Bridge Rectifier Circuit

The bridge rectifier consisting of four diodes enables full wave rectification without the need for a centre tapped transformer.

Diode Rectifier Circuits Include:
Diode rectifier circuits     Half wave rectifier     Full wave rectifier     Two diode full wave rectifier     Full wave bridge rectifier     Synchronous rectifier    

The bridge rectifier is widely used to provide full wave rectification and it is possibly the most widely sued circuit for this.

Using four diodes the bridge rectifier the circuit has a distinctive format with the circuit diagram based on a square with one diode on each leg.

Bridge rectifier circuits

A diagram of the basic bridge rectifier circuit has a bridge rectifier block at the centre. This consists of a bridge circuit which includes four diodes. These can be individual diodes, or it is also easy to obtain bridge rectifiers as a single component. Low current bridge rectifiers can be free standing, but higher current versions are often designed for mounting on a heat sink.

Full wave rectifier using a bridge rectifier
Full wave rectifier using a bridge rectifier

The bridge rectifier full wave rectifier has the advantage over the full wave rectifier using a centre tapped transformer that there is no centre tapped transformer requirement and that the both halves of the cycle are used in the winding.

To see how the bridge diode full wave rectifier operates it is useful to see the current flow.

Full wave bridge rectifier showing current flow
Full wave bridge rectifier showing current flow

Split supply bridge rectifier circuit

For many circuits like operational amplifiers, split supplies may be needed. It is possible to create a split supply for these and other applications very easily using a full wave bridge rectifier.

Dual supply full wave bridge rectifier
Dual supply full wave bridge rectifier

The circuit operates effectively and efficiently because both halves of the input waveform are used in each section of the transformer secondary winding.

The dual supply bridge rectifier solution does require the use of a centre tapped transformer, but a second winding would often be required anyway to provide the dual supply.

The full wave rectifier circuit based around the bridge of diodes performs well and is used in most full wave rectifier applications. It uses both halves of the waveform in the transformer winding and as a result reduces heat losses for a given level of output current when compared to other solutions. Also this solution does not require a centre tapped transformer (except for the dual supply version) and as a result the costs are reduced.

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