Voltage Regulators

This page describes voltage regulators including line and load regulation. It analyzes the operation of series voltage regulators and shunt voltage regulators and will help you to identify applications of integrated circuit voltage regulators.

Key Concepts

  • Line regulation
  • Load regulation
  • Linear regulator (low dropout regulator)
  • Series regulator
  • Switching regulator


  • Line regulation
  • Load regulation
  • Linear voltage regulator
  • Series voltage regulator
  • Switching voltage regulator
  • Integrated circuit voltage regulator
  • Line regulation defines output changes in response to input voltage changes.
  • Load regulation defines output changes in response to load changes.
  • Line and load regulation are defined independently to the type of voltage regulator.
  • The stability of the voltage output is dependent on the voltage reference.
  • A large difference between input and output voltage increases power dissipation in the regulator.
  • The control element is a transistor parallel to the load.
  • For a given input voltage the power dissipation in the output transistor is largest when there is no load.
  • Switching power supplies use a variable pulse-width oscillator, which controls a load-charging transistor to an output capacitor.
  • Integrated linear voltage regulators need input and output capacitors as line filters.
  • Integrated linear regulators are available for fixed or adjustable voltage output.
  • Integrated switching voltage regulators can be used for all three configurations of step-up (boost), step-down (buck), and inverting regulators.
  • Switching regulators have a much higher efficiency than linear regulators.
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