Economics of Replacement Power Supplies

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Tech Tips, Aug 2009

When a device's internal power supply fails, it's not uncommon to contact the manufacturer for a replacement. Obtaining an exact and direct replacement ensures that the replacement supply will work properly with the device. In many cases, it may be possible to find an equivalent replacement supply through other sources.

Ben Weiss, a contract engineer in Kansas City, tells me that he recently had to replace a power supply for a codec. When he called the manufacturer, the replacement power supply cost was quoted at a price that was more than Weiss wanted to pay. He looked online and in a few clicks found an alternative.

The original supply (left) and the purchased replacement supply (right) with the four-pin XLR power connector installed on the new supply

The original supply (left) and the purchased replacement supply (right) with the four-pin XLR power connector installed on the new supply

He found the same supply through a computer parts retailer that cost ⅓ the price. The only difference is that the computer retailer's unit had a different dc connector. By shopping around a little, Weiss found a near exact replacement. For a few minutes of his time to replace a connector, he came out ahead.

This is not a slap at the codec manufacturer. That manufacturer is a low-volume reseller of the replacement supply compared to the computer parts retailer. The codec manufacturer also has to charge to provide the proper connector, and add some cost for his handling. In this case, a little time from the engineer saved that station some money. The engineer's time has value, too, but even with that added the station saved half the cost for the replacement.

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