Supercapacitors are ideal in supplying peak power in electronic devices. In these applications, supercapacitors are used in tandem with batteries for systems that require both constant low power discharges for continual function and a pulse of power for peak loads. In fact, supercapacitors have been used in a variety of applications, ranging from portable scanners for factory bar-code reading and automated meter reading (AMR) systems to digital cameras.
Typically small sized supercapacitors are used in AMR systems are used in AMR systems that are linked through a two-way communication architecture.
Supercapacitors provide many benefits over traditional energy storage components. By using supercapacitors instead of Lithium Ion or Lead Acid batteries, the life expectancy of the power supply in AMR's is extended to over ten years representing a one hundred to three hundred percent improvement over lead acid batteries. The PC10s in each unit are also lighter and smaller, and facilitate a simpler design-in process due to the components' configuration, which allows them to be mounted flat on the board. Supercapacitors are slightly more expensive in initial cost, but because the life of supercapacitors is much longer, an overall cost savings of over two hundred dollars per unit is realized.
Similarly, in a digital camera application representative of a typical supercapacitor-enhanced design, one PC10 supercapacitor works with a battery to provide overall system power management. The supercapacitor drives the initial power-up of the camera, and drives functions involved in composing photographs, such as microprocessor, zoom, and flash. The major high power peak demand was observed during the microprocessor activity, i.e. writing to the disk and the LCD operation. Here supercapacitors in conjunction with basic inexpensive alkaline batteries achieve the same life cycle as expensive new high power batteries. By using the capacitor in parallel with the alkaline batteries, the overall system impedance will drop therefore allowing the battery to act as a pure energy source. Thus replaceable, low-cost off-the-shelf alkaline batteries can be employed, making the camera smaller, lighter, and truly portable.
Other current and potential portable supercapacitor applications include two-way pagers, GSM-protocol cell phones, hand-held GPS systems, PDA's, and power tools, just to name a few. And as the demand for smaller portable devices increases, the flexibility, durability, and power of the supercapacitor will help designers enhance product functionality while simultaneously decreasing size, proving the old adage that the best things come in small packages.