Tattoo Power Supplies

Tag: Tattoo Power Supplies, Tattoo Power Supply

Here are some tips for how to purchase the right power supply for you and your machine:

  1. Determine the voltage required. Tattoo power supplies come in a variety of volt range outputs with some capable of running as low as three and as high as 12 to 15. Some portable power supplies can run as low as 1.5 volts and larger power supplies can run as high as 20 volts. The higher the voltage, the more power you get.
  2. Decide on the type of power supply. You can find analog and digital power supplies in both regulated and unregulated models. Depending on your confidence level and what kind of power output reading you prefer, you'll want to look at each type available. A digital readout will be more accurate and easier to read while you're working, but they tend to be higher priced. Regulated machines are also higher priced, but provide you with a constant voltage even if the tattoo machine isn't running.
  3. Think about fluctuations. The amount of power required at any given time during a tattoo may change depending on the amount of pressure being used as the tattoo needle pierces the skin. Many regulated machines will help compensate for these fluctuations, whereas others may not.
  4. Take into consideration your regular tattoo machine. Some tattoo power supplies are only recommended for a coil operated tattoo machine, whereas others can be used for a rotary machine and still others can be used for both.

  5. Contemplate the number of machines you can hook up. Many tattoo artists prefer to set up a separate machine for lining and another for shading. It's convenient to have a power supply that allows you to plug in two machines at once and just flip a switch to move back and forth in between them. This perk, like most, will increase your final price tag.
  6. Contemplate size, weight and portability. A smaller tattoo power supply doesn't necessarily mean you have to give up power. Many companies sell more compact units for those that either don't want to take up a lot space at their shop or who travel frequently as a guest artist. For traveling artists, you especially want to think about the overall weight of the machine and how portable it will be.
  7. Factor in price. You can find a tattoo power supply as cheap as $40 or as expensive as $300-400 or higher. Before deciding if the price is right, carefully take into consideration all of the factors above. You may be able to find more than one reliable machine that meets or exceeds all of your needs. If this is the case, then you start elimination based on price.


A solid power supply is just as important as the coil or rotary machine that it’s powering. When you’re out looking for which one to invest in, there are a few words you should be familiar with that aren’t “warranty”. Here are 5 terms that’ll make you a little more electrically savvy before you shop for your next power supply:

1. MicroFarad

You most likely know what a capacitor is - that’s the little battery-looking thing that you’ve seen anywhere from the inside of a telephone to your coil machine. In tattooing, capacitors are used to get rid of “ripples” in a stream of DC voltage, producing a steadier flow of power.

The amount of power stored in a capacitor is measured in Farads. Because a 1-farad capacitor would be huge (about the size of a hockey puck), the storage potential of a capacitor is measured in MicroFarads, which is 1 millionth of a Farad.

2. Duty Cycle

When it comes to power supplies, duty cycle refers to the amount of time your supply is actively powering your machine. A recommended duty cycle is the maximum amount of time you can safely run your power supply without taking a toll on the unit’s overall lifespan, according to the manufacturer.

3. DC

DC stand for “direct current”. Unlike AC (alternating current), which has a flow that goes up and down like a wave, DC moves in one direction. Every tattoo power supply uses direct current to power your machine. That brick-shaped adapter that you plug into the wall converts the AC voltage from your outlet into DC voltage for your power supply/machine.

4. Volts/Amps

This is one of those words that everyone has heard but seems difficult to explain. In short, volts measure the strength of a current. If you think of electrical current as the flow of water through a hose, voltage is the strength, or pressure, of that flow. 

Amps (short for “amperes”) measure the amount of current in a circuit. If we stick of the water hose analogy, amps represent the rate/amount of water passing through the hose.

5. Jump/Kick Start

You’ve probably seen this one popping up a lot over the past few years. Put simply, some rotary machines on the market require “start up” capability, which is basically a higher power output when you start your power supply that settles shortly after. Cheyenne Tattoo Machines, for example, require a with power supplies that don’t feature “Jump Start” or “Kick Start”. Knowing this will save you a lot of time and frustration in your search for a new power supply.