What Is an Automatic Voltage Regulator?

An automatic voltage regulator converts fluctuating power levels into a constant flow. In utility applications, these regulators are part of a power conditioner that reduces noise from the electrical line, protects against short circuits, suppresses surges and balances voltage between phases.

For homeowners living in cities with local utility service, the provider supplies voltage levels that are constant enough to make an automatic voltage regulator unnecessary, as even a 5 percent fluctuation in voltage does not damage the majority of household devices. However, people living in more rural areas sometimes find that they need a regulator in order to operate large items that consume a lot of power, such as woodworking tools and welders.

Some smaller automatic voltage regulators are entering the market as home audio and theater equipment becomes more sophisticated. These cost much less than industrial or commercial automatic voltage regulators but provide the consistent voltage that those products need. However, these smaller regulators do not work well in commercial or industrial environments.

For businesses, regulating voltage is crucial. When voltage problems cause machinery to go out, businesses lose revenue and outgoing production while increasing the costs of labor and raw materials. Quality control suffers, and the required paperwork is time-consuming.