The characteristics of the input supply must be compatible with the Absolute Maximum Ratings and Recommended Operating Conditions found in this data sheet. In addition, the input supply must be capable of delivering the required input current to the loaded regulator. The average input current can be estimated with Equation 6:
If the regulator is connected to the input supply through long wires or PCB traces, special care is required to achieve good performance. The parasitic inductance and resistance of the input cables can have an adverse effect on the operation of the regulator. The parasitic inductance, in combination with the low-ESR ceramic input capacitors, can form an under-damped resonant circuit. This circuit may cause overvoltage transients at the VIN pin, each time the input supply is cycled on and off. The parasitic resistance causes the voltage at the VIN pin to dip when the load on the regulator is switched on or exhibits a transient. If the regulator is operating close to the minimum input voltage, this dip may cause the device to shut down or reset. The best way to solve these kinds of issues is to reduce the distance from the input supply to the regulator or use an aluminum or tantalum input capacitor in parallel with the ceramics. The moderate ESR of these types of capacitors helps to damp the input resonant circuit and reduce any voltage overshoots. A value in the range of 20 µF to 100 µF is usually sufficient to provide input damping and help to hold the input voltage steady during large load transients.
Sometimes, for other system considerations, an input filter is used in front of the regulator. This can lead to instability, as well as some of the effects mentioned above, unless it is designed carefully. LP3913 Power Management IC for Flash Memory Based Portable Media Players (SNVA489) provides helpful suggestions when designing an input filter for any switching regulator.
In some cases a transient voltage suppressor (TVS) is used on the input of regulators. One class of this device has a snap-back V-I characteristic (thyristor type). The use of a device with this type of characteristic is not recommend. When the TVS fires, the clamping voltage drops to a very low value. If this holding voltage is less than the output voltage of the regulator, the output capacitors are discharged through the regulator back to the input. This uncontrolled current flow could damage the regulator.