An AC powered linear power supply usually uses a transformer to convert the voltage from the wall outlet (mains) to a different, usually a lower voltage. If it is used to produce DC, a rectifier is used. A capacitor is used to smooth the pulsating current from the rectifier. Some small periodic deviations from smooth direct current will remain, which is known as ripple. These pulsations occur at a frequency related to the AC power frequency (for example, a multiple of 50 or 60Hz).
The voltage produced by an unregulated power supply will vary depending on the load and on variations in the AC supply voltage. For critical electronics applications a linear regulator will be used to stabilize and adjust the voltage. This regulator will also greatly reduce the ripple and noise in the output DC current. Linear regulators often provide current limiting, protecting the power supply and attached circuit from overcurrent.
Adjustable linear power supplies are commonly used in laboratory and service shop test equipment, allowing the output voltage to be set over a wide range. For example, a bench power supply used by circuit designers may be adjustable up to 30 volts and up to 5 amperes output. Some can be driven by an external signal, for example, for applications requiring a pulsed output.