing.  As a load draws a little bit more current, the supply voltage will begin to sag.  Conversely when the load is…