Phase fired control is often used to control the amount of voltage, current or power that a power supply feeds to its load. It does this in much the same way that a pulse width modulated (PWM) supply would pulse on and off to create an average value at its output. If the supply has a DC output, its time base is of no importance in deciding when to pulse the supply on or off, as the value that will be pulsed on and off is continuous.
PFC differs from PWM in that it addresses supplies that output a modulated waveform, such as the sinusoidal AC waveform that the national grid outputs. Here, it becomes important for the supply to pulse on and off at the correct position in the modulation cycle for a known value to be achieved; for example, the controller could turn on at the peak of a waveform or at its base if the cycle's time base were not taken into consideration.
Phase fired controllers take their name from that fact that they trigger a pulse of output at a certain phase of the input's modulation cycle. In essence, a PFC is a PWM controller that can synchronise itself with the modulation present at the input.
Most phase fired controllers use thyristors or other solid state switching devices as their control elements. Thyristor based controllers may utilise Gate Turn Off (GTO) thyristors, allowing the controller to not only decide when to pulse the output on but also when to turn it off, rather than having to wait for the waveform to pass within the element's Zero Cross Point.
Read more about this topic: Phase Fired Controllers