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Keep the Lights On When Someone is Home

Aug 13, 2021

David Andeen  By: David Andeen
 Executive Director, Business Management, Maxim Integrated 


Have you ever wished for your power to go out? That's not a likely scenario, but kids doing chores like vacuuming that require power, have probably long wished for this exact situation. Ultimately, no one truly wants the power to go out because we need to work or keep working, relax and watch TV, or ensure the kids finish all their chores.

Keep the Lights On When Someone is HomeChildren doing chores may wish for the power to go out. Those who wish to keep the power on use the Continua MAX38889.

For battery powered devices, losing power is a regular occurrence as batteries need to be changed or may simply run out of juice. For line, or grid-powered devices and appliances, power outages are not an expected scenario. In many parts of the world, however, losing power have become the norm. Further, multiple locations now experience intentional power outages. Here in California, the brutal wildfire seasons of 2019 and 2020 now mean the utility companies regularly cut power to high-risk areas in order to reduce the likelihood, and associated liability, of a fire caused by powerlines.

In 2018, Maxim's effort to reduce electronic system-level power outages resulted in our first Essential Analog Continua product, MAX38888, which actively charges a backup power element, typically a supercapacitor, when the system power is on. When the system power gets disconnected, this IC detects the outage and dynamically reverses action, drawing power from the backup element and fueling the main system. The Continua family provides an elegant, straightforward solution to make your designs robust against power outages. The MAX38888 was developed for battery powered machines such as industrial scanners, digital cameras, and portable devices, in which a battery is likely to be swapped out at various intervals. Consequently, it also features a wide backup voltage hysteresis, as battery powered devices already handle a wide input voltage.

Applications for backup systems extend far beyond battery powered setups that must stay on when the battery gets swapped out. Many applications feature larger power supplies that can be intermittent, such as automotive batteries. In addition, mission-critical devices, such as utility meters and power grid fault detectors, require constant power, even in the event of the outage that they are detecting.

To address the needs of a broader set of applications and power sources, we developed the MAX38889. The latest in the Continua product family, it features a 2.5% output voltage regulation, ideal for USB-C, RS-485 and other applications requiring a well-regulated supply. Moreover, it also delivers up to 3A output current and operates at 94% efficiency, well above any other product in its class.

Beyond these performance specs, the MAX38889 provides an elegant system solution. It only requires one supercap for system backup, eliminating cost, space consumption, and the requirement for tricky cell balancing circuitry. For more information, read our design solution, "Keep Your System Up and Running with a Single Supercapacitor."

With more parts being developed, the Continua family provides a straightforward solution to protect your system against power outages. Imagine having a Continua IC for your home so the freezer stays on when the power goes out!