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6th September 2023

The versatility of external Power Supply Units (PSUs) stretches far and wide. While this blog focuses on computer hardware, external PSUs are used in sectors as diverse as industrial printing, water treatment, medical equipment and even fashion accessories. Whether it’s ensuring the flawless operation of consumer electronics, amplifying a musician’s guitar sound, or running an industrial automation setup, external power supplies remain the backbone.

This article is for computer hardware manufacturers looking to integrate external power supplies into their innovative products. Beyond their function, we will dive into the details of selecting the right external PSU for you and aligning with industry standards. You will not only have a robust understanding but also a comprehensive blueprint for utilising external power supplies to elevate product quality and raise customer satisfaction.

What Types of External PSUs Are There?

An external power supply unit is a device that converts power from the mains’ Alternating Current (AC) to a specific Direct Current (DC) voltage and current. There are two types of external PSU – plug top and inline, which are explained below.

Plug Top

Plug tops are standard power supplies that connect to a mains socket. The other connection is connected by a single wire and attaches directly to the power source in the product. This type deals primarily in less intensive power conversions that are closer to the 230V output of a standard UK plug socket. When connecting to the device itself, the most common plug top connection is a 2.1×5.5 barrel size connector.


Inline PSUs, also known as brick power supplies, come into play if the manufacturer’s power specifications exceed the limits of a plug top. The brick acts as an intensive converter that converts mains power into a far lower voltage, which is why it is used as a safety feature in most laptop chargers, for example.

At Ideal Power, our External PSU range includes Adapter Interchangeable, Adapter Plugtop AC/AC Linear, Adapter Plugtop AC/DC, Desktop PSU and Lugged Desktop PSU.

What Applications Can An External Power Supply Be Used For?

In the field of computer hardware, external PSUs are used in a range of applications, from consumer electronics such as laptops, printers and monitors to more advanced equipment such as energy computing hardware. External PSUs are also essential for medical equipment such as circulatory pumps, ventilators, telemedicine carts and dialysis equipment.

What Should I Consider When Buying an External PSU?

Approved Conformity

When searching for an external PSU, one crucial detail that is often overlooked is the certification approvals associated with these units. For instance, markers like UKCA/CE, along with their accompanying documentation, indicate that the unit meets certain standards and regulations, ensuring its safety and reliability.

At Ideal Power, we stock a vast array of UKCA/CE-certified external PSUs, differentiating us from the many inline and plug-top units out there. In essence, these approvals serve as a testament to the quality and reliability that our products promise. Browse our collection online today for guaranteed top-quality power supply units.

Universal Faceplates

Universal faceplates allow plug-top power supply units to be used and sold in several regions of the world. Provided with the adapters and barrel connections for various application needs, this eliminates the need to specialise a product to a certain region or even application.

Power Specifications

Look at your computer hardware’s prototype design and use this to form which type of power supply you need. If the power specs exceed the limits of our plug-top PSUs, you will need an inline PSU to regulate power on the way to the product. This type is more suited as a desktop power supply unit.


If your product is designed to be used around water, having a PSU that is also waterproof is critical. For this use, look for the IP67 certification which means they are protected against short periods of immersion in water between anywhere from 15cm to 1m. At Ideal Power, our 59RKPO units are IP67-certified, so you are assured of their safety and reliability when used close to water.

Medical Approvals

Computer hardware has been integrated into the medical industry for the better. If you are designing hardware for medical applications, you must make sure that the external power supply has been assured of quality by a compliance certification. Ideal Power’s 44ATM PSUs have IEC 60601-1-2:2014 compliance, which applies to the basic safety and essential performance of medical equipment. With these power supplies, you can guarantee the safety of patients, operators and other parties who may come into contact with the equipment and the environment.

If you’re looking for the UK’s best quality electrical components at competitive prices , browse Ideal Power’s extensive collection of desktop power supply units today and get the best technology to power your computer hardware. To narrow down your options, use our comparison tool, which allows you to select up to four PSUs and have all the relevant information – from power output and output current to input voltage and standards qualification – in one neat table for you to easily find the most suitable desktop power supply unit for you. To request a quote or find more information, grab a virtual coffee with our sales and technical experts today.

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