When it comes to buying a new power supply, it’s easy to overlook the supply’s efficiency in favor of other stats like the supply’s max power output etc., but the fact of the matter is, you’re still paying for the energy that your power supply isn’t putting into your system. That’s where the 80 PLUS rating becomes useful.
In 2004, Ecos Consulting launched a certification program intended to promote higher energy efficiency in computer power supply units (PSUs). Trademarked “80 PLUS”, the certification applies to power supplies that are able to meet 2 specific requirements. The first of these requirements is that 80 PLUS power supplies must be able to operate at 80% efficiency at 20%, 50% and 100% of their rated load. This means that these PSUs will only waste up to 20% of their potential energy output as heat energy when they are running at those 3 specific levels.
The second requirement for a power supply to achieve an 80 PLUS rating is that it must have a power factor of 0.9 or greater at 100% load. An electrical systems power factor is a ratio describing the relationship between the amount of apparent power and the amount of real power. Real power represents all of the “potential” power output whereas apparent power represents the actual energy output.
Essentially, a higher power factor means that the power supply draws less energy overall. A 500W power supply will draw more than 500W if it’s running at full capacity because no power supply can be %100 efficient and the power supply needs to supply all 500 of those watts.
Typical power supplies waste a considerable amount of their potential energy output as heat. While it is nearly impossible to create a power supply that does not create heat, it is possible to reduce the amount of heat generated considerably through design. The 80 PLUS certification aims to promote designs that waste less and produce more. More common PSU efficiency typically ranges from 60% to 75% so it can be very cost effective to opt for an 80 PLUS rated power supply.
In recent years, the 80 PLUS certification program has grown to include “bronze”, ”silver”, “gold”, “platinum”, and “titanium” level ratings. Power supplies with these ratings offer greater and greater efficiency respectively. Here is a list of those levels and their respective ratings.
80 PLUS Savings
These days, you can find an 80 PLUS rated version of almost any power supply you like. For instance, an 80 PLUS rated 1U redundant power supply, or a mini redundant power supply. Really any general type of IPC power supply that you can think of is available with an 80 plus rating. So consider making the switch to an 80 PLUS power supply to start enjoying the benefits of a more power saving power supply that’s better for the environment.